Monday, December 21, 2020

Book about sorcerer, fairies set for prime time

Fantasy, Grampy and His Fairyzona Playmates, and related website approach their launch dates

The pandemic, believe it or not, has had some positive impact.

For instance, it's given me — Woody Weingarten — plenty of time to tweak my new website, which is nearing completion and which will promote the fantasy book I co-authored with my then eight-year-old granddaughter, Hannah Schifrin.

It's also given me plenty of time to tweak the magical book itself, probably ensuring that Grampy and His Fairyzona Playmates will meet its hoped-for publication date next month.

Bottom line: Both the volume itself, which is aimed at 6- to 10-year-olds, and the related website are both almost ready for prime time.

The VitalityPress book, which is illustrated in full color by Joe Marciniak, a longtime artistic pro, tells the four-part tale of a sorcerer, Grandpa Graybeard, who often has to get his granddaughter, Lily, and her best friend, Penny, out of trouble when the two eight-year-old fairies mess up their magic spells.

Their misadventures become terrific fun for all three characters — and for young readers who enjoy letting their imaginations run wild.

While proofs of Grampy and His Fairyzona Playmates are on the way to me for approval, and the finishing touches are being put on the website that can be found at after it's launched, I'm also editing The Roving I, a book that will embrace newspaper columns I'd written over an 11-year period.

This interested in caregiving might check out, through your local bookstore or Amazon, my earlier book, Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress volume I aimed at male caregivers but one that can also aid female patients and caregivers through factual information and anecdotes. It's a comprehensive memoir-chronicle and guide to scientific research, meds and where to get help.

Though I became an expert reluctantly, I at last can unflinchingly share what I've gleaned from personal experience (including a weekly support group I've run for more than 25 years). 

And that's the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth — no fantasy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Survival rates jump 80% with new treatment

Clinical trial finds drug combination that might stop metastasized prostate cancer from worsening

A new study shows that an experimental drug combo that controls hormones may halt the progression of prostate cancer.

Dr. Christopher Sweeney
Dr. Chris Sweeney
A clinical trial led by Dr. Christopher Sweeney at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, according to a story in the October-November issue of AARP Magazine, determined that survival rates could jump as much as 80 percent when the combination is used.

Sweeney's study, the AARP article notes, focused on what can happen when enzalutamide, an oral drug that blocks hormone reception, is combined with testosterone-suppressing medication. 

That study, like other research, was based on the notion that "testosterone and other male hormones can fuel the growth of cancer cells." 

What was being sought were ways "to either suppress the production of hormones or stop cells from receiving them."

Sweeney's study, the story asserts, did both.

The AARP article centered on one particular participant in the study, Dr. John Hammel, a psychiatrist who was diagnosed in 2016 with late-stage prostate cancer that had already begun to metastasize.

Hammel's quoted as saying "I was despondent — I didn't think I'd live a year."

That attitude made him, after initial skepticism, jump at the chance when his oncologist told him about the "real treatment" that was available, "not just palliative care." 

During the study, Hammel reportedly saw his PSA test numbers "drop from 2,000 to 450 to four and then to undetectable for six months" — and then stay there.

The trial, the story says, helped him start living again, "instead of focusing on his prognosis." 

For more information about clinical trials and their results, check out "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.