Anne’s Obituaries from SF Chronicle and Oakland Tribune

May 10th, 2012

Obituary in Oakland Tribune

Obituary in San Francisco Chronicle



Why the Beatles?

April 30th, 2012

Why did I use Beatles song titles on the About Anne page?

Anne was born with a mop-top head of dark hair and the nurses in hospital took to calling her “Beatle” (it being 1965 and northern England).

Anne’s dad Michael mentioned a story involving his good friend John Davies who would eventually become Anne’s godfather. John adored baby Anne and would often breeze into the hospital, toss off a quick “Hello” to Michael and Traude, then spend all of his time singing Beatles songs to Anne so that she would develop the correct sort of taste in music. He did this so often that a few nurses mistook him for her father.

It seems to have worked since Anne loved their music while growing up.

The day before Anne died, Devon and I spent a few hours listening to Beatles records with her so she could hear their music one final time.

The number one Beatles songs in the UK prior to April 1965 were: “I Feel Fine”, “Ticket to Ride”, and “Help”.

Good webcomic about cancer.

April 30th, 2009

“Still no cure for cancer.” is a phrase so often repeated that is has become a kind of truism. Recently ran across a webcomic (of all things) that illustrates just what that means:

Pathologist in the Operating Room (part one)

April 21st, 2009

Anne’s new doctor is affable and enthusiastic. His office is decorated with numerous pictures of his daughter who looks to be around the same age as Dev. I also noted a conspicuous poster for a rock concert at the Fillmore smack dab in the middle of his framed medical degrees.

Dr. C- pulled up Anne’s ultrasound results on his computer and pointed out the mass. “It’s about 11cm by 5 cm. Definitely needs to come out ASAP so we’d like to operate in the next two days.”

It didn’t leave any time for a second opinion, but seemed like the prudent thing to do after having researched just how fast ovarian could spread.

“We’ll keep Anne under anesthesia while a pathologist examines the mass. If he confirms the cancer, I’ll go forward with the surgical debulking.”

“So there’s a chance the tumor is benign?”

“Sure…but the blood test and abdominal fluid are consistent with ovarian.”

Anne started to cry at this point. I felt like someone kicked me in the gut. I felt like I had to say something. “I mean- what are the odds. Isn’t she a little young. I thought ovarian cancer occured when you were in your sixties?”

“It’s definitely uncommon…but not unheard of.” I reached over to hold Anne’s hand.

Ovarian cancer sucks.

April 17th, 2009

I’ve always been a bit obsessive about statistics and probability. So here’s the basics on Ovarian Cancer.

It’s fairly rare.

Roughly 40,000,00 American women are at the age of risk and of that group, 20,000 will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer per year. Your basic odds are 1 in 2,000 per year.

It’s difficult to detect.

A blood test for Serum CA-125 can sometimes lead to early detection. Unfortunately there is a high false positive rate with this test so it is typically followed by an ultrasound test and surgery if the ultrasound detects a mass. Most women with ovarian cancer will not show any symptoms which leads to…

It is the deadliest of the gynecological cancers.

Since ovarian cancer can easily spread without the patient knowing something was wrong, most women will be diagnosed at a fairly late stage. Each year, 15,000 women will die from ovarian cancer.

There’s a good corpus of knowledge about effective treatments.

When a malignant ovarian cancer is confirmed, debulking surgery (where ovaries, uterus, appendix, omentum, and any areas showing visible signs of disease are removed) followed by chemotherapy is the current gold standard for treatment. Most of the books and resources we’ve been using recommend the surgery and treatment is performed by a gynecological oncologist. According to our doctor, patients following this treatment plan under most circumstances will have a 65% 5-year median survival rate.


Of Raquetball and Ovarian Cancer

April 15th, 2009

Anne noticed the pain a couple of months ago. We were playing raquetball with our 6-year old son and he ran into her stomach while trying to make his shot.

“Ow.” Not very urgent-sounding.

“Sorry Mommy! But I still get a point because you blocked me!”.

At home later that week, she grimaced when the cat jumped on her lap.

“Probably nothing,” she sighed, “I’m just a bit stressed out over work. Maybe I’m getting an ulcer.”

Seemed like a reasonable explanation at the time. The University was undergoing some pretty radical restructuring and she had been under quite a bit of stress worrying about where her job would be. She took a couple of spoonfuls of Pepto Bismol and drank some mint tea.

Another few weeks went by and I awoke to find her looking in the mirror. “Does my belly look bigger?”

Are husbands really supposed to answer that? “Umm…I love you just the way you are?” I volunteered helpfully.

“I think I should talk to my doctor. It doesn’t hurt that much but maybe she can give me something stronger than Pepto”.

“Good idea.” I said, “I’ll go make breakfast for our little guy while you call up Kaiser”.

The whole exchange slipped my mind until the day she saw her OB/GYN. “Probably nothing to worry about…she just wants to do a blood test and an ultrasound.”

I drove her to the ultrasound and sat in the waiting room. “People probably think I’m pregnant,” she murmured. I tactfully ignored her comment and went back to reading about baseball season.

The ultrasound went really smoothly. The radiologist didn’t give off any concerned vibes. She just told Anne to get dressed and her test results would be sent to her primary doctor. “Do you think I should ask?” Anne wondered as we walked out. “I’m sure it’s okay.” I answered, “You’re probably right…if it’s something serious the doctor will call back in a hurry.”

The doctor called us the next day. I found out via Anne crying into my cell phone.

“There’s a mass on my ovaries. It might be ovarian cancer.”

Heavy Metal/Islam

September 9th, 2008

Iranian Metal/Punk band called Tarantist that lists it’s hometown as Tehran/Los Angeles.

“…the biggest market for Heavy Metal outside the US is across the Muslim world.” according to this column in the Independent: Here’s how to to tune in to both Muslims and the Deep South

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) arrested at RNC.

September 2nd, 2008

The thing that I find shocking is that the police are unafraid of the negative exposure from arresting journalists (see also the arrest of an ABC producer at the DNC: ABC-News Journalist Arrested. We have videocameras, other reporters, and an easy-to-use media distribution system but none of that seems daunting enough to the police.