Mimi’s Health Update

Mimi has had a very bad week. She got up by herself to get something from the kitchen and fell. She bruised some ribs. For a couple of days she was getting weaker and weaker, so we took her into the hospital. They kept her 3 days adding fluids and running tests. Then they recommended that we take her to a hospice.

She has been at the hospice since Friday 2/10. Today is Monday, 2/13. The doctor says she is deteriorating rapidly as her body shuts down. She will no longer eat or drink. The doctor thinks that she will last at least until Wednesday 2/15 when her daughter Cathie and her brother Alan arrive.

We appreciate your prayers.

 

Jim

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Christmas Present

Thanks to all of you for your good wishes for Mimi’s health. The new chemotherapy (Vectibix, described in an earlier post) seems to be working well. Mimi is very tired, but still gets in 3 to 4 hours a day of dollmaking. She is working on Father Christmas sculptures for each of her grandchildren. After the new year, we hope to get back to publishing some new articles, videos, and patterns.

In the meantime, here’s our first Christmas Present for you, the new HD version of Anatomy: Scale & Proportion. It has been edited to make it shorter and easier to understand.

I’m hoping to be able to post every week as we have a lot of stuff to share. (I’ve tried to post this on Facebook, too, but I am not being very successful.)

Have a great holiday, and a happy new year!

Jim

Mimi’s Health Update – We’ve Moved

Mimi’s Health Update (10/2016)

(by Jim)

Our thanks to all of you for your messages and prayers. Please forgive me for not acknowledging you individually, but I (Jim) do most stuff now except for dollmaking, and we have just downsized Mimi’s studio and moved to a new, smaller apartment.

Previously, Mimi’s colorectal cancer had been inactive in the colon, but not before it had spread to the liver. The latest attempt to kill the cancer involved using radioactive beads inserted into the tumor through a catheter. It was hoped that that would improve her health enough to do a liver resection to remove anything remaining.

Mimi has been a lot healthier lately. The radioactive beads used to treat the tumor have helped. She has been more active, and has helped us move to our new apartment. (Including the painful downsizing of her studio.)

It takes about 3-6 months to see the results of the beads. We got the results of the PET CT scan which covers skull base to mid-thigh. (This is the one with the radioactive sugar that goes directly to areas of high metabolic growth, i.e., cancer.)

Abdomen: Most of the (colorectal) cancer in the liver seems to have shrunk to about 1/8 of previous size. It is not very active.

Chest: The cancer has metastasized again with two small spots in each lung ranging from 0.4 cm to 1.0 cm.

This means that we will NOT do the liver resection to remove the tumor as originally planned, because that would not get it all.

On the other hand, the cancer in the liver is much smaller, so the chemo may work better. The spread of the cancer means that we have started chemo again with a new drug.

Mimi’ cancer has an identified variation of the KRAS gene which provides instructions for making a protein that is involved in regulating cell division.  The new chemo, Vectibix, is a monoclonal antibody that attaches to the cancer cell and makes the cancer cell visible to the immune system. White blood cells then attack the cancer cells. We’re hoping this will do it. Unfortunately, it, too, has some side effects. Mimi is having skin reactions, nausea and fatigue. These side-effects are nowhere near as dangerous as the ones from the original oxyplatin.

The doctor will also look into clinical trials as there are new specific therapies for cancers of this type.

We’ve Moved

We’ve moved to a smaller apartment because we need to be on the first floor. Mimi can’t make it up and down stairs anymore because of the chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy from the oxyplatin.  We got a slightly smaller place so that it will be easier for me to take care of. This meant that we have had to downsize Mimi’s studio. It’s always painful to let go of things you have spent years collecting. After going through everything three or four times, we’ve gotten down to size where the studio only takes up half of the living room and a large closet by the front door.

Mimi's New Studio

Mimi’s New Studio

We’ve given away about 50% of the supplies and about 80% of the books will be for sale on Amazon. Art materials generally went to the fabric artists of the Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild. Dollmaking specific stuff went to some local dollmakers. More general stuff went to Goodwill.

If you need our new address, it is:

Gloria J. “Mimi” Winer
Mimidolls.Com
3780 Metro Pkwy #315
Fort Myers FL 33916.

Wells Fargo Does It to Mimi

I’m sure that you have already heard about Wells Fargo firing 5300 low-level employees for opening bogus accounts and allegedly screwing depositors in order to make executive required sales quotas. At the same time, not one single high-level executive was fired for setting up the whole thing, or failing to manage it and stopping it. (Lately, according to the NY Times, they have said goodbye to “Carrie Tolstedt, who ran Wells’s community banking operations… She was allowed to retire at age 56 in July, with a compensation package totaling tens of millions of dollars. She is still eligible for additional compensation this year, according to the Senate panel [investigating Wells Fargo].”)

Also, according to the NY Times, in recent years, Wells Fargo has paid more than $10 billion in fines. That includes penalties for subprime loan abuses, discriminating against African-American and Hispanic mortgage borrowers, and foreclosure violations for cars owned by military personnel called to active duty.

According to CNN,

“Active-duty members of the military cannot have their cars repossessed without a court order, according to the DOJ, which just charged Wells Fargo with illegally repossessing 413 vehicles from members of the U.S. military.”

Wells Fargo was fined 24.1 million dollars for just this item alone.

So what did Wells Fargo do to Mimi?

Nothing that drastic.

When we didn’t get the payment invoice for Mimi’s car from Wells Fargo Dealer Services, I called Wells Fargo customer service to verify that they had received our change of address. Wells Fargo wouldn’t talk to me. They insisted on talking to Mimi, even though I told them she had cancer and wasn’t feeling up to talking on the phone. So they grilled her for several minutes for the answers to the same identification questions that I had already given them the same answers to.

We determined that they didn’t have the apartment number in their files. Then Mimi handed me the phone without verifying that the zip code was correct. I attempted to get them to verify the zip code. They refused. They wanted to talk to Mimi again and go through the whole identification routine again. (I now record all phone calls using an app on my smartphone. We’ll see if it makes any difference.)

I personally think it’s obvious that Wells Fargo thinks it can abuse its customers in every conceivable way. I recommend that anyone who is a Wells Fargo customer find another bank or car finance company. Don’t do business with anything that says Wells Fargo.

Unfortunately, here’s a current item from NBC News:

“… the Commodity Futures Trading Commission ordered the same banks to pay over $1.4 billion in penalties. The formal settlement is for the “attempted manipulation of, and for aiding and abetting other banks’ attempts to manipulate, global foreign exchange benchmark rates to benefit the positions of certain traders,” it said. The more detailed breakdown shows that the FCA is fining Citibank $358 million, HSBC $343 million, JPMorgan Chase $352 million, RBS $344 million and UBS $371 million. The CFTC is imposing fines of $310 million each for Citibank and JPMorgan, $290 million each for RBS and UBS, and $275 million for HSBC. U.K. lender Barclays is also part of the investigation.”

You can’t trust any of the big banks! They are all out to maximize profits at the expense of customers! What to do?

There is something you can do t help!

Put your money in a Federal Credit Union. By law, Credit Unions aren’t allowed to do anything except consumer banking. Accounts are insured to the same level as FDIC insures the big banks. Find one near you at Credit Union Access. We use SunCoast FCU. The auto financing rates are around 2% instead of 7% or more. (We got the car before we moved from NJ to FL, so we weren’t members then.) Their mortgage rates are lower too.

Look into it yourself. Tell your friends about it too. It’s time to abandon the big commercial banks that are doing such a bad job for the little guys like us.

 

 

Mimi’s Health Update

Mimi’s Health Update
(from Jim)
 
First and foremost, Mimi’s procedure on Wednesday (4/27/16) went about as expected. Nothing went wrong. She’s been in some pain and has had trouble getting around. But she’s handling it reasonably well. Staying in the chair for the most part, thankfully she’s not overdoing it too much. This was an exploratory “mapping” of the tumor using a catheter through the femoral artery to map the blood supply to the tumor. The idea is to put radioactive beads into the tumor. Before they do that they have to be sure the beads can’t escape. The beads are too big to go from the artery through the capillaries to the veins. However, they might go down wrong branches of arteries or past the tumor to other places served by the same arteries, so they place “coils” to prevent this. Anyway, it went okay.
 
Next, on Monday 5/9/16 they will put the yttrium-90 radioactive beads in using the same catheter up the femoral artery. They have to be overnighted in from Australia where they are made. Y-90 has a half-life of 11 days, so in about 2 months (66 days) they will be down to 1/64 of original strength, or almost gone. Hopefully, they take most of the tumor with them.
 
Cassi was in the hospital on Tuesday (5/8) for fainting and abdominal pain. After a few hours of tests, they determined that it wasn’t going to kill her immediately, whatever it was (probably stress). Apart from that, she has to go to the doctor to take some tests later this week.
 
I (Jim) had a severe stress reaction. I got the shakes, just as I did on the trip down to Florida from New Jersey. I had them from Wednesday evening (after Mimi got out of the hospital) for several days. I was sick since that point, sleeping most of the day. Sunday, I thought I was feeling better so we went to Costco for our monthly run. But by the time we were done shopping, I almost passed out in the parking lot.
 
Thankfully, Cassi’s friend Dylan was with us. He drove us over to the ER at Gulf Shore Hospital. They have decided to keep me overnight and run some tests.
 
Mimi is worried about me. I’m worried about Mimi. Not really a surprise there. But we’ve got things handled. For the time being. Dylan and Cassi finished the shopping. Made sure Mimi ate something and took her meds.
 
I am out of the hospital. Fine head CAT scan, fine chest x-ray, fine electrocardiogram, fine heart ultrasound, fine blood chemistry, acceptable diabetes, just exhausted and stressed. Tranquilizers on occasion. Follow up with primary physician.
 
More next week.

Mimi’s Health Update, Behind the Scenes Coming Soon

Mimi’s Health Update

Round 5 (3/15/16)

We just got the results back from the latest PET scan. The tumor seems to be dying from the inside out. While the overall size hasn’t decreased, the interior of the tumor shows significantly less activity. Apparently, the outside of the tumor will collapse eventually as the interior is cleaned away. This appears to be the result of the Avastin preventing new blood vessel growth. There are no signs of cancer anywhere else.

The doctors are reevaluating, and we may do a new contrast CT to determine if it is feasible to try the radioactive beads to kill the rest of the tumor and then surgically remove the remains.

Over the last few weeks, Mimi has been feeling better, but she has been having a down week this week with both nausea and pain. It looks like it will be a little bit better going into next week.

 

Behind the Scenes at Mimidolls

Mimi & I are working on a new e-book that will take you behind the scenes at Mimidolls. It will tell you a lot about Mimi and me, and show you how we create a new workshop including why we do it the way we do and which tools we use to get it put together. It should be available here in a few days.

Mimi’s Health Update

Round 4 (12/2015)

The cancer is all in one place. Maybe we can get it all out. (Rounds 1, 2 and 3 are reviewed below.)

Well, the cancer is not getting small enough, fast enough. A chemical indicator (CEA?) has gone up, so we did another PET scan. Now only one piece of cancer is left, but it’s growing. So we’ve added to the chemotherapy. Camptosar interferes with the cancer DNA when it tries to divide. Avastin slows the growth of new blood vessels. The cancer can’t get enough blood to grow. The CEA has gone back down. But, since the cancer is all in one place, we might be able to use radioactive beads or surgery to get rid of it.

The radioactive “beads” aren’t beads at all – they are radioactive “big” molecules that can’t pass through blood vessels below a certain size. The idea is to push a catheter up through the femoral (thigh) artery and follow the arteries all the way back to the liver and into the tumor. Then inject the radioactive stuff so that it gets carried into the tumor, and can’t get out the other side because it’s too big. It has a half-life of 11 days, and it puts all it’s radiation directly into the cancer. Then by 90 days (maybe sooner) the radiation is no longer detectable.

Did you know that the liver is the only organ in the human body that will regrow itself? If you use surgery to take out the cancer (and part of the liver), the liver will grow back. You just have to have enough left to keep you going while it grows back.

So what’s the catch?

1. Well, it seems that you have to stop the chemotherapy for 6 weeks before either procedure, to allow the chemicals to get out of your system so that you will be able to heal after the procedure. Stopping the chemo makes the cancer stronger. Will there be enough liver left?

2. If you do the “beads” first to kill off most of the tumor you might have to take out less liver.

So the doctors are still talking about it, and we are getting a little bit stressed.

We’ll have more information in a few more weeks.

Round 3 (5/2015)

The cancer is back and we’re now in round 3 of the fight. (Rounds 1 and 2 are reviewed below.)

The problem started on April 18th. Mimi tripped over one of the curbs in the parking lot in front of our apartment. When she fell, she hit her head against the car door. She thought she had a terrible case of whiplash.

We did something very dangerous. We drove her to the emergency room instead of calling an ambulance. They found she had a broken neck at C1 (top of the spine, the one that usually leaves you paralyzed). She had surgery two days later to put a screw into her neck to hold things still until it healed. She had to stop chemotherapy while her neck healed.

She spent a terrible month in a hard neck brace that didn’t allow her to move her head at all. She even had trouble opening her mouth.

After a month in the hard brace, she moved on to a soft neck brace. That made things a lot better and allowed her to get some work done. She has been in physical therapy since June so that she has enough freedom of motion to turn her head to drive again.

While her neck was healing, the cancer grew again. Now she’s back to chemotherapy and it’s getting smaller again. In the mean time, she has a bad week when she has chemo, and a good week in between. She’ll have a PET scan again in another few months and hopefully, the cancer will be undetectable again.

Round 2

At the end of the first round, there was no evidence of disease. We decided to discontinue the chemotherapy because of the side effects on Mimi’s mind and the chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). That was over a year ago.

Since that time, Mimi has had physical therapy for both hands and feet. She has worked small projects because of the limited amount of time she can work at a stretch. We have completed video taping for Mimi’s Mannequins & Pattern Draping. We have completed most of the base video taping for the first volume of the Make a Doll with Your GrandKid series. We had a decent year if not altogether good.

Then one of the PET scans came back showing a growth where one of the metastasized spots had been on the liver.

Mimi had five radiation treatments. The major side effect was overwhelming tiredness. The primary effect was nothing. The cancer didn’t seem to care. So, now Mimi is back on a different chemotherapy. This one doesn’t cause chemo fog or peripheral neuropathy. It’s principle side effects are constant nausea, chronic fatigue, and generally feeling poorly.

But the cancer is going away again.

And Mimi is designing two new dolls. They will be Spartacus and the High Priestess made in knit fabric with a much simpler and easier patterns.

Round 1 Review: Excerpted from Diary of a Mad Dollmaker, August 18, 2013.

I can’t fully express how much I appreciate the prayers and other forms of positive energy sent into the Universe on my behalf. I know your help has contributed to my healing.

My stage 4 colorectal cancer showed up in 11 months and it’s pretty much gone away in the next 11 months.

The Good News is that my last PET Scan showed the lesions in the liver and the original mass are both almost undetectable. I will have a colonoscopy in the fall to know for sure it is all gone. I have been off chemo for about a month, and I will stay off indefinitely. (Never really cured, only in remission.)

I will continue to have blood-work and have my port flushed on a monthly basis, and do another PET Scan in 3 months.

All my side effects are gone except for 2. This is the wonderful good news for me and my family.

The Not Quite So Bad News is that my year-old chemo brain should clear up in a few months. My family is very happy about that as it is driving them crazy.

The Bad News is that the Neurologist tells me that the Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CINP) is permanent. I refuse to settle for that and hope for improvement over time – physical and occupational therapy and massage of hands and feet. I need to get over this now so I can drive again and get back to my first love, teaching.

The Neurologist is primarily concerned with alleviating the pain rather than improving on the function. Eventually, he wrote me a script for the same type of therapy that is used for Diabetes caused Peripheral Neuropathy. The therapist says I will be driving again in a year. (Actually, two therapists, one for hands and arms, and one for legs and feet.) They’ve put me on an exercise program that’s designed to open up new channels for nerve growth – the places that have died have to be bypassed, they won’t come back.

There is no pill, and I would be afraid of it if there was a pill – there’s a problem with side-effects on every damn drug.

Because of the serious neuropathy, handwriting and typing is painful and almost unreadable. The chemo-brain causes me to forget words, have a very short attention span, and very poor short-term memory.

I had to stop working on the DVD on Doll Hair for Dollmaker’s Journey because I simply cannot think clearly or use my hands effectively. I hope to continue this project later this year. Mary Ann at Dollmaker’s Journey has promised to do one if I did not. I hope she does this as there is a need for a good hair book. If I am able to complete it, it will be different anyway. Always room for one more.

Jim is going to concentrate on getting Earth Angels and Mannequins finished.

Jim is working on getting me to storyboard and then voice over instead of talking when I’m on camera. (I write out the script steps and voice over, then we shoot the video clip and record the sound separately.) Jim assembles the clips and voice over tracks. This avoids the problem of having to work and talk at the same time on the camera. I’m hoping to do about three small projects (simple dolls) this year including one with my great grandkid.

Happy Dolling,

Love,

Mimi

Mimi’s Health Update – Mimi’s Mannequins and Pattern Draping

Hi everybody,

Sorry for taking so long to let everybody know what’s happening with Mimi – I have been sick and away from the computer for a while.

Mimi’s neck is fine. She is off the soft collar except when she has overdone working, or come back from physical therapy. She has about one more month of physical therapy to go (twice a week to get more range of movement).

She was allowed to go back to chemotherapy about four weeks ago, but I waited for the scan results before sending out an update, and then waited while we figured out what the scan results meant. She still has the spots on the dome of her liver. We started the Captosar again, every other week, which is less aggressive treatment than before. It’s not clear whether the doctor doesn’t think more is needed, or whether he’s just treating it like a chronic disease, which it is. The Captosar causes much more nausea than the previous treatment (oxyplatin), but doesn’t cause side effects that cause peripheral neuropathy. She has a new treatment for the chemo induced peripheral neuropathy (CINP) that is much better. So, on the two week schedule, she is sick for about one week and okay for about one week and then we start over. No end in sight yet. Next scan in about 3 months.

Mannequins and Pattern Draping is almost done. We will starting taking pre-orders about the middle of September for before Christmas delivery. We are going to use a crowd funding site and have special deals and premiums to get things moving. This is necessary because it’s one hell of a good DVD class, and we can’t manufacture enough sets by ourselves, so we have to have enough money from pre-orders to pay a manufacturing company. We used to do this ourselves, but we aren’t up to it this time. We’ll send out notices when it’s ready.

Mimi only gets to her email about once every 2 weeks. Don’t be alarmed if you send her email and don’t hear back in a reasonable amount of time.

I have been sick for about a week. The doctor thinks it’s flu. I think it’s stress. I’m getting back to work now.

Thanks for your interest.

Jim