Pittsburgh, that is. A couple hours east of Cleveland (where I call home) and the second largest city in Pennsylvania.
As some of you know, my father was diagnosed with cancer last March. After a very long 2009 filled with surgeries, daily treatments and care taking, we thought the worst was behind us until a couple months ago when his cancer returned with a vengeance. Despite the amazing hospitals we are so lucky to have here, the procedure he needed is only performed at a few places in the country, so off to Pittsburgh we went.
Through the Hillman Cancer Center and UPMC Shadyside Hospital, my father had an operation called a limb perfusion. The procedure, which can be done on many parts of the body, even organs, is more or less a highly concentrated localized chemo treatment. It's a one time procedure and very hard on the area being treated, but spares the rest of the body from some of the nasty side effects of ongoing chemo treatments. The surgery lasted about 8 hours and he spent the rest of the week in the ICU. My mom and I stayed at a non-profit place called The Family House, across from the hospital, which was a wonderful facility. It's less expensive than staying at a hotel and is like tiny little apartments with a living room, bedroom and bathroom. The facility then has a communal kitchen and recreation areas. Some families and patients have to stay there for months at a time depending on their treatments or if they have had or are waiting for a transplant. Honestly, it was kind of a depressing place, but at the same time filled with such an amazing amount of courage and bravery.
After the day of surgery, Dad pretty much just slept all the time, so me and my mom tried to plan little trips in the area to fill the down time and keep our sanity. It's the closest thing to a vacation either of us has had or will have in a while, so we tried to make the best of it!
One day we rode the Duquesne Incline, which was pretty cool. It's a historic cable car that takes you up to Mount Washington. Even though most of the nature around wasn't in bloom yet, we had amazing that weather that week. The photo at the opening of this post is the view from the top and a shot of one of the cable cars. We had lunch at a little place with an outdoor balcony right on the mountain side.
We then walked around Station Square on the river for a bit and got to see the first of some Spring blooms.
Another day we took a short trip to the zoo, which was only about 6 miles from the hospital. They have a nice aquarium there complete with penguins, my favorite!
I didn't haul out my trusty Nikon, despite how much I love using my telephoto at the zoo, but I still got a few fun photos with my fabulous little canon point and shoot.
Sometimes I feel bad for animals who are stuck in the zoo, but at the same time, when they have nice enclosures and other animals to interact with, they probably live pretty good lives! No threats, plenty of food. Plus I think it's really pretty neat that we get to experience all these creatures that we would otherwise never see.
Look at that yawn!
If you're wondering what that weird looking sea horse above is, it's a sea dragon. I first saw them at the huge aquarium in Atlanta and was totally amazed. I was thrilled to see them here and show my mom. The one in this photo is small, per say, as here is a photo of a bigger one. Aren't they just the craziest things?
Aside from those two adventures, we just did a lot of walking in the area, mostly to the grocery store and for fresh air, but I'm glad we got to have a little fun in between.
As for Dad, he's home and on the (long) road to recovery, and I'm back to my daily care taking duties. This is the main reason I have not reopened my shop yet (which I hope to do soon!). His leg is huge, about 3 times the size of his 'good' leg, and he cannot use it at all. He did start physical therapy this week, however, so hopefully he'll be making some good progress in the weeks ahead. And though we won't know for sure until a few months from now, the doc is confident that the tumors are dead or dying and he'll be cancer free. But as with most cancer cases, only time will tell.