Wed09172014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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