19 January 2009


Quick trip

Joanne Davison and Simon James in recital 2 at Flickr.comSunday night, my wife Air and I took a quick trip back to Victoria for one reason: my old friend Simon, who lives and works there, was giving a music recital. He has been studying classical singing for many years, even though he used to play in my sixties rock band a long time ago, and is now a registered massage therapist.

But this was very different. The space, in the Lutheran Church of the Cross in Saanich, was beautifully bright, with wonderful acoustics. He and his co-recitalist Joanne sang works by Bach, Mozart, Caccini, Purcell, Gershwin, Tosti, Barber, and others—some together, some solo, with accompaniment by two excellent pianists.

My favourite piece was Simon's rendition of the crazy "La Danza" (which is almost a winking parody of itself—here's Pavarotti's version to give you an idea). Simon was smiling the whole way through, and both he and his accompanist Kim flew through it with great verve and skill. They received huge applause afterwards. When the recital was finished, Air and I joined Simon and one of his massage therapy co-workers at a nearby pub for dinner. We stayed overnight in a hotel, then returned home today.

The whole trip was a pleasant contrast from our last one to Victoria with the kids, just three weeks ago. No migraines, minimal medication side effects, and no one needed stitches. Yay!

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31 December 2008


Home safe

Look out below at Flickr.comLast night and today were an improvement over the previous couple of days, although I was up most of the night with side effects anyway.

And despite high winds overnight and this morning in Victoria, the weather calmed down in the afternoon and we had another pretty trip back across Georgia Strait from Vancouver Island to the mainland. We're home now, seeing if we can all stay up to ring in 2009. Looks like we might get there, although our younger daughter is watching TV alone in the living room, and I'm guessing she might crash before midnight.

Happy 2009, everyone. I'm glad to see another new year.

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29 December 2008


A mixed bag

The pensive mammoth at Flickr.comIt's hard to say how our post-Christmas family vacation in British Columbia's capital, Victoria, is going. On the one hand, we had a gorgeous trip over on the ferry yesterday, and a fun time at the Royal B.C. Museum today. The girls have loved going swimming. Our hotel, the Harbour Towers, is a great place to stay as usual, and we ate delicious room service breakfast this morning.

On the other hand, last night we had uncharacteristically poor and spectacularly slow service at Milestones restaurant on the waterfront, which is usually one of our favourites. (In their favour, the manager gave us a $25 gift card to compensate.) My wife and I have both not been feeling too well, particularly today—me from intestinal side effects of my latest cancer drug. The weather today was miserable, extremely windy and sleeting.

Worst of all, this afternoon at the hotel pool, my eight-year-old daughter somehow gashed her chin open just before we were planning to dry off. She didn't even notice at first—her sister and I, surprised, asked her why she was dripping blood. So we have no idea how she did it, but after we returned to my wife in our room and got a bandage, we all piled in the car to a nearby medical clinic. The little one turned out to need stitches, which she was not happy about.

I hope things improve tomorrow, or at least that things don't get any worse once again in the evening. We really do like this city, usually.

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06 May 2008


More of the same

Spring sprunging at Flickr.comI met with my oncologist, Dr. Kennecke, today. When I go to see him, I try to moderate my expectations. Pragmatically, I plan on the metastatic tumours in my lungs maybe having grown a little bit, or maybe shrunk a little bit, or maybe stayed stable. I don't go there thinking they will have miraculously disappeared, or that they will have grown dramatically.

And fortunately, that's pretty much where I am. Last week's CT scan showed that the largest of my four lung mets has grown slightly, but is still less than a centimetre across. A second one might also be a little bigger than before. The others seem like they're stable. So my chemo isn't eliminating them, but it appears to be keeping them somewhat at bay.

In the short term, I'm pleased with the other plans Dr. K and I worked out today. I have two more chemo treatments planned this month, the 15th and 16th of this round, which started back in October. Then, finally, I get to take a bit of a break through June, and with luck I might begin a clinical trial of a new artificial monoclonal antibody (more advanced than the Avastin I'm taking now), which may be able to enhance the action of the other chemotherapy agents, perhaps in July.

Having a few weeks off from chemo side effects will be nice. Maybe we'll take a weekend trip to Victoria or something. As nice things go, I'll take what I can get.

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01 October 2007


The Blue Fox pushes me over the line at last

Chocolate milk at the Blue Fox at Flickr.comThis morning, for our last major meal in Victoria, my daughters and I let my wife sleep in and met my friend Simon for breakfast at a place he recommended, the Blue Fox Café on Fort Street.

I've walked by the Blue Fox a few times before, noting how busy it was, usually with a lineup. Fortunately, since today is Monday, we found no line at 9 a.m., although the place was still busy. I can see why it's popular: tasty and wholesome versions of basic breakfast foods (eggs, French toast, roast potatoes, sausage and bacon, coffee) in large portions, with reasonable prices and friendly service, plus vaguely ethnic Mediterranean-Mexican-Southwest decor (lots of saffron yellows and deep blues) and reggae music on the sound system. We all ate a lot, and my daughters had two hot chocolates each ("Best ever!" said my oldest). Ah, vacation.

Anyway, it seems that meal finally helped me reach a milestone. When I weighed myself at home tonight, I hit 176 pounds, the first time I've been over 175 since before my cancer surgery way back in July, some 30 pounds above what I weighed at my worst in hospital late in that month, and only about 15 pounds below what I probably should weigh, which is about 190. (I hovered around 200 pounds for many years until my cancer diagnosis early in 2007.)

I'm still a bit too thin and bony, but, other than the damned ileostomy bag, I feel more like a normal human being than I have for a long time. And I take considerable pleasure in being able to pig out pretty much as I like, within the confines of my diabetic diet. I hope I can keep that up once the next round of chemotherapy starts in a couple of weeks.

I'll be back to the Blue Fox on our next visit to Victoria, that's for sure. The kids want mom to come with us.

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29 September 2007


Downtown Victoria is changing

My family and I are in Victoria, B.C., where we often go on mini-vacations. There has been a remarkable sprouting of condominium towers downtown in the past year—the place has changed quite a bit in a way it hasn't done for a few decades, at least since the first high-rise office and apartment towers appeared here in the '60s and '70s.

We actually got lost on the way to our hotel because we didn't recognize some of the streets we'd been down dozens of times before, and part of the southward view of the Olympic Mountains in Washington from our eighth-floor suite has been blocked by a new tower built next door.

I'm not complaining—it's just surprising. Until recently, Victoria seemed to have eschewed (or avoided) the condo-tower mania of Vancouver, which has completely transformed that city's downtown (and my own neighbourhood in Burnaby) over the past 20 years.

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