Saturday, February 12, 2011

The wierd, the unexplainable, the myterious ....don't you just love them?

Nothing quite tweaks the human interest quadrant of our brain than something that is beyond our comprehension, and better yet, beyond that of many experts that have studied the phenomena. Add a touch of weird, and maybe even, a dash of evil, and wow; do you have our attention. Novelists and film makers have developed empires over this part of us, not to mention, the teams of engineers designing higher & faster roller coasters.

 And what kind of people would put a device on top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas which propels people (who pay for this and many are drunk) over the top and tilts you down like you are going to fall over 900 feet to the pavement below. Oh my God! The desire to understand and experience these things can be addictive to some, and I am certainly no exception. Let’s face it: as a society we love to get the ever loving hell scared out of us!

My first opportunity to investigate the weird was back in my high school days. Any of you that lived or went to school in Norton, Doyestown, or Clinton, Ohio, indubitably have heard of, and possibly have been to the infamous "Rouge's Hollow". The story, as I recall from hanging out with high school friends, was a murdered child's spirit was trapped for eternity under a bridge in Rouge's Hollow. Now, why in the world does that intrigue us? What could be a more terrible occurrence? Maybe it’s the fact that it was long ago and to visit the site is a tribute to the person who is trapped under the bridge, boy, I'm weird, your right: we just love to get the ever loving hell scared out of us! Anyways, late at night, if you had the nerve, you could park your car on the bridge and listen to the screams and crying of this misplaced child's soul.

Wow, a bunch of us just couldn't wait to check that out! We heard first hand accounts from others at school telling us of the bazaar encounters. How they approached the bridge, sure that they had plenty of nerve to stay there, only to be frightened beyond their wits, and ran away with no explanation of what it could have possibly been, other than "pure evil". Great! PURE EVIL. Doesn't get much better than that!

For my younger readers, this was way before computers, smart phones, Ipads, the Internet, and all of the information that, today, is at our fingertips. Heck, we didn't even have hand held calculators or digit watches! So, getting information required a trip to the library to see what we could learn before we  ventured into our quest.

So with little info and as much courage as any 16 or 17 year old can pretend to have, off we go in my 1948 Chevy (quit laughing...I’m not that ancient, it was old when I got it) on the quest to solve this mystery. It was dark, fogy, and cool that evening. Perfect for the adventure. We found the town, and behold: we found the bridge! We quietly and slowly approached the bridge when someone said: “Wait! If we park going this direction, we will have to cross it again....coming back... if we find anything.” Great thinking. The ‘48 was a large, black, car with a little back window. So, backing it in was a group effort; “ more to the left”........”now, a little to the right”.....”now STOP” were the instructions from the back seat.

Now in good position for our exploration (and a speedy retreat), down went the 4 windows of the massive 4 door. “ Hear anything?”. “Hear anything?” . Asking each other in anticipation af an encounter with the paranormal. Nothing.........Nothing.......Nothing...Then: The most chilling sound of a baby screaming in pain! We out volumed the baby with screaming of our own as, petal to the metal, with all 6 cylinders propelling the ‘48, off we went for the safety of Norton! Was is scary?. Yes. Did I want to go back to the bridge? No!

Years later, I moved to Northeast Oklahoma to work for B. F. Goodrich. I heard many tales at the tire plant about the “Spook Light” of Miami (Oklahoma). As recorded by “Prairie Ghosts . com” the story is:

“In Oklahoma, the Miami Spook Light has been seen since the late 1800's. The legend behind the light says that it is the lantern of a woman searching for her missing daughter. The story goes that a woman sent her daughter out to look for some stray cows in heavy fog. The girl took a lantern with her to light the way but after several hours did not return. Her mother took the other lantern and went out to search for her, going back out night after night until she went insane with grief. When the woman died, her spirit returned to the hills and is said to still walk on cool, foggy nights. The light which appears near Miami is said to be that of the mother's lantern as she still continues to search for the daughter who never came home.”

Pretty spooky, right? Add to this that the fact that Army Corps of Engineers, as well as many other creditable sources, have studied this paranormal phenomena, without explanation, makes, as some call it: “The Hornet Spook Light”, even more creepy. I personally have seen it from a distance and my wife and kids have had much closer, bouncing over and around their bodies, types of experience. Lisa has some great pictures of this weird, but real, phenomena. They love to chase it, photograph it, almost to the point of “pestering” the poor spirit. My stand: “Leave me alone and I’ll let you alone to wander the hills in search of your daughter without my interference!” I guess this is good with “the spirit” as I have not, nor do I want to, seen the spirit coming to my house, peeking into my windows, chasing me, photographing me, or any of the other activities that us humans do to it! I’m good with that agreement.
Whatever is the spark that starts our internal fire for the super scary, death defying, and our overwhelming desire to get the ever loving hell scared out of us, I thank God for it, as it is obvious for many: This is another way of enjoying life. So go for it; watch a spooky movie or read a scary book, I think it might be good for you!

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading and send me a note when you get a chance. Remember, if you have any strange bumps (other that goosebumps from the spook light), lumps, or pains, see your doctor.

Loving Life and Fighting Cancer,

John L.

Information is now available on sites like which will also lead you to more history on the area.

Friday, January 7, 2011

You Don't Know.....If You Don't Look!

Merry Christmas to all.......whoops late on that one!

Happy New Year! ....a little late, however, appropriate with 2010 behind us.

There are hundreds of stories and sayings related to "Looking" or "Seeing" what is happening around us; "Look before you leap", "Look on the bright side", "You can't judge a book by it's cover", "Look both ways before you cross the street" (my Mother's favorite as me and my three brothers heard it so many times!), and the ever popular "What are you looking at?"

The perceived necessity of inventing "sayings" to remind us to look, must surely mean that most of the time we don't look. Go for a drive in your car and I am sure will notice a few drivers to prove my theory. They may be looking but not at what they should "the road!".

Then we have the not looking by choice. How many times have you past a store, cafe', museum, or other point of interest and have said; "I would love to stop there to see what that is all about." How many times have we said it, some maybe for years. Or maybe you read about an event happening near you that sounds interesting. Just STOP. Check it out. It's just that easily. You can take a minute to see if it is something you will really enjoy, if not, at least you won't be wondering about it. A few minutes to look may gain you  a new favorite place to shop, eat, have coffee, or whatever, to enhance your life.

I learned a valuable lesson on "Looking" several years ago when we lived on the ranch. We had 160 acres of rolling hills about 1/4 timber and 3/4 of open pasture of various grasses (none smokable), clovers, and the most beautiful array of wild flowers that only God could be the gardener. Several spring feed ponds and a small lazy creek that ran along the side of the drive way for the first 300 yards, then crossing it, you drove on up about 1/2 mile to the house up on the hilltop maybe 100 feet or so higher than the pasture. All the wildlife and wildflowers, Redbud trees, and Dogwood trees, make it a colorful and breathtaking little slice of heaven. It was nearly a daily experience to see our horses and cows grazing with near by, but not too close, deer, as many as 20 on any given day. Wild turkeys, raccoons, and foxes, were also out there every day. However, ranching is an all year job including winter.

We had cattle and horses to feed everyday, regardless of the weather. The weather in Northeast Oklahoma is, for the most part, extremely nice to be outside. However, there are a few weeks in the Summer that are so hot you could fry an egg on a rock (yes, I had to try it and the dogs loved my experiments and our hens always produced more than we could eat) and then there is the winter.

One February morning the sun was shinning as it does over 90% of the time, however, we got about six to eight inches of snow during the night and it was cold out there. Breakfast time for the animals. So in my three layers of clothes, carhart coat and pants, ski mask, and hood, out I go for feeding time.

 I got to the upper pasture and the horses were standing there waiting on me. They had been there for a while as each of them were covered with several inches of snow over their backs like a coat. They didn't seem to mind at all, they are a very tough animal. As I got closer to them, they were staring at me like " what in the world is he dressed like that for?".  I said my "good mornings" to them and proceeded to start the feeding. First I had to empty the snow from their feeding troughs. This pasture was for horses only so we just had an electric fence that the horses had a good respect. I don't know if I was thinking about their coats of snow or what, but I didn't turn off the fence, and yes, I slid into it! It's a darn good fence because ever with all of my mittens and clothing, I was levitated like a David Copperfield magic trip, vibrated the hell out of me, and threw me backwards landing flat on my back, arms and legs flinging out of control. I laid there for a moment, waiting for the horses to quit laughing, and then when I stood up, took a couple of shaky steps, and looked back at my landing place. Behold, there was a perfect and the most beautiful "Snow Angel" I have ever seen! I guess the involuntary reaction in my arms and legs fluttering out of control were perfect to create such a thing of beauty. Who says that God doesn't have a sense of humor. The horses continued to laugh until I got the food out, then hunger overtook comedy, as it does in most cases, for all creatures.

A couple of year later, in the Winter, I got my good lesson on "Looking". It had snowed hard for a couple of days, getting out only to feed, and the house, full of kids (school cancelled) playing with the dogs in the snow. With about ten inches on the ground, another overnight storm that continued all the next day dumped a record breaking fourteen to sixteen inches on top. Unheard of for this part of the country. The snow was so high that even if we could get into our Dodge Ram 3/4 ton 4-wheel drive, it would never make it to the little county road that led to and from, this now isolated, winter wonderland, and yes I did get out to feed the horses, the cows, the dogs, and the chickens.

Ever been snowbound with a house full of kids for a week? Don't get me wrong, we love our kids, however as parents all over this great land know deep in their hearts, we created schools to get them out of the house to somewhat save our sanity. Another day went by, a little more snow, but no melting as it remained very frigid. Then another day, and Lisa said: "we have got to go to the store, even if you have to go by tractor, because we both know even if we could drag the truck to the county road, it hasn't been cleared" My reply was we have plenty of meat in the freezer, the hens are still laying, and plenty of canned food. She countered with " I didn't see you growing any toilet paper out there!". I have never heard more powerful and inspirational words, because even if I could somehow convince the kids to return to the old days of using a page from the Sears catalog, highly unlikely, the thought of plugged sewer lines going to the septic system struck terror in my heart. So after several days, T.P. was the motivation for me to make a long drive to town on the tractor. I bundled up, filled the tractor with diesel, and headed out.

When I got to the gate on the top of the hill, I had to stop and just take in the snow covered lower pasture, the ponds still flowing as they are spring feed, and other than a few wild animal tracks, a perfect blanket of snow as far as you can see. It was so quiet. Not a sound. A nice change from the house full of kids! Definitely no sounds of trucks on the county road, because even though I hadn't driven the tractor down to look, I was sure it was still covered and treacherous. After a minute of enjoying the sight and lack of sound, I opened the gate, walked back to the tractor, and headed down the lane. Who knows, if I could make it out to Highway 10 (about 2 1/2 miles), I might be able to hitch a ride the other 16 to town. Wishing I had made a sign " Need ride, out of toilet paper".  Surely someone would relate to that.

As I made it down the drive, I had to find a speed that would get me there but not freeze me to death in the process. I drove a path that I thought was the lane, although no way to know for sure as the snow was so deep.  When I came to the creek crossing I knew I was on the right path as it was a narrow path only a little more than a truck wide. Up from the creek I emerged, right turn to the front gate, about 300yards to the county road. As I got a little closer, I saw my neighbor to the South out at his gate off of the county road. He was waving as he too had escaped a house full of kids! And what was that......his truck! It wasn't until I made it to the gate and LOOKED, I saw a perfectly scraped and clean county road. I got off the tractor and yelled " Hello Chad, when did they clear the road?" Chad is a man of few words, but I will never forget these. After a spit of his chew and a wipe of his mouth on back of his glove, he announced, "Three days ago". Not wanting to look stupid in front of my veteran cowboy neighbor, I checked my gate, asked how his folks were, mounted my tractor and up to the house I headed. When I got there, plenty cold, Lisa asked "Too cold to make the trip?" I replied "No. The road has been open for three days! Let's hook up a chain to the Durango or pick up and drag it to the gate." She chose the Durango 4-wheel drive as some of the kids wanted to go also. So chained to the tractor, we drug the Durango to the road. Wishing I had looked three days ago. Lisa drove to town, while I on my tractor with front end loader, made a path to the house the best I could. Hoping it would be good enough for Lisa when she returned. It was. Thank you Lord!

To take a look was five or six minute on the tractor. To not look cost us three days! Who knows, if it wasn't for the overpowering demand for toilet paper, we may have been there for another couple of days.

I guess the moral of the story is that you should stop to take the time and effort to look at the world around us. This includes our heath. If you have a strange lump, bump, pain, or change in your weight or appetite: Stop and have a Dr. look at it. It may be nothing, but don't put it off like I did, only to find Squamous Cancer in the 4th degree. Sure wish I would have caught it sooner.

Write when you can. I love hearing from everyone. And even though I have been in the hospital from Christmas Eve until now (with a while to go), I remain "Loving Life and Fighting Cancer". Love and best wishes to all,

John L.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Don't Worry .............Be Happy!"

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Last year at this time I was in the middle of radiation treatments with chemo. The daily treatments had destroyed all of my taste buds. I couldn't taste the difference between turkey or cranberry sauce? It all tasted like cardboard. My taste is back about 75% now, so I'm looking forward to flavors of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a happy time which reminded me of a song that my son, John Michael, would sing and whistle when he was 4 or 5 years old. That was somewhere around 20 years ago but I can hear him singing it like it was yesterday. Some of you may remember the song. It was a Jamaican kind of island tune with the main words being "Don't happy".

Little J.M. would walk around just singing this little tune day and night, and he was, so happy! Thinking about it now, I kind of understand the connection of being happy by not worrying. (Now I can't get that song out of my head! It drives me nuts when this happens, well at least it's not a fast food chain jingle...those are the worst!)

Back to "Worry". When I found out that I have Squamous Carcinoma Cell Cancer of the Head and Neck, and then learned what it is, I was faced with some choices. I could very easily worry about my health, our financial demise, the effect on Lisa, the kids and grand kids, OR, I could choose not to worry, and yes, be happy, which I knew was the desire and for the betterment of all concerned.

Easier said than done. So how did I do this almost magical feat? If you have a few minutes, I'll be glad to share:

The first thing I found was "Worry" is something that we put on ourselves. I see this a lot with the young adults. Work, school, internships, clubs, booze (whoops, that was my college days!) but you get what I'm saying? How do you take on so much and then not worry about getting it done? And then some of you are blessed with children to raise during this building stage of your lives! Wow, been isn't easy.

However, if we bring "worry"on ourselves, can't we just choose what, and when, to deal with things? You bet your day planner we can! I have mastered it. The first thing I do if I catch myself wanting to worry about something is ask myself: "Is there anything I can do about this right now with what I have to work with?" The answer is almost always "No". If the answer is "yes", then I need to get off my butt and do something...immediately! If I can't do anything about it at the time, or I don't have what I need to work with, I choose not to worry about it and make a plan on how to deal with it at a later date. Let's say that I need to ask the Dr.'s something that has really been bothering me and my appointment is on Thursday, however, it's only Sunday, then why should I worry and be in turmoil about it for days! I just sing the little tune: "Don't happy" and wait for Thursday to come around (which seems to be faster and faster all the time).

I know what your thinking: "He didn't bring the cancer on himself! I don't bring my problems on myself! They just come like a giant black cloud, hovering over me, depressing me, exhausting me, and driving me crazy! I think he is full of it!" Wait a minute, I said we bring the worry on ourselves not the problems. The problems come from all directions and sometimes the dreaded two or three at a time: family wellness, financial concerns, getting homework done, stray dogs using your yard as their personal restroom, or whatever evil unpleasantness we find bestowed upon us!

However, please consider what I've said about "choosing not to worry".

If you are worrying about paying the bills, is there anything you can do about it right then? I think it's better to commit to "I'm not going to worry about this right now because there is nothing I can do about it, at this time, with what I have to work with. I'm going to take some time tomorrow (or pick a date and time) to list all the possible ways I can solve this problem and then do something about it, but I AM NOT going to worry and lose sleep over it because: right this minute, there is nothing I can do about it!"

If you find yourself with a problem or concern, do something about it right then, if you can, or schedule a day and time to deal with it, both of these are productive. Please try to avoid "worry" as it is NOT productive and is very detrimental to you happiness. Remember, "Don't Happy" works hand in hand. If you don't worry, you'll be happy, and if your happy, you don't worry.

Christians are really in luck when it comes to eliminating "worry". Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25-34 all we need to know about "worry". It is an important enough subject for Jesus to take the time to try to help us with His teachings. Sometimes I pray not for the solution to my problem, I just ask God to help me to continue not worrying about it. Then, I feel wonderful!

 The words of a song, being performed by a little boy for his Dad, years ago, sure has helped me. Children can see things through their innocents that we older (and in my case I do mean OLDER) adults lose along the way. My Brother, Mark, told me a story of how a young son of his pointed out to him: "Dad, you have spent your whole life worried about being poor". Amazing, as Mark is very successful and appears to have never missed a meal! (sorry about that Bro, I couldn't help myself). However, he does admit he use to "worry" about it, even though, he worked hard to avoid it!

What did the "worry" get him? It's not a motivation tool. What motivates us is the end result we want to obtain and I think that many times we forget that important fact. We also forget how to enjoy the pursuit of what we are trying to gain. Just because it may be work to obtain it doesn't mean that we have to hate the journey. Find a way to enjoy the efforts your are putting into your project, the old "whistle why your work" idea.

A word of caution, you may want to refrain from being over zealous. Many years ago I was working on a project for General Tire Corp. in Charlotte, NC. We were staying at the Holiday Inn and one morning, in my typical morning happiness (something many people don't have but my Mom says that I have always been happy in the morning) I closed my room door and met up in the hall with Bill Greaves, who was working with me. On the way towards the elevator, which was down the hall and around a corner, I broke out into a loud and happy version of: " Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, IT"S OFF TO WORK WE GO", which Bill, nursing a little hang-over, didn't appear to be enjoying. Despite his discomfort, I continued the song with the whistling and singing, very loud. As we approached the end of the hall, we made the turn to the elevator, continuing to sing my heart out, when what awaited me at the elevator was a total, and embarrassing surprise. It was two dwarfs in business suits, also starting their day. My "Hi-Ho" trickled off quickly and I could have crawled in a corner but there was no where to hide. So we said "Good morning!" to our vertically challenged fellow road-warriors, and yes, they looked at me like "you have got to be kidding me!" True story. The lesson learned was; even though you may be really happy, not everybody may embrace your methods of expressing your happiness.

 Here are two of my favorite quotes on "Worry":

"Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it."  ~Mark Twain

"Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere. " ~Glenn Turner

I hope that someone will find this useful. Please write a comment and let me know. Or email me at  It's always great to hear from you. Thanks for reading,

Loving life and fighting cancer,

John L.

Promote cancer awareness and early detection for yourself and those you love. It may save a life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Benifits of having cancer

After the surgeries, heavy duty chemo, then radiation and chemo together, I was, to say the least, a sorry sight. After 57 years of being so darn good looking, (well, at least Lisa says I am), with a great head of hair, something all 3 of my brothers hate me for, and possessing rock-solid good health....up to that point, then boom!

Now I was BALD, feeding tube hanging out of my 6 pack abs (OK my abs were a 6 pack of Burger King Whoppers), with a half dollar sized chemo port bulging from my chest, and a tracheotomy  tube protruding from my neck looking like an overflow pipe at Lake Ann. I looked like hell, Hank said I "looked like Uncle Fester from the Adams Family". He was right. All I need was the light bulb and with all the radioactive stuff in me, it might have lit up in my mouth!

Then I started to realize all of the benefits of having cancer. Did I say "BENEFITS"? You bet your bed pan! Let me list just a few for you:

Number 1: Early Retirement. You jump right to the point in life of our senior citizens. No work, all play! Yes, it was easier to "play" young and healthy, however, it's still nice to have some time off after 40+ years of 10 to 12 hour work days! And to learn the tricks of survival on a small Social Security check, just like our beloved seniors, is a brand new game. Boy, I wish I could just get 1/2 of what I paid in....they could keep the other 1/2!.

Number 2: Loosing An Extra Few Pounds. I hear most people talk about how they want to loose weight...and with cancer, it's no problem! The pounds just disappear. Heck before I could say "Richard Simmons", I was down to the same weight as my sophomore year of high school (those of you that knew me then remember that I could turn sideways and hide behind a telephone pole). And the old clothes that I had packed away for years, not only fit, they are back in style!

Number 3: Legitimate Handicapped Parking. It is so nice to not circle and circle the parking lots like a falcon desperate to swoop down on it's prey in search of a spot anywhere near the store. Not to mention, the seemingly uncontrolled rage of the race to the spot....only to come in second, and yes, start the circling AGAIN! Now, cane in hand, there exists a special treat for those of us who are having trouble physically getting around: preferred parking. How nice of everyone else to be so considerate whether they want to, or not.

Number 4: Never Miss A Game. Even the days that I can hardly get out of bed, I can still find some kind of game to watch on TV. Football, Baseball, Basketball, Tennis, Men's Golf, Women's Golf, Pro Bowling, Track, Swimming, Curling, Ping Pong.... you name it and we, as sports crazed Americans, have it on the tube. Sometimes I wonder "How can they put so many sports programs on?" Are there really that many people like me laying around watching this stuff? How much money does "Budweiser" have to sponsor hundreds of events on dozens of channels? Is Curling really a sport? It hurts my poor chemo-brain to ponder such a complex cultural institution.

Number 5: The Feeling of Royalty. Back in the health days, Lisa and I were able to make a couple of trips to Las Vegas, usually with Kelly and Bill, our daughter and son-in-law. It was nice to have such attentive Hotel Clerks, Restaurant Employees, Bar Tenders, Hookers (whoops, how did that get in there...chemo-brain?) Although I do believe that all four of us were approached by "Entertainment Specialists". Maybe they just sang and danced! Anyways, where in the world am I heading with that? ....I'm not. Back to being treated like royalty. Las Vegas is nothing compared to the treatment you get, not only from the wonderful Doctors, Nurses, Medical Technicians, and family. you even get it from the most casual acquaintances, when they know your medical condition. Showing love and compassion even without the expected tip like in Las Vegas. There is nothing better than knowing that people are treating you so nice because they truly care. The Queen of England can't top that!

Number 6: The last for now, but certainly not least, A Continued Loving Relationship with God. I'm not going to thump a Bible at you. An old sinner like me hardly has the answers to age long questions on faith, however, I do know what I have had for years. In good times, God was always with me, protecting me, letting me learn from my mistakes, and always loving me. Now, that I am sick, he holds me, and blesses me everyday, more and more. Renewing old friendships, adventures with Lisa, loving family and friends, you reading this right now.....what tremendous blessings!

With these six you can see why I say that there are "benefits" to having cancer. There's more that I will share later, as this could go on to only be "out paged" by Moby Dick. I hope that you never get the chance to experience them....I'm selfish. That's it for now, I will leave you with the wise words from Mark Twain; "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated". This applies to all of sure to LIVE today don't just wander through it. Yep, I'm still here and thanks for reading!

Loving Life and Fighting Cancer,

John L.

Be sure to visit the American Cancer Society at

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Is cancer part of "Nature"

This past summer when we learned that the radiation didn't kill my cancer, we started looking into what we want to do, rather than dwelling on what we need to do. So much of our lives are directed (or dictated) by what we think we need to do. So we went to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis thinking that we needed to do something and we found that it gave us the opportunity to do things we had talked about but were just too busy to pursue. My previous post on the zoo being one.

We decided that the weather was right, and now that we were travelling past the Mark Twain National Forest on a weekly basis, we should get a tent and go camping on the way there, or back. We are not experienced campers. I loved the great outdoors as a kid and Lisa, with her Butterfly Photography, is a person who can spend hours in the fields and streams. But in a tent? Of course! We are mighty campers, close to nature, and now with fighting cancer, shouldn't I get closer to NATURE.

My last attempt at camping was years ago when we had a huge Winnebago. Gas range, hot water, microwave, television, shower, toilet.....did I call this Camping? I thought so at the time and the kids sure seemed to enjoy it! But now, it was time to get real: Sleep on the ground, build a fire for real use instead of just looks, and get back to the way of the great pioneers that built this wonderful country! What was I thinking? Has the Chemo-Brain kicked into overdrive?

Number 1: If you have not slept on the ground in over 50 years - DO NOT DO IT! It hurts.
Number 2: Trying to heat water for coffee in a ladle over an open flame works but it isn't easy!
Number 3: Didn't remember it being so darn dark.

The opportunity did come. We were on the quest in St. Louis and realized that we were about half way to Akron and should run on up to see the family. A short drive of 500 miles, but Lisa loves to drive, I think! The family was having a picnic that weekend and it would be a great opportunity to see many of them. And yes, we could camp on the way home.

The time in Akron was great. Mary Jo and Denny parked their RV in Kelly and Bill's driveway to give us a place to stay and get the "camping" state of mind. We looked like Cousin Eddy from Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation movie. Leaving Akron, we decided to take a southern route through Kentucky then over to Missouri. Lisa had not seen Kentucky and it is some very beautiful country. So off we went. Driving into Kentucky it started to get late in the day. The thought again crossed my mind: "we are not experienced campers!". Where do we go? What do we do? What does the tent look like when you get it out of the box? All the while a huge storm is circling the area.

"Next exit....a State Campground" I informed Lisa with all the confidence of someone that had any idea of what they we doing. Lisa said "great". I think she meant it. There it is Big Bone Lick State Park! Not sure of what "Big Bone Lick" could possibly be...maybe a Kentucky Bar-B-Que classic or something. We made it to the campground with a little wind and lightning around the area and yes, it was dark.

It had to be quite a sight for the very few veteran campers (that were already set for the night) to see a 57 year old man beat up by cancer and his pint sized wife, struggling to find which part of the tent was required to go in the air and how to accomplish such a feat. And yes, it was dark...but we had a little flashlight. How resourcefully and prepared! Later, after the tent was up, we realized that the headlights of car that got us there could have been very useful in the tent adventure.

We inflated the air mattress  and tossed it into the tent. Lisa grabbed the cooler and we enjoyed a dinner of tuna fish sandwiches and various snack food. Ah, the great outdoor. Was I tired? Do the bears cra....., well you get the idea. Speaking of bears, around 3:00 A.M., my beautiful bride whispers to me (I loved the whisper because none of the veteran campers were anyway near shouting distance of us rookies) she whispered " I think that's a bear outside in the woods". I liked the "outside" and "in the woods" part but the BEAR part still woke me up like a triple espresso, intravenously administered!

"A bear?" I asked Lisa and then I heard the cracking of something large walking just behind our tent, breaking fallen must be a BIG bear. Then Lisa continued her whisper "....and I have to go pee.". The Restroom / Shower house (very clean and somewhat bear proof) was about 100 yards from our tent. Lisa could run that far very quickly with her little Mighty Mouse run, after all she has been known to catch run-a-way wheelchairs, and I could lag behind and use my cane to fight off the bear, and yes, be her hero! So we quietly and slowly unzipped the tent door and out we went knowing the the restroom had to be a bear proof haven. With cane in hand I was prepared to defend my wife with life and limb. As I glanced back a the woods, I saw the creature, it was staring at me! It must have been some type of Kentucky Bear that I am not familiar with as it was sort of brown, but it had antlers. It must have seen the cane as it ran back into the wood like a scalded dog! I'm so brave! I didn't tell Lisa about the antlers right away, only that I scared the "Bear" (deer) of into the woods, oh, her hero I was.

The next day we truly enjoyed the park.  It was fascinating and a wonderful, educational experience. They have a great website  if you want to discover what the "Big Bones" are. Later we did hear the screech of a monkey in the trees but decided it must have been a Kentucky bird of some sort....did I mention we are not experienced campers!

Thanks for reading. Support cancer awareness. Pass this blog along to those you think might enjoy it. If you haven't signed up as a follower, please do, and sent me a note or comment when you have time. I love hearing from everyone.

Loving Life and Fighting Cancer,

John L.

 Please support and read up on cancer awareness at the American Cancer Web site

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Just because I couldn't talk doesn't mean I couldn't hear!

Before I get on a roll here, let me tell you how wonderful all of the Doctors, Nurses, and Staff at St. John's Hospital in Joplin have been for me. They have been very kind and supportive over the past year, and even with the nature of the beast that we are fighting, we have had a lot of fun with most of them, sharing stories and showing them just how attitude equals quality of life whether your sick or not. However, there is one universal aspect that just cracks Lisa and I up.

We first noticed it when I was recovering from the first surgery when the Doctors went in for a "routine" biopsy and I woke up a few days later in ICU with tubes in every body orifice and an unanticipated tracheotomy. Things didn't go quite as well as they hoped, as one of the tumors exploded and they had to do a lot of work to keep me from bleeding out on the table. So now, for the first time in my life, I couldn't talk. Now, with a metal tube protruding from my throat and all the new hardware in my body like feeding tubes in my stomach and a brand new chemo port in my chest, I was a sorry sight.

Now the funny part. When people came in the room, even trained medical personnel, they would speak to me in a volume that was very weird! "GOOD MORNING JOHN. HOW ARE YOU TODAY? Oh, and hello Mrs. Longaberger , how are you?" Loud enough at me to scare the hell out of me, yet, ever so quiet, almost a whisper, to Lisa! The tube was in the throat not my ears. The first time it happened, Lisa and I just looked at each other and smiled. Then we found that this was happening with just about everyone. We couldn't help but laugh harder each day, which I am sure, they had to wonder what the heck was wrong with us that we would find anything in this situation so amusing.

In a few days, or it might have been weeks, I learned how to speak by putting my finger over the end of the tube so that air would come out of my mouth, and yes, a voice again, ending my silence that some my have been enjoying.

After 20 days or so in the hospital, I got to go home for three or four days before starting my seven day in hospital chemo treatments. All the Nurses and Doctors stopped by to visit and give me their best wishes and it was still at a volume that would put Jimi Hendrix or the Led Zeplin back in the 70's to shame. So I had to, out of pure orneriness, return fire with all the decibels that my sore throat could muster. Lisa gave me the dirty eye, so I had to tell everyone what, and why, I was speaking so loud. We all had a good laugh about it. Everyone said that they didn't even realize that they were doing the sliding volume thing.

Now Lisa and my Mom would be the first to tell you that I do suffer from "Selective Hearing" in that sometimes I just don't hear everything that they are saying to me. I believe this to be an affliction that many men may have, however, for the most part, my ears do a pretty good job.

The trach tube was removed last winter just before the 36 radiation treatments. And now the only time someone yells at me is when I have earned it. When you see someone with an obvious medical mess, understand that they probably would like it if you just speak to them in the same way, and manner, as everyone else.

Thanks for reading. Next post will be about our camping experience (something I felt like we needed to do this past summer). Until then, support cancer awareness, and especially early detection. If you, or someone you know, has a bump, lump, or other strange item, don't ignore it. Have it checked out.

Loving Life and Fighting Cancer,

John L.

Visit the American Cancer Society at

Friday, October 29, 2010

Slowing Down Time

We have all said it. " Time moves way to fast", or something to that sort. When several Doctors and cancer experts look you right in the eyes and say "six months", time really does matter. Now that I have started Erbitux (chemo) treatments, that "drop dead date" (literally) may be extended for a while. So give me a little time  and I start goofing off. Well at least as this BLOG thing goes. It has been almost a month from when I first got the idea that I needed to do this, and yes, this is my second entry. I don't even know how to invite people to read it!

Now that 1/6 or so of my remaining time here on God's Green Earth, I am going to try to be a little more giving by posting more often. Hell. I may even find out how to let you know how to find me. I guess I did you you wouldn't be reading this.

Lisa and I traveled several time to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis in search of a "cure". None was found, however, we did have some great times in St. Louis. Being in a city with so many cultural and ethnic attachtions, the hardest decision is what to do next. And on the budget of an unemployed cancer patient, what can we do and see.

We started by exploring the neighborhoods around Barnes-Jewish, which is by the way a top notch hospital with all the advanced medical equipment with the brilliant staff of the University of Washington at St. Louis, and found so much. Forest Park is right there! Big and beautiful, it holds all kinds of treasures for every interest. From Golf, to the world class zoo, to the museums, it's all right there, and so much is free!

So we had to go to the zoo after one of our several Dr. appointments. We didn't realize that the zoo closed at 5:00 and we had arrived at 3:30. Hard headed and determined to see the zoo, Lisa and I decided to get a wheelchair as I was very tired, and very slow. She said she didn't mind pushing me and although I had never been in a wheelchair, it sounded kind of fun. So my beautiful little wife in her heels starts propelling me through the park. It was more uncomfortable that I had hoped for and gave me a new appreciation for those who are in one every day. But off we went, Bears, Prairie Dogs, Monkeys, how fun.

I do get a little confused, the Dr.'s call it "Chemo Brain". So while stopped at an exhibit, Lisa tells me "Brake!". So I put on the wheel brake to keep me from inadvertently running over little kids. When we got ready to move on, Lisa, once again, yelled "Brake" and I released it and off when went on our mary way to the next caged creatures. When we got there the now familiar "Brake" was sounded and I set it immediately.
Did I mention, I get confused? Well, the "Brake" and my Chemo-Brain got out of sequence. I heard Lisa huffing and puffing as we headed up the hill. I turned back to look at her and she was sweating like a offensive guard for the New York Giants in a big game! Your right, I had the brake ON. I quickly released it and Lisa's strain and effort was reduced. What happened then, at the top of the hill, Lisa claims to be a total accident. I think the "Brake" thing might have had something to do with it.

We stared down the hill, toward the Flamingo Pond, and I noticed we were moving right along, in fact, we were hauling ass! I turned around to see little Lisa doing her Might Mouse run trying to catch me as I was heading down the slope. And, yes, she was screamimg "Brake". I started yelling hoping that all parents would sweep their children from my path as I tried to apply the "Brake!". The pond was coming into focus now, the cement curb appeared to be just high enough to stop my wheels which should project me like Superman into the pond for a swim with the fishes and flamingos. I was grabbing at the wheels when I felt the hands of my little Mighty Mouse grab the back of the chair, rocking side to side, Lisa had stopped me, running in heels and all. A small amount of applause came from the bystanders as Lisa and I both took a deep breath, or two.

Saved from my dip in the pond, Lisa asks "What time is it?" I looked and it was 7 'till five. We would loose our $25 deposit if not back to the gate by 5:00! We were way across the park. Lisa yelled the all to familiar by now "Brake" and I released it and of we went toward the gate. Lisa was running, people were getting out of her way! "You made it just in time....5:01" said the gentleman as he was closing the wheelchair service area. We got our $25 and headed, silently, to the car. Now in the car, I took a look at Lisa and she was a little more exhausted than most would expect from a couple of hours at the zoo. We both laughed out loud and headed down the road for our next adventure. Boy, I love that woman.

That's it for now. Hope you enjoyed the story. Support cancer awareness. Thanks, John L.