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Fairfax Apartment Fire: $2 Million in Damage

A two-alarm fire Monday afternoon at a Fairfax apartment building displaced some 25 residents and caused an estimated $2 million damage. Roughly 80 City of Fairfax firefighters raced to 4311 Bob Court, March 24, around 3:45 p.m., after a report of a fire with people trapped in the building.

Another Milestone

March 30, 2014. My age 59 and a half (9/30/54 is my date of birth). The age at which money deposited into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) can be withdrawn without incurring a 10 percent early-withdrawal penalty from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Not that I’m retiring. I am remembering though when this cancer-centric life of mine began.

Our Daily Bread Receives Grant

Our Daily Bread (ODB) is always helping people in need; now it’s receiving a helping hand to continue carrying on its work. The Fairfax nonprofit has just been awarded a $25,000 grant by the United Way of the National Capital Area (NCA). The money will expand ODB’s ability to provide grocery cards via its Food Bridge Program. These cards are given to Fairfax County residents participating in ODB’s supplemental delivered-food program, as well as to people referred to the organization for emergency food assistance.

Baking a Difference for Children

Icing Smiles to be featured at cake show in Fairfax.

Icing Smiles, an organization that provides custom cakes for critically ill children, will be highlighted at The National Capital Area Cake Show at Fairfax High School.

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Having Fun, Raising Money

Life Time holding Zumba-Latin Fusion dance class for MDA.

Peter Callas is living a happy and productive life, both personally and professionally. But it wouldn’t have been possible without his own determination, the love of his family and support from the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

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Gartlan Center to Open March 27

CSB integrates primary and behavioral health care at Gartlan Center.

According to a 2006 study, people with a serious mental illness, on average, die 25 years earlier than the rest of the population. The study, conducted by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, found that about 60 percent of these deaths were due to conditions like cardiovascular and pulmonary disease.

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Great Falls Citizens Association Talks Ticks and Trails

Town Hall Meeting addresses ‘Deer Management’ and the future of ‘Trails, Paths and Sidewalks’ in the village.

Braving frigid gusts of wind that left some of them without power at home, residents came out in force for the Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA) Town Hall Meeting on the night of Wednesday, March 12. The agenda consisted of only two topics – "Deer Management" and the future of "Trails, Paths and Sidewalks" in the village, but there was enough material and discussion to fill the three hours allotted.

No Know. No Problem.

I felt a bit of a dope this week when, after reading last week’s column, "Whew!", multiple friends called to inquire specifically as to the "Tony-the-Tiger Great" news I wrote that I received from my oncologist, and I couldn’t answer them in any detail: shrinkage, less fluid, "partial stable remission"? Nothing. And though I tried to get my oncologist to explain to me exactly what was so encouraging about this most recent CT Scan – compared to the one I took three months ago (as opposed to the one I had nine months ago which was mistakenly compared to this most recent scan and resulted in the "Some better, some worse. I’ll explain more on Friday" e-mail I received from my doctor and talked about in "Whew!") – I was rebuffed. Rebuffed in the best possible way: being told instead how great I was doing, how great my lab results were (for this most recent pre-chemotherapy) and how I could live a long time like this (presumably continuing to be infused with Alimta) – it was almost disconcerting; especially when you consider the original e-mail assessment we received and our less-than-positive interpretation of it. Moreover, the oncologist’s exuberance and smiling countenance, along with his offer of a congratulatory handshake led me away from the missing facts and immediately into these new-found feelings.

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CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield’s Contributions to Arlington Free Clinic Top $1 Million

March 05, 2014 - Baltimore — CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) plans to contribute another $110,000 to Arlington Free Clinic to help the Northern Virginia health clinic better coordinate care during the next year for more than 500 uninsured patients – many of who have chronic diseases that require increased monitoring and adherence to strict medication schedules. Arlington Free Clinic intends to use CareFirst’s latest funding to strengthen its relationship with its network of community medical partners, equip diabetic patients with more resources and education to help them control their disease, and increase its patients’ compliance with recommended immunization schedules.

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Bike Lane Controversy Creates a King-Sized Debate in Alexandria

City Council set to take up proposal to remove parking and install bike lanes.

Months of bitter accusations and counter-accusations are set to culminate this weekend as members of the Alexandria City Council take up a plan to remove four blocks of parking spaces on King Street to make room for a bike lane in each direction.

Whew!

Originally, this column was to be a discussion about the communication process between my doctor and this patient. Specifically, the time lag between when tests are performed/completed and when those results are communicated to the doctor who in turn – per this patient’s request, e-mails them to me. In the olden days, results were most likely offered up in person; in the post-olden days, more likely a phone call was made; presently, at least in my experience, results most likely will be e-mailed. I imagine an enduring problem for the patient – during all three "days," has been the time waiting for test results and hearing about them from your doctor. Excruciating is one of the most accurate characterizations of that delay, combined with an unhealthy dose of helplessness. Eventually, if you live long enough, you sort of become accustomed to the process and learn to roll with the punches, both figuratively and literally. Nevertheless, the patience and experience you learn can’t totally stop the rampant speculation that keeps you up at night and sleepy during the day.

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Creating a Harmonious Family Life

Local experts offer tips for keeping your family happy.

As Elizabeth Rees drove her daughter and two of her daughter’s friends to a library reading group recently, the Alexandria mother of three admits that she felt like a chauffeur at first. But she had a change of heart after hearing sounds of laughter.

Not Yet, Really

While we’re exchanging pleasantries here, in semi real time – although this column will not be most read until March 6th (I need to submit it on Monday, March 3rd as we go to press on Tuesday, March 5th), I feel the obligation, given how last week’s column ended, to update you on the results from my February 26th CT Scan. Presumably, by the title you all have determined that as of this writing, Saturday, March 1st, I have not heard back from my oncologist. Typically, I would have already heard from him, electronically. But so far, not a peep, electronic or otherwise and believe me, I’ve been checking, as you might imagine.

High Five

I made it. It’s five years after receiving a terminal diagnosis on February 27, 2009 from my oncologist: stage IV non-small cell lung cancer, accompanied by a "13-month to two-year" prognosis. Let’s be honest, medical professionals don’t toss around the word "terminal" because you’re going to be treated at an airport. Presumably, they know their facts and figures as well as the patient’s present condition, confirmed by a variety of diagnostic results from X-Rays, CT Scans, P.E.T. Scans, lab work and of course the ever-popular biopsy, so their diagnosis/prognosis is a bit more than an educated guess. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to every rule and until proven otherwise, I was not about to succumb to their statistics. Still, based on the best medical knowledge available at the time, this patient (yours truly) was given a limited life expectancy and encouraged to take the vacation I had always dreamed of – for obvious you’re-life-is-now-shorter-than-you-ever-imagined-type reasons, and yet, five years hence, here I am.

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Alexandria Food Truck Task Force Prepares to Issue Recommendations

A movable feast through Old Town, Del Ray and Carlyle?

This spring, advocates for food trucks will engage in a battle with brick-and-mortar restaurants.