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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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