Archive for June, 2007

Live Wrong

Friday, June 15th, 2007


wrong (rông, rng)

1. Not in conformity.
2. Not fitting or suitable for “normal” people; inappropriate or improper for some.
3. Not in accord with established usage, method, or procedure.
4. Unacceptable or undesirable according to social convention.
5. Demonstrably better than “right”.

Stay strong. Live wrong.

I was thinking about those little yellow Lance Armstrong bracelets, and how silly they are to me. Pink ribbons and rubber bracelets. I guess they raise money but I doubt in their ability to raise awareness. They are so commonplace that they are invisible. I think to make something significant you need to notice it. I am not a ribbon or plastic I am a person with a loud voice and I want you to hear me. Do not let any of your friends,wives,sisters,whoever ignore the symptoms of my disease. Be loud and make them go to a doctor. I waited for 6 months with these signs that something was wrong. And I did not believe I had breast cancer. Do not be quiet or silent with your health or anyone else’s. You are not a ribbon or a bracelet. Use your voice. Together let’s scream and let people know you do not have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Stay Strong Live Wrong!

Punk rock parents

Friday, June 15th, 2007

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There’s no “Rob Blog-Post” category. So, since I’m not nearly as cute as Bailey, I’ll just identify myself upfront.

When I was seven I asked my mom about death. While my grandparents were Catholic, we didn’t really practice any religion, so I didn’t have the visions of heaven my grandmother did. Worse still, I was severly asthmatic, had been hospitalized several times, and was afraid of what might happen when I died.

My mom, probably after taking a drag off of an ever-present cigarette, told me to “shut up and not ask such silly questions”.

Now, mom was probably drunk and/or high. And I’m thirty-nine and make my own life. I forgave her long ago. But I cannot forget that she was only capable of doing a shitty job of parenting. There are so many examples — going to Disney with her second husband when I was in an oxygen tent at the hospital, nearly putting my six-year-old brother through a plate glass window, leaving my brother and sister and I in a car as she went to get too drunk to drive, or taking my brother and I to St. Vincent’s Home for Boys as a threat whenever we were being boys.

When I met Andrea at fifteen, I immediately had a relationship with her that I couldn’t have with my own siblings. Andrea and I shared the same pain, but hadn’t gone through it together. My siblings and I lived with secrets that we weren’t supposed to talk about, not even with one another. But I could share all of those with Andrea. And she could share hers with me. We talked about our fucked up parents (and surrogate parents) often.

Perhaps this is why, when I watch Andrea — and now Kelly and Tony — with Alec, Jesse, Tucker, Asa, Bailey, and Clay, their punk rock parenting is so healing to me. Andrea gives the parenting that she and I never got. As she says, she’s a steward and her job is to prepare her kids for life as adults. They’re not hers, which makes them that much more precious, because they belong to themselves and to God. Although I don’t have children of my own, every time I’m with a child and I don’t know what to do, I ask myself what Andrea would do. And it always works out.

Someone said to me yesterday that, because I’m a professor and she’s a “single mom with only two years of college”, I must think that she’s “incredibly vapid”. What she didn’t know is that I am in awe of her — the same way I am with Andrea, Kelly, and Tony. I know that I am a great teacher. And I can do a lot to change people’s lives as a professor. But I think most of what I can do is just a pale reflection of what my friends the punk rock parents do every day, all day long. Showing themselves. their children, and those of us lucky enough to know them how to navigate through the world, they change it for the better.

Sometimes its not “all good”

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Sometimes its hard to want to write anything. Especially if I am stressed, sick or unhappy. I want to be happy all the time “fun cancer woo hew”. For the last several days I have been having migraines and swelling in my legs,ankles,and left arm. I look fine on the outside but there is so much imbalance and upheaval when you introduce toxic medication to the body. And even if I have some stamina and I can hold down my lunch- my body is still traumatized by both my illness and the cure. At times I have felt that future generations will look back on chemotherapy and view it much in the way we view bloodletting and leeches. Yet, right now I feel compelled to try anything that may save my life. I feel blessed to have such loving friends that suggest various alternatives. I am not opposed to any of them. However, I have no intention on not continuing chemotherapy as treatment for my illness. You can go ahead and leave the name of every herb and homeopathic and alternative treatment or medicine. I may even try them. I know people are praying and faith healing has also been suggested..and I wholeheartedly believe that if it is His will I will be cured. But please understand that while I do not put my faith in medicine my faith lies with God alone..I trust that medicine has something to offer that other treatments do not. I love you all. I wish this was another funny entry. Mostly I just want to be all better.

Growing Pains

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

I just had a lengthy discussion with my oldest stepson and tried to work through a difficult situation with him. At midnight he came to me stuck with two demanding college level papers to write due tomorrow, no possible extension. As I helped him weigh his options (some, all, nothing and a full night sleep) and informed him that ultimately the responsibility and consequences were his, I also realized that my fears that he had been internalizing the news of his mothers cancer and shutting down were true. All the physical symptoms of depression apparent, but all the while maintaining that he was FINE (you twelve steppers know what that stands for). I told him that I supported what ever decision he made about the assignments and that we all drop the ball when it counts from time to time and that as long as we don’t give up we get to play again next season ( why I chose to use a football analogy with a punk rock kid I’ll never know, but you get my point and so did he). I also told him that he needed to find a venue to work through his feelings so he will be able to function at the level he expects of himself. I told him how I cry some, how I talk to my friends constantly, how I pray a lot. I have made myself available to him, but i know that teenagers don’t always use their parental figures to work out their feelings with. If you are in these kids lives I ask that you make your selves emotionally available with them as well. Its easy to have fun with them, they are fun kids, but they also need to be able to find their own emotional sounding boards and shoulders to cry on. I know now that no matter what the outcome of Andrea’s fight with cancer, we will be forever changed. Our lives have changed so much over night and I know that this is not going to get any easier. Yet at the same time life has a perfect simplicity right now, the only things that matter in fact really do matter. I love my step son and am not really disappointed in him. If he can learn from this experience, take care of himself emotionally, and pick up the ball and run with it when he is able, then I am proud. I am so thankful for the Orion Landaus and Josh Graces of the world who allow me to process pain and fear, pride and shame, joy and faith, with them.


Fundraiser Fla.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

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If you are out there and you doubt God’s goodness, if you feel like He does not exist..then read on. A friend of Kelly’s cousin was moved by the blog and what we are trying to accomplish in both raising awareness for IBC and also the very real need of providing something for my children during my illness. She took it upon herself to approach some tattoo shops in Florida and ask them to take part in our star fundraiser. She has made up flyers about the website and my condition and people are offering to take part in this on our behalf. I never thought that this would happen. I just wanted my friends to know what was going on in my life. Now people who are strangers to me are offering us assistance. I am moved beyond words. I feel so blessed by this outpouring of love and compassion. Thank you so much rock my world. We really want to acknowledge everyone who is working on this with her including the tattoo artists willing to take part. And as always thanks to all our friends and family here who provide us with meals, love,support, encouragement and good old fashioned fun.

P.S. Krissie thought I was the tattoo artist (instead of Kelly) ..but we have corrected that mistake in the flyer.

Thank you all. Keep praying. Stay strong livewrong.( That’s my new slogan)

Seeing Stars

Monday, June 11th, 2007

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We wanted to share with you how good God is. Today Kelly was offered not one but two jobs. Kelly decided to take a job working for Bill Funk at Body Graphics. He owns five shops around Philly and in NJ. We are so thrilled. This is an incredible blessing. Kelly has spent the last few years working very hard to get to this place. A good friend asked me if I was worried when he quit his job.I quickly answered no. I felt intrinsically that God was going to bless us and provide. If you have thought about letting Kelly give you a nautical star or anything else now is the time when we need you to call him and make an appointment. He starts at Body Graphics on Arch Street on Monday June 19th.We have an appointment book and operators will be standing by to take your call. 215-806-9540. Honestly, we thank you all for the love and support. Andrea and Kelly


Monday, June 11th, 2007

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I love Luke White. Not only did he draw up some awesome flash for me (more on that another time) but he gave me the most awesome bit of knowledge like only Luke can. The word Amazon means without the breast. The Amazons were skilled archers who apparently removed one breast to increase their abilities to pull back on the bow. My left breast is riddled with cancer. I feel inspired knowing that when my left breast is no longer with me it will bring me that much closer to being the warrior I always knew I was. Can any of you out there who have ever argued with me call me anything else…oh wait you probably could. This is a good week. I am taking advantage of every moment to spend with the kids and Kelly. Boggle and making out with Kelly are on my agenda for this evening. I know you wish you were me. Anyway, you guys are amazing. Thanks again. I love you all.

Science report on IBC

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

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From: University of Michigan Health System

Gene found to contribute to deadly form of breast cancer

U-M researchers prove ability of

RhoC GTPase to trigger inflammatory

form of disease

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – University of Michigan researchers have found

that a gene recently implicated in liver, skin and pancreas cancer can

cause an especially deadly kind of breast cancer, and may help explain

why it grows, spreads and sometimes proves deadly so quickly.

The finding, published in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Cancer

Research, confirms the team’s earlier suspicions that a gene called

RhoC GTPase is a key factor in inflammatory breast cancer. Just

over a year ago, they published a study showing that the gene was over-expressed in 90 percent of tumor samples from women with the aggressive disease, several times more often as in women with non-inflammatory forms of the disease. Now, the authors say, they have shown that too much RhoC GTPase production in otherwise normal cells causes the kind of rapid establishment of cell colonies, invasive tendencies and ability to move that characterize

inflammatory breast cancer, or IBC. They also found that, implanted into healthy mice, normal cells with extra RhoC GTPase activity can prompt breast tumors to form – though not as often as implanted tumor cells. This suggests that the gene, while key to the disease’s progress, has some undetermined partners. “This is the first time that the RhoC gene has been implicated in breast cancer, and we suspect that its importance may go beyond the  inflammatory form of the disease to include other aggressive breast tumors,” says author Sofia Merajver, Ph.D., M.D. associate professor of internal medicine in the U-M Health System and director of the Breast and Ovarian Risk Evaluation Clinic at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. Adds Kenneth van Golen, Ph.D., co-lead author with Zhi-Fen Wu, M.D., “This discovery raises the possibility of a future test or therapeutic agent that could help physicians and patients launch a counterattack as aggressive as the disease itself.” Such tests or treatments are probably years off, he added, but their development relies on evidence like that in the new studyInflammatory breast cancer accounts for 6 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses in the U.S. each year, but its speed and ability to metastasize make it much harder to treat. Only 45 percent of women with the disease are alive and disease free after five years and optimal treatment. IBC is known as the most deadly form of locally advanced breast cancer. The disease’s name comes from the red color and other changes it produces in breast skin, including nodules, puckering and nipple retraction. By the time it’s diagnosed, IBC has almost always spread to the lymph nodes and often to other parts of the body – suggesting its cells quickly develop the ability to leave the primary tumor, travel through the body and grow blood vessels elsewhere.

Despite its deadly nature, little has been known about IBC’s genetic underpinnings. The U-M team has probed that mystery for several years, most recently with studies of which genes were over-active in the tumors of women treated for various forms of the disease at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer.

They found that the RhoC GTPase gene was over-expressed – or transcribed extra times to produce surplus RhoC GTPase protein – in 90 percent of IBC tumors. This molecular-level difference seemed to help explain why IBC cells and non-IBC cells don’t look different under a microscope, but behave very differently in the body.

RhoC GTPase protein is known to help cells form and arrange the “skeletal” protein actin, which helps form the infrastructure for cells that are dividing to make new cells, extending themselves in a particular direction, attaching to a surface, and stimulating new blood supply routes. An increased ability to perform all those activities is a hallmark of cells that have been transformed into cancer cells – they tend to reproduce without brakes and form colonies, move around the body, cling to each other and to anchor locations, and form blood vessels to feed themselves.

Armed with that knowledge, the U-M team set out to study the influence of the over-expressed RhoC gene by itself by inserting the gene from tumor cells into normal breast cells, in a process called transfection. They then compared those cells’ behavior with that of normal cells, as well as cells transfected with a control gene, and cells originally grown from IBC tumor tissue. The transfected cells produced about as much of the RhoC GTPase protein as IBC cells.

They found that extra RhoC alone was enough to cause the transfected cells to form more colonies of new cells than non-transfected cells, from 6 to 176 times as many colonies depending on how much of the protein and how many copies of the gene were present. Even the lowest colonization rate was almost as high as that of tumor cells.

More crucial to understanding the problem of IBC, the extra RhoC gave the cells a much greater ability to move, or grow across a barrier, than normal cells – about as much invasive ability as tumor cells. The RhoC-transfected cells were also much more likely to move large distances across a surface than the other transfected cells. The source of that movement, concentrated areas of actin called focal adhesion points and stress fibers, was clearly visible in images of the RhoC cells and tumor line cells, but not the others.

Finally, the team tested the RhoC cells’ ability to start tumors in the breast areas of female mice, compared with tumor cell lines. A quarter of the mice that got the RhoC cells formed tumors, while none of those implanted with normal breast cells did.

“Overall, our result suggests that there are other key genetic factors to be found,” explains Merajver. The underexpression of a tumor suppressor gene called LIBC, also found by the U-M team in the prior study, may be one. Already, the team is continuing its study of all the factors.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the U.S. Army Breast Cancer Research Program.

This article comes from Science Blog. Copyright © 2004

Just a minute

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

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Jon’s new posted photos are lovely as ever. If that is even the word. Striking maybe. Adjective day! Everyone who views them- post your most descriptive adjective. Let’s see who can get it perfect..Jon always does. Anyway, just a few sentences about those photos. Mostly it is just me playing with Clay. Which is great…but the rest of that day and for the next three I was barely able to get out of bed. I tried.So it is nice to see pics of me being a “good mom”. Being sick can really make you feel like you are not contributing enough..for me. Three of the photos centered around a conversation that Kelly mentioned in his blog. It is equally hard to not feel like you have become a spectator to life when you are faced with the mortality/morbidity of illness. I may die/will die so I am no longer here. It is a feeling. Not one that I ever had prior. I had the Irene Cara ..I’m gonna live forever… syndrome before. Now I feel like I might as well smoke and party.F* it. But really these thoughts are fleeting. I can not/do not spend my time absorbed in that level of negativity. I am not Little Miss Sunshine either. But I wear pragmatism pretty well. In any case, thanks for reading and commenting. Post your adjectives about Jon’s photos. One word per person..after we get t shirts I will send one to the winner. But if I have to look the word up in the dictionary(Rob!) I am disqualifying it. I love you all. Andrea

new images

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

post-chemo, hanging out with the family stuff…no dramatic barfing pics yet….

New Pictures Here