This is a audio slide show from the first day of the Grass Fire in Lake Arrowhead.
Click the play button on the lower left of this blog entry...
CLICK -HERE- Battle On Brentwood 4 slide show if you cant see it full size in Safari
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Creating video pieces is new to newspaper 'still' photographers. So on the journey of a forced learning curve we go. Get on the bus or under it is the mantra. I will post some of the good, bad and ugly in the process to view and improve the products.
With the web element of the newspaper, the video story-telling is one of several tools we can use to fill out the story. In this case there is a paper story and photos, web story and a photo gallery and now a video as well. Also, in this case, as I am sure there will more of this, some assignments can be better videos than stills. This story is also an easy target for a video supplement as well because nothing changes over time. The animals are in the cages etc. Stay tuned....
Monday, October 15, 2007
Click Here Or Photo Above For Full Photo Gallery
Ex-29 coach, USC great beats cancer
By John Murphy/ Staff Writer
Dana Casey edges forward in her seat as the Cal Poly Pomona women’s volleyball team puts the ball in play.
Moments later, Samantha Casey – Dana’s daughter – hits a rocket that kisses the back line for a Bronco point and a 29-28 lead against visiting Cal State University Monterey Bay.
Dana raises her arms in triumph and stomps her feet. It was a joyous moment for her during an otherwise trying 18 months.
The former Twentynine Palms High School volleyball star and coach was diagnosed 1 ½ years ago with a severe form of breast cancer. So grim was the outlook, that an oncologist in Palm Springs told her there was no hope.
“He said there was no point in getting any treatment,” Dana said. “He told me to go home and enjoy my quality of life.”
Dana now sardonically refers to the physician as “Dr. Doom.”
Until 2006, Dana had lived a charmed life. Known as Dana Smith in high school, she was a three-sport star. She especially excelled in volleyball and earned a scholarship to USC.
As a Trojan, she was a three-time All-America. She has two national championship rings and also finished second once.
She now teaches art and health at Monument Alternative High School in Twentynine Palms.
Dana became a successful volleyball coach at her old high school, married former Twentynine Palms and Cal Poly Pomona football player Richard Casey and had two wonderful children, Samantha (19) and Andrew (16). Andrew plays football for Twentynine Palms.
But then on a routine visit to the gynecologist, she received stunning news.
“They took a mammogram and the doctor saw something on the ultrasound,” Dana said. “He said ‘It looks like cancer.’’’
A biopsy revealed Dana has breast cancer – estrogen-positive, and severe.
As a former athlete, Dana was not ready to put up a white flag. She went online, applying at City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte. She was deemed an ideal clinical trials’ candidate.
She resigned as the Wildcat volleyball coach after 12 years. She also went on what is called “catastrophic leave” from her teaching job.
June brought 16 weeks of chemotherapy.
In October she had a mastectomy, the removal of one breast.
Two transplants followed during which she received strong chemotherapy that kills cancer-bearing white and red blood cells. The second transplant in February of ‘07 was especially grueling, as she had five chemo drugs pumped into her for 101 hours.
Friends and relatives from Twentynine Palms donated blood.
The ordeal was hell-ish. At varying times she suffered mouth soars, hot flashes, tingling in her feet and the loss of her hair.
Following the second transplant, she couldn’t use a razor or a tooth brush. Instead she used a sponge to clean her teeth.
Morphine had no effect. Instead she was given the stronger Dilaudid.
Richard Casey is the square-jawed husband of Dana who teaches and is an assistant football coach at Twentynine Palms. During a break in the volleyball action at Cal Poly Pomona, he discussed the situation.
“When she was first diagnosed, we talked to the kids and discussed what the future might hold,” he said. “They took it well.
“Dana is very strong. The treatments have been hard. But if they’ve bothered her, she’s hidden it well.”
Added Samantha: “My mom is really strong. A lot of people told me that, but I already knew it.”
Tight-knit Twentynine Palms took up the cause. Family friend Martie Avels had hundreds of postcards printed that said: “The road to recovery is paved with friendship.”
“The whole summer I had chemo, I would get the postcards in the mail almost every day,” Dana said.
Also, 20 co-workers donated a total of 100 hours of sick time to Dana.
“It’s amazing the community support I’ve gotten,” she said. “It’s made the biggest difference in the world.”
In April and May of ’07, Dana had radiation treatment. Toward the end of May, she returned to class. Sans wig.
“I wanted the students to see me in the recovery stage,” she said. “I felt like it was a way to reach out to my students. They’ve had trauma before. It proves you can have a trauma in your life and still get up and do what makes you happy.”
Noon at Monument Alternative, three days after Dana rooted Cal Poly Pomona to victory.
As Dana sits at her desk, teen-age girls enter and exit. A few push strollers with babies.
They are all toting the latest art project – posters deriding drug and alcohol abuse.
“She’s a great teacher,” said a petite teen, Patricia Huntz. “She helps us out a lot. Her class is fun. It’s not like a regular, boring art class.”
As Dana glanced at posters, she nibbled on fruit and cheese out of a plastic container. She is a reformed junk-food junkie who thinks her bad eating habits helped prompt the cancer. She doesn’t recommend processed foods and sugar to anyone.
She has changed in other ways, as well. A Presbyterian, she said she is more “at peace” and living “in the moment” now. If she feels anxious about her ongoing tests and scans, she recites scripture.
It is mid-afternoon at Monument – time for Dana to leave. A PET scan – a powerful imaging technique that diagnoses cancer – awaits in distant Rancho Mirage.
Down Highway 62 Dana cruises in her silver Honda Odyssey. In her wake she leaves the roadside motels, new-age shops and tall Joshua trees that rise like stalactites from the desert floor.
Before long she arrives in tony Rancho Mirage, home of the Eisenhower Medical Center and the Luci Curci Cancer Center.
There she lay inside the Gamma imaging system, which performs the full-body PET scan.
Two weeks later, she reports she is free of cancer – though there’s still a chance it could return.
The progression from one-foot-in-the-grave cancer patient to healthy survivor, has both amazed and delighted many.
“She’s a miracle to us,” said City of Hope oncology nurse Julie Cox of Rancho Cucamonga. “When she came to us she had fourth-stage breast cancer that had spread to other parts of her body. There’s not a lot of hope for these patients.
“Her recovery is a God-given miracle – there’s no other way to explain it.”
The nurse added that although some patients do die, it’s important to know cancer is “not a death sentence.”
Reflecting upon it all, Dana stressed the importance of getting a second medical opinion. But most of all, she feels gratitude.
“One day I was sitting in my classroom, looking over the attendance roll and thinking about the things I planned to do when I just started crying,” she said. “I asked myself ‘Am I going crazy? Then I realized it’s just because I’m so thankful I’m here.”
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