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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cancer study begins with a really good stick

I have bad veins.

It’s been an ongoing problem since my early days of blood tests, long before I was old enough to donate blood.

I didn’t consider it a real problem until I attempted to donate platelets when a young girl at my church was undergoing cancer treatments, and I went downtown to undergo a process that involved tubes being placed in both arms for blood removal, separating and then return to me.

Over about a 10-minute period when that process started, veins on both arms blew out and they told me thanks, but no thanks, you can’t donate.

I returned to work the next day with bruises about the size of the top of a small coffee can in the crook of each arm.

The next day, it hurt to straighten my arms. It didn’t really matter, because there was no way I was going to straighten them, anyway.

It’s pretty much the same just about every time I get blood drawn or have an IV inserted, so of course I am a little nervous every time I submit to a blood sample.

Such was the case Wednesday morning when I showed up at the Lake County General Health District for my enrollment in Cancer Prevention Study 3.

I wore short sleeves, so access would be easy. When the attendant asked me which arm I wanted to use, I figured since the left was closer, we’d go with that one.

I sat back, and tightened my fist as she tied on the blue tourniquet.

“You don’t like this, do you?”

“Not at all,” I said.

“It’ll be just a little prick,” she said.

“As if!” I thought to myself.

The next thing I felt was a little brush up against my arm, and then heard a click as she snapped on the first purple vial to collect the blood.

“When my dad was undergoing cancer treatment, he’d call the good ones ‘a good stick,’ ” I said. “I’d say you’re a good stick.”

Of course, then I remembered that usually it takes awhile for bruises to form after my blood tests.
A few vial snaps later, I was on my way to the office.

About an hour later, I decided it was time to take off the cotton-ball-and-bandage combo the attendant had affixed.

I figured by that time, the bruise would be on its way to the reddish-purple phase.

Lo and behold, all I could see was a little red dot. I’m assuming that’s where the needle pierced my flesh.

It’s a little sore, though. But, I can’t complain.

I point all this out as a means of suggesting one last time that you, too, can join the American Cancer Society’s CPS3, which will be enrolling participants at three more sites in Lake County.

The study is a long-term look at participants’ lifestyles and activity levels. Previous studies of this type were CPS1, which first established the link between smoking and lung cancer; and CPS2, which tied lifestyle factors to a risk for cancer.

There’s obviously no risk with the blood draw, as evidenced by my arm, which is prone to disfiguring marks after any type of needle action.

Joining the study also requires filling out a survey. Easy-peasy!

If you’re interested, head over to Lake County YMCA’s Central Branch from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today; or to St. John Vianney from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday. Enrollments also will be done at the Relay for Life on July 13 at North High School in Eastlake. Those will take place from 12:30 to 4 p.m.
Twitter: @Lauranh

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pleasure and pain in a single work day

I’m going to resist the urge to tie these events together.

As the old saying goes, “one of these things is NOT like the other.” That’s never been more true than in this column.

So, sit back and hold on as I take you through one day this week, with plenty of ups and a tragic, devastating low.

Furious, and loving it

A year ago this week, I listened to a teenager discuss how he and his friends had spent a recent evening.

They’d gathered together, formed a business, and decided how it would operate. The next day, something went wrong, and their workflow was disrupted.

The media wanted answers; so they decided to hold a news conference.

At the news conference, the media had so peppered them with questions and follow-ups that some of the businessmen and -women were reduced to tears.

With a description like that, I had to get in on the action!

Thus, this past Tuesday, News-Herald Staff Writer David S. Glasier and I drove over to Lake Erie College to get our shot at the latest business owners to work their way through the Learning About Business program.

About 65 students from Lake, Geauga, Cuyahoga and several other surrounding counties gather for a week of training in business. It’s just what the name says.

They meet business people. They learn personnel, management, operations and everything else involved in running a successful business.

One of the first people I encountered when we arrived Tuesday was a young man with a nametag that read “Furious Guerrieri.”

With his curly, jet black hair and height about two heads above mine, he instantly stood out. As he made his way past, greeting me with a hello and a thank you for coming, I inquired about his name.

He explained that his parents had named him after a character Laurence Fishburne played in “Boyz n the Hood.”

About an hour later, Furious and his fellow business owners took their turn at the company table in front of us and detailed how they were handling their problem.

The Concord Township resident was the company’s CEO and led his team through the questions we laid out.

The goal of the exercise is for the students to hold their own while not admitting wrongdoing. They should keep their cool. They should think out their answers but not take too long. And, they shouldn’t give us any information beyond what they’ve said in their opening statement.

In about 10 minutes of questions to Furious’ team, we got nothing. They stuck to their script, never hesitated and held their own.

Needless to say, when I saw him after the exercise, I had only one response:

“You made me so FURIOUS!”

I doubt I’m the first person to lay that joke on him. The Andrews Osborne student responded with a laugh and was thrilled with the feedback we offered. He also asked about feedback we’d given to other groups.

The program is filled with many inquisitive, adventurous and bright people just like Furious. They know programs like LAB give them a head start in the business world — up to two years before they head to college.

Among the CEOs of the LAB companies were plenty of young ladies, who managed the faux electric-car companies with flair. They were precise, professional and even-tempered.

Here’s hoping that someday, during their careers, someone like me won’t even feel the need to pick them out of a crowd for anything other than their excellence.

I certainly wouldn’t be FURIOUS about that.

(I had to!)

Goodbye, Michael

On Tuesday afternoon, as I was set to shut down my computer for the day and head to LAB, my email let out a familiar bing.

I looked over at the alert in the lower right-hand corner, and noticed it was from a familiar, friendly name.

Andre Parhamovich.

The box shows the sender’s name, the words in the subject line and usually part of the first sentence of the email.

In my hurry, I noted Andre’s name and that the subject said “Michael Hastings.”

“Oh, Michael must be coming to town for the golf outing next month,” I said as I clicked the box to reveal what was in the email.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

“Michael was killed in a car accident this morning — my family is devastated.”

Hastings became a friend of The News-Herald after the death of Andre’s daughter, Andrea, in January 2007 in Iraq.

When we received news of Andi’s death, we heard she’d followed her boyfriend (and later fiancee), who was based there as a correspondent for Newsweek.

He became the voice of the early stories we wrote about the death of the Perry native.

Over the years, I’ve seen him many times, as he returned to Ohio to take part in the annual Andi Foundation golf outings. He learned to play golf so he could take part and seemed to relish his chances to hit the links and relax with family and friends.

Every time I saw him, he’d walk over and give me a hug, and then sit down to talk about his work and ask about mine.

One year, we discussed his departure from Newsweek to write a book about Andi’s death, “I Lost My Love in Baghdad.” One year, I started the conversation asking about whether he’d ever get another embed assignment after his article that detailed former Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s remarks about President Barack Obama.

The last time I saw him, he’d gone to work for Buzzfeed, an Internet-based news organization.

The next outing is July 13, and Michael won’t be there, because he died early Tuesday in a car crash in Los Angeles, where he was living while working on a story.

I lost a friend. The Parhamoviches lost family.

Journalism lost an old-style reporter who wasn’t afraid to find and tell the truth, no matter what people thought of him.

Rest easy, Michael. The work will go on, and we’ll remember the lessons you taught us.
Twitter: @Lauranh

Friday, June 14, 2013

Giving back runs deeply through evening with Lake County leaders

I’d met Peter Carfagna a few times before I sat down with him in the owners’ suite last spring at Classic Park.

We were with Carfagna, his wife, Rita, her brother, Ray Murphy, and Ray’s wife, Katie. This foursome makes up the Lake County Captains’ owners group.

Our talk centered on the fact that the season just beginning was the Captains’ 10th in Eastlake.
We went over the events of the past, and discussed their hopes for the future.

At one point, Carfagna was asked about the family’s goal for ownership of a baseball team.
“We just don’t want to lose a lot of money. To this day, that’s our mantra.”

Those words have stayed in my head, even more than a year later.

They struck me as Carfagna admitting that the goal was to provide entertainment to the community, and if it cost them little money to do it, that was OK.

It wasn’t until Wednesday night that I got to see just how committed to the community Carfagna and his wife are.

At a dinner marking the graduation of the Leadership Lake County Class of 2013, the couple were named the organization’s Leaders of the Year.

During about a 10-minute talk, LLC alumna Ellen Foley Kessler spoke at length about the couple’s charitable activities.

Those in the audience were left wondering, “Where do they find the time?”

Kessler said the Carfagnas and Murphys created Captains Charities soon after the team began play in Lake County, and target funds for the children, the disabled, the elderly and the retired in Lake County.
The Carfagnas have worked extensively with the United Way of Lake County, serving as campaign chairs and also working to hold food drives that have helped to stock UWLC’s pantries.

The couple has been known to visit homeless shelters, Lake County Veterans Services, the Salvation Army, St. James Episcopal Church food line and the Society for Rehabilitation, she went on to say.

“There is a Greek proverb that states, ‘The measure of a man is what he does with power,’ ” Kessler said. “Our leaders of the year, Rita and Peter Carfagna, have far exceeded what one can do with God’s gifts to us. They contribute — they act because they care.”

When it was his turn to speak, Peter Carfagna said the urge to help goes back a generation.

“I guess it would start with what Rita’s dad taught us all, generosity,” Carfagna said. “And the St. Ignatius prayer for generosity that I learned in high school. The Jesuits taught us then to give “magis,” which is the name of our company, give more and more and more.”

Carfagna said the commitment goes very deep, into their work as well as their lives.

“Both Rita’s family and ours, with the Captains, anything we’ve been able to generate here, our whole theme here is, with Ray Murphy and his wife, and Rita, is to give back and give back and give back, more and more and more,” he said. “So we want to thank everybody, our staff, everybody who’s made this possible, all the great public officials who made this possible, all you 3 million-plus fans who’ve come out to see us. You’ve made our field of dreams a reality, for which we can’t thank you enough, and we just want to keep giving more and more and more, until, as the Jesuits say, until we have no more to give.

“Our entertainment and our experience at the park, we hope to bring families together and bring the community together in a way that nothing like baseball can do it.”

It was fitting that the Carfagnas were honored by an organization such as Leadership Lake County, which encourages its graduates to take their lessons and use them to better the world around them.

The Class of 2013 performed several acts of charity during their year-long program. Included among them were building a marketing plan for the county’s 211 information phone line and a building project at the Lake County History Center.

The marketing plan will help the residents of the county who aren’t familiar with this service that provides assistance to those in need of such services as emergency food supplies or shelter.

As part of LLC, participants also learn about many of the companies and programs in the county, exposing more people to the good work and special efforts taken on behalf of area residents.

Many of the program’s graduates spoke about the confidence they gained from their participation.
They said they’ll carry back to their jobs a willingness to be a good example while walking shoulder to shoulder with those on the front lines every day.

The Carfagnas were in good company Wednesday night at St. Noel’s Banquet Center in Willoughby Hills, where they shared a room with those working to ensure the future of Lake County is filled with good ideas and strong leaders.
Twitter: @Lauranh

Friday, June 7, 2013

Drive for groceries could become a little shorter

It’s happened a lot over the past six or so years since I’ve been writing this column.

You’ve undoubtedly gotten the idea that I’m a few sheets short of a notebook. Or a few cookies short of a dozen.

In other words, you probably realize my elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top.

So, the realization that I travel from Euclid to distant lands to shop for groceries won’t be much of a surprise.

It’s not because there aren’t grocery stores close by.

No, there are plenty. A wide variety, too.

I just don’t enjoy grocery shopping, so I need to make it into an adventure.

That leads to long drives to distant stores that might have a bigger selection, niche products or interesting restaurants nearby.

Yes, it often becomes a day trip.

Maybe this is why I don’t like grocery shopping? Looking at how it was just described, it’s a daylong project.

But it works.

Among my frequent stops are Giant Eagle in Legacy Village, because of its superb prepared foods selection; Miles Farmers Market in Solon, for its outstanding fruits and vegetables; and Walmarts in Chardon, Madison or Streetsboro, because, well, they have another store hanging off the side of their grocery store.

As you can see, I do some traveling for groceries.

It’s been this way since I moved out on my own. Because it’s not something I enjoy, I feel the need to wrap it in something else that might be fun.

When I worked in Pennsylvania, I’d drive on my day off to a distant movie theater, pick out a flick and then stop for vittles on the way home.

In those times when I needed to just pick up one thing, I felt like a failure heading to the Shop N Save right down Freeport Road.

It was just too ........ close.

These days, we’ll head out for lunch or maybe dinner before doing the shopping. You know what they say, never go for groceries when you’re hungry.

I’ll admit that sometimes means we’re bringing home the goods well after dark, and when I normally would be deciding it’s time for bed. But, because I’m thinking about the other fun I’ve had, it’s not as much of a chore.

It’s very rare that I’m refused an excursion. But, one that hasn’t been repeated is to Meijer in Sandusky.

I fell in love with Meijer when I lived in Battle Creek, Mich., during an internship in 2000.

If you’ve never been, I’d describe it as taking all the “Supers” and putting them on steroids. You’ve probably been to Super Kmart in Mentor. Well, there’s also Super Target (none nearby, though — boooo!).

Meijer is like taking a pretty good grocery store and tacking on something akin to a Kohl’s. The department store goods are of a higher quality than most others of its type.

This area has been teased a few times by Meijer, but they’ve never set up shop around here. For that I remain disappointed.

And because it takes about an hour and a half to get there, I haven’t been able to coax a repeat since we headed out there about three years ago.

The stores I listed above have filled that role nicely, though.

Next week, there’ll be a wrench thrown in my routine when one of the stores I normally drive miles and miles for opens down the street from my office.

On Wednesday, Eastlake’s Super Walmart will open its doors and usher in a full-service grocery store partnered with its department store goods.

It’ll probably take me a while to head there the first time — too many crowds! — but I’m sure it’ll find its way into our rotation.

Heck, with fuel prices reaching the $4 level, it only makes sense. Though they had no idea it would happen that way, a credit to Walmart for making themselves relevant right off the bat.

We’ll be sharing details on the new Walmart in Sunday’s paper, as well as looking back at the other Super Walmarts in the area, and how they’ve fared upon moving into the communities where they’re located — Madison, Chardon and Middlefield.

Here are a couple hints: No garden center, and no auto shop. For the rest, you’ll have to check The News-Herald.

As for me, I need to gas up the car to head out for some groceries. The shelves are a little bit bare at the end of the week.
Twitter: @Lauranh