Monday, December 31, 2012

Organizing the sock drawer

Want to go to the movies?
Sorry, I'm just in the middle of organizing my sock drawer.

No, you will never hear this conversation from me, but here on the last day of 2012, I thought it would be significant to take on this task.

Why?  I'm not a terribly organized person, but while Christmas shopping this year, I stopped at the Container Store and was amazed at all the things you can buy to keep your things organized and reduce the hassle and rummaging that eats up a lot of time. Of course you have to factor in the organizing and maintenance time, which I've always thought would equal out the equation, but it would save on the frustration factor--hand me my scientific calculator while I work this out.

Apparently a new trend with teenagers is to wear colorfully mismatched socks. You actually buy them that way, but it's a statement, not an embarrassing mistake, like inadvertently wearing one black and one blue sock or one lowcut white sock and one mid ankle.

I have to admit I found over 50 pairs of socks, some of which hadn't been worn in the last 5 years. I immediately threw out half because I would never wear them now--too tight, too gray looking, stained from various creams and concoctions I put on my feet from henna to Bag Balm (thick petroleum jelly developed in Vermont to prevent cow udders from chafing-great for hot, swollen feet.) I then whittled down the 'maybe' pile, which included dress socks from my working days. Once you started tossing them out, it quickly accelerated to a sock frenzy.

I now have a very lean sock drawer and either need to restock or do laundry every 5 days. I know you're impressed because, after all, if someone bothers organizing their socks, they couldn't possibly be the same person that shoves credit card slips into zip loc bags or throws bills into one file cabinet drawer labeled 2012 or stuffs Christmas decorations in black garbage bags.

Well, tomorrow is for resolutions, but today, socks or not, I'm going to the movies.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Texas Time

Yee-ha! breakfast
What better way to start the day than with a Texas shaped, make your own waffle at La Quinta Inn in San Antonio?

My colleague, Shirley, and I were at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) for four days this past week. SABCS is the premier breast cancer conference for oncologists and attracts over 7,000 attendees--oncology clinicians, surgeons, researchers, pharmas, and advocates.

It was my first time there, but Shirley is a veteran with five previous conferences under her belt. We manned an advocate table during the day for the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN) and took turns attending some of the sessions. I particularly liked the end of day Hot Topics for Advocates (aka the Cliff Notes version), which featured a panel of oncologists who summarized the main proceedings of the day in layman language. (h'ors d'oeuvres included)

Remember the Alamo
I did slip away one morning for quick tour of The Alamo. Very interesting - a handful of visitors, one school group and a homeless man, dragging his blanket, who seemed to always be in the same room as I was. The Alamo was almost torn don for a hotel, until the Daughters of Texas intervened to save the site, which is sandwiched in among the city buildings and hotels, but nicely preserved. For those Pee Wee Herman fans out there who loved the movie Pee Wee's Great Adventure, I asked the crucial question. And, yes, it's true. "There's no basement at the Alamo!" 

I took in the beautifully lit, tree-lined Riverwalk in San Antonio, the other 'must-see', every day as it meandered along my walking route past the hotels and the convention center.

Shirley and I at SABCS
As for the Conference, I have to admit I'm a bit of a bc groupie and I like to see the "big name" people in the field. My favorite evening presentation  (more free food!) was on a particular subset of breast cancer called Her2 Positive. Dr. Dennis Slamon is the rock star of Her2, having worked on the original research for a widely used drug called herceptin, laboring in his lab for many years when pharma and the oncology leaders had dismissed his research as inconsequential and funding was limited.

If you ever want to read a fascinating and inspirational story, pick up HER-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer  by respected science correspondent Robert Bazell. The book came out in 1998 and reads like a novel with intrigue, politics, love, sorrow, good guys and bad, as well as the science and frustration of bc research. It was followed by a Lifetime movie, Living Proof, in which Harry Connick, Jr plays Dr. Slamon.

When I shook hands with Dr. Slamon on Thursday night, I thanked him for all he's done for metastatic bc and said, "I hope there's someone with your perseverance and dedication out there, working on TNBC - Triple Negative Breast Cancer." (my subtype). "Oh, there is, " he replied. "There definitely is."

I pin my hopes on that and see myself as the long time survivor, the role that Bernadette Peters had in the movie. The only real question then becomes who will play me in the TNBC movie?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wyckoff Woman Debuts on Broadway

Now here's a story worthy of Wyckoff Patch breaking news--far more interesting than the usual reports that the mayor has a toothache or snow is predicted in the weather forecast.

Yes, it's true. An ordinary middle-aged Wyckoff Woman (WW) was sitting in the audience, enjoying the Alvin Ailey Dance Company performance at New York City Center, when she was invited up on stage for the rousing, final number. Was it the way she was nodding her head or tapping her foot to the music that caught the attention of one of the dancers in a troupe of about 16 who fanned across the theatre in search of talent? Dressed in black suits with gangster type fedoras, the company escorted the chosen participants up on stage and the wildness began. Ordinary, mild mannered people were suddenly strutting their stuff and attempting to keep up with their new partners. Who was that heavyset woman flapping her arms like a rooster or that bleach blonde who immediately shed her shoes and pranced around like a demented reindeer? No one knew.

Meanwhile, WW had the audience holding their breath, as she twisted slowly downward, faltered and swayed, but did not tip over, rebounding with a glorious jump into the air. The Ailey dancers kept in character, serious and unsmiling. The first exuberant dance was followed by a tango number and ended with the tallest dancer carrying his partner around the stage. The stocky woman in a festive red suit was a crowd favorite and their seductive stroll through the honor guard of their fellow dancers brought down the house.

It ended as politely and formally as it began with the dancers holding their partners' hands and thanking them. Slowly the participants walked into the footlights and down the stairs. WW, temporarily blinded, almost tripped. Wellwishers from the audience applauded and yelled, "You were great" to perfect strangers, as if they were teammates returning to the bench.

When asked if she would be sitting by the phone waiting for a casting call, WW smiled and said her brief flirtation with the big stage was "exhausting, exhilarating and extraordinary."