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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cancer showing resistance to several treatment options

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 17th part of a story by Enterprise business manager Peggy McCracken on her diagnosis of cancer and surgery in April of 2005. By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

Cancer is stubborn, I’ve learned. Despite monthly trips to Midland for “bone strengthener” and hormone suppressant injections, my tumor markers continue to increase. A bone scan last month shows spotty activity in the ribs and similar but milder changes in the spine.

“Notably the large area is present in the right ilium (skull),” the report says, concluding that I have “progressive skeletal metastatic disease.”

In case you have not been following this series on cancer, what it means is that the large tumor removed from my left breast 2.5 years ago had spread to the bones, and it continues to spread. The only medication I have taken is an acid infusion that interrupts the normal breakdown and re-building activity in the bones, plus a hormone suppressant that is supposed to keep estrogen from feeding the tumors.

The first hormone suppressant worked mightily, dropping the tumor markers from 852 to a low of 37. The next test showed the markers on the way back up, however, and they had increased to 400 before I learned about it and got a different prescription.

That pill worked for about three months, then Doctor Dave put me on a monthly injection of Faslodex. It didn’t work at all.

After taking the bone strengthener Aredia for eight months, I learned it was killing my bones and stopped taking the infusions. My skull hurt during that time, either from the cancer’s activity or from the infusion.

It continued to hurt for six or eight months after I stopped the Aredia. I asked for prayer that the pain would stop at about the same time I agreed to take another infusion.

Zometa works the same way as Aredia, but the infusion takes only 15 minutes. After the second infusion, the skull pain abated. I don’t know if it was the prayer or the Zometa, but maybe both played a part.

However, my fifth treatment with Zometa caused my right wrist joint to swell up and hurt like the dickens when I move it. The arm bone also hurt for several days.

Three months passed before I agreed to another infusion. That one aggravated the wrist joint, but otherwise didn’t hurt.

In September, the Zometa infusion hurt my bones all over. Every joint creaked, and long bones in the upper arms and thighs felt like they were about to break in two.

Even the bone along the side of my right foot hurt when I walked. Ouch!

So I cancelled the October infusion and am not taking any medication for cancer. I was hoping the absence of meds would lift the fog from my brain, but it hasn’t so far.

Doctor Dave wants me to take chemotherapy next. I researched the drugs he recommends, and I think they would do me more harm than good.

My next appointment is the day after Christmas, and I shall discuss it with him then. A lab test that same day may help me decide. If the tumor markers have climbed considerably, I may be more amenable to treatment.

One person killed, one hurt in I-10 crash near Saragosa

A member of the United States Navy was killed this weekend in a one-vehicle accident on Interstate 10 in southern Reeves County, while a woman from New Jersey riding in the same vehicle remains in stable condition in an Odessa Hospital.

The accident occurred at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, 2.3 miles south of Saragosa on I-10.

Killed in the one vehicle accident was George Luis Rodriguez, 21 years old of Houston, who was the driver of the 2007 Civic.

His passenger, 20 year old, Gillian Paula Robinson, of New Jersey, is listed in stable condition with head trauma, cuts and abrasions at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.

According to Department of Public Safety Trooper Cletus Tapp of Pecos, who investigated the accident, Rodriguez was traveling eastbound, when the vehicle crossed the center median, overcorrected, went into a left side skid, traveled eastbound and across I-10. The vehicle continued eastbound in a left side skid and struck a tree in the barrow ditch with the left side door.

Both Rodriguez and Robinson wearing seatbelts, according to Tapp. Justice of Peace 3 Rosendo Carrasco pronounced Rodriguez dead at the scene. Next of kin was notified and his body was taken to Pecos Funeral Home.

School board to receive update on projects at meeting

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board members will receive an update on the facility plan during their regular meeting scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday in the Technology Center.

Everyone is invited to attend the open session of the meeting.

The group will recognize students and athletes during their meeting; discuss House Bill 621-Exemption of Goods in Transit; hold a public hearing on Schools FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas) and receive an update on Summary of Finance for 2007-2008.

Board members will consider and take possible action on 2007-2008 budget amendments; RFPS for one, single cab 1/2-ton pickup; payroll correction and requests received by the tax office to purchase foreclosed properties.

The group will consider and take possible action on resolution to cast votes to elect members to the board of directors for the Ward County Appraisal District for the years 2008-2009; to appoint three representatives to the Reeves County Appraisal District Board; 2007 tax rolls; weighted average daily attendance contracts for 2007-2008 with Crane ISD and Rankin ISD; campus attendance committees and the second reading and consideration and possible action on changes to local policies and review of legal policies contained in TASB Policy Update 81. The first and final reading and possible action on DPB (Local); personnel positions – substitute, temporary and part-time positions; consider and possible action on substitute pay scale; report on highly qualified staff; discuss policy FNF (Local): Student rights and responsibilities- interrogations and searches; consider and possible action on agreement with Hunter Corral Associates, Inc. and PBT-ISD for renovations and additions and an agreement with Mid-Tex of Midland as construction manager at-risk for renovations and additions.

The group will meet in closed session as authorized by the Texas Open Meetings Act, 551.101 et.seq. to deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, assignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of a public officer or employee; Section 551.071 and 551.129- private consultation with legal counsel to receive legal advice pertaining to architect and construction manager at-risk agreements for renovations and additions.

Reports: cafeteria report and commodities received; tax report; depository securities report; current bills and financial report; investment transaction report and reconciled bank balance report.

PEDC approves new talks on purchase of PHA land

The new 4B Pecos Economic Development Corp. agreed to begin negotiations on buying 34.23 acres of land along Interstate 20 by the Pecos Housing Authority, following a one-hour executive session Monday afternoon as part of a meeting of the 4B PEDC board.

Board members approved a motion to enter into negotiations with the PHA to buy the land, with a deadline of Jan. 31, 2008 to complete the deal. The decision comes after Pecos City Council members agreed to allow the 4B board to seek purchase of the land that the council opted against allowing the 4A PEDC board to buy in September.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has accepted the PHA’s $230,000 payment for purchase of the FLH units on West County Road, and that they plan to repay the loan taken out from TransPecos Banks through the sale of the land, located along I-20 between West County Road and Country Club Drive. The loan was taken out after the city council refused to allow the 4A corporation to enter into an agreement with the PHA.

City Attorney Scott Johnson said he didn’t think the 4B corporation could be held liable for debts incurred by the 4A corporation. City voters in May approved changing the PEDC from a 4A to a 4B corporation, which allows it to spend money on a wider range of projects.

Tax funds from the PEDC’s 1/4-cent share of the city’s 1 1/2-cent sales tax began going to the 4B corporation last month. But during a meeting last week, 4B and 4A officials were told the 4A corporation will probably have to stay in business for at least three years due to agreements entered into that involve financial payments.

The PHA had worked out a deal with the 4A PEDC in July, in which the PHA would pay $230,000 for the land, which would then be used by the PHA for their payment. Then-PEDC Executive Director Mike Burkholder said they planned to put the land on the market for commercial development.

PHA Executive Director Nellie Gomez said the USDA made an original offer to the PHA of $250,000 for the 56-unit FLH apartments. The apartments had been appraised in value at $340,000 last year, according to the USDA letter sent to the PHA on Dec. 12, 2006.

“After we did some negotiating, we brought it down to $230,000,” Gomez said. The housing authority received word from Bryan Daniel, State Director of USDA, on July 17 that the compromise offer had been accepted, “But we had to come up with the money in the next 60 days.”

Gomez at first planed to work with TransPecos Banks to sell the land, after receiving the bank loan, but later decided that federal rules would force the PHA to put the land up for bids.

Following Monday’s 4B meeting, the 4A PEDC board met and held their own executive session to discuss the status of a deal to build a new motel on 3.07 acres of land at Interstate 20 and U.S. 285. Burkholder said last week the 4A corporation acquired the land from Reeves County, and planned to give it to the owners of the Best Western Hotel in Monahans, who would use it to build a new motel.

The PEDC paid Reeves County $3,070 in early September. Burkholder said the land was bought at market value and the 4A board could pass that cost along to the group planning to build the new motel.

Texas Amendment election set for Tuesday

Cancer research money highlights the lineup of proposed constitutional amendments before Texas voters Tuesday.

Polls will be open on Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. across Texas, including at polling sites in Reeves County where to items on funding for colonias water projects and for tax abatements for economic development in small towns could have effects locally.

Just under 3 percent of registered voters in the state's 15 most populous counties cast ballots in early voting, the Secretary of State's Office reported Monday, signaling a low turnout.

Secretary of State Phil Wilson, chief elections officer, predicted an overall turnout of 9.5 percent for the election.

"In contests where turnout rates are relatively low, we're reminded of the difference that just a single vote can make on the outcome of an election," Wilson said.

A high-profile proposition on Tuesday's ballot, pushed by open government and news industry groups, would require the Texas House and Senate to record individual lawmakers' votes on final passage of bills. That means the public can tell how a lawmaker stood on a particular bill. A voice vote, or other non-recorded vote, obscures that information.

Legislative rules already require recording final passage votes, but Proposition 11 would cement the requirement in the Texas Constitution.

Other proposed amendments would generate bond money for parks, prisons, crime labs, highways, student loans and certain water projects. One proposition would abolish the constitutional authority for the office of inspector of hides and animals.

In all, Texans are being asked to approve $9.75 billion in bonds, which are interest-bearing certificates that allow the government to borrow money.

Among the 16 state propositions, the $3 billion cancer bond proposal is the best known on the ballot because of its big-name support.

Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong and his foundation along with the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Republican Gov. Rick Perry and former Democratic Comptroller John Sharp have been urging voters to back Proposition 15.

It would allow the state to give out $300 million over 10 years in grants and potentially attract world-renowned cancer researchers. A portion of the money would be dedicated to cancer prevention.

Americans for Prosperity and the Young Conservatives of Texas are against the measure because they say going into debt with bond money isn't financially responsible. The conservative Texas Eagle Forum also opposes the cancer-fighting proposal because the money could be used for embryonic stem cell research.

Perry and other supporters insist there are no plans for embryonic stem cell research. Perry cast his ballot on the amendment in early voting Friday, noting that he initially suggested another way to pay for the cancer research, through privatizing the state lottery.

Legislators rejected that idea. Nevertheless, the governor said, he supports Prop 15 and said it doesn't prevent lawmakers from spending other state money besides the bonds. "I'm more about the results of finding the cure for cancer," Perry said.

Two amendments which could have local effects are Propositions 5 and 16.

Proposition 5, municipalities with under 10,000 in population would be authorized to enter into an agreement with an owner of real property in or adjacent to an area in the municipality that has been approved for funding under certain programs administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture. The agreement would allow all ad valorem taxes imposed on the owner's property may not be increased for the first five tax years after the tax year in which the agreement is entered into.

It would allow certain small communities participating in the Main Street or Downtown revitalization programs, which are administered through the Department of Agriculture, to conduct a vote of its residents to freeze property taxes in the downtown area for a period of five years or until the property is sold.

Proposition 16 would provide for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $250 million to provide assistance to economically distressed areas. Funds have bee used through the TDWB in the past to improve and extend water lines in unincorporated areas of the county.


Julian Calanchi, Eugene Baeza, Jose Cortez, Martha Pacheco and Tito Lopez

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