Volume XII, Issue 21: December 13, 2013

What’s New With Alex?

This photo of Alex Rialet (our Club’s Rotary Exchange Student from Toulouse, France) was taken at the birthday party for his Host Brother DIego Baciagaluppi. I assume that he wore something different for the recent cold weather – maybe a wet suit? President Jessica noted that despite the low temperatures, Alex has begun learning how to surf!


Scott Heller’s father Doug passed away shortly before Thanksgiving. Doug and Scott’s mother Mary visited our Club in October 2011, during Scott’s term as our Club President. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Scott, Mary, and the rest of their family.

Mary, Scott, and Doug Heller

The Arcata High School Madrigal Choir will entertain us at our next meeting (Friday, December 20th), but if you want a preview and a chance to hear the ARMACK Orchestra and the AHS Concert Choir, go to HSU’s Van Duzer Theater at 7 pm on Thursday, December 19th for their Winter Concert. Tickets are only $5.

Ed Christians has completed the requirements that allow him to discard his Red Badge in favor of a shiny new Blue Badge. (Actually, the red one gets recycled.) And although Recognitions Master Tomas Chavez was unable to attend last week’s meeting, he infomed Jessica that best Christmas light display in the neighborhood belongs to Ed. Ed told us that when he lived in Texas, the next city over spent over $20,000 on its holiday light extravaganza. Nonetheless, Ed said that his Austin neighborhood outdid them. So this year, he “put up the lights that survived the move”.

Not too Austin-tatious!

The Boards of Directors for both the Club and our Foundation met on December 10th. The agendas and minutes (from the previous meetings) are available to Sunrisers on our website. Here are the highlights from the Club Board Meeting:

  • Our Club’s Attendance for November was up to 75%, including our Taste of the Holidays meeting.
  • The Treasurer’s Report is available on our site, as are committee reports.
  • Club Elections have been completed for this Rotary Year

The top items from the Foundation’s Board Meeting included:

  • The Treasurer’s Report showed that our committees have begun making use of their budgets. And although the final figures are not yet in for Taste of the Holidays, it looks like our return on investment will be good.
  • The World Community Service Committee has requested that it (and other committees) be allowed to set aside funds annually to be applied to future Rotary Foundation Matching Grant projects. There was some discussion, but no decision was made.
  • Susan Jansson and Barbara Browning continue to lead the discussion about the future of our Spring Fundraiser. President Jessica noted that we need to continue to keep the Arcata Volunteer Fire Department Club in the loop, as they have worked as hard as we have over the years to make the event a success. She also said that Sunrisers will probably be surveyed sometime in January.
  • The PTO at Pacific Union School is applying for nonprofit status, but the process is not complete. They have requested that we help process funds for their annual fundraiser, as we did last year. The final decision has not been made yet.

President Jessica continues to recognize those with perfect attendance. If you missed a meeting somewhere along the line, please be sure to do a makeup meeting with another club or at a committee meeting. Remember, you’re eligible for Jessica’s monthly drawings if you had 100% attendance in the previous month.

A Visit From Maheen


We had a special visitor from Pakistan last week. Maheen has been in the US for four months, and she told us that life here is “pretty much the same” as her life in her home country. “We wake up every morning,” she said, “and go to school or go to jobs.”  To illustrate her point, she showed us photos of her family and her friends from her university in Pakistan. She said that every child in Pakistan is inquisitive and wants to attend school. Maheen’s stay in this country was sponsored by Pakistani businessmen.

She told us, “The notion that you get from the media that people [in Pakistan] are terrorists is wrong. People have the same feelings and the same values.”

Radiation Oncology at St. Joseph Hospital
Our featured speaker last Friday was Dr. Michael Harmon, the Director of Radiation Oncology for St. Joseph Hospital. Dr. Harmon said that there have been major advances in cancer treatments over the past five years. In addition the hospital has hired many new staff members, including Medical Oncologist Dr. Jeff Allen. The group has pledged a new commitment to working as a team.

Dr. Harmon also noted that the hospital now enjoys an unprecendented relationship with Stanford University Medical Center. Stanford has never before made the commitment to work in conjunction with a community hospital. The benefits include access to Stanford’s medical records and its treatment protocols, including experimental protocols. The local staff can now present cases to Stanford’s Tumor Board for review as needed.

Dr. Harmon presented four case studies to illustrate the progress being made in radiation treatment. The first case involved an 84 year old male who had a Stage 4 carcinoma at the base of his tongue, which had metastasized to his neck. A PET scan (which Dr. Harmon explained is a combination of a CAT scan and radioisotope imaging) showed that

Dr. Michael Harmon

the tumor was using glucose at a high rate. This is an indication that the tumor is growing quickly. With the new linear accelerators available to the staff, radiation can be more precisely directed at the tumor, with less scatter. In this case, the patient also received chemotherapy, and was in complete remission one year later.

Another success story involved a woman 66 years of age who had a Stage 3B carcinoma in her lung. The tumor led to SVC (Superior Vena Cava) Syndrome, which is an obstruction of the blood flow from the upper half of her body to her heart. Emergency radiation therapy resolved her SVC Syndrome, and was followed by chemotherapy.

A 40 year old woman was admitted after a massive chest tumor was found that was compressing her lungs and heart. She was approaching cardiac and pulmonary failure. After four radiation treatments led to dramatic improvement, she too was switched to chemotherapy.

The final case was of a 70 year old woman who had a recurrence of a Stage 3B carcinoma of the lung. Six years prior, she had been treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Two years later, the cancer had metastasized to her brain, which led to brain surgery and more radiation therapy. The latest recurrence was treated with radiation and chemotherapy. which led to a complete response.

Local cancer treatment is possible in large part due to the acquisition of the two new linear accelerators at St. Joe’s. Over 6,000 patients have been treated by the Radiation Oncology Department in the past 20 year, and early stage breast and prostate cancers have a cure rate of over 90%. Local treatment is critical in cases where the patient would be unlikely to survive the rigors and duration of a medical flight.

Dr. Harmon said that it is helpful to be able to be treated by doctors you know, to receive more personal care in a local facility, to be able to live at home and enjoy the support of family and friends. It is also nice not to “live out of a suitcase” for the time it takes to be treated out of the area. He noted that, especially with the new relationship with Stanford, patients are not sacrificing quality care when they are treated locally.