June 28, 2017, Bend, Oregon

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

Some Good News!

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

First off, I would like to thank all of you that have sent encouraging comments regarding my current health situation, it is greatly appreciated. I originally had no intention of posting progress reports on that front, but several readers suggested I should, so I will keep you posted.

But since the main purpose of this blog is to showcase the landscapes and wildlife of this continent, let’s proceed in that direction first.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

I am currently camped along the loop road around the Saint Charles Hospital Campus in Bend. The hospital has a small, eleven space campground with full hookups that it graciously supplies to it’s patients and their families, free of charge. And for me, it has been a lifesaver! The Bend area has a few very nice, and very expensive RV Parks, and the surrounding area also has several public and private campgrounds. However, they all have one thing in common … they all are booked pretty much solid throughout the summer months. And, until I was allowed to park my rig here, I was out of luck trying to find a place to stay for my chemo treatments. So, thank you, Saint Charles !

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

I have been here undergoing weekly treatment now for seven weeks and really haven’t had the emotional, or at times, the physical energy to get out and explore the area.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

A couple weeks ago, on a ninety plus degree day, I needed to cool down, so I hopped in the Prius, turned the AC on and did the 100 mile drive east to the John Day area of central Oregon. I only made it to the painted hills section of John Day, but that alone was worth the trip as I hope some of these shots may show.

John Day Colors
John Day Colors

Earlier this month, I made a return trip to Malhuer NWR in the Prius to check out what the refuge had to offer in early summer. I was really hoping to be able to explore the Stines Mountain area and perhaps get a chance to see some of the wild horses there, but the road was still gated.

Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk

The refuge certainly looked different than on my previous visits, both of which were in very early spring. There was very little bird activity, and the roadside shrubs and bushes were now all leaved out and the fields were now covered with three and four foot high grasses, so even if there was anything there, it would be impossible to see anything.

The only shot I even took was of this common nighthawk sitting in the middle of the refuge road.

Memorial Day, Mount Bachelor
Memorial Day, Mount Bachelor

Memorial Day weekend, I drove up to Mount Bachelor, only 20 miles out of Bend. Base depths on the hill were still at eight feet at the end of May and the parking lot was quite crowded, with many RV’s and folks staying in tents below the high parking lot snow banks.

Memorial Day Camping, Mount Bachelor
Memorial Day Camping, Mount Bachelor

Seventy-five degrees and sunny, ideal weather for golf or fishing down in town, yet perfect spring asking weather half an hour away, not hard to see why this area is so popular. Just an incredible amount of building going on and housing is very expensive here.

A Lab in it's Element
A Lab in it’s Element

Got a kick out of this lab enjoying himself chasing snowballs on the parking lot snowbanks.

A Lab in it's Element
A Lab in it’s Element

OK, Here’s the Progress Report

Hood Canal Action
Hood Canal Action

I have forced myself to resume painting and just completed my first acrylic painting on canvas. This is a composite of a few photos from the Hood Canal in Washington, where Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons congregate in late spring to take advantage of the sculpin spawn in the oyster beds along the shore where  Big Beef Creek enters the canal.

This painting measures 24″ x 16″ and depicts the way the Bald Eagles harass the herons to give up their catch. The eagles perch in tall pines along the shore and watch while the herons hunt through the oyster beds looking for the spawning sculpins. As soon as a heron plucks a fish from the water, the eagles swoop down from the pines and force them to give up their catch. You can right click on the image if you would like to see a larger version of the painting.

On the myeloma front, I just completed round two of my multi-drug chemo therapy, and my oncologist is very pleased with the results thus far! My kidney function, not that long ago at a stage four kidney disease level, just a hair’s breath away from requiring dialysis, has already returned to completely normal function. My red blood cell count is slowly increasing and all the bad stuff is rapidly decreasing, indicating that the chemo is doing it’s job. Other than some severe fatigue initially, the result of the disease and the aggressive chemo approach, I really have had very little, if any, adverse side affects, no nausea, no pain, no hair falling out, etc., and the last couple of weeks, even the fatigue has gone away, as the red blood cells continue to increase.

My oncologist says I am, in his words, ” way up on the good side of the bell curve “, as far as my chances of having a good outcome to this process. He says the fact that I have had such a rapid reversal of the progression of the disease, along with my bodies ability to tolerate the potent drugs, bodes very well for my immediate future.

He assures me that I am a very viable candidate for a stem cell transplant and that procedure could possibly be done as soon as August. He has also suggested that perhaps, and he says he is about at a 50/50 position on this, I may be one of the folks that may be able to keep the disease in remission without the transplant because of how my body has responded so far, but the final decision will be made after another round of drug therapy.

But the overall prognosis has decidedly changed in a positive way, and for that, I am most grateful.

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12 thoughts on “June 28, 2017, Bend, Oregon”

  1. So glad things are going well for you. You sound like someone who doesn’t give up easily and that’s good!! Keep it up and I’ll keep up the prayers!!

  2. I can’t tell you how glad I was to see your email in my inbox! Your photos (as usual) are spectacular, your detailed descriptive writing makes me feel as though I’m there too, and the painting is great. However, I must admit, I raced through your blog to reach your health report and was glad to hear your news! Seems like you are in good hands with your oncologist and the hospital. Looking forward to your next post.

  3. So wonderful to see your new post in my feed. The images are wonderful, your painting is fantastic, and your road to recovery news is even better still. Wishing you many more good days and lots of strength for your next round of treatment and continuing positive prognosis. Hooray!

  4. You have planted huge smiles on our faces…..thank you ! Look forward to more good news, photos and paintings…..

  5. Thank you, glad to read that you have good results and are in good hands. Good luck with future treatments. Please keep posting.

  6. I am just thrilled about your glowing health report! I love the Hood Canal painting.
    When I was at the Painted Hills unit several years ago it was mid June and there were no wildflowers. Great images!
    I went back to Seabeck this year and found out from a retired fish biologist that the fish that is spawning is not a Sculpin, but a Plainfin Midshipman, from the Toadfish family. Since some Sculpin have bulbous heads I naturally assumed it was a sculpin, but the long dorsal fin threw me. He said they live in fairly deep water, but spawn in the crevasses of the oyster beds in spring. The females return to the deep, leaving the males to guard the eggs.

    1. Thanks, very interesting fact. I think I will continue to plead ignorance on this though, since sculpin sounds so much simpler and easier to remember than Plainfin Midshipman. Toadfish sure sounds right because they are one ugly fish.

  7. Must be the Shelburne/Enfield water that you drank which gave your system those cancer fighting genes. Excellent medical report and pictures/painting. Keep up the good fight and know that Nanci’s and my thoughts are with you.

    1. Thanks Al. Trying not to get too far ahead of myself and attempt to contain the optimism, but all signs at least do point in a positive direction, but have to remember that there are only a very few folks with this that survive a decade or more, it does always tend to return after remission, the key is how long the revision lasts. It is interesting to listen to the doctor talk about all the incredible research approaches being done to solve the mystery of this disease, there are an awful lot of smart people out there working on this, and as he says, the longer one hangs around, the greater the chance of living to see a cure.

  8. Good Luck to you my friend. I so… enjoy reading your blog and admiring the fantastic pictures. Someday soon, I hope to meet you on the road and shake your hand.

  9. What a wonderful way to start my day …your good health report card and the beautiful pictures of the John day area. And what a great painting!!!!!
    Sending good thoughts your way!

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