In November 2014, I was diagnosed with brain cancer. (No, no one in my family has/had any form of cancer.) Out of the blue. After undergoing emergency surgery and six rounds of chemo – not including the consolidation chemo – I had to relearn to walk, talk, eat, read, write, and just about everything else.
I have been in remission since May. (For the full story.)
My photography skills vanished completely. I couldn’t even hold up my small, lightweight camera phone, let alone trying to remember f-Stops, aperture, and how lighting works.
This photo was taken in June near Pecos, New Mexico.
And, this is from a few days ago at the Capitan Gap, New Mexico. I purchased a Nikon Coolpix 900s to help relearn photography. I have a Nikon D700, but it’s to complicated for me now.
Location: Loretto Chapel, 207 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In the autumn of 2014 we were on top of the world. Juliet and I been together for seven years, and we married (legally) this time. We had an amazing honeymoon through Italy.
We had been back a few weeks when Bambi, our 13-year old Chihuahua/Dachshund mix (a.k.a. Princess) had a stroke. The next week we discovered that Maui, our 7-year old Westie, had a tumorous cancer growth on her belly, which had to be removed. [They are both fine.]
You know that saying, “Bad Things Come In Threes.” Well, it’s true.
I had insomnia for a couple years and, in October, it was getting worse. I had an hour of sleep each night. I made an appointment at the sleep center in Santa Fe. It took several weeks before they could see me. I woke up with double vision and they pushed up my appointment.
The doctor there referred me to either a neurologist or an ophthalmologist. The eye doctor had the first opening. He immediately sent me for an MRI. That was a Friday and I had the results Monday. They weren’t good.
I found a young neurologist that I believed in. He put me on steroids to shrink my brain tumor and sent me off for three very, very long weeks.
At Thanksgiving we tried to be cheerful, but there was an elephant in the room. And, I knew I was starting to falter.
At the next appointment, we found out that the steroids didn’t work. From that moment on, I don’t remember anything. On December 19th I had a sizeable seizure, and I was deemed “non responsive” so I was rushed into live-saving surgery. They thought I wouldn’t be able to speak for months.
But, I surprised them, when I woke up talking – well, trying to talk. After my hospitalization I entered rehab. I had to relearn to walk, talk, read, write and feed myself. As a bonus, I suffered from both aphasia and apraxia. My photography skills disappeared.
This begins my Instagram feed:
1. On the way home from the UNM hospital. I-25 towards Santa Fe.
2. At the Santa Fe Place (mall) I rolled myself around in a wheelchair with Juliet’s help. I was trying to figure out how to use the iPhone again. This is the first photo I captured since early December. I couldn't hold up the iPhone.
3-7. In the UNM hospital. All of my pills. The spots over my body. View from my window. Juliet adding some humor. The endless IV's.
8-12. Often I couldn't eat. Everything tasted like burnt charcoal. BUT, when I could eat, I did!
13-17. So many people gave gifts, cards and flowers. Thank you!
18: My brother, Michael, and his wife, Jewell, visit us twice.
19-22. Holidays passed. Valentine's Day. My daughter, Brittany, and her fiancé, Jerrod's birthdays. Easter.
23-28. We tried to celebrate every day too. Restaurant Week in Santa Fe. Opening Day. Juliet purchased subscription to "Try the World". The dogs LOVED me being at home. Roses in our garden.
29-32. While I was in and out of the hospital and cancer center I tried again to photograph. There was usually a harpist to play for us. The rehab center tried to created a joyful atmosphere. The hospital has local artist's work everywhere, including the sketch that reminded us our Bambi. The entrance to the cancer center had bronze sculptures.
33-34. At the hospital was a chapel filled with stained glass. I visited there often. And, at home, I started chanting again.
35-42. I never got down. I still enjoyed life.
43-46. I got stronger. My speech started clearing (though it's still garbled.) My memory is shaky in places.
47-49: In April I was given a break from chemo. So we did what we do best: Road Trip. To Sedona.
50: Then another stay for consolidation chemo. This time in a "casa" near the hospital.
On Sunday, April 26th, I was REMISSION!
Since then, our daughter got married in June!
Location: Oklahoma City National Memorial, 620 N Harvey Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
"YOUR IMAGINATION IS YOUR PREVIEW TO LIFE'S COMING ATTRACTIONS." – ALBERT EINSTEIN
My mission is to reconstruct my photography skills, which were diminished by brain cancer at the end of 2014. I’ve forgotten how to use f-Stops, what aperture settings are, and all of the knobs on my Nikon D700. I felt overwhelmed by my camera and have recently purchased a Nikon Coolpix P900. It has enough buttons to play with and the clarity and the zoom are excellent. It’s compact so when we travel to South America (in a month!) I don’t have to worry about lenses.
Every week (Monday morning) I’ll read an article about photography, put it into practice, and report back with photographs. Every Thursday, I’ll dig into the vault and post an early photo from my collection. Some of these go way back to 2005, when I moved to Los Angeles to work in Hollywood.
Today, I began posting to my social media outlets with my musings, including photography. Follow along!
I welcome all messages, comments, and even complaints via mail:
I’ll post about my journeys when I’m done traveling.
The opening shot on the main page is always taken during the previous month.