Sat01242015

News

UPDATED: Missing Los Altos High School student found

UPDATED at 10:20 p.m. Jan. 21: Mountain View Police report that Avendano is safe after being located in Los Angeles County.

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The Mountain View Police Department is looking for 17 year-old Mountain View resident Lizbeth Avendano. Accordin...

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Schools

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on a proposal to exempt ninth-grade student-athletes from taking PE. Students take part in a physical education class at Mount...

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Community

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF


From Midnight Express Instagram
A group of millennial-aged Santas celebrating a night on the town prepare for a safe ride from San Francisco to their South Bay homes, courtesy of Cory Althoff’s new Midnight Express shuttle.

It’s no understatemen...

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Comment

More open than ever: Editorial

One of the Los Altos City Council’s objectives for 2015 is implementing an open-government policy. The title of the policy may be somewhat misleading, because it’s not as if the city has had a closed-government policy. But the new proposal goes beyon...

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Business

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Cassidy Turley, which has offices at 339 S. San Antonio Road, is combining with DTZ following its recent acquisition.

Commercial real estate services companies DTZ and Cassidy Turley have joined forces to operate as a sin...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

JUDY HOFFMANN

JUDY HOFFMANN

Judy Hoffmann passed away unexpectedly October 17, 2014 in New York City. It was only fitting Judy would be traveling and enjoying special adventures in so many different places until the very end.

Judy has lived since 1969 in Los Altos with her h...

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Travel

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill


Courtesy of Raúl Cañibano
Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano is set to appear at Foothill College tonight. His work – including the image “Series: Guajira’s Land, Viñales, 2007,” right – is on display at the KCI Gallery t...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View


Suellen Fitzsimmons/Special to the Town Crier
Christopher Tocco stars in TheatreWorks’ “2 Pianos 4 Hands,” which opened last week.

TheatreWorks’ production of “2 Pianos 4 Hands” is scheduled to run through Feb. 15 at the Mountain View Center fo...

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Spiritual Life

Start something great by ringing in the new year with prayer

There is a tradition, which I’m told originates in the Midwest, that calls for people to pray in the new year. A few years ago, I was invited to a friend’s house and a number of people stayed up until midnight (approximately two hours pa...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Rare cancer turns local resident into passionate advocate


Ellie Van Houtte/town crier
Los Altos resident Sarah Robinson, diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer two years ago, has organized a fundraiser to support Uterine Leiomyosarcoma research.

Sarah Robinson hopes to turn her medical battle into something positive for others.

The Los Altos resident, mother of two adult sons, has scheduled a fund- raiser for the LMSarcoma Direct Research Foundation 1-6 p.m. Sunday at Congregation Beth Am, 2670 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Robinson, 54, told the Town Crier that the event is an extension of her advocacy on behalf of those afflicted with Uterine Leiomyosarcoma (ULMS), a rare tumor that develops in the muscular part of the uterus.

The Sarcoma Foundation of America (SFA) reports that approximately six out of 1 million U.S. women will be diagnosed annually with ULMS. Surgery is the primary therapy for those diagnosed with ULMS, which is resistant to chemotherapy, according to the SFA.

Grim diagnosis

Robinson’s efforts are the result of her own plight. Just shy of her 52nd birthday, she received a phone call that she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

“It was the day before my birthday,” said Robinson, who until recently worked as an OB/GYN physician assistant. “It was kind of hard news to get over the phone.”

The “surprise diagnosis,” according to Robinson, came after she had undergone a laparoscopic hysterectomy, which included the use of a morcellator – a surgical tool that grinds up tissue with sharp rotating edges and extracts it from the body. Her doctors recommended the procedure after discovering that she had three uterine growths, one that enlarged from the size of an orange to a grapefruit within four weeks.

That large growth, originally diagnosed as a uterine fibroid, was a tumor. According to Robinson, the morcellator essentially “seeded” cancer cells throughout her body. Less than a year after the hysterectomy, Robinson said she now has three small growths on her lungs.

“It’s a very grim diagnosis. Just by doing (the morcellation) procedure, I’m now at Stage 4,” said Robinson, who declined to name the health-care provider who performed the surgery. “A lot of GYNs won’t see these throughout their entire careers –usually the average is zero to one (ULMS cases seen in a career).”

Robinson added that she asked – but was denied – the option of having a more traditional open surgery instead of the laparoscopy because her medical provider said she didn’t qualify for it.

“These types of things should be taken care of at a specialty center – at a sarcoma center,” said Robinson, who noted that 0.5 to 1 percent of women who undergo a hysterectomy due to a uterine fibroid end up with a ULMS diagnosis. “When you find a rare cancer, that’s where people should go.”

Looking ahead

Robinson conceded that while she’s still going through an “emotional process” in regard to her Stage 4 diagnosis, she’s also learned the importance of being her own health-care advocate. She found an entire community of those afflicted with ULMS through the Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR), where she met Sharon Anderson, originally diagnosed with the rare cancer in 2002.

A 55-year-old retired social worker, Anderson told the Town Crier that she knows Robinson’s story all too well. Although she also has been assessed at Stage 4 on the cancer scale, Anderson said she’s been tumor-free for seven years after she found a doctor through ACOR that treated her ULMS with a drug typically used by breast cancer patients. These days, Anderson advocates and offers a sympathetic ear to others afflicted with the disease.

“It’s extremely important to be your own advocate,” said Anderson, who often accompanies patients to medical appointments to help them understand their medical options and rights. “It’s not only for them, it’s for me, too. It’s my way of fighting for survival, too.”

Robinson said she doesn’t have time for what-if scenarios or negative thoughts. Instead, she chooses to focus her efforts on creating awareness and spreading knowledge of the rare disease to others. With this in mind, she noted that her advocacy work is “a continuation” of her 11-year career as a physician assistant.

“I love being a physician assistant and I love advocating for my patients,” said Robinson, who undergoes MRI exams and CT scans every three months to monitor the growths on her lungs. “It’s something that is very natural to me. It pains me to think that there are women who have to deal with this and, in some cases, also raise a family with little kids. That hurts. It hurts me a lot.”

Sunday’s fundraiser is one way Robinson hopes to make a difference. Guests attending the event – which includes a suggested $20 donation at the door – can enjoy food, wine and music while participating in a silent auction featuring certificates to restaurants, wine excursions and theater productions, among other packages.

“I’m trying to get out there and make a difference in this world,” she said. “I just don’t want this to happen to other women.”

For more information on Robinson’s fundraiser, call 245-1807.

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