Losing A “Friend” Is Never Easy.


This is one of the more difficult articles for me to write because it has to do with a loss. When you have a nearly 19-year relationship it is really hard to say goodbye. The friend I am talking about is of the 4-legged variety. At 4:30 pm Tuesday March 3rd we lost our friend and family member “Rolland.” To some he would be considered just a pet cat, but to us he really was a member of our family. I have mentioned him before in this column We Don’t Have Pets, They Have Us., but this is a more detailed account of how a couple-month-old  kitten stole our hearts. As I explained in that article our son Adam brought this little kitten home and asked if we could keep him. Who could say no to that cute little ball of fur. That previous article in December spelled out all of Rolland’s medical problems and we feel that he used at least 8 of his “9-Lives” going through all of that. His little body just couldn’t take it any more.

Rolland Perched On Our Bed Which He Thought It Was His | Photo by Tim Chuey

I don’t want this article to be a “downer” so I’ll explain some of our experiences with Rolland so you may have a little insight into why he became such an important part of our family. When we first brought him in it didn’t take very long for him to be accepted by our other cats. Being half-Tabby and Half-Siamese he looked “pretty” and knew it. He also had the vocalization of a Siamese. When you have a new human baby in your life it is difficult at first to understand what they want or need when they fuss or cry. I was quite surprised when our two children were infants that I slowly began to understand the difference between the “I’m hungry” cry and the “I’m wet” cry. There was also a specific cry or whine for “I’m tired.” It was much the same with Rolland. He made his wishes known to us as he grew up. One of the funniest things that happened over the years was his opening doors. At one point all three of our cats were on separate diets and were not allowed to eat each others’ food. We had to put them in separate rooms with the doors closed. They had the habit of leaving just a little food in their dish so they could share it with the others.

Door Handle Rolland Couldn't Push Open | Photo by Tim Chuey
Door Rolland Couldn’t Push Open Due To Handle| Photo by Tim Chuey

The doors in our house all have handles not doorknobs. Rolland could open the doors when he was on the side of the door where he could stand on this hind legs, push the handle down and at the same time push the door open. That worked for all but the room he was put in while eating. That’s what we thought anyway. Humans can easily outsmart a cat, right? A big no to that. We started to find the door open with him in the next room trying to eat some of our female cat Casey’s food in the next room while she was over his dish gobbling up his leftovers. We couldn’t figure out how he could possibly open that door when he would have had to push the handle down and at the same time pull the door open. As luck would have it I had to go downstairs for some reason not too long after I gave all of them their food. That’s when I saw the most amazing thing. Our little cat Casey was standing on her hind legs pushing the door while Rolland pushed down on the door handle and then put his paw under the door to pull. It took the two of them too pull it off, but they did it. Now my problem was what to do to stop it from happening. I came up with a really simple solution. I went to the hardware store, bought a regular doorknob, and replaced that handle with a round doorknob. Rolland could not open it even with Casey’s help and he began to bang on the door and meow very angrily. It took about a week for him to settle down and understand that he was not going to open that door ever again.

The funniest event that involved Rolland could be titled “Rolland and the Balloon Monster.” When our son Adam turned 18-years-of-age I got a “Happy Birthday” balloon for him and threatened him with serious embarrassment when he turned 21.

Happy 21st Birthday Balloon | Image
Happy 21st Birthday Balloon | Image

So for Adam’s 21st birthday I purchased one large helium-filled Mylar balloon that said “Happy 21st Birthday.” To go along with that one I bought 5 latex helium-filled balloons. Since Adam was in a band at the time he had a “gig” that night so I tied the long ribbons to our mailbox by the curb. There they were posed to embarrass Adam, but when he came home late at night he just went to bed leaving the balloons floating on ribbons above the mailbox. It wasn’t until later the next day that he brought the balloons into the house.

Balloons On Strings | Image by
Balloons On Strings | Image by

The ribbons were tied together near their ends in placed in his closet. To protect his room from the cats he usually locked his door when he wasn’t home. It was evening. I was sitting in my chair in the living room with my laptop on a TV tray in front of me. My back was toward the wall and on the other side of the wall were the stairs down to our son’s room. My wife, Sue, was sitting on the couch to my left. She had a good view of the top of the stairway and the hallway leading away from the living room. It’s complicated, but in just a second you’ll know why my description is important. All of a sudden we heard a large “bang” followed by more “bangs” that to me sounded like a “SWAT” team just hit our front door with a battering ram. With my back turned I saw nothing, but Sue saw this incredibly bushy tail go flying down the hall followed by all of those balloons. When I was a kid we used to tie a blown-up balloon onto our bicycle so the spokes would continually hit it. The sound it made, if you put two on the front wheel and two on the rear wheel was similar to a Harley Davidson “Hog” racing down the street. That’s what happened to Rolland. He got into Adam’s room and somehow managed to snag the tied-together ribbons on his collar which scared him and the faster he ran the louder the balloons sounded as they followed him up the stairs. He ran into the spare bedroom down the hall and under the bed. I hit the floor and crawled under the bed to catch the balloons  and Sue got on top of the bed reaching down between the bed and the wall and caught Roland. She then released the ribbons from his collar. Before this incident Rolland was basically fearless and nothing scared him, but after that just about every noise scared him.

Rolland Looking Pretty | Photo by Tim Chuey

Rolland did something else that both made us laugh and made us mad. He had a penchant for bread products. We found this out one day when I brought in the groceries and just lined the full bags up on the kitchen floor. I proceeded to put the groceries away. I left the room for what seemed like just a second or two to take some prescriptions that were in one of the bags into the bathroom cupboard. When I came back, there was Rolland running away from me. He obviously knew he did something wrong. There it was on the floor. A loaf of bread in its plastic wrapping, but there was a gaping hole in the side of the bag with a three inch wide area chewed out of the bread. I could not imagine how he chewed the hole in the plastic and ate through that many slices of bread in such a short time. From then on we removed all bread products including packages of hamburger buns and bagels.

These are just a few of the highlights of nearly 19 years with our friend Rolland. I know he’ll be waiting for us at the “Rainbow Bridge” when it is our time to leave this earth. So long, little man, you still have us laughing at your antics.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected]


High tech medical scans clear way for better local diagnoses


by Sarah Nicholson, EDN

A newer, safer type of medical imaging has made its way to the Eugene area, and those in the medical field are seeing promising returns.

Oregon Imaging Centers recently received a three-year approval for PET/CT imaging from the most highly-regarded accrediting body, the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Nuclear Medicine Laboratories (ICANL).

PET/CT imaging and scanner from Oregon Imaging Center

Positron Emission Tomography and Computed Tomography, or PET/CT imaging, is a combination of two scans
that allow medical practitioners to pinpoint the location and extent of cancers, dementias and cardiac illnesses by looking at metabolic and structural changes in the body. 

Oregon Imaging Centers is the only center in Oregon approved for both oncological and neurological diagnoses, and only center approved by ICANL, which is considered the gold standard of nuclear medicine accreditation providers.

In 2007 an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine publicized the overuse of CT scans in the US, and the related cancer risk of exposing organs to low doses of radiation. Since then, media reports fraught with information about the dangers of high radiation levels have caused fear in many people about being overexposed.  The FDA also acknowledges that CT scans are associated with a higher risk of lifetime cancer and says the usage of adult-sized radiation doses in children can be particularly harmful.

The combined PET/CT scan delivers less radiation than a regular CT scan, so the danger of radiation is greatly diminishedAnd in the event that cancer is already suspected, the fear of low-dose radiation pales in comparison to other disease-related complications. Additionally, over 90% of the radioactivity from the PET portion of the scan is gone by the time the patient leaves the exam.  The only populations this diagnostic tool is contraindicated for are pregnant and lactating women, but even in lactating women the radiation is thought to be cleared from the breast milk within twelve hours of the test.

An example of (A) CT imaging, (B) PET imaging, and (C) combined PET/CT imaging. From Wikipedia/Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD


The PET/CT process uses an injected radioactive substance called fluorodeoxyglucose (or FDG) to highlight abnormal areas within the body. Similar to glucose, which fuels tissues throughout the body, FDG is taken up more eagerly by high-metabolizing abnormalities in the body. So areas that are more metabolically active, like cancerous tumors, draw attention to themselves through their greediness.

Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases respond similarly in the brain. With an injection of FDG, the compound will accumulate in certain areas, which will then be highlighted on the PET scan images. Add the CT component (Computerized Tomography,) and you have a very specific picture of the disease.

PET(-only) scanners, which Oregon Imaging Centers used before receiving the new accreditation, can differentiate between malignant and benign lesions, and determine the spread of disease. Adding the CT component is incredibly helpful in identifying specific anatomic locations. The dual imaging technique of the PET/CT provides a much more specific picture of disease, especially when it comes to detecting cancer.  

The PET/CT scan is of enormous assistance in both diagnosis of cancer, and in evaluating the effectiveness of therapy.  Luke Breazeal, manager of the PET/CT Department at Oregon Imaging Centers said there are four key times to perform a scan: 

(1) When something malignant is detected or highly suspected
(2) to identify the extent
(3) in the middle of chemotherapy
(4) after completion of chemotherapy 

With just one scan, you can identify cancer, determine its extent in the body, and stage (or esta
blish how far the cancer has progressed.)  For many types of cancer a PET scan can show if a therapy is effective: If a significant decrease in the tumor burden is not seen after a few rounds of chemotherapy, the therapy can be switched, saving valuable time, reducing cost, and increasing life expectancy.

PET image of a brain with Alzheimer's

Although over 90% of PET/CT scans address oncological disorders, it’s an incredibly helpful tool in neurological diagnosis and treatment planning.  In “dementia imaging,” Breazeal said, “we see characteristic metabolic patterns for each specific type of dementia.”   Each of the dozens of different types of dementia displays a unique pattern of glucose (and thus FDG) uptake, and identifying the correct type puts doctors on the right track to choosing a treatment plan. Before PET scans, the only way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s was through autopsy.

With the green light from ICANL, Oregon Imaging has seen about a 50% increase in volume for PET/CT imaging.  According to Breazeal, the clinic does about 80-100 scans a month, mostly for oncological purposes.  More information about Oregon Imaging Centers and its new accreditation can be found on its website at

Another example of PET/CT fusion imaging of the whole body