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Piece of Mind

Today I was eating a Tootsie Roll, and while chewing it, felt something sharp against my gum. Knowing my candy, sharp I should not feel, so immediately I stopped chewing in hopes of locating the sensation; which I did. It turns out that I broke off the top half of a previously (years ago) installed dental crown. Fortunately, the crown was still in my mouth, so I was able to retrieve it. Upon closer examination of it and the now crown-less tooth, it appears that the crown and the tooth are completely intact (undamaged) and perhaps a simple re-cementing at the dentist’s office awaits, a repair achieved much less expensively than replacing the entire crown. (I can hope, can’t I? After all, I am a cancer patient; hope is what I do.)

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Helping Area Residents Sign Up for Health Insurance

More than 50 volunteers who are helping local residents sign up for health care insurance were recognized by state and local leadership last Saturday. To date, these Certified Application Counselors (CACs) have helped more than 500 individuals with the new Marketplace system, overcoming barriers of language, technology and understanding the new health care law. The volunteers were thanked for the commitment and service:

Confused and then Infused

Since March 6, 2009, nearly five years now, save for nine months when I was taking an oral chemotherapy medication at home, every three weeks I have been infused with some sort of chemotherapy drug. In that time, I have certainly become familiar and fairly well-known to the various staff at The Infusion Center. What follows is the most recent exchange with the receptionist in Oncology, as best as I can recall it.

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Arlington Officials Release Previously Secret Construction Bids

County leaders change position on secrecy of bids; refuse to reveal expectations.

New documents released by Arlington County officials show the four bids for the new aquatics center at Long Bridge Park range from $81.9 million to $82.8 million.

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Don’t Take Safe Drinking Water for Granted

In the wake of the chemical spill in West Virginia, weighing the threats to local drinking water.

Most of the 5 million residents in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area have no idea that their drinking water comes from the Potomac River, said Hedrick Belin, president of the Potomac Conservancy. “Until last week, the same could have probably been said for 300,000 residents in Charleston, W. Va.,” Belin added.

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CYA Collects Presents for Pediatric Party

CYA and DC Candlelighters united to make the holidays brighter for pediatric oncology patients at Inova Fairfax Hospital. CYA collected more than 300 presents for the DC Candlelighter families whose children are fighting cancer.

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Churches, County Organize Blanket Drive to Aid Syrian Refugees

Blankets collected in Northern Virginia’s Blanket Drive for Syrian Refugees will soon be arriving in Turkey, where a local relief agency will distribute them to Syrian refugee families in the Adana refugee camp. More than 18,000 blankets were collected. These blankets were donated by residents of Northern Virginia through grass-roots efforts organized by local elected officials in conjunction with the Fairfax County Interfaith Council. Residents were asked to drop off clean and folded blankets at locations throughout Northern Virginia. In Fairfax County, seven meetinghouses of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) served as donation collection points, as well as two Islamic Centers, and offices of several members of the county Board of Supervisors. Chairman Sharon Bulova joined volunteers at one LDS meetinghouse and publicly thanked the church for its efforts in supporting the effort.

Friends Forever

Since it had been more than a few months, today I summoned up the courage to Google my long-time friend and fellow stage IV lung cancer survivor, Suzanne. Suzanne and I had been years out of touch (for no real reason other than initiative and the geographic consideration that she lived in Barnstable, Ma. and I live in Burtonsville, Md.) and recently back in touch – due to our identical cancer diagnoses. I learned that she had succumbed to her disease back in October, 2013. We last had contact electronically back in the summer. She was extremely weak then, she said, too weak to talk, so e-mailing was best. In that e-mail, ultimately her last, she wrote that the most recent chemotherapy drug with which she was infused was no longer effective and that her oncologist had no other drugs left to recommend. Not that she said it in so many words, but at that point her prognosis was grim. She offered that her two boys were with her and from them she would gain great comfort. The news was very unsettling to me and I was afraid that this e-mail might be our last – and so it was.

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Fairfax County Launches Sex Trafficking Prevention Campaign

Sex trafficking education materials also added to school curriculum.

In order to raise awareness to the fact that sex trafficking can happen anywhere, even in Fairfax County, a new prevention campaign and website raising awareness of this issue launched on Jan. 13.

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Keeping Homeless Out of the Cold

FACETS hypothermia prevention shelters continue for winter 2014.

Temperatures in Fairfax County have reached record lows over the past week and FACETS is continuing to run its hypothermia prevention shelters this winter. The shelters are hosted at churches throughout the area, and are intended to prevent hypothermia-related deaths, said Single Services Team Leader Abby Dunner. FACETS worked with other organizations to ensure that nobody was left in the cold during the bone-chilling weather last week.

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Caring for People with Alzheimers, Dementia

As the number of senior citizens in Fairfax County continues to rise, so does the need for assisted-living facilities — and especially those focusing on people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. That’s why Artisan Land Group LLC wants to build just that in Chantilly.

In Case Someone Is Wondering

I don’t mind being alive, really I don’t. Occasionally though, I receive well-intended inquiries – electronic and otherwise, from people (who know my cancer story) who are sort of wondering if perhaps I’m not. When people haven’t heard from me in a while – and this is a category of people with whom I don’t have regular/recurring interactions, but rather a group of people who reach out and attempt to touch me (figuratively speaking) every three or four months or so – there is a presumption on their part that my silence (so far as they know) is not in fact golden, but rather ominous, as in the cancer might have won and yours truly didn’t. And when I respond, their pleasure/relief at my not having succumbed to the disease is quite positive, generally speaking. Their honesty and joy in learning that I’m still alive is both rewarding and gratifying. Rewarding in that they care and gratifying in that I must be doing something right which enables me to sustain myself through a very difficult set of medical circumstances: stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer, the terminal kind (is there any other kind?).

Living With My Decisions

On multiple occasions throughout my nearly five years of being treated for stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer, my oncologist has given me opportunities to stop and/or take a break from my treatment, or to consider alternatives to the normal protocols – for the expressed (literally) purpose of sustaining/enhancing the unexpected, above-average quality of life I have mostly experienced during my nearly non-stop, every three-week chemotherapy infusions which began in early March, 2009. The goal being to enable me to enjoy my life and not be subjected to/beaten down by the ravaging and debilitating effects of chemotherapy.

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Lower Level Offers Multi-generational Solution

Remodeling a dark basement gives family spaces for grandparents on extended visits and play room for everyone.

Eric and Tina Park, both physicians, were already quite busy 10 years ago when they purchased a 3,400 square foot two-level neo-Colonial near McLean.

“Flourishing After 55”

“Flourishing After 55” from Arlington Office of Senior Adult Programs, Jan. 6-14.