Sunday, September 17, 2006

Light The Night Walk

Light The Night Walk is one of the major fundraisers that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) has each year at many locations around the country. This year's local walk is at the Dell Diamond on October 28, 2006.

I walked for the first time last year and was able to raise over $2600 with the support of my fantastic family, friends and co-workers. The LLS supports patients and families of those who are battling various forms of blood cancers - leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. They help fund all kinds of research to find a cure for these diseases. Seventy five percent of the money raised goes directly to patient support and research. Local chapters have paid staff and many volunteers.

This year my wife, daughters, and I have formed a team and will walk as the Wagner Family Team. Supporters carry red balloons and survivors carry white balloons. The local society asked me to be one of their Honored Patients this year. They were looking for someone in each age category and I guess I fill the bill for the the old guy category. Most individuals who are walking and raising funds do so in memory of or in honor of someone they know who either died from a blood cancer or who is surviving from blood cancer. However, there are many corporate and school teams walking who do not know anyone, so the "Honored Patients" help put a face to the disease.

Some of you who are reading this will be getting an email from me in the next week or two asking for your support again this year. However, I would be honored if anyone reading this would like to support me in my efforts. If you are not able to donate, I certainly understand. I would ask that you provide prayer support, if you are so inclined. Together we might be able to help researchers find a cure! Research takes money and that is why I am doing this. There are many clinical trials taking place with new treatment options that weren't available to my dad just a few short years ago. Fortunately the type of leukemia I have is very slow and I hold out the faith and hope that a cure will be found in time that I and many of my cyber friends at and who are fighting this disease will benefit from that discovery.

My fundraising site is at:

Cheryl's is at:

Cheri's is at:

Cindy's isn't quite set up yet, but it will be soon and I will edit this post and post it then.

Just to let you know, I am feeling really well. I went to my primary care doctor this week for refills of my regular medications. He did a CBC, which he never had done before and my results were terrific! WBC 5.0, RBC 4.52, Hemoglobin 15.2, etc., etc. Everything but platelets were in the normal range and they weren't bad at all at 128. He always checks my cholesterol, blood sugar and liver enzymes. My cholesterol was the best ever - 133. Triglycerides were 79, a personal best. Three years ago they were hanging out in the 600 range, ouch! For the first time ever the good cholesterol, HDL, was in the normal range, 40. Miraculously, and I don't understand how it could be, but my A1C (3 month blood sugar test) was 5.2, well within the normal range of 4.0 - 6.0.

So, as I told the folks over at, I think I found the cure. A nice, relaxing cruise!!! Now, if we can just get funding for some clinical trials. Maybe I will contact the LLS. I think Hawaii just might bring my platelets up!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

There Is No Leukemia on a Cruise Ship

Sorry I am a little slow (as usual) posting, but sure seems like there was a lot to catch up on after only being gone a week. We didn't have Internet access all week -- at least I was too cheap to pay the $24 per hour to access the Internet.

What a great trip! It is tough coming back and trying to get back into the old routine. Jimmy's cold never developed into much and Cheri, although still coughing, felt much better by the time we sailed. I never caught anything -- again! I didn't even think about my leukemia/lymphoma more than two or three times the entire cruise and even then it was very fleeting. Although I tried to keep the diabetes in mind during meals, I must confess I didn't check my blood sugar the entire week, even though I had the testing kit with me. It was so nice to take a vacation from thinking about diseases! I have mentioned how we who have this have to get used to our "new normal," but if I had my 'druthers' I would chose that as my new normal. However, like most vacations, we do have to come back to reality. On the other hand, the memories will remain forever. (Now, I did take pictures and lots of Super 8 movies so that even when my memory fails, I can relive the experience through pictures.)

We arrived in Galveston early in the afternoon on Monday. Because Cheri had gotten an upgrade to our staterooms, we were in "VIP status." Woo-hoo! We were able to by-pass the long line for check in and went right to a separate processing room where there was no line. We showed our documents, signed some forms, had our picture taken and were issued our "sign and sail" cards which served as a credit card for extras on board and also as an I.D. for getting on and off the ship in port. Our pictures were encrypted into the magnetic strip on the card and these were checked each time we got on or off. After going through security, like in an airport but not as strict, we found our staterooms. Very nice and we each had a balcony. Not many of the rooms on this ship had balconies. We set out to explore the ship. It seemed even larger inside than it did from looking at it from the dock. A few hours later our luggage was delivered to our rooms. We had turned it in at curbside when we arrived.

We had requested early dinner seating because of the kids. The formal dining room dinners were always terrific. Lots of great new choices each evening (some of which I couldn't pronounce and had no clue what they were) and fantastic service with a team of three servers assigned to a set of two or three tables (8 or less people per table). Even though the dessert menu, which changed every night with four or five new choices, was always so very tempting, I was a good boy for all but one night and always ordered the scoop of sugar free vanilla ice-cream...sigh. Even up at the buffets, I avoided the dessert table literally piled high with lots of choices. The one night, in addition to the choices on the menu, they actually brought out Baked Alaska to the table. When it was right in front of me, I couldn't resist. The kids soon discovered they didn't care for the "fancy" food choices and ended up eating at the informal buffet lines most of the time. At formal night dinner, Jimmy wanted to attend because he loves dressing up. However, he first got pizza from the pizza parlor on the upper deck and brought it to the dinner. Our head waiter always got a kick out of Jimmy. The very first night Jimmy asked him for "the American menu."

During the cruise, Holly attended "Camp Carnival" most of the time. This was designed for the kids and they had activities all day long, from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. They did all kinds of stuff, took them to eat and even took them to the appropriate shows. Holly loved it. Jimmy went to a few of the activities, but there were very few kids in his age group. There were more in the 12 to 14 group, but he isn't quite 12. So he stayed with us most of the time. He still had a good time.

The family shows in the evening were always excellent and very professional with lots of scene changes and costume changes. Mostly musicals with some acrobatics, magic and comedy thrown into the mix. Even the night of the passenger talent show was fantastic. None of the passengers who sang were professionals, but you would not have known that when listening to them.

Our first port call was in Progresso, Mexico.
We took a trip to some Mayan ruins and stopped at the Pink Flamingo breeding grounds. The ruins were extremely interesting. Although we saw a lot of the Flamingos, apparently there are hundreds more during the breeding season. My still pictures didn't turn out very well of them, but the movies were better. We also did some shopping in Progresso.

The next day was a stop in Cozumel, Mexico. This was much more of a tourist port. However, hurricane Wilma last year destroyed almost all of the international docks. Wilma was a category 5 storm that battered Cozumel for three days! This was followed by another category 3 or 4 hurricane. Most everything was destroyed. However, because tourism is their lively hood, the people pulled together and had most everything built back within a few short months. The docks will take much longer. The HUGE blocks of concrete that are now at the bottom of the bay have to be broken up and hauled out before new docks can be built. There are still many palm trees that are on the bottom also that still have to be removed. Because of all this, our ship was anchored out in the bay and we took ferry boats back and forth to shore. Instead of docking down by the beaches where the international docks had been, we were ferried to a dock near the center of downtown and, of course, all the shopping. We discovered that a round trip taxi to the beaches would cost us $60 and, after shopping, we had only about an hour either before or after a tour we had scheduled. We didn't think $60 was worth such a short visit to the beach. Maybe next time?

The tour we scheduled was called the Sub-Ocean View. We thought it was going to be the submarine trip, but it was a ship that had glass windows in the bottom of the hull where we sat. That was fine. The actual submarine trip would have been $600 for all of us. OUCH! This was "only" $300, but was another trip of a lifetime. We spent close to two hours touring around the bay and enjoying the sites of the various fish (even saw a sting ray), and the corral reef. We even toured the destroyed international docks. To see these many, many, huge building-sized chunks of concrete with twisted rebar sticking out was so very sobering to realize the destructive power of a hurricane. Miraculously, only nine people total were killed on the island during (or after) the hurricane. Our guide said all of these could have been prevented if the people had not been foolish and had taken the advised precautions. Almost all of the evacuations off the island did not happen until AFTER the hurricanes had passed, so it really was a miracle more did not lose their lives.

All vacations must come to an end and we arrived back in Galveston Saturday morning. Debarking was just as smooth as when we arrived. Again, because of the staterooms we were in, we were among the first off the ship. Our luggage was picked up at our room the night before, so we only had a few carry-on pieces with us. We found our luggage just before going through customs, but a porter put it on a cart and went with us. We went through customs very quickly with no problem or delay. I went and got the car and came back and picked up everyone and our luggage and headed back to Austin.

As I said, it was a fantastic trip and one we won't forget. Cheryl said she enjoyed it very much also. I am grateful to Cheri and Marc for doing this for us.

Now, back to reality and the world of illness, and doctors. But, I can deal with that, too. We all just need a break now and then.

Monday, September 04, 2006

We Leave On The Cruise Tomorrow - We Hope

We are excited. We leave in the morning to drive to Galveston to catch the ship which departs at 4 p.m. All packed and I am about ready to go to bed.

Unfortunately both Cheri, my daughter, and Jimmy, my 11 year-old grandson, are sick with deep chest and head congestion. We think it is just colds as there is no fever. Cheri got sick Thursday night and went to the doctor Friday morning. She got a precautionary shot and several other medicines. Jimmy woke up with it this morning. I hope they let us on the ship as they take that seriously as they don't want other passengers getting ill.

We are all traveling down to the port in our SUV and I just might make everyone wear surgical masks. That would be quite a sight! Pray that they get better quickly so they can enjoy the trip and pray that none of the rest of us catch this, whatever it is.