Sunday, July 8, 2007


We visited Derek (Lauren, Marina [Derek's daughters], my wife, and I) for a short period this afternoon. Derek and Airdrie had walked around the ward a couple of times earlier today (probably about 200 meters - 660 ft) and he was fairly tired when we arrived. We didn't stay long. Derek is taking a lot less of the morphine drip today, but his gut hasn't started working yet (quite normal for this kind of operation). Airdrie has posted a couple of pictures on Derek's blog ( We are all pleased about Derek's progress, none more than Derek himself.

Crater Lake

If you've read Derek's post of July 2, you'll remember his reference to Crater Lake and the dark night sky with a multitude of stars. Click on the picture for a larger view of what it looked like.

If you look at this picture in bright surroundings, you will see quite a bit less than what is actually in that picture. This is very similar to the "light pollution" which, in cities, is caused by street and house lights throwing unnecessary and otherwise unused light into the night sky, rather than onto the ground where it would do some good. If people were to use sufficiently shielded, correctly pointed, and motion sensor triggered lights, a fair percentage of this pollution could be avoided. You would also save money, since properly directed light would mean that fewer lights are needed in the first place. Light pollution is a big problem for earth-based deep space astronomy. Many people living in cities have never seen the Milky Way, nor any of the other phenomena in the sky which can only be perceived when the night sky is really dark. Look at the picture in a room with subdued light, and you'll be amazed how much more you can find.

Here are some more pictures which may interest you:

Alive man walking

Derek just phoned to let us know how things are going. He's walked from his hospital bed to the elevator and back - a considerable stretch, totaling approximately 50 meters (165 ft) - and sat up for a while. We're all happy with this wonderful progress. It's amazing how well the body deals with the healing when asked to do something. Not too long ago, the procedure would have been to stay immobile and "baby" the body. It seems that the more you ask of it, the better it responds. My wife and I plan to visit Derek later on today; more news then.

One thing which I haven't mentioned so far: everyone of us owes a great debt of gratitude to the doctors who are treating Derek - his team of doctors at the BC Cancer Institute, the surgeons at St. Paul's Hospital who so skillfully removed Derek's colon cancer, and the nurses and staff who look after Derek. Without them, all the good news above would likely have been much bleaker. So, from us (Derek's parents), as well as all members of our family, thank you...

The day after

Hi all,

By now, I imagine, many of you will have seen the short movie of Derek which Airdrie published on Derek's blog ( As you can tell, he is in very good shape. The pain suppressant is working well (a morphine drip which Derek controls by means of a small release button). We visited him yesterday and talked a lot about what he went through and what is still to come.

His operation on July 6 was a lengthy one (4 and 1/2 hours). As I mentioned before, the surgeons saved all his internal "plumbing". His shortened colon was reattached to what little remains of his rectum and he has a temporary ileostomy bag, which will be removed at a later time (likely some months). His left ureter has also been reconnected, but a temporary tube has been installed. This will be removed later as well. All of the original colon cancer was taken out. The cancer had expanded and attached itself to his tailbone; the cancer was removed from that site, too, but this area will have to be watched closely. The next steps in Derek's treatment will involve chemotherapy, as soon as he has recovered sufficiently. Derek has a great sense of relief (as we all do) that the operation is finally behind him, and that he is likely to regain most of his intestinal functions.

There are still many months of treatment ahead, to deal with the metastases, but an important step has been taken. Airdrie and I will keep you informed on our respective blogs.