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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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