Sunday, July 05, 2009

Moving day

Image representing WordPress as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBase

I'm experimenting with Wordpress as a blogging platform, and have exported 'Life Out Loud' to its new WordPress location.

While I'm experimenting with WP, I won't be accepting comments here. Come visit!

--- UPDATE ---
I've officially settled all three of my blogs - Life Out Loud, my canning and preserving blog Kitchen Jam, and my dog training blog Dog Trainer's Log - in their new domains, completing my move to Wordpress.

Other posts here will eventually be taken off line. Meanwhile, please come visit each of the new sites - I'm having a lot of fun living life out loud at each of them!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

A month without blogging...

June was a full month.
Oh, I knew it was going to be busy--but I had no idea how busy it would be.
I had no idea that I'd end up here in the last days of the month with the worst cold I've had since cancer, slamming down Tropicana50 (the new reduced sugar OJ) and trying not to sneeze and cough at the same time!

At any rate, there were up-sides to this busy June.
Catered a lunch for four judges and assorted obedience trial staff--and got two requests for recipes.
Finally managed to make it to my very first Tear-Up the Adirondacks teardrop and tiny travel trailer rally--and really enjoyed camping in the Sunspot with two dogs and a the pouring rain. I can't wait to go out again!
I put my little SunSpot right in between the two trees that create the entrance to site #228:
(photo credit to Dave,
Traveled to Williamsburg VA for my uncle's memorial service, and reconnected with my aunt, cousins and their kids--some I'd never met and cousins I hadn't seen in 30 years.

And now I'm here nursing a cold and wondering if I'll be better in time for a wedding tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

More NY state anti-dog legislation in the Assembly this week

A purebred dogImage via Wikipedia

Senator Aubertine's office advises that 10 bills of interest to dog owners are on the agenda for next week's (June 1-7) NY State Senate committmee meetings.

**Regarding "puppymills" **

S4961A Oppenheimer (same as A 7983A Paulin) Redefines "pet dealer" by REMOVING the exemption for residential/ hobby breeders and ADDING "any person who SELLS, OFFERS FOR SALE OR NEGOTIATES THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF ANIMALS BORN OR RAISED ON ANOTHER PREMISES;

The proposal also adds numerous requirements for care of animals by "pet dealers" including veterinary protocols, exercise, and more. Also requires pet dealers to authorize release of their records with breed registries and veterinarians to New York State or its agents.

link: A07983&sh=t
- - - -
S5392A Squadron (same as A7285 Paulin)
Prohibits ownership or custody of more than 50 intact dogs or cats

Allows for seizure of dogs or cats if any person or business "has in its care" more than 50 intact dogs or cats over the age of 4 months. Note that such animals may be sold off or killed by the impounding agency if security bond requirements are not met within five days.

link: A07285
Note: this bill is endorsed by HSUS
- - - -
Please join the Dog Federation of New York in opposing these bills and immediately write or phone NYS Agriculture Committee Chair Darrel Aubertine and the Agriculture committee members to express your concern regarding such extremist proposals. If enacted, both will devastate
lawful, humane pet breeders.

As always, be brief, be polite, mention the bill number and "oppose" in the subject line

Contact information:
Hon. Darrel Aubertine
Chair, NYS Senate Committee on Agriculture
903 Legislative Office Building
Albany, New York 12247
518-455-2761 (office) / 518-455-6946 (fax)

committee members:

Sen. William Stachowski, Ph (518)455-2426,

Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, Ph (518)455-3451,

Sen. Neil Breslin, Ph (518)455-2225,

Sen. David Valesky, Ph (518)455-2838,

Sen. Catherine Young, Ph (518)455-3563

Sen. James Seward, Ph (518)455-3131,

Sen. George Winner, Ph (518)455-2091,

Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, Ph (518)455-3161,

also copy or call:
Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith
Office of New York State Senator Malcolm A. Smith
909 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Tel: (518) 455-2701 / Fax: (518) 455-2816

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More on the journey to recovery with yoga

I mentioned yesterday that, just out of surgery, I began exploring yoga to help me with balance, strength and endurance. It was my third abdominal surgery--which meant a healing incision from my navel to pubic bone along the original incision from my anterior perineal resection (APR) in 2005. I didn't want to do anything that would risk my $125K tummy tuck--but I had to get strong enough to at least be able to walk the dogs!

The waterwheel series by Kate Potter, one warmup from her FitTV series "Namaste Yoga," was a favorite practice that I still do at least once a week. All but one of the moves in the last few seconds of this very short video are things even someone who is just beginning surgical recovery can manage with modifications. And the first time I was able to bridge, and to fully extend my legs over my head, even for a few seconds, I knew I was on the right track to rebuilding my strength. Enjoy this excerpt; I'll post some additional favorites from Potter's videos in the next few days.

waterwheel excerpts with from kate potter yoga on Vimeo.

YogaBear, a not-for-profit corporation which links cancer survivors with yoga teachers and studios for free yoga classes, will be providing free introduction-to-yoga classes as part of National Cancer Survivor Day on June 7 in NYC at Rock & Run on the River, as well as in other NCS celebrations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. They're also looking for Reiki practicioners to help out on that day; you can contact them for more information at

This blog post is part of Zemanta's "Blogging For a Cause" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Online support for colon cancer patients and young survivors

Histopathologic image of colonic carcinoid sta...Image via Wikipedia

Colon cancer. Rectal cancer. Anal cancer.
They are the cancers with a high 'ick' factor, the cancers that embarass people, the cancers no one wants to talk about.
The screening guidelines for colorectal cancers (CRC) are based on the historical data that most people diagnosed with these cancers are over the age of 50. Due to this focus on an older patient population, it can be very difficult for patients under 50 to receive proactive, routine colonoscopies--even when they have a direct first-line (mom, dad, sibling) with a CRC diagnosis.

I was 48 years old when I was diagnosed with metastatic rectal cancer. The cancer had already spread to my liver, compromising as much as 85% of its function. I'd had at least five fecal occult blood tests (FOBTs) as part of health maintenance physicals; all were normal. I didn't know I had any kind of family history. And I didn't have any red-flag symptoms. My only symptom--which everyone took seriously--was sudden weight loss and wildly high liver enzymes which both were recorded within 8 weeks of my diagnosis. Had I waited until 50 for a screening colonoscopy, I'd be dead.

Because CRC education focuses on people 50 and over, there are almost no places where CRC survivors under 50 can go for support. In face-to-face support groups, I am often the youngest patient in the room, and almost always the only metastatic recurrent rectal cancer survivor.

But there is a place online which was started by and focuses on providing information and support for CRC survivors who are UNDER 50. The Colon Club and its online support forum Colon Talk work to provide a place of community for young CRC survivors to learn about their diagnosis, exchange treatment infomration, discuss side effects and share their cancer journeys. Anonymous 'guests' can participate in the discussion if they are concerned about the privacy of revealing that that are CRC patients. And the forum provides a healthy dose of the latest news in cutting edge treatments and improvements to the current standards.

If you are a CRC survivor of any age, finding a community to share your cancer journey which can also give you accurate CRC-specific treatment and side-effect information is very difficult. Finding a community which actively discusses survivorship issues unique to CRC patients diagnosed under the age of 50 is nearly impossible--unless you find yourself in The Colon Club.

This blog post is part of Zemanta's "Blogging For a Cause" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

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Yoga for Recovery: Check Out YogaBear

Image of Yoga Bear from TwitterImage of Yoga Bear

Last summer, while recovering from my third major abdominal surgery in four years, I re-discovered yoga via FitTV's Namaste Yoga, a multi-skill-level yoga practice created by Canadian Kate Potter.

I was too weak from the combination of surgical recovery and chemo to do much more than the warm-up/cool-down and meditation portions of each show. At first, I felt like I was in the CT scanner (breathe in--hold your breath--breathe out!) Concentrating on breathing while doing active poses was tough at first, but each day's small improvements intrigued me enough that I quickly sought out the entire Namaste series on DVD and added them to my collection. I'm still very much a yoga beginner, but I'm now able to do a physical yoga practice every day, and although my practices have to be short, some days I manage as long as 15 minutes of active poses. My daily yoga practice is centering, calming and energizing at the same time. It is a way to get my active life back, and get stronger from the inside out.

Today on Twitter, I found out about YogaBear, a not-for-profit corporation which links yoga teachers and yoga studios across the US with cancer survivors. Via Yoga Bear's program, this network of teachers offers cancer survivors free yoga classes. If you're a yoga studio, yoga teacher or cancer survivor, visit YogaBear to make the connection, find and renew your inner energy!

You can join several fundraisers to support YogaBear's efforts:
June 7 2009, National Cancer Survivor Day: catch YogaBear's free yoga classes in NYC at Rock & Run on the River (a celebration of cancer survivorship sponsored by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). Free classes also available in LA and San Francisco
June 27: Yogapalooza will offer free public yoga classes in Atlanta GA, Austin TX, Cleveland OH, San Francisco CA and Washington DC.

Bloggers, until the end of the day on June 6, 2009, you can blog for a cause and spread the word about the benefits of yoga in improving recovery for cancer survivors. If you blog about your experience with yoga, and link back to YogaBear following these instructions, could win $6K to support its efforts to provide yoga classes to cancer survivors!

This blog post is part of Zemanta's "Blogging For a Cause" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

Breathe in. Hold your breath. Breathe out. I've had four CT scans since last summer, and now, when I hear those words, I think yoga practice--not scan anxiety! I decided to blog for a cause about Yoga Bear so that other cancer survivors can learn that there's more to the power of breathing than just getting the best possible CT scan picture. Namaste.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Fight Cancer: Mohawk Valley communities chosen to participate in nationwide lifestyle vs. cancer study

Relay for Life, 2008Image by Andy Ciordia via Flickr

A story in today's Utica Observer-Dispatch announced that "The Mohawk Valley has been chosen to participate in the American Cancer Society’s nationwide Cancer Prevention Study 3, and ACS is seeking local people to enroll in the study. The study will examine lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors to determine which may contribute to or help prevent cancer."

Study participants must fit this profile, according to Peter Cittadino, ACS community executive director:
"All adults ages 30 to 65 who do not have a personal history of cancer are eligible to enroll. Participants must be willing to commit to a long-term study that, although it requires minimal involvement, will continue for about 20 years."

Earlier multi-community studies established the links between tobacco use and cancer, and between obesity and cancer.

Interested participants can register (a 20-30 min. process) at a table at the Utica Relay for Life on June 13-14 at Mohawk Valley Community College. People interested in participating in the study do not have to be RforL participants to sign up. The registration process involves a survey and some initial measurements on day of sign-up, including giving a blood sample.

Thanks to @foodmedic on Twitter for the heads-up about this study. Sometimes it takes a tweet from Texas to let Central New Yorkers know that they have an opportunity to help researchers make strides evaluating the connections between cancer, lifestyle and diet!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Comment to "Let's Talk About Cancer"

I just left this comment on AC360, Anderson's Cooper's blog at CNN.
AC360 correspondent Randi Kaye blogged today and asked for comments in her post Let's Talk About Cancer.

-----------------This was my comment:--------------
‘Farrah’s Story’ was gritty, dramatic, and real.
I like her docs’ description of cancer as terrorists; that is exactly what Stage IV cancer feels like.

I was diagnosed with Stage IV rectal cancer and extensive mets to my liver, on April 30 2004. The gastro doc knew during the colonoscopy two days earlier, but diagnosis date is the first appointment with the oncologist.

I wasn’t one of those people who ignored years of symptoms–I only had symptoms for about 8 weeks, and they never included any bleeding or other red flags. My most glaring symptoms were sudden weight loss and sudden intolerance for dairy (so I knew something was wrong.) My routine bloodwork was off the charts, so the docs knew something was wrong. And everyone moved fast; everyone took me seriously. I was only 48. I’d had a decade of FOBTs as part of routine physicals and DREs every six months as part of well-woman exams–all negative. If I’d waited until I was 50 for a screening colonoscopy, I’d be dead now.

The oncologist gave me his last appointment of the day on a Friday. My sister-in-law was upset that after explaining his plan, he didn’t tell me the staging. I explained that if he was correct that the cancer was in my liver, then he didn’t need to say the stage out loud–I was stage IV. What my oncologist, a terrific doc and good friend did say was that because I was young and otherwise healthy, we might win several battles–but we wouldn’t win the war. In other words, he made clear from the beginning what I was up against, that this diagnosis was fatal. No false hope, no miracles. And while I’ve responded very very well to treatment, It’s still fatal. I can’t relax for one second, because believe me, cancer and its microscopic terrorist cells aren’t going to relax. No breaks, no holidays, no truces. Once you start dancing with Stage IV cancer, it’s a dance marathon and you can’t ever leave the floor without very careful planning!

I could have died every treatment in the beginning. But I didn’t die; I improved. Against all the odds, I responded very well to chemo, and I worked through the whole thing. After nine months of treatments every other week, I qualified for surgery to remove the primary rectal tumor and place a pump that would directly infuse chemo into my liver. After a year of those treatments, I qualified for liver resection. After each surgery, I went back to work and after the liver resection I was cancer free (NED) for 21 months. I had a recurrence diagnosed in Dec. 2007, was treated with radiation, chemo and another surgery in 2008, and have been back at work since Sept. 2008.

Last month, I marked the fifth anniversary of my diagnosis–five years of overall survival as a Stage IV, someone who’d had an original prognosis of 18-24 months. My success makes my local doctors happy (along with all of the docs in NYC, where I’m also treated), but some days it fills me with questions. Why did I make it–but not Leroy Sievers? Not Randy Pausch? Not my friend Brady who is right now in hospice only 3 years after his diagnosis? They call this survivors’ guilt, but it’s not all that. I work in preclinical research, and I want a reason, I want to know why. I want to understand better what we don’t know. Our newest treatments are gaining only months on a disease that steals years, and steals from far more people than the new treatments can help.

I’m again cancer free (NED), and this time we all hope it lasts longer than 21 months. The cancer hasn’t returned to my liver, and I’ve had enough chemo and radiation to last me several lifetimes. While I’ve been dancing with this cancer, I’ve lost over two dozen friends who weren’t so lucky with their chemos or their surgeries or their docs or their diagnoses. I have to tell newly diagnosed cancer buddies that my mileage with treatment may not be their mileage–that in cancer even more than gas consumption, mileage varies.

But in the end, you can either sit still and listen to the music, or dance. I will keep dancing, keep taking evasive action as long as the good days outnumber the bad ones. And when the bad days outnumber the good ones, I hope for the grace and sanity to recognize that and be in harmony with my expectations.

What I hate is the platitude that I might get hit by a bus. Yeah, I might–but the sign on the bus that kills me is a lot more likely to say ‘Cancer’ than ‘South Ave Connection.’ I am a Stage IV, and I am a long way from out of the woods yet, if I ever will be out of the woods.

So here’s a salute to you, Farrah, for being so incredibly brave to share your story so that people who don’t get to live this first-hand might understand. She said something amazing that really resonated with me: I’m great…and I’m fighting for my life. What are you fighting for?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Good for Madison, not-so-good for me...

Blue Roan coloured English Cocker SpanielImage via Wikipedia

It's national specialty week for the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America (ECSCA), and I'm here in Milan OH at the national specialty. On Monday, Madison made her agility debut in FAST (did the send successfully and racked up 35 points before we made the critical mistake of retaking the A-frame...oops!) But she stayed in the same ring with me, worked the whole course, and didn't check out to do her own thing once.

Then on Wednesday, she put together a lovely run in Rally Novice B, tied for first place with a 98 and ended up in second place (Rally ties are decided by course time.) I was really happy I've kept her in Novice B, on lead, to get as much experience showing her as possible and let her work the kinks out of the whole thinking-dog thing. Best of all, co-owner Lisa got to see M's run, and she was happy and impressed. All wonderful.

But on Tuesday, I learned through email, phone calls and txt messages that the R&D division of my group based in Syracuse will be closing no later than end of 2010. I'll just be 55, so if I can hold onto my job until then, I should be okay. If my job is eliminated before the move, I'll be a year short of 55--and lose about two-thirds of my pension.

On one hand, I was philosophical about the announcement meeting when I left on Friday--I couldn't change the meeting, so I might as well enjoy my national, a show I've been planning on for months.
Today, though, philosophy lost out to figuring out how I could survive.

It's hard to think that the company didn't do this on purpose--evaluate the ages of the people at the site, and then select the closing date and job eliminations so that they could avoid paying full pensions to those who would hit 55 within a couple months of the relocations.

And knowing that the job front is in upheaval at home sure makes it tough to keep my head in the game on a dog show vacation.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The new 1st dog--and the public's right to comment

Portugese Water DogImage by mrs.McD via Flickr

The furor over Bo, the Portugese Water Dog puppy who has moved into the White House, continues in dog blogs across the internet. I read a number of dog blogs, but I've only permitted myself to comment on a couple, including Horst Hoefinger's posts at Dogster's For the Love of Dogs blog.

Yesterday, Hoefinger posted:

“However, when President, then Senator, Obama made the decision to announce at a public news conference that the family was looking at shelters it changes everything. Their private decision was no longer private, they invited the public in.”

The craziness of this statement takes everything I learned in journalism about public figures and the rights of the public and turns it on its ear. When I learned those things, the idea that the PUBLIC had a right-to-know was much more narrowly drawn than it is today--and the idea that the public had a right to vote on personal actions of public figures didn't even come up. Public opinion was important--but not definitive. Public figures could still preserve SOME privacy regarding solely private affairs. Hoefinger's post prompted my comment:

"Huh? How exactly? If the situation were reversed, would YOU let total strangers force your hand or narrow your choices in this decision? Would this furor even be happening if he’d promised the kids a gerbil or a goldfish?

"The US President is a public figure–which makes the public privy to a lot of stuff they normally wouldn’t know about the guy. Still, just because we are treated to a day-by-day of a lot of his moves doesn’t give us counselor status. Just because a public figure discusses a decision his family is considering does NOT ‘invite the public in’ to the decision-making process. We don’t get to vote on where he sends his kids to school, which color ties he picks…or what kind of family pet they choose and where that pet comes from.

"How incredibly presumptuous to think that public interest groups should even be invited into the discussion, much less that the president should listen to the viewpoints of thousands of strangers with their own agendas above the interests, needs and preferences of his own family regarding their family pet!"

In the previous day's blog, Hoefinger's post and the comments it generated (mainly) expressed their angst that the Obamas didn't select a shelter pet. But I'd like to highlight here one of the smartest comments I've seen about the entire discussion, from a person I've never met who signed herself PoundHoundMom. This comment was so sane that I'm going to quote it:

"My first dog was named Bo and I got him at a shelter. I loved him dearly and have missed him every day for nearly 4 years.

"That said … come on people, get over this Obama should have gotten a shelter dog. He promised his **daughters** a dog, not the entire country. This is a personal decision and for crying out loud, he’s the president of the United States. Exactly when is he supposed to go to a pound and pick out a dog? And think about it … even if he did choose shelter dog, can you imagine the people who would crawl out of the woodwork with lame ass stories about how it’s their dog?

"People, a dog has a home. Two little girls have their wish. Perhaps they will have many dogs in their lifetime and perhaps they’ll adopt from a shelter.

"But for now, two kids and a dog have begun a wonderful life together. Don’t take it away from them with stupid talk about how disappointed you are that the president didn’t adopt from a shelter."

He promised his daughters a dog, not the entire country. Man, I wish I'd said that! Very well done, PoundHoundMom.

For those who can't tell the difference--there are bits of info we receive each day which are FYIs, little things which we can use or disregard in our daily life but over which we have no decision-control-power. They will happen as noted without our input. There are also bits of info we receive which will not progress to the next stage unless we do something--vote, express an opinion, take action. When I shared with my parents that I'd bought a new car, I was giving them information so that they'd recognize me when I drove up in a green VW 412 instead of an old blue Monte Carlo. I wasn't asking them what they thought about VWs, 412s, or even whether I should buy a new car--I was merely giving them a bit of FYI about something that was going to happen regardless of their input.

President Obama was giving us all little FYIs in his announcements and updates about the choice of the family pet--this was something that was going to happen. It was not notice-of-need/right-to-vote, or even notice to express an opinion. Sure, the public expresses its opinions, all the time. But there's simply no right-to-vote--or even a legal right-to-comment--granted by the US Constitution regarding every little thing our President does, including his family's choice of a pet.

A blog? Well, that's different. We write, we put our bits of opinion and info out there, and if comments are permitted to the blog, then we're INVITING comment. So if Barack Obama blogged about his family's pet considerations, and asked for input, things would be different. Since I'm blogging about this, you're more than welcome to comment on *my* thoughts--as long as you're willing to leave your name and stand up for your opinions (no anonymous comments, please.)

It's high time we remember that an FYI from a public figure isn't an automatic invitation to comment on their actions, express our opinions or expect that we get a vote.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Comments to this blog

My weekend blog posts have generated a number of comments.
However, all but one of them were anonymous.
While I'm really interested in opinions, I'm a firm believer in saying what you mean and standing up to be counted for what you say. I'm putting my opinions out there attached to a name and a profile. I ask that those who comment on my blog posts do the same.

Short story--Thanks for reading. Thanks even more if you've got something to say or share in return. All I ask is that you stand up and be counted by attaching a name to your comment.

My blog comments are set to 'moderate all' to control spamming, which means I see and have to approve/publish or reject each one.

Anonymous comments are not accepted--you have to give yourself a name. No matter how insightful, appropriate, interesting or valuable, anonymous comments will not be published. If you want to be part of the conversation, it's simply rude not to introduce yourself.

As long as you spell my name right (and include that link-back)...

Yesterday, I blogged about the inappropriateness and intrusiveness of groups that think they are somehow entitled to a voice in the Obama family's selection of their family pet. And a couple of days ago, I blogged about an anti-pet-owner no-tail-docking NY state assembly amendment to the Agriculture and Markets bill called A07218.

Since those blog posts, five or six suspiciously animal-rights extremist profiles have shown up among my Twitter followers. I'm not trying to build a ginormous Twitter following out of everyone who clicks 'follow' on my account; I'm interested in content and good conversations--not sheer numbers. Often, I'll follow back--for awhile. But people whose tweets have a high noise -> signal ratio get unfollowed pretty quickly. And those who follow but don't have much of a profile or a website or any followers or updates of their own will get blocked. And for the record, animal rights activists will also get blocked from following me.

Then today, my blog about the new 1st puppy was quoted (and decried) by another blogger who calls himself AnimalRighter. By the goddess, I even got a blog link out of the man (for the record--never heard of him until his link-back showed up in my Google analytics summary.) Maybe he, too, is following Problogger's April exercise, "31 Days to a Better Blog." Darren Rouse, the author at, just included a blog improvement exercise that had participants link-back to another blog writing in their category.

So hey--as long as the blog spelled my name correctly ('Gaelen' is tough) AND it included a link back to my blog (which improves my online visibility) -- well, high-five, man! I'm not going to follow you on Twitter, nor let you follow me, and I'm for sure not going to subscribe to your blog--but I'm more than willing to be grateful for the extra boost to my site traffic.

Oh...and thanks for pointing out (by quoting it) the typo in my original upload. That's fixed now. ;)

Clinical Trials meet Social Media

You have cancer, and someone suggests you should consider clinical trials. But you have NO idea how to find a clinical trial for your cancer, or for your stage of illness. Through trial and error, you discover but, to be honest, you're just overwhelmed when you search the site. How do you begin? How do you sort? Which trials are right for you? Then you realize that is only one of a couple of dozen sites that index clinical trials. You'll never be able to sort through all of them--and your doctor(s) want an answer about your treatment, now.

TrialX at is moving the search for clinical trials onto social media sites like Twitter.

In this TrialX blog entry are the instructions you need to send a request (a QuTweet) to @trialx from your Twitter account. Use the format @trialx CT your health profile and send the qutweet as either a regular public update, or a private direct message (DM) to @trialx. Within a few minutes, you'll receive a targeted response with a tinyURL link to a list of clinical trials appropriate to your query.

For instance, my query was @trialx CT rectal cancer northeast US.
Within a minute, I received this response: @Gaelen2 Your Matching Clinical Trials
At the tinyURL link, I was able to further refine the list with my age, sex, and stage information, search among the listed trials for phase of trial information, and get a general run-down of each of the trials on my targeted list (including acceptance and exclusion criteria.)

Useful--and cool. The TrialX Twitter app puts a high-powered clinical trial search engine at the fingertips of anyone with a Twitter account--and the main website offers additional search options. Best of all, it's all for free.

This is the kind of information that makes having a computer a good thing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Choosing the 1st dog

The subject of the Obamas' first family pet--the 1st dog--has gotten more press in the last four months and more newsbyte mentions than I can count. 'When is that puppy coming?' is the walkaway question that seems to pop up at least once a week. On April 11, several outlets in hard copy and online scooped the Washington Post story planned for April 12: the Obamas' have chosen a male six-month-old Portugese water dog. Senator Edward Kennedy is gifting the puppy to Malia and Sasha Obama.
Break in the 1st Dog story

Advocates for responsible dog ownership should be doing a happy dance; the Obamas did just about everything right in their search for a 1st dog. They did all of the things we have been teaching people to do when choosing a pet:
-- they did their research
-- they took their time
-- they scheduled when the dog would come into their lives (avoiding trips, vacations, holidays, etc.)
-- they asked friends for recommendations
-- they went to experienced dog owners for advice about breeds and breeders

But I fear that like any other presidential decision, the decision about the 1st dog will be seized upon by humaniacs who claim to represent the best interests of dogs. They'll ask why the Obamas didn't adopt a shelter dog, and they'll question their choice of a purebred. Behind all of those questions is their real agenda--why did the Obamas choose a dog at all.

Why? Because they wanted a dog, that's why! And it's high time that we stopped acting as if animal rights activists have the right to dictate to anyone, including the first family, what, where and how they should choose a new pet!

The Obamas did the right thing for their family, and they've taken a researched and responsible approach to their new relationship with a pet. Responsible dog owners and advocates out there, we need to reinforce that kind of approach to dog ownership. The Obamas need our support in this decision. Let's not permit anyone, including self-proclaimed 'animal rights' activists, to get away with attempts to make the first family feel guilty about their decision and their well-informed choice of the dog they feel is right for them.

It's long past time to stop apologizing for owning purebred dogs. Dog ownership advocates, let's help the Obamas by supporting their choice. Let's put animal rights activists--who do little for the welfare of domesticated animals, and are primarily focused on their own anti-pet-owning agendas--on notice: owning purebred dogs is a choice of which the Obamas, and everyone else who owns a purebred dog, can be proud.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

NY State Assembly puts anti-tail docking amendment on its agenda

Anti-tail docking legislation comes and goes in NY state; this year, it looks like the NY Assembly reps who want to attempt to pass this legislation have begun early and are making some headway.

The amendment currently in committee in the NY State Assembly is A07218, or Amd S365-a to the NY Agriculture and Markets Act. The
summary of A07218 and
full text of the amendment can be found at the NY State Assembly website. The amendment will make it a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine to dock the tails of dogs except by a licensed veterinarian, for medical or health reasons.

From the summary for the amendment:
"SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1. The agriculture and marketslaw is amended by adding a new section 365-a: Any person who cuts thetail of a dog for reasons other than to protect the life or health ofthe animal is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not morethan five hundred dollars. Any person who shows or exhibits a dog whosetail has been docked or altered, at a show or other exhibition, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable as above. Any dog owner who is injuredor damaged by a violation of these provisions may institute a privateright of action in the supreme court of this state, to obtain redressfor such injury or violation. The provisions shall not apply to any dogor person who is the owner of any dog whose tail has been certified asdocked, cut or altered prior to August 1, 2009."

However, the language of this bill falls short in several areas.
-- it does not describe how an owner is to be 'certified' that his dog's tail was appropriate docked prior to the effective date of the amendment
-- it places the burden of proof that the dog's tail was appropriately docked on the person in possession of the dog; instead, the burden of proof should rest on the state to show that the dog was INappropriately tail-docked. Effectively, owners of dogs with docked tails are, under this amendment, guilty until they prove themselves innocent.
-- the language is unclear whether the proposed $500 fine is for each occurrence, or for every dog with a docked tail found in the person's possession

In the summary, the authors/sponsors of the bill list fiscal impact on the state as 'none.' However, this bill will dramatically affect people who come into the state of NY (and spend money in the communities they visit) to show and exhibit and trial their dogs in conformation, obedience, agility, tracking, terrier trial and field events. Whether you have an opinion about the appropriateness of tail-docking or not, this restriction has the potential to seriously impact tourist and visitor revenue in those communities state-wide who host dog show and trial competitions.

Responsible pet owners and dog fanciers should express their opposition to this amendment directly to the members of the NY State Assembly Agriculture committee (contact information below.) Put "Oppose A07218" in the subject line of any emails you send to the committee members, or write those words on the envelope of any hard-copy communication you direct to the committee members. Remember--be direct, stay on point, and stand up for your dogs and your right to provide safe and informed care to them.

In order to directly contact a NY State Senator or State Assemblyperson on the Agriculture committees, check your representation on this list of committee members taken from the American Dog Owners Association site:

NY State Assembly Agriculture Committee – 2009
Committee Chair - William Magee
Assembly District - 111th
Counties Represented – Madison, Oneida, Otsego
Albany Office – LOB 828
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) – 518-455-5807
E-Mail –

Marc Alessi
Assembly District – 1st
Counties Represented – Suffolk
Albany Office – LOB 419
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) – 518-455 -5294
E-Mail –

George Amedor
Assembly District – 105th
Counties Represented – Montgomery, Schenedtady
Albany Office – LOB 426
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) – 518-455-5197
E-Mail -

Michael Benedetto
Assembly District – 82nd
Counties Represented – Bronx
Albany Office – LOB 919
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5296
E-Mail –

Marc W. Butler
Assembly District – 117th
Counties Represented – Otsego, Herkimer, Fulton
Albany Office – LOB 318
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) – 518-455-5393
E-Mail -

Clifford W. Crouch
Assembly District – 107th
Counties Represented – Chenango, Broome, Delaware, Ulster
Albany Office – LOB 450
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5741
E-Mail -

Francine Delmonte
Assembly District – 138th
Counties Represented – Niagara
Albany Office – LOB 553
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5284
E-Mail -

RoAnn M. Destito
Assembly District – 116th
Counties Represented – Oneida
Albany Office – LOB 621
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5454
E-Mail -

Gary D. Finch
Assembly District – 123rd
Counties Represented – Broome, Tioga, Chenango, Cayuga, Cortland
Albany Office – LOB 320
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5878
E-Mail -

Tim Gordon
Assembly District – 108th
Counties Represented – Columbia, Rensselaer, Greene, Albany
Albany Office – LOB 529
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5777
E-Mail -

Aileen M. Gunther
Assembly District – 98th
Counties Represented – Orange, Sullivan
Albany Office – LOB 435
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455- 5355
E-Mail -

Stephen Hawley
Assembly District – 139th
Counties Represented – Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Monroe
Albany Office – LOB 531
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5811
E-Mail -

Barbara Lifton
Assembly District – 139th
Counties Represented – Cortland, Tompkins
Albany Office – LOB 555
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5444
E-Mail -

Peter D. Lopez
Assembly District – 127th
Counties Represented – Greene, Otsego, Delaware, Schoharie, Ulster, Columbia, Chenango
Albany Office – LOB 429
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5363
E-Mail -

Alan Maisel
Assembly District – 59th
Counties Represented – Kings
Albany Office – LOB 528
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5211
E-Mail -

Margaret M. Markey
Assembly District – 30th
Counties Represented – Queens
Albany Office – LOB 654
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-4755
E-Mail -

John J. McEneny
Assembly District – 104th
Counties Represented – Albany
Albany Office – LOB 648
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-4178
E-Mail -

Bob Reilly
Assembly District – 109th
Counties Represented – Albany, Saratoga
Albany Office – LOB 452
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5931
E-Mail -

Peter M. Rivera
Assembly District – 76th
Counties Represented – Bronx
Albany Office – LOB 826
Albany, NY 12248
Telephone (Albany) - 518-455-5102
E-Mail -

Linda B. Rosenthal
Assembly District – 67th
Counties Represented – New York

Darrel Aubertine - Chairman - email:
William Stachowski -
Catharine Young - does not appear to have email - Albany fax is (518) 426-6905
Velmanette Montgomery -
Neil Breslin -
David Valesky –
James Seward - does not appear to have email or a fax!
George Winner - does not appear to have email - Albany fax is (518) 426-6976
Michael Ranzenhofer - does not appear to have email or a fax!

Those STATE SENATORS without email addresses have a comment form on their web pages which can be accessed through the list of senators

Friday, April 03, 2009

Personal Inconvenient Truths

Maybe global warming is Al Gore's inconvenient truth--but for me, inconvenient truth is much more personal and immediate. Lately, life seems to be a series of small PITs--personal inconvenient truths.

At 2:30 a.m., the current PIT is that old dogs are as much work as puppies. Maybe more.
Puppies need a strict schedule, but they can usually go 3-4 hours without interrupting my sleep.
Casey is 14 1/2, and his PIT is that he lately he can no longer sleep through the night. Heart dog of mine, he loves to share--and so I am awake, too.

2:30 a.m., when I should be storing up zzz's to make it through tomorrow--instead, after not quite waking enough to get him outside in time, I have cleaned a crate, cleaned up an old dog, cuddled Madison and shooed her outside (as long as we're up, we're ALL going to be up!) Then after settling them both back down again, the PIT that I can't go back to sleep kicks into its own gear.

I'm borderline wide awake, blogging when I should be sleeping. PIT--once awake to a certain level, my body will only fall asleep on its own time. Too many chemo infusions, too many years of speeding through the night on a mix of Decadron and 5FU (say that out loud--yeah, now you're getting it--5FU can be some nightmare drug.) Even meditating didn't let me relax and go back to sleep. I know I should, though--the second shift of old-dog restlessness will kick in about 4:35 a.m. And even if I'm spared more old-dog wake-up calls, the PIT of morning will be here sooner than later.

Okay. If I fold up the netbook, I think I can try to go back to sleep again. And with any luck, maybe I'll catch a couple more hours before the next personal inconvenient truth--morning.

Monday, March 23, 2009

You, too, can be part of Keurig nation

Over at "What's that Smell," the accidental mommies blog, they've reviewed and are giving away a Keurig Platinum home single cup brewing system. Click the title of this post to see the accidental mommies' review and the contest information, and check out the Platinum brewer at or the Keurig page for the Platinum brewer

I've got a Keurig--the small 'mini' brewer. But I'd be happy to upgrade for a free Platinum model. For me, the secret to surviving with a Keurig is a fill-your-own My K-cup, and good medium-grind medium or dark roast freshly ground coffee. I'm partial to Eight O'Clock Hazelnut, and to Paul D'Lima (nothin' like the hometown blend) but I've discovered some other favorites, too. The Green Mountain Hot Cocoa K-cups are a real treat...and only 5g carbs, much simpler than making my own cocoa.

So enter now, and enter often--the contest closes on April 3 2009 at noon CST.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Twitter twitter twitter...

I'm addicted.
One username, one profile, one follow, one tweet from a friend --> another --> another --> doing searches and looking for people who like what I like and following and blocking and more following and reading blogs about how to better user Twitter - get the most out of Twitter - enjoy Twitter - add Twitter to your blog (look to the left...I added my Twitter updates to my blog.)

Wondering what everyone is twittering about? You'll never know until you visit:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Using a doctor's real name online

(This post is an edit of a reply I made today to a request on The Colon Club, asking me for the real name of the doc I refer to lovingly as "Dr. Personality." I replied to the original poster privately with the information s/he requested. The thread where this discussion occurred is linked above--just click on the title of this post.)

The original poster's question brings up another issue, and something that people really *do* need to take into consideration when posting on such a high traffic, heavily searched board. There are ramifications--some good, some bad, and some that could make you personally liable for court actions--when you post contact information, comments and 'reviews' of doctors and hospitals using the real name of the doctor and/or hospital.

Now and then, I slip and use a real name with a comment. Not often--I try to be careful. When I slip, I blame chemo brain and I'll stick to that story! If the question is just a simple 'who is your doc?' I'll answer that with a real name...but I'll usually answer privately. Most times, when I mention a doctor by name I try to be careful to just include a name, and not a review or even a comment (whether that review/comment would be good or bad.) I will post links to their research, or discuss their research in the abstract. I may mention certain identifying characteristics which, if someone wants to connect the dots, will allow them to come to the correct conclusion if they wonder who I'm writing about (such as the fact that my doc has a twin who is a colorectal surgeon... or that she was interviewed a few years ago by 'Real Simple' magazine.)

But I really try to avoid writing and posting public reviews of doctors or hospitals. I just don't think it's professional (I do get paid for my writing), nor do I consider it appropriate or courteous as a patient, to post using real names in a support forum venue. I know that people are looking for information--but there are better ways to get it. Go to the medical centers' websites, and do searches for doctors at the hospitals you're considering--the places which currently employ them. You'll find out all sorts of things. Meanwhile, if you want to know about my docs, PM me...and I'll answer any question you have privately.

Every post on a public, searchable forum puts that entire post, including any real names included, into search engine and private computer caches every single time that post is read, every time that thread is refreshed...and that stuff stays in those caches for a looong time. I try to follow the same rules for public posts that I follow for business email--I don't ever want to post something that I wouldn't want to read aloud in front of my grandmother, or in front of the person involved. When I post, I ask myself if using the person's real name would or could:
-- cause another person harm or perceived harm
-- negatively affect the reputation of a person or organization (unless I'm clearly writing political opinion or editorial, which I occasionally do on my blog--and where me playing nice isn't part of the rules)
-- attach my name and/or my picture to a statement that a person could perceive as harmful to his/her personal or professional reputation, and therefore put me personally at risk
-- attach my name and/or my picture to something that will show up, long after I die, in a Google search of someone else's name

I've used the online screen name 'Gaelen' for going on 20 years now. I run forums as Gaelen, write as Gaelen, blog as Gaelen...the nickname or screen name is associated with me. In fact, the name of my cookbook-in-progress is 'Notes from Gaelen's Kitchen.' Are there links to my real name and picture online? Um...yeah. But most of them are still at least one or two degrees of separation away from my posts as other words, if you search for Gaelen, you'll get some references and links, sooner or later, to my real name and picture. But so far, none of them show up on the first page of a casual search--and yeah, I check. ;-)

For those of you who've been reading here for awhile, you'll know that my picture (yeah--that's really me, taken the summer before dx) only became my avatar a few days ago. I thought long and hard before putting that avatar up here, because I do not link my real picture with my real name on high traffic boards. Among other reasons, it's just not personally smart for a woman who lives alone to have her picture, ner name and her location in search engines all over the net. So although my current avatar appears elsewhere on the 'net, it doesn't show up with cancer information that relates directly back to my doctors' names. I will likely switch it to something else pretty soon--to keep at least the illusion of a couple of degrees of separation from Gaelen and the internet, and the real world in which my docs and I interact.

I'd like to extend the same courtesy to my doctors and to the places where I'm treated. When I like their work--and when I don't--they deserve to hear that directly from me. They don't deserve to find out what a patient thinks of his/her latest doc visit, good OR bad, when they take a look at the first page of their name searches on Google (or anywhere else for that matter...) They especially don't deserve to have that information about our visits come up when OTHER patients Google their names.

Dr. Personality is a brilliant, hard-@ssed scientist-doctor who is also my NYC medical oncologist. She's not sweet and cuddly--but I don't need sweet and cuddly in a white coat when I'm in the fight of my life--I can get plenty of 'sweet and cuddly' from the red coats and blue roan coats with four legs who slept on my bed last night. ;) Dr. Bright Eyes (aka Dr. Sparkly Blue Eyes) and Dr. Birkenstocks are my colorectal and urologic surgeons, respectively. If you ever meet any of them, you'll know exACTly why I gave them those nicknames and you'll agree that the nicknames fit them perfectly. I've gotten emails and PMs after a post with those nicknames asking "is your doc so-and-so, because he or she is my doc, too." Their patients who encounter those posts will recognize those docs by their nicknames--but people who aren't their patients will (hopefully) not automatically have negative issues with those doctors, nor will those doctors get negative fallout because of my posts.

I give most of my docs nicknames to give me the freedom to relate the steps of my treatment without putting either them or myself permanently into a Google search engine using our real names. Just in case my grandmothers (rest their souls) can read this in their afterlives... ;-) My docs repect their end of doctor-patient confidentiality...and they have a right to expect the same courtesy from me as their patient.

And that's why I choose not to post to most forums using my real name, and why I do not often refer to my doctors by their real names. YMMV--but remember, your grandmother--or your doctor--may be reading your post!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

When Casey has a good day ...

Now and then I see it in your tail--
first a steady wag, and then it vibrates with purpose.
Now and then your gait is deliberate, and your eyes are bright.
Your goal is in sharp focus,
and I know that for a few minutes
you've found your tennis ball again.

Casey had three good days in a row last week.
He took Madison's bone to chew whenever she left it unattended, slept all night long, and tail in full wagging vibration, he brought me his tennis ball.

More important--when I tossed the ball across the living room, Casey remembered that tennis balls exist for him to chase, to bounce upon, to snatch and catch and race back to me so that I can throw the tennis ball again. And when he was chasing the tennis ball, he stayed on task all the way through, instead of losing his tennis ball and forgetting that we were playing.

I love it when his tail wags, his eyes shine, and he remembers how to play.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Traveling dogs (and a cat)

Every trip I make, I remind myself that at heart, I aspire to one-bag travel.

As I wheel my 20” suitcase through Penn Station, slip through a subway turnstile while trying to keep backpack on left shoulder, or toss into the truck my duffel packed for a dog show weekend—along with my briefcase, a purse, and something disposable holding last-minute commuter food—I wonder again if one-bag travel is a goal I'll ever attain.

Sometimes I pack late. Sometimes I don't think things through. Sometimes I don't really know what weather or events to expect—or know, too well, that at my destination I'll require everything from shorts to a parka to business casual khakis. In those cases, even in one suitcase, I end up packing a couple pieces I don't need or don't use.

But one bag is the plan—for me. What gets packed for the traveling animal entourage is another matter (and, often, at least three more bags!)

Each of my English cockers travels with three crates—one for the truck, one for the hotel and one for the show site. All of the crates live in the bed of the truck, so at least i don't have to pack and unpack them after every trip. These days, 14-year-old Casey shares a springer-size hotel crate with my younger bitch, Madison, because the old dog is more likely to sleep through the night in the same crate with his spotted cuddle-partner. They ride in the truck in separate hard-sided airline kennels; the show and motel crates are wire crates and soft-sided nylon crates which fold up suitcase-style. I bring a container of dry food, one gallon (or two) of bottled water, and an ancient sling backpack stuffed with assorted collars and leashes, bowls, buckets, ear covers (snoods), the grooming and first aid kits, my obedience, rally and agility rulebooks and a toy or two. The dogs wear buckle collars with tags, and their emergency ID kits are snapped to whichever crate they're in at the moment.

With everyone retired from the breed ring, I rarely travel with a grooming table, expen or full tackbox these days. My on-the-go grooming kit (pin and slicker brushes, comb, stripper, straight and thinning scissors, stone, toenail clipper and a small bottle of shampoo for emergencies) can take care of most road trips and fits in a small toiletry kit that fits in the sling backpack.

Then, there's the towel bag—a tote filled with crate blankets, two sheets to cover the bed in the motel, and dog coats. And there's a backpack which lives in the truck bed and is packed with paper products that come in handy at dog shows: a sharp knife, a cutting board, paper plates and cups, plastic cutlery, salt and pepper, spare coffee filters. Already, I'm at three bags for two dogs—without counting a small cooler for snacks, my purse or my briefcase!

Then, last trip, Churro joined the entourage. Churro is the dogs' brand new cat, a big orange tabby who is still a bit too much of an ex-barn cat to be trusted over a long weekend in unsupervised contact with things like vertical blinds. Churro has his own crates—and a litter pan, food container and special food/water bowls. Luckily, he can share the bottled water and his harness fits into the dog's backpack!

I used to travel with five dogs, all their gear, all my gear and a dog show booth setup. I somehow fit a small mixed breed, a Gordon setter and three English Springer spaniels into five crates in a Chevy Citation hatchback (with extra crates for the hotel and show site, a grooming table, tackbox, and a set of utility articles!)

These days, I seem to bring less stuff—but not less work—although I'm only traveling with with two cockers and a cat!

For those of you who aspire, as I do, to one-bag travel, check out:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Orlando, Florida

I just got back from NYC--scans are good, I'm in remission.
None of the people at the DWAA meeting managed to do bodily harm to anyone (in my presence, at least...)
The Pet Writer's Conference was great, and I made some contacts for a couple of articles.

And then, I took a vacation. I went to Orlando, my first time ever in Florida.
Here in CNY, it was around 25 degrees.
On the balcony of the condo my brother rented for our family vacation, it was 75 degrees, and I could feel the breezes all day long. I could watch great blue herons and runner ducks skate over the lagoon just past the sidewalk, and have a cup of coffee and answer email.

No doctors, no appointments, no scans. No dogs to exercise or train (or cuddle, and I did miss that.) But lots of time with my brother Jeff, sister-in-law Ann, niece Ashlyn and nephew Connor, and my sister Lin and brother-in-law Dan. Easy time. No-commitments time.

I think I could have spent another month having morning coffee on that balcony.
I am definitely going back to Florida, and sunshine, and no-commitments vacations, as soon as possible.