Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Former Marine Corps mortarman Cole Bent, 20, of San Juan Capistrano has had a lot of help from the community as he battles back from surgery to remove two brain tumors.


SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO -(CA)- Cole Bent has big plans. A book on Egypt sits on his nightstand in San Juan Capistrano to help him prepare for his planned visit there. He plans to go to South America as well, though he doesn’t have a book about it yet.

This might not be unusual for a lot of 20-year-olds, but for Bent and his parents, Brian and Rivka, and his younger sister, Esther, it’s big news.

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Cole Bent receives physical therapy at the Ole Hanson Beach Club in San Clemente, where he gets donated pool time.

It has been about seven months since Bent, an Eagle Scout and former Marine Corps mortarman, was diagnosed with ependymoma, a form of cancer mostly seen in young children. Surgeons at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo removed two golf ball-size tumors from alongside Bent’s brainstem March 14, four days after he blacked out during a tennis game. Doctors told him before the surgery that his chance of survival was 20 percent.

His comeback owes much to his neighbors in the community, who have helped him and his family at every turn.


Having been told by his doctors that physical therapy would be essential to his recovery, Bent’s family decided to move him into Esther’s room and find help for him. Bent was experiencing poor stability, swallowing, coordination, strength, balance and sight, as well as a 30-pound weight loss within three months after the surgery. His mother thought getting him into a swimming pool would be a good place to start therapy.

The Ole Hanson Beach Club in San Clemente was the first stop, and within a short time, Bent was in the pool and working out, courtesy of Vickie Mierau, a retired aquatic therapist, using pool time donated by swim instructors Debra Thurn and Kayne Schroeder.

That was just the beginning of the community effort, Rivka Bent said. As the family began the endless task of copying and faxing medical records, insurance claims and other documents to providers, the Marine Corps and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Bill and Susan Odelson of Paper Annex in San Juan Capistrano ran “Cole’s tab,” which always has a zero balance.

Then there are the good Samaritans all over south Orange County whom the Bents know only by their first name: Greg at Staples, Buddy at Frio Yogurt, Arthur at The Old Barn, to name a few.

Even man’s best friend has made a mark – Galena Creek Kennels Siberian Huskies in Roseburg, Ore., gave a therapy dog, Piper, as a companion for Bent’s therapy.

Bent, a lance corporal in the weapons section of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines based at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, began to experience nausea, dizziness and problems with concentration after his unit was deployed to Afghanistan in June 2010. Three months later, a visiting medical officer noticed his problems and sent Bent home a month ahead of his unit.

Bent was discharged in early February before he knew about his actual condition, his family said. He is still working out the details of his separation from the Marine Corps and currently does not have veteran’s benefits.

Brian Bent, an artist specializing in fashion and design, has been able to cover much of his son’s $1.5 million in medical-treatment costs through his employer’s insurance, Anthem Blue Cross, though the family is still facing a pile of unpaid household and ancillary medical bills.

“I wish I had a spare $50,000 lying around,” Rivka Bent said. “I could sure use it.”

Though he moves slowly and speaking is tiring for him, Cole Bent’s condition is improving by the day – not that he’s giving himself a choice. He has a medal he wants to pass on to someone else who is recovering from a crisis.

The medal was given to him in June by double amputee Harry Snowden of San Juan Capistrano, who received it after completing his first lap around the Saddleback College track on prosthetic legs in 2009. Snowden was given the medal by stroke survivor Fermin Camarena, who is paralyzed on one side of his body and is now a recumbent-bicycle competitor. He received the medal for completing the 2008 Loma Linda University Medical Center Poss-Abilities 5K Walk/Run/Roll triathlon.

Bent met both at Saddleback College while he was taking a physical-therapy class. The medal is engraved with the names of its recipients, along with the year they got it.

“We are focusing on the good things, like the fact that this whole thing happened here and we can help Cole, and how appreciative we are of our community,” Rivka Bent said. “It really takes a village.”

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Out for a cruise with Evelyn.

SAN CLEMENTE -(CA)- Brooke Bedard of San Clemente knows firsthand what Relay For Life is all about. She remembers five years ago, when she was 13, arriving home from Shorecliffs Middle School in San Clemente with a numb arm and a bad headache.

She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A week later, she had a room at CHOC Children’s hospital getting chemotherapy and worrying about losing her hair. Chemo and radiation treatments took down the tumor wrapped around her trachea, and now, at 18, she’ll be studying business marketing at Chico State University in the fall.

In the meantime, she was captain of the “All Night for the Fight” team at this weekend’s San Clemente Relay For Life, an annual fundraising walk/run for the American Cancer Society in which members of teams take turns traveling the track at San Clemente High School’s Thalassa Stadium for 24 hours to raise pledges from donors. It’s one of many such events held around the country each year.

Just hav'n fun out here boss....

From 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday, 46 teams totaling 480 people participated in San Clemente, raising $29,187, the event’s website said Sunday. Donations can still be made online here.

The teams spent Saturday morning before the event setting up themed “campsites,” illustrating, honoring and remembering those who have cancer, survived it or succumbed to it. There were crafts, live music and games such as “Ta Ta Toss,” a breast-cancer-awareness activity in which participants could make a “basket” by throwing ping-pong balls into decorated bras mounted on a board.

Greg Roberts of San Clemente Presbyterian Church‘s “Stampeding for a Cure” team, honoring 5-year-old cancer patient Taylor Uresti, said the team’s focus is to provide emotional support not only for people with cancer but for their families as well.

It doesn't look like 30 miles, but that's what the odometer says...

“When we get tired (during the relay), we can rest,” Roberts said. “Families with cancer are battling 24/7. We’re out to support each other.”

Shea Weber of Dewey Weber Surfboards in San Clemente remembers how Japanese surfer Shu Oikawa, who died in 2007 at age 40 from stomach cancer, would bow before contests with his hands together and in a very serious tone exclaim, “I will defeat you.” Then he would break into a big smile and laugh.

“Shu loved the ocean and surfing,” Weber said. “Language and culture were no barrier for him in sharing that love.”

That's Shu in the photo...

Jessica Forino, 18, a 2011 graduate of Aliso Niguel High School, helped organize members of Aliso Niguel’s girls cross country team for the Relay For Life. The event’s motto, “Celebrate, remember and fight back,” is a good description of what a cancer patient’s life is like, she said. It’s even comparable to her team’s experience during the 24 hours of the relay, she added.

“Every part of the day is a different emotion,” Forino said. “We are all together walking the track, sharing, living our lives together. At the end of the day, it’s dark, and with the (traditional) candlelight vigil, we remember, we have tears, and tomorrow, when the sun comes up, we go back to the fight.”

There is always something to do.

For Bedard, though she’s won several battles, the war isn’t over yet. She still has the little tattoos used to register the radiation machines, and she goes for check-ups about every four months. Bedard looks forward to when the check-ups will be once a year. To her, hospitals represent a form of imprisonment.

“You have to know you’re going to get through it,” she said. “I appreciate everything now. I remember I came back to school with a wig, but looks don’t matter. It’s what’s inside.”

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Its all good at the Ocean Institute.


DANA POINT -(CA)-  A dozen young hospital patients got a day at the beach Thursday in Dana Point, paddleboarding, helping with a beach cleanup and taking a tour of the Ocean Institute’s tide pools and aquariums.

The event was part of the Surf & Paddle Summer Camp 2011 put on by Miracles for Kids, a Tustin-based nonprofit organization that supports children with cancer and other serious illnesses by helping their families with financial issues during the treatment period. Board member Tom Swanecamp said Thursday’s activities were meant to get the kids out of their normal routine of hospital visits, tests and treatments and get some hands-on knowledge of the beach and ocean while having fun on the water.

Oh, What a feeling....

Wyatt Colby, 5, reaches out to touch a sea slug held by Zoe Hunter, 7, of Fullerton during a visit to the Ocean Institute in Dana Point arranged by Miracles for Kids, a nonprofit organization that supports children with cancer and other serious illnesses.
The 7- to 16-year-olds departed from CHOC Children’s hospital in Orange, where CHOC bus driver Chano Moreno surprised them with balloon creations such as mermaids and monkeys. “These kids go through a lot, and seeing something different makes the kids happy,” he said.

“When we pulled off the freeway, one of the kids asked if we were really going to be paddleboarding,” Swanecamp said. “He thought it was a trick and we were really going back to the hospital.”

Alissa Dolegowski, 16, of San Clemente is blind, but with the help of Miracle for Kids volunteer Christina Kretschmer of Brentwood, she was able to explore several interactive tide pools and see what her hands told her about how sea cucumbers and anemones. They felt sticky while rough and soft at the same time, she said.

Just check'n it out.

Kretschmer found a hermit crab and was describing it, but Dolegowski drew the line.

“I’m not fond of crabs,” Dolegowski said. “The sea anemone was OK; he was trying to suck on my finger.”

Noah Wehner, 10, of San Clemente was diagnosed with leukemia seven years ago after he had what was first thought to be a spider bite on his elbow, said his mother, Amy. Though Noah is fully integrated in public school, having just completed fourth grade, he has endured a continuous series of tests, check-ups and treatments.

“Once we knew he could go (to Surf & Paddle Summer Camp) a couple of weeks ago, he has been counting the days,” Amy Wehner said. “During all this (his leukemia treatment), Noah has never complained. He is a happy boy.”

Noah agreed. “I’m just thankful I’m alive,” he said.

Sophia Colby, 7, of Rancho Santa Margarita said she most enjoyed petting the animals.

“I learned to paddleboard today and my daddy was jealous,” Colby said as she saw Boris, a giant lobster in the Ocean Institute’s “Underwater Forest” exhibit.

Her father, Patrick, said, “This is a good opportunity for the kids; it makes sure everything is clean and safe for the children.

“We wouldn’t be here without an affiliation with Miracles for Kids. We couldn’t do this without them,” he added.

Upon finishing their exploration of the Ocean Institute, each child was presented with a shirt as a souvenir of the journey.

It was all good with Andrew Whitford, 9, of Newport Beach. “My day was perfect,” he said.

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Bandit, the biker dog at cook's corner.

Bandit, the biker dog at cook's corner.



Bandit will steal your heart.  He is a 6 year old Boston Terrier and as calm and in his place as you could imagine.  Mark Shaffer is his driver and manages all of his appearences; he is as mesmerized by it all as anyone.  I met him at Cook’s Corner on Sunday, while on a shoot for an event called “Ladies That Ride” and is meant to support Breast Cancer programs. 


Since last week when I shot the Orange County Sheriff responding to the “Moon The Amtrak” event, I have had several “Biker” shoots and its strange that they have all come in a row like this.


 Last Saturday, I shot the annual “Christmas In July/Poker Fun Run”, organized by the Capistrano Eagles Motorcycle Club.  They collect can goods and cash for those that need it and is administered through the Mission San Juan Capistrano.  The program is actually called “Father Serra’s Pantry” and from what I have heard it is their largest fundraiser each year.  The Capistrano Eagles run the event from the Swallows Inn; it starts and ends there and if there was anything to say about it, the first thing would be that they are serious about helping out.


"Christmas in July", for Father Serra's Pantry, is run by The Capistrano Eagles Motorcycle Club; it features a "Poker Fun Run" where participants go from location to location, riding for the best and worst hand.

"Christmas in July", for Father Serra's Pantry, is run by The Capistrano Eagles Motorcycle Club; it features a "Poker Fun Run" where participants go from location to location, riding for the best and worst hand.



The idea is that riders will pay a registration fee(Donated) and collect a playing card at all of five stops they must make to get an entire “hand”.  The best hand and the worst hand get prizes as well as anyone attending or just going to the bar, must bring a canned food donation.  I shot for the paper various participants picking out their cards and trying for the best hand.   Along with poker, they also had a raffle with things like leather vests and boots and smaller things like key chains and bandanas.  Everyone was having a good time and really I saw a big heart in it all for helping those that are less fortunate.



It was explained to me that they had decided to do it based on the fact that what the Mission can do for the homeless and the needy in the middle of the year is a little lean.  Christmas is great for giving but then July, as folks go on vacation or are generaly not around, doesn’t see too much in the way of giving.  The “Christmas in July” program has become Father Serra’s Pantry biggest event in the year.

Walking the line at Cook's Corner.

Walking the line at Cook's Corner.



Its interesting to see, what can sometimes be, this rougher set of guys and gals getting out and doing all this and with a great attitude and more than a willingness to help.  To me it isn’t a surprise really as I learned a big lesson when I was a sophmore in High School about bikers.


At that age I rode my bicycle to school and everyday past Ole Hanson Elementery.  There on the corner was a “biker” house.  In fact it was right next to the school and it always had bikes parked on the lawn.  There were always people out front, either talking, standing around or working on a bike.  The doors and windows were left open all time and the music that came across the grass to the street was strong.  I wasn’t scared but they were certainly imposing with their long hair, tatoos and swagger.  I remember more than a few times they had several sofas out front and collapsed on them were as many as ten or twelve people just hanging out.

Winners of the Tatoo contest at Cook's Corner.

Winners of the Tatoo contest at Cook's Corner.


I don’t think I was worried about them as I felt to some degree we were the same although, we didn’t dress or look alike; together we were different than most, misunderstood and had a different approach on life.  No one gets to be too old before they realize that society in general does not like “different” and what isn’t the same as the majority.


My suspicions were confirmed one day when I came out after to class to find that someone had “potatoe-chipped” the rear wheel on my bike.  This is where you lean over the wheel and hitting it just right on the ground, while applying pressure to side, at the top and bottom, the wheel will bend agaisnt the pressure.   The mis-alignd spokes try to comprehend the torque but cannot; the wheel is left looking like a big potatoe chip.The wheel will not roll through the frame and so cannot be ridden.  The 80 or so bikes lined up and mine was the only one; someone was trying to make a point.  I had a special admirer and had because of minor vandalism on my bike every few days I became accostumed to moving it around in order to avoid it.  But now, they had found me.




Out with the fam on Sunday at Cook's.

Out with the fam on Sunday at Cook's.




I rolled my bike down the sidewalk and along the way I would normaly ride it; this took a long time as I had to half carry it and pull it along.  I was not off the campus before the school was silent.  Everyone was almost home by now.  This was going to be a long day as I lived about four miles from school.  I wasn’t surprised that no one stopped to help; it’s just the way it is.



The biker house is about a half mile from the school and as I came up to it, I could see they were all out in the yard.  I was scared as I would have to pass right by, just inches from them, and wondered if they would add to my troubles.  I had no reason to feel this way and although I didn’t expect it after carrying my bike that far I was not in a good mood.

Serious fun on a sweet ride.

Serious fun on a sweet ride.


This was towards the end of the year, a Friday, and the sun was out. They had two sofas, a couple chairs and several bikes all around.  The music was loud and they were enjoying the sun and drinking beer out of the bottle.  Twenty feet, ten feet, five feet…passing the corner…they hadn’t noticed…keep going I thought and then…

“Hey…Hey kid…what are you doin?…Hey kid….” His gruff, scratchy voice called out, not really asking, but demanding.


The music got louder and quieter all at the same time.  I was on the surface of the sun.  I was taught to always address adults politely and so I turned to him and answered.

“…going home…” I said.


He stood there looking down at me from only a few feet away.  He was tan with long hair and had a big necklace of seashells around his neck and a few other plain leather ones.  He wore no shirt and only jeans with “The Boots”.  This was 1979 and I saw it all in oversaturated kodak color, surrounded by a glossy white border.  The rest of the group looked on mildly but not really paying attention.

“…what happened to your bike?…” he asked.

“…someone bent the wheel…”I replied.

“…that’s fff’ed up…”he said, pointing his beer at the bent wheel.


He didn’t say anything else and bent over the wheel and with what I imagined would have been the same manouver that caused it, bent it back.  He stood again and twirled the wheel.  He stopped it a few times and in the more troublesome spots, “adjsuted it” with hands that were obviously used to fixing things.  He finished and leaned the bike my way and I took it.

“…what’s your name?” he asked.

“…David …”I replied simply.

“…No charge, David…see ya’ round…” he said with a nod and hadn’t finished his sentence before he was walking back to the house.

“..Thanks…”I said with a relieved smile and hit the road.  I wasn’t too far off before I heard several voices call out after me.

“…See ya’, David…”


I didn’t stop there again but I saw my new friends everyday and we always said hello; they knew my name and they never missed saying it.

“…hey David…see ya’ around…”

Biker Sled.

Biker Sled.




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