September 24, 2004

A Walk A Day

The most frequent piece of advice I received before as well as after my surgery was to keep walking, Those who have been through the medical process testify that walking promotes healing. So Marilyn and I have been walking. At first it was with a cane to the end of the block and back. But each day it seemed I could go at least a half block further. Tuesday, Marilyn and I made it around the Lake Padden trail which is 2.6 miles. Walking does feel good and Bellingham has some of the most beautiful trails in any city. The variety is awesome. Here are some favorite walks: Lake Padden Boulevard Park If you have flash, try this 360 degree image of Zaunich Park at Squalicum Harbor
Posted by Donel at 09:18 PM | Comments (4)

September 22, 2004

Singapore Swings

Greetings from Singapore! Even though I have had the chance to speak to mom and dad by telephone almost every day since we got here (the wonders of modern travel and low-cost international phone cards), I have not checked in to greet all of the blog readers. So hello to you all. My family has told me that several of you have asked about how we are doing, so I thought I would give a brief update. Charles, James and I are happy and well and loving this wonderful city. It is not all caning and anti-gum chewing here, despite the many jokes we heard before leaving the US. Signapore is actually an incredible Southeast Asian success story, and while it is true that the government is authoritarian and more big-daddy than big-brother, it is also efficient, virtually incorruptable, and pragmatic in its approach to bulding the city's wealth and standard of living. Singaporians have a great deal of civic pride and we do not see any trace of the kind of poverty rampant in most of the world, including our own country. We love living in such a polyethnic city with a large Chinese, Malay, and Indian population. In addition to local kids, James has become friends with kids from India, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and China. And, most importantly, the food is incredible!! Martin is going to help us set up a Singaore blog for anyone who may be interested in hearing more. We will provide that link when it is up. All our best to all of you!
Posted by Dani at 07:44 PM

September 15, 2004


It has been over a week since I have written anything for the blog. You may be wondering what has been happening. The answer is simply healing. There is very little drama in my daily routine. For the past four or five nights I have been sleeping through most of the night. That's new. Previously I awakened every couple of hours and retired to the recliner and couch in the living room where I could doze with the radio or TV on to distract me. Now I awaken several times but return to sleep in a few minutes in my own bed. I have been off all pain medication for a week or so and am working on regaining my strength. Marilyn and I take a walk or two a day. I'm up to about a mile and half now and find walking very comfortable. My appetite is good and I have discovered that my blood pressure is so low that the doctor has taken me off one of my blood pressure medications. That may be the result of losing 30 pounds in the past month — some of it removed with the tumor. I am at the weight the medical books say is correct for my height and build now. I hope I can keep closer to it than I have been able to in the past decades. Mostly my life is following the path of indolence. That term is generally considered a negative quality in our culture. It means lazy, or without ambition. It also has a positive side as the pathway to healing. Indolence, rest, setting aside agendas and concerns of the work world is a primary component of regaining health. So, much of the past week has been spent in blissful, healing indolence. I recommend it from time to time for all of you.
Posted by Donel at 02:22 PM | Comments (4)

September 06, 2004

Gifts of the Journey

I am sure that everyone who faces a terminal illness has experienced the clarity of communication which comes when there is little else to say. This blog contains many memories and reflections which are gifts of those I know and love. In one sense it is a little embarrassing to read such positive and complementary things about oneself—all the while knowing that there are other and less positive stories to be told if all were to be revealed. On the other hand, facing two rather advanced cancers has given me the opportunity to be open and candid with my family about my hope and concerns, and especially about my love for them. We normally end each phone conversation with "I love you" which is true, if somewhat cliched. That simple phrase has taken on new meaning in the past few weeks and has become even more precious. In addition to such expressions of relationship my son Martin wrote a poem during the waiting in the hospital. I share it not so much because it reflects positively upon me, but because it is a precious gift from a beloved child. And, it's good! For Pop, Postop A little boy says "my dad is my hero" the terms are feats of strength whoops of violence he says: dad can lick your dad can lift a thousand pounds.. a car! save a building burning. He thinks muscles, recites comic bookery. At 35 I say: My dad is my hero. his illustrations inked with pun powered pen His speech balloons exclaim that a hero can be a gentle man show kind care a man can transform into a hero without pummeling a soul he can fight the good fight and face the darkest fears with good nerve In civilian clothes, or stole- draped uniform (white-- the color of good) he practices what he preaches his manner teaches Knowing his faith, he faces egos, not devils My dad is my hero. I brag about him on my courtyard during my recesses and way-after school activities unlike a child, my claims aren't blown-up, zonked or kazzowed, blasted or gazoozled They are gospel truth Starting with "My dad is..." they differ from childhood counterparts in their endings Listing them would be novel I'm trying to be graphic My dad is my hero. He didn't close me into cells, even for the sake of plot or page turning He gave me frustrating freedom, and while I wasn't looking, made sure that no buildings crumpled over me. faced with a villainous kidney, he fronted mortality with the same grace he fronts morality His kryptonited body strongly straightening itself over hibernating days He's my hero As a child I asked: "Dad, have you ever cried?" He answered: "I cried the day you were born because I was so happy." At 35 I say: I hope I can be just like him when I grow up. Martin McClellan
Posted by Donel at 03:43 PM | Comments (7)

September 05, 2004

Dr. Takayama and Dad

During the checkup that Dad talks about below I had brought a camera at his request so that we could get a shot of Dr. Takayama for the blog, if he would consent. Before we could ask him, he ran off to get his own camera to take a picture of Dad, so he couldn't refuse us! I used to think that I got under Dad's skin occasionally, but I'm afraid Dr. Takayama has us all beat. Thanks to him for his amazing care and dedication to his job.
Posted by Martin at 03:37 PM | Comments (2)

A Return to the BLOG

For the past two weeks I have been resting in the care of others as I am recuperating from my kidney surgery. All in all, it has been a good experience with relatively little discomfort. I have come to appreciate all the support one needs when recovering and the special demands that places on family. Last Friday Marilyn (wife) Martin (son) and I met with Dr. Thomas Takayama, my surgeon, for a follow up on the surgery. He was pleased with my progress and presented the pathology report. He removed the left kidney and surrounding tissue, the kidney vein and a tumor which extended into the inferior vena cava. Renal cell carcinoma was found in the kidney, kidney vein and vena cava. It was assessed a nuclear grade of 3 of 4 (Fuhrman's system). A few lymph nodes excised with the kidney tested positive for cancer, however a lymph node removed a little further from the site was negative. In general the tumor material is positive for malignancy while the margins, walls of the vena cava and other tested sites are negative. This seems to me to be a very positive outcome. No further treatment of the kidney cancer is envisioned at this time. There may be a further response if and when the cancer reappears. There was one negative note. Marilyn and I had scheduled an Alaska Cruise several months ago. I thought I would be feeling well enough to enjoy the cruise in a couple of weeks. Dr. Takayama had another point of view. He suggested that for five to six weeks following such major surgery there are the possibilities of complications, blood clots, etc. Should that occur, the medical resources in Alaska are simply not adequate to take care of the problem and therefore he strongly discouraged the trip. He said it would be great to visit San Francisco or Los Angeles where there are lots of specialists, but not Alaska at this time. So we will miss Alaska this time. Fortunately we bought cancellation insurance just in case some medical emergency should appear.
Posted by Donel at 02:17 PM | Comments (2)