Boats, Bikes, and Greyhounds


If you are new to my blog, I feature brain tumor survivors on my blog on Thursdays.  You can read more about this feature and archived posts here.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to C Michael Miller.

I hope…

I hope that advances in technology will allow more understanding for the less known medical issues.  My own Acoustic Neuroma (benign brain tumor) diagnosis took over a year to find, due mostly to a lack of awareness of the condition — both in the general population and in the medical community.

I wish…

I wish that everyone with a brain tumor (or any other major medical ailment) had a support network as amazing as mine was.  My wife, family, friends, doctors, therapists, and everyone else I came into contact with during my treatment and recovery were incredibly helpful and supportive.  I wish the same for everyone dealing with a difficult diagnosis.

I dream…

I dream of a time when the medical treatments for all brain tumors are less invasive and more successful.  Period.

I am (be)…

I am stronger because of my brain tumor.  I have gone on to new achievements in life, including long distance bicycling and writing a book.  I look forward to continuing to find new challenges.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

I was diagnosed with a 3.9cm Acoustic Neuroma (benign brain tumor) in 2009.  It was pressing on my cerebellum, brain stem, and facial nerve.  I had a fourteen hour Trans-Labyrinth approach surgery that got most of the tumor, but left a small sliver to preserve my facial nerve.  I also contracted Meningitis during my recovery due to a Cerebrospinal Fluid leak.  The tumor and surgery left me with some partial facial paralysis and deaf in one ear.

C Michael Miller’s MRI

3 things about me:

I went from a hospital bed after surgery to finishing a one-hundred mile bicycle ride a little over a year ago.  Crossing that finishing line (photo) marked the end of my physical recovery.

Crossing the finish line

I was lucky to not have my balance affected dramatically by my surgery, which has allowed me to continue my passion for sailing.

2012 National Ocean One Design regatta in Annapolis. I’m kneeling just over the “Bad” in Bad Cat.

I am passionate about greyhound rescue- my wife and I have been a foster home for our local greyhound rescue group for 10 years. (photo of our Rider)

Rider

I was inspired to write a book, Diagnosis: Brain Tumor – My Acoustic Neuroma Story, about my brain tumor experience. I’m excited to be able to share hope with others.  You can find more info at www.cmichaelmiller.com. (cover photo)

Diagnosis: Brain Tumor – My Acoustic Neuroma Story

If you would like to submit your profile for Brain Tumor Thursday here, please email me directly at memomuse@gmail.com or you can check out the information page and read past archives.  Caregivers and loved ones are welcome to share their profile too, following the same template. #BTSM and #BrainTumorThursday is a wonderful community reaching around the globe with out-stretched arms and love. If you are on Twitter, you can use the hash tags #BTSM and #BrainTumorThursday to reach out to this wonderful community.
You can leave C Michael a comment here or email him directly at author@cmichaelmiller.com. Thank you for your support of Brain Tumor Thursday.

Monday Museletter — April 2, 2012


Monday Museletter

April Fool

Happy April!  Hope you didn’t get too fooled on April Fool’s Day.  On April Fool’s Day, I felt like a fool. Many of my cowboy photos have been copied off the internet and been put into Google searches with someone’s else name and website.  It makes me feel like a fool for not protecting my photos with watermarks.  When I first started www.meganoteri.wordpress.com in 2009, I went with the muse and shared my images, hoping to celebrate and inspire others.  I was very naïve.  People stole my images with the right-click one two move, not even thinking about the fact that this was my art. So I have to buckle down and purchase a watermark program and I also have to watch what I put on the internet.  The good news is one of my photos is so artistic and visually appealing that a professional bull rider is using my photo as his Facebook profile photo (the photo is of him).

This same photo has been reposted (without credit to me) on a Southern Romance Writer’s website, a cute faces website, a bunch of other websites, and you can Google the cowboy’s name (Brian Canter) and the website origin on Google says it started at this website (an all-girls school). The website address above says the name of the girls’ school and Canterbury Tales.

Image source: freebooknotes.com
Where were these cliff notes when I needed them in college?

Anyway, this photo below of the cowboy, is just one of my photos that has not been credited back to me as the artist. Some teenage girl must have copied it from  my website and put it in a Canterbury Tales paper. I really have no idea. But Canterbury Tales and Caymen farmers are in the web address when you go to the link.  Any Canterbury Tales scholars out there know how this photo would connect to Caymen farmers from Canterbury Tales?  I remember reading it (or skimming) it in college when I took the best class, which I did not appreciate, at the time (unfortunately) — Western Civilization.  In fact, it was a great class –  every weekday, but it was my freshman and sophomore year in college.  Let’s just say academics were not really my focus.  The course was designed to tell the history of Western Civilization from five perspectives — Literature, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and History.

Back to one of the photos that was pirated:  I am telling the world right now — this is my photo!

"Brian Canter" (c) Megan Oteri - All Rights Reserved

I took it.  Someone acknowledge it, darn it.  I am working on getting the image correctly credited to the website it originated at: http://www.meganoteri.wordpress.com –  I have since made this website password protected  since so many people stole my photos.  I am in the process of putting together the photos to publish a coffee table photo book. The website address above says the name of the girls’ school and Canterbury Tales.   Anyway, this is just one of my photos that has not been credited back to me as the artist.

I get really upset because photography is an art and if a painter spent a lot of time on a painting and someone else claimed to have painted it, that would be just as upsetting.  People think they can just take photos on the internet because they google a name or a place.  But an artist took the time and practiced precision, patience, and craft to capture a beautiful moment, image, place, or portrait.  The photo is so good that Brian Canter, a professional bull rider is using it as his profile photo on Facebook.  This I don’t mind, but I would like to be given proper credit.  It is my copyrighted photo.

Please credit an artist when you share a photo.  Or better yet, contact the artist and ask his or her permission if you can share their work.  They probably will say, “Yes.”  Artists do not create with the intention of getting rich.  Have you ever met a rich artist who got rich from their art right away?  Artists create because the muse is in us! I won’t get started about how some of my other cowboy photos are on other websites.

Pinterest

The silver lining to all this is one of my photos has been properly identified on Pinterest as me being the photographer.

I have had this photo also pinned on Pinterest with my name given.

I have not looked much at Pinterest. The photo is credited to meganoteri.wordpress.com.  Bad news is I had to take that website down because so many photos got pirated.  But I am working on getting the new website up to date with watermarks and flash so photos can’t be stolen.  I do offer photos for sale at this website: http://www.artflakes.com/en/shop/megan-oteri.

Food Review

I am working on a food review for Grocery.com.  This should be posted on Grocery.com late this week.  I will also share the link of the review on this website, Twitter and Facebook.  The last food review I wrote for Grocery.com was for Wheat Thins — it is a review of Wheat Thins 100% Whole Grain crackers.  “What do The Colbert Report, Family Guy, a disbelieving Twitterer, a hiker stuck under a rock, and Wheat Thins all have in common?  They all are part of the new advertising launch of the new Wheat Thins made with 100% whole grain.” – opening line of review Click on this link to read it.

Balance

I am trying to find balance as a stay-at-home mom, writer, and creative.  I still struggle with the desire to go back to work full-time outside the home and finding balance with being OK with just being a stay-at-home mom. There is no just to being a stay-at-home mom.  That is not what I mean by that statement.  What I am really trying to communicate is the idea that just being a stay-at-home mom should be enough.  It is one heck of a job.  I think I say it more poignantly in this post, Red Belly Slide. I have always been driven by needing to do something. Call it dysfunctional, call it people pleasing, call it a need for validation, call it a need to achieve, call it motivation– I call it a nuisance.  I can’t quiet the storm inside me that says, “Capture that moment – everything is art – the next project – the next mountain to climb – etc. etc.  I was always very competitive.  I remember learning to shoot hoops because my older sister was shooting hoops.  I wanted to do what she did.  I have little sister syndrome, I guess.  I know that art lives in me and I can’t quiet the storm, so I paint it.  But sometimes I wish I could just watch a beautiful sunset without having to tell someone about it.  But then again I wouldn’t have this photo to show you — this photo was taken at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. The photo is available on my Flickr account. There is a link to my Flickr account in the sidebar.

"Blue Ridge Sunset...ahh the Beauty!" (c) Megan Oteri - All Rights Reserved

The moments when I feel most at peace though is when I am away from the computer – this can be when I am with my son, outside in nature, or celebrating the muse by writing or taking photos.    I wrote this poem, Dazzle yesterday when my husband was kind enough to give me some time alone to write.  I did not have my camera with me on the porch and a cardinal flew right up into a Dogwood tree in my front yard. There is something majestic about the color contrast of a bright red male against the intense white blooms of a Dogwood in full bloom.  And also how a female blends into the tree, camouflaged by the brown branches.  Listening to the male court the female and the female floating through the air is like watching taffy being made through a glass window at a beach town soda shop — like watching poetry being made — beautiful.

"Bloom" (c) Megan Oteri - All Right Reserved
Bloom: You are beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, and strong. Happy spring. - memomuse

Article

I have an article I am working on that I am very excited about.  I can’t tell you many more details, but I certainly will when the article comes out.  It is a great story.  I am very passionate about the subject and the magazine is very reputable.  I have to say that serendipity is the word that comes to mind when I think about how the opportunity unfolded!

#Brain Tumor Thursday

"One" - (c) Megan Oteri - All Rights Reserved
"Remember, it only takes one person, one thought, one word, one smile to make a difference in someone's life." - memomuse

I have volunteered my time and blog to write and host a weekly column for the brain tumor community.  I met this amazing community through Twitter accidentally when I had put in a hash tag, #brain tumors, when I had this photo, Brain Tumors, up for voting at Talenthouse.com.   You can vote for Talenthouse entries through you Twitter or Facebook account. Every Thursday, there are many people trying to raise awareness about malignant and benign brain tumors in the Twitter community.  Their stories are inspirational.

My mother has had benign, slow growing brain tumors since 2000, at least they were diagnosed in 2000.  For some readers, #Brain Tumor Thursday will be a source of inspiration and hope.  For some, it may be something you don’t wish to hear about.  I understand both sides.  I still can’t watch any visual media that eludes or shows a brain surgery.  But I can listen and read people’s stories about it no problem at all.   My mother had brain surgery in 2000 to put a shunt in her brain to drain the fluid on her brain from the pressure of the tumors.  This surgery saved her life.

Anyway, the template for the tumor patients to fill out is based on my motto: Hope. Wish. Dream. Be. If you wish to read about the launch of this weekly column on my blog, read this post, #Brain Tumor Thursday.  You can also catch up by reading the first profile, which got posted last Thursday (3/29) about Tom McLain.  It is inspirational. They fill in the blank: I hope… I wish… I dream… I am (be)… Then they share three things about themselves, a picture, and a favorite quote if they want. #Brain Tumor Thursday will be posted on my blog every Thursday.

#Brain Tumor Thursday on memomuse goes International

BT Buddies, a non-profit organization from England, that offers support and information for brain tumor patients, has expressed interest in hosting the profiles on their website, dedicating a section to these amazing stories and profiles.    If you know me or my writing, you know it is heavy at times.  That is just who I am.  I think the human condition is what great literature is about.  And I think everybody has a story.  So, if you want something light on Thursdays, you might want to steer clear – some of the profiles are intense.

This Thursday, a woman shares her story of having a baseball size tumor removed.  She truly is a brave person.  And living courageously with a disease.

As Rocky says, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.”  But the thing is, storms create rainbows and this woman is a rainbow of living, breathing hope and inspiration for the brain tumor community and others.

Mini Muse Interviews

If you, as a regular reader, would like to participate in the Hope. Wish. Dream. Be. mini muse interviews, you can fill out the template and I will post them in the Mini Muse Interviews section of this blog.  It is a current project and you don’t have to have a brain tumor to participate.  We all have hopes, wishes, and dreams and most importantly – we all ARE. We be!  Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.  If you would like to see an example of a Mini Muse Interview, click on this link or go to the tab up top that says, “Mini Muse Interviews.”  It would be great for you to participate!  You can email me at memomuse@gmail.com if you are interested.

Just LeDoux It – Chris LeDoux

As most of you know, I am from Wyoming.  I call Wyoming home and it always will be.  But my home travels with me — Wyoming is in my heart.  I carry the courage, cowboys, cowgirls, pride, people, landscape, and stories within me — within my muse.  You can view my portfolio here, which has a lot of my Wyoming photos.  One of my favorite poets and rodeo cowboys is Chris LeDoux.  Sadly, he died in 2005 from cancer.  He was an exceptional human being who really portrayed the essence of the cowboy code.  He wrote poems while he was traveling the rodeo circuit, which he turned into country music songs.  These are some of the lyrics from “Cadillac Cowboy,” and he mentions Cheyenne, and he is referencing the Daddy of em’ All of rodeos!

Turn up that radio

Don’t wanna think about a rodeo

Don’t wanna think about a round-up

Up in old Cheyenne

It’s a crazy circuit

But still you work it

Chris LeDoux graduated from the same high school I did in Cheyenne.  I was lucky enough to meet him in person and see his beautiful smile and be LUCKY enough to have him smile directly at me.  After a long day of taking photos at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo (where most of my cowboy photos come from), my buddy, Thumper,  who worked behind the chutes, told me, “Be back here at 5.  It will be worth your while.”   I didn’t have any film left and I couldn’t go home, so I took Thumper’s advice. I have a story about meeting Chris, which I will post on this website when voting for his photo opens on April 16.  So stay tuned.

Here is the link to the photo, Chris LeDoux,  You can click on the link and become a supporter today.  By becoming a supporter, you will be sent an email from Talenthouse when voting opens, reminding you to vote.

One Ride is a musical celebrating Chris’ music and tells the story of the rodeo cowboy.  Check out the website, One Ride, to find more info.  You can also find information about the musical, One Ride, at the Chris LeDoux offical website and you can listen to lots of his beautiful country songs.  When you click on the website, you will be greeted by one of my favorite songs, “Old Paint.”  Click here to read the lyrics to that song. Chris was a true cowboy bard and poet.

National Poetry Month

National Poetry month is April!  Write a poem.  Read a poem.  Think a poem.  You are a poem. I will share my favorite poem:

Hope     

Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune–without the words, 
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little bird 
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea; 
Yet, never, in extremity, 
It asked a crumb of me.

– Emily Dickinson


My Muse – My Son

My son is my muse.  He is a full blown toddler.  He is into everything and is as curios as a bee in spring.  I am so lucky to be a mom, as I had several miscarriages in the past and struggled with infertility for many years.  I am blessed and everyday I am thankful to be able to enjoy his energy and enthusiasm for life.  Like right now, he is pouring coffee on the floor.  But at least, it is the wood floors and not on top of my computer. Ben’s favorite March flower was the daffodil and he plucked every single one off its stem and gave my husband or me it.  I wonder what his April flower will be?  What is your favorite April bloom?  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a flower per say — maybe an annual event or occurrence.

"Spring Muse" - (c) Megan Oteri - All Rights Reserved
This is a photo of my son, picking the tops off daffodils -- the gateway flower into spring.

Monday Museletter

I am going to try to do the Monday Museletter every Monday.  Don’t think I am getting organized or anything or predictable!  I will still surprise you with random posts on Tuesday through Sunday, except on Thursday – that is Brain Tumor Thursday.  And does anyone have a suggestion for a better title for that weekly column? Have a great week and thank you for being such a wonderful community where I can share my muse, thoughts, and art.  If you would like to be on the Monday Museletter email list, let me know in the comments or sending me an email at memomuse@gmail.com.  You can also subscribe via email or RSS (see the first two side bar widgets).

Thank you for your time.  Have a muse filled Monday!

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

http://www.talenthouse.com/memomuse

http://www.artflakes.com/en/shop/megan-oteri

https://twitter.com/#!/memomuse1

memomuse@gmail.com

#Brain Tumor Thursday – Tom McLain


If you are new to this blog, read this so you know what this project and post, #Brain Tumor Thursday, is about.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Tom McLain —  husband, father, friend, family man, and overall awesome person — who also happens to be fighting (and doing a great job might I add) brain tumors.  These are his words, in his voice.

“What then do you do with the statistics?  I choose to think of them as merely a guide.  With my brain tumor, I choose to believe that my chances of survival are phenomenal.”  ~ Tom McLain

I hope…

How can you have a brain tumor and not hope for a cure?  Hope does not completely drive me, because it does have to be tempered with reality — the statistics are often grim.  But even in the face of grim statistics, one can always hope and pray about being an outlier, being the one patient who brings the average up by living far longer that the average or even the top number in a range of years.  The companion to hope is faith in God.  As I have said before, “As weapons against cancer, faith is the bow and hope is the arrow.”

I wish…

It is my sincere wish that no one else ever has to face a diagnosis of a brain tumor.  One of the wisest things said to me at the beginning of my journey was the observation that the central question was not, “Why me?” but “Why not me?”  That shifts the focus from internal to external and allows you to make wishes for others.  My hopes and dreams tend to be about  me and my family and my wishes tend to be broader in scope.

I dream…

With the diagnosis of a fatal disease and no clear answer as to how long I will survive, I dream about the events in life that I may miss.  I have three daughters, so I dream about walking them all down the aisle to be married.  I dream about grandchildren, being convinced that I will be an awesome grandfather.  I dream about being financially secure enough to retire while I still have enough health to fully enjoy life with my wife and family.

“Never underestimate the power of God to use your flimsy self to his glory.” - J.E. Oppenheim

I am (be)…

While it may seem entirely strange to most, I am in many ways thankful for my brain tumor.  Before the tumor came along, I thought James 1:2-4 was a completely insane passage in the Bible:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)

"The most difficult time in any cancer battle is the time between diagnosis and deciding on a plan of attack." ~ Tom McLain

How on earth could you ever look upon life’s problems as a joyful experience?  But then I began to realize that I would have a phenomenal opportunity to watch God work, both in my life, and in the lives of others around me.   As explained by American author and brain tumor patient, J.E. Oppenheim, “Never underestimate the power of God to use your flimsy self to his glory.”  So far, the tangible benefits of my cancer have been that I have been taught faith, hope, courage, resilience, and purpose.

"So far, the tangible benefits of my cancer have been that I have been taught faith, hope, courage, resilience, and purpose." - Tom McLain

It would be unfair of me to suggest that I have fully adjusted to my “new normal.”  The swirling effects of the tumor — chemo, maintenance drugs, being a male over 50, and possible radiation damage — do provide for some unevenness in my daily approach to life.  If fact, you could easily encounter me on a given day and conclude — “This cannot be the same guy.”

Diagnosis and treatment…

As for the tumor itself, a mass was detected in an MRI at the end of May 2009.  During the first week or so of June 2009, I had a brain biopsy and it was determined that my tumor was an anaplastic oligodendroglioma.  Not only was that good news because they are slow-growing tumors, but I also had what is known as a 1P, 19Q chromosome in the tumor cells which made them more susceptible to a particular chemo drug called Temodar.  On June 22, I turned 50, so you could say the tumor was my birthday present!  After getting a couple of consultations, it became clear that surgery was not an option, so we began Temodar in July 2009.  Eighteen rounds later, I finished Temodar in February 2011.  No too long after that, I started targeted brain radiation and completed that in July 2011.  The net result is: that as of today, my tumor is smaller and stable!

"The net result is: that as of today, my tumor is smaller and stable!" - Tom McLain

It terms of a favorite quote, there are many that come to mind.  There is actually a website that has been kind enough to add a few of my quotes to those of others in the brain tumor community and other cancer sufferers.  I go there frequently for inspiration.

https://sites.google.com/site/tummorwarrior/home/quotes-about-cancer

If you are a brain tumor patient or survivor and would like to share your story, please contact me at memomuse@gmail.com.  If you read this post, you will find the template for the profile feature, as well as, the connection I have to brain tumors.

You can also find me on Twitter, especially on #braintumorthursday.  Send me a message there or in the comment list here at my blog.  If you are on Twitter, be sure to put in the hash tag, “#braintumorthursday” to find support, information, and a whole community of amazing people doing their part to raise awareness and offer each other kindness and support.  You can also put in the hash tag “#BTSM” which means “brain tumor social media.”  You don’t have to have a Twitter account to get the information.  Just go to http://www.twitter.com and put in the two hash tags (#braintumorthursday and #btsm) to see the links to many websites.  You can also use a search engine, such as Goggle, to do this.

I have several links on my blogroll (link list in sidebar to right) which are organizations with a lot of other links and information about brain tumors.)  But in case they do not show up, here is a direct list:

Please feel free to add your link in a comment if it has to do with brain tumor support and information.  If you wish to get in  touch with Tom, you can email him at ThomasLMcLain@gmail.com, but be warned — he does not check it often.  He’ll be reading the comments here on this post, so give him some love here too!

Thank you for tuning in today and supporting #braintumorthursday.  We look forward to seeing you here at http://www.memomuse.wordpress.com every Thursday for #Brain Tumor Thursday and on Twitter every Thursday.  Thank you for your time.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

~ memomuse