Lucky Accidents

Peter Iredale shipwreck at Fort Stevens State Park

I’ve found myself rather busy these past few months. I completed the transition of my photography website to a new (and virtually free) platform, I saw the Wood Brothers perform at the Crystal Ballroom, and my (aka Bender’s) guacamole recipe won the appetizer category of a charity cook-off event. Cole and I traveled with a friend to Astoria for the opening of Austin Granger’s Correspondence exhibit at the Lightbox Gallery followed by a quick visit to Fort Stevens State Park to catch the Peter Iredale shipwreck amid a spectacular sunset.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

I hosted a housewarming/birthday party on St. Patrick’s day and even had the opportunity to grab a birthday drink a couple days later with a previously Facebook-only friend who just happened to be in town for a night while traveling back to Michigan. I was treated to a spectacular performance of Hamilton at the Keller Auditorium after a lovely dinner on the opening day of the eagerly anticipated Porter Hotel. I resumed hosting my Second Saturday Soirees and finally attended the very muddy Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn one rainy afternoon.

Urban Landscape submission for PDX Squared 2018

Keeping with tradition, I attended all three nights of the Banff Center Mountain Film Festival World Tour at Cinema 21 and also started volunteering with an amazing organization called The Immigrant Story as a photographer/writer. I donated another two prints to ShelterCare’s Art Gives Hope fundraiser in Eugene and went head to head with a hitchhiking yellow sac spider in the rental car on the way home the night of the event. I participated for the first time ever in the annual PDX Squared photo contest as well as the Oregon Humane Society’s Pug Crawl parade.

Hiking in Forest Park on Memorial Day

And last but not least, completed my first hike of the season with a small group of friends in Forest Park on Memorial Day.

Amid all of that fun, I suffered several incidents where my back went out. Realizing that it had been 13 years since my back surgery, I figured it might be useful to get some new imaging done to see if it could help explain what was going on. My primary care physician at Legacy Medical Group scheduled an MRI for May 26th. Shockingly, that scan didn’t provide a lot of useful information to explain my back pain but did reveal a 3.4 cm mass on my left kidney which would have otherwise gone unnoticed, possibly for another 10 years.  A CT scan was immediately scheduled for May 31st to get a closer look. That image showed information that was not reassuring to my primary care physician so I was referred to a urologist at the Oregon Clinic. After meeting with the urologist on June 7th, it was determined the best course of treatment would be to perform a robotic-assisted laparoscopic partial nephrectomy to remove the mass, suspected to be kidney cancer.

Swimming in the very large hospital gown pre-MRI

The four-hour surgery will be performed on Friday, July 20th at Adventist Medical Center in Portland. After at least 2-nights in the hospital, recovery at home is expected to take 6-weeks. During that time, without family nearby, I will need to rely on friends in the Portland-area to help care for Cole, prepare meals, get to and from doctor appointments, and pick up prescriptions. As a rather self-sufficient, independent, type-A personality who has been taking care of myself pretty much since the age of 16, this is going to prove to be a rather a difficult process for me. All in all, I realize I am incredibly lucky. The mass was caught early and I am expected to be deemed cancer-free as soon as it is removed from my body. I should not need any radiation or chemotherapy, they’ll just need to monitor my kidney with CT scans and/or ultrasounds for approximately 7-years to make sure the mass doesn’t come back. Once fully recovered from surgery, I should not notice any difference in my day to day life and I should be able to resume my adventures with Cole and friends exploring and photographing the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

If you would like to keep current with my condition and recovery please visit my Meal Train site. To help financially, you may make a donation through that site, or you can help by purchasing one of my photography prints here.

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