Saturday, October 31, 2009

New York City Marathon

Rob will be running in the NYC Marathon tomorrow (Sunday, November 1st). He e-mailed to say that he will be carrying something teal in honor of Nancy while he runs. If you click on the title of the article I just posted in the blog entry below, you can read about Rob's run and see a photo. Good Luck, Rob! Support Marathon Runner to Benefit DDDB's Fight Against Atlantic Yards Support Marathon Runner to Benefit DDDB's Fight Against Atlantic Yards

Trick or Treat!

Kristen's friend, Ryan (the clown), and Kristen (the hot dog) arrive for some early trick or treating.
Our neightbor, Don, had some candy ready, too.

Amy, Kristen, Charles & Ryan

Doesn't every hot dog carry a purse???

Heading over to Aunt Nancy's for some more goodies.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Hilda called last night and Mom spoke with her today. She is at home now and sounds good but has limited mobility and, sadly, the doctors have given her three to six months due to the spread of her cancer. Hilda means so much to all of us that I thought it would be nice if we could all either call her or send her cards to let her know we love her and that she is in our thoughts. She misses everyone here very much. Her vision is limited so, if you send a card, you may want to use a Sharpie to make your message big and bold so she can read it...or write her a note on your computer with bold, enlarged font and send that to her. As you probably know, they also sell cards now that allow you to record your message so that she can hear your voice, and a song, when she opens the card. Please feel free to pass this message along to others in the family as I don't have everyone's e-mail addresses. Here is Hilda's address:

BD18 2ER

and the phone # (dial it just like this):
The UK is 4 hours ahead of us right now; 5 hours ahead when our clocks fall back next week.

Love to all,

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I know that this blog is usually about Cancer... but Epilepsy has affected our family too so I wanted to share this. Tonight on 60 Minutes (Sunday, October 25, 7:00 p.m.), Katie Couric will be interviewing David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to President Obama, about his daughter, Lauren's, struggle with an intractable form of epilepsy similar to Kristen's. He and his wife, Susan (in the photo with Lauren) have started C.U.R.E (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy) to increase funding for research into an eventual cure for seizure disorders. We have never dared dream of a "cure" before...only "control' of the seizures.

In June, I watched Brian Williams interview David Axelrod at the White House and, during the interview, I first heard about his daughter. Here is Lauren's story: (click on this link to read)
Sound familiar? It did to me and, after I stopped crying, I knew I had to write a personal letter to Mr. Axelrod about our daughters. His response was almost as emotional as my letter so I knew he had really "been there".

Here is a link about tonight's 60 Minutes interview with Katie Couric and a photo of Katie with Lauren below:

I even think that Kristen and Lauren look a little alike. Hope everyone will watch tonight (after whichever football game makes 60 Minutes start a little after 7:00 p.m.).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kristen!

Kristen turns 34 on Tuesday, October 20th but we had her party today. It was a grand event attended by family and friends from her Casa home. The party is about the same every year: lots of food, dancing in the living room, a visit from Steve Erkel (Sean) and his friend, Stephan (also Sean), laughter, applause, and hugs all around. We wouldn't change it for the world!
Snow White on DVD...

...and Michael Jackson on CD!

Amy, Kristen, Janet and Sean (Amy and Janet are Casa staff; Sean calls Janet his "Homey")

Jerry, from Casa, helps Kristen make a caramel apple...

...but Andi needs no help making hers!

Ryan put 34 candles on Kristen's cake...

Erin, Sean and Kit (Sean calls Kit "my brother"). "Aunt Nancy" was in the crowd somewhere too.
Ghostly party favors...Mom found this idea in a magazine and shared it with me...just Tootsie Pops in the middle...easy and cute. Needless to say, a good time was had by all!
Happy Birthday, Kristen!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where does the time go?

Today I'm thinking about my good friend, Deb Reid, who passed away from vulvar cancer a year ago. I miss her still-and think of her daily-God I hate this disease. My prayer for us all is that we not lose any more warriors to this crappy disease. Love you, my friend! Nan

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Camping

This was the last...and coldest...camping weekend for this year. Rob, Taka, Rob's friend, Todd, and his daughter, Caitlyn - all from Brooklyn - joined us at Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham, NH for the long weekend. The traffic out of NYC on the holiday weekend was so bad that they didn't get to camp until 1:30 a.m. Nothing like setting up tents in the rain at 2:00 a.m. with two tired kids waiting in the car! Joanne and Mark were at Pawtuckaway, too, on a nearby site, so we visited back and forth all weekend. Hank brought the canoe...the foliage was beautiful around the lake.

Taka was a big help collecting firewood...we definitely needed a big fire all weekend to keep warm.

Taka and "Grampy" looking for wildlife...Taka brought his own little binoculars and lantern for the camp-out:-)

Caitlyn and Taka cooked marshmallows and then went over to Joanne and Mark's campsite for a second course...S'mores!

Taka and Rob keeping warm by the campfire...

Rob and Taka slept in this tent and Todd and Caitlyn had one just like it. Hank and I lucked out and slept in the t@b... but everyone did take turns in there to warm up. The guys listened to all the games on Sunday on our LL Bean crank-up radios...when the Red Sox and Patriots lost, Mark was so depressed he had to go to bed! We did get together for a big dinner Sunday night (before the Pat's lost)...Joanne and I each made dutch oven dishes to share.

Now we'll pack up the camping gear until next May when we head up to Searsport Shores for the annual clean-up weekend...hope it's warmer by then!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cancer...the Gift that Keeps on Giving

As you all know, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May 2005 at age 53 (average age for diagnosis is mid 70's) and Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. Because of these, Mom's oncologist decided it would be important for Mom to have a comprehensive BRCA analysis. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two genes that have been identified as being responsible for an increased risk for breast and/or ovarian cancer. We went with a genetic counselor and an oncologist to go over family history. Because this test was being done on Mom, no information about my Dad's (Smith/Shanahan) side of the family was discussed, since Mom and Dad aren't blood relatives. The information she shared was based solely on the Boocock family tree and of course my sisters and me. Because the number of relatives on Mom's side met their criteria, Mom's test was covered by insurance. The criteria includes the number of "close" relatives diagnosed and their age at time of diagnosis. The test itself is a simple blood draw. Today Mom and I met again with the counselor and oncologist to go over the results. Mom tested positive for BRCA2. This may explain my ovarian cancer.
This means that someone (before Mom) also had this gene and passed it along to her. It also means that Mom's sisters (Doris and Marion) also have the SAME chance of carrying this gene. The implications for ALL (male and female) the relatives is obvious. Someone whose parent is positive has a 50% chance of passing that gene down to their children. So, as the Dr. said that means that you might expect 2 of the 4 children Mom had would be BRCA positive. However, those are the "typical" results. It's like she said if you are flipping a coin, you have a 50% chance it will be heads. However, you could flip that coin 4 times and get all heads or all tails or some of each. So, all 4 of us could be positive, or negative, or some of each. I probably am positive also, which would explain my diagnosis.
The point of this long ramble is this--having a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation increases the risk of certain cancers. In the general population, the chance of getting breast cancer is about 2%. With the BRCA mutation, that rate raises to 33-50%. The risk of ovarian cancer is <2% in the general population. With the BRCA mutation the risk rises to 27-44%. For men, the risks are not as significant, but there is an increased risk for prostate and pancreatic cancer.
What Can You Do?
Know this information!!! Knowledge is power! Without testing, Marion, Doris and all their children as well, are at risk. We are all related! Discuss this information with your doctor, to determine if you should pursue testing. We now know the specific mutation Mom has--that can mean that depending on your family history, the testing can be what is called a single site analysis (much cheaper--still covered by most insurances) that can check for the same mutations. Be hyper-vigilant--make sure you do monthly breast self exams, and.or breast MRI's. Insist on yearly CA-125 tests and/or transvaginal ultrasounds to screen for ovarian cancer. There are also drugs and or preventative surgeries that can be used if they are called for. Your health care provider can best assist you in determining whether you should consider genetic testing.
And attention Smith/Shanahan relatives---I will be getting tested too--which will uncover any potential increased risks passed down from my Dad's side of the family that may affect you. We do know that Uncle Arthur died way too young of pancreatic cancer, and my Dad had prostate cancer, as well as Grammy and Grampa Smith both having dealt with cancer. I will share any information I get regarding that side of the family.
Sorry this isn't the usual "funny" blog post. But, we all need this information. Please share it! Cancer..the gift that keeps on giving-whether you want it or not!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Takanori's New Bike
Taka loves trains...especially subway trains. Here he has created his own costume...he's the #4 train...can you tell?