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Thursday
Sep042008

Stand Up to Cancer

Of women who develop breast cancer, most do not have a family history of the disease. In fact, only 5 to 10 percent of cases of breast cancer are considered to be hereditary.

Sometimes there is a genetic link. Specifically, some people carry a "faulty" BRCA1, BRCA2, and/or TP53 gene. People who carry one or more of the "faulty" genes are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Your father is just as likely to pass the "faulty" gene on to you as your mother. Breast cancer is not a "female" problem.

Having a "faulty" gene is not a death sentence. It simply means you are at an increased risk.

Not having a "faulty" gene does not mean you will never develop breast cancer. Genes can mutate and become cancerous.

My mother died of breast cancer nearly thirteen years ago. She was 45.

Because of that fact, my risk factor for developing breast cancer sometime in my lifetime is slightly higher than the national average. In fact, my physician says it's 5% higher. If you think about that, it means that even if no one in your family has ever had breast cancer, you are still only slightly less likely to develop the disease than I am. So, are you slightly less vigilant? Or much less vigilant?

We're standing up to cancer by educating ourselves, doing things to lower our risk, and by going to the doctor for regular screenings.

Are you standing up to cancer?

Wednesday
Sep032008

Burgh Perfect Staycation Step #6: Venture Out

Pittsburgh rocks. No doubt about it. There is more than enough to do here and we could have stayed busy without ever leaving the city during the staycation. However, we did venture beyond for exactly one day. One of our stops was Ohiopyle. While we didn't have nearly enough time to play there, we did manage to let Alexis hit yet another "beach." She loved it.











Tuesday
Sep022008

Fish Poop. In the Living Room.

In case you haven't noticed, I really haven't been hurting for topics to write about lately. In fact, I have a whole long list of things to write in my head. There's the post about the first gymnastics class, another gruesome tale from the Fishtank of Horrors, a couple more staycation photo posts and stories, and a few random tales of Toddlerdom. What I'm saying is that I'm really not hurting for blog fodder these days, so why exactly was there a puddle in my living room today?

Allow me to start at the beginning. As is required of all first days back from vacation, today at work was chaotic, to say the least. Around 1:00 I decided I was going to go loopy if I didn't step out for a minute, so I figured that I would run home, grab a Bagelful (highly recommended, btw), and make a quick run to the bank. All was going according to plan--I had a warm toasted Bagelful in one hand, the check that needed deposited in the other, and I was cutting through the living room to go back out to my car, thinking cheery thoughts about how nice it is to be able to run home from the office in less than ten minutes.

Then there was that damn puddle. Right in the living room.

I looked at the puddle. I looked at the dogs. I looked at the puddle again. It didn't look like the kind of puddle that I could blame on the dogs. Nor the cats. It looked sort of . . . splashy. So I looked up. There were droplets of water hanging from the ceiling. I tossed by Bagelful to the Bulldog and darted up the stairs, silently hoping that I had left a faucet running or something equally simple to fix.

It was not to be. There was no water in the bathroom.

There was a LOT of water in Alexis' room.

Water that belonged in the Saltwater Fishtank of Horrors.

I yanked the plug on the filter for the aptly named Tank of Horrors, hoping that the motor had not already burned out from the lack of water cycling through. The tank was down to perhaps 1/3 capacity. I assumed that a hose had come loose, spraying water around (it has happened once before, but was caught immediately). I quickly began grabbing towels to clean up the mess. Alexis' room has laminate flooring from Ikea and it is far from being water resistant so I scrubbed and mopped and wiped, hoping to dry it all out enough to keep from having to replace the floor.

Once I finally had the worst of the lake cleaned up, I surveyed the damage. Alexis' sheep-covered wool rug from Pottery Barn was drenched, but probably salvageable. Her bed was splattered, but not anything that new sheets wouldn't fix. Two books that had been on the floor were ruined. Cry with me on that one, y'all, because of all the books to have get ruined? They were her two favorites--Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny, Too. Some clean clothes that I probably should have tucked into the closet weeks ago were damp, but not horribly so. The floor seemed remarkably unbothered by all the moisture. The dresser that housed the Tank of Horrors was filled with water, but seemed to be holding up.

What wasn't holding up was the Tank. It wasn't a loose hose. Instead, there was a crack running all the way from the top to the bottom of one of the front corners. And Yippee Yahoo Yay! It was still leaking.

Half a roll of tape and several towels later, I had to go back to work and hope for the best until somehow a new tank fell out of the sky.

Those things aren't cheap, yo. Neither are the fish. The biggest worry, however, was the coral. There's a lot of valuable coral in the Tank of Horrors, and I'm really freakin' attached to it. I have approached coral like I do gardening and have only bought less than perfect or very small pieces at a great price then hoped that they would grow nice and big and healthy. So far, it has worked. Several corals that I paid $10 for have tripled in size and would now sell for well over $50. So you see, there is no abandoning this project at this point.

I made a bunch of phone calls and was able to confirm that the tank is still under warranty. Except, I bought it online, so a replacement would have to be shipped and only after I provide a copy of my original invoice, photos, Social Security Numbers, and probably a blood sample from my first-born son. So I called Mr. Husband and told him to go buy a damn new tank and that we'll leave the warranty battles for AFTER all the critters are safe and sound.

We spent the entire evening moving everything to the new, not cracked, tank. I have no idea who will or will not survive the transport; setting up a new tank and stocking it with fish and coral the same day is not exactly a bright idea. But, it was that or continue letting Lake of Horrors spread throughout the house.

I have absolutely no idea what made a tank that has been set up since February, has never been moved, and was perfectly stable crack. Nobody was home when it happened, the door to the room was closed, and nothing has been changed up there in quite a long time. I can only guess that it finally cracked under all the pressure of needing to leave up to its name--The Saltwater Tank of Horrors.

PLEASE let the new tank not follow in the footsteps of the other . . . I really don't need the blog material.