by Dr. Allison Grow I had the pleasure of meeting Bonnie Moran in early 2012, when she needed CyberKnife radiosurgery for three small recurrent brain lesions from breast cancer. She was a More »
by Trish Utter
Local attorney Rod Smith and his wife, DeeDee, recently invited me over to their home. I drove out on a dirt road in Alachua to the couple’s farm. The house was not ostentatious, as one might expect from a past State Senator, and it was comfortable. Inside, the walls were adorned with family photos. Pictures of Rod playing baseball, photos of their grandkids, pictures of family gatherings. It is clear that they value their family.
Rod is a generous, caring person who puts others first. He is also entwined in our local community and a loyal University of Florida/Gator fan.
Now Rod Smith is running for State Senate, Florida State District 8, as a Democrat. Part of his intention in public office is to improve public schools, healthcare, and help attract jobs to the community.
If you are like me you are probably rolling your eyes thinking, “Oh here we go, another politician that doesn’t care, that will promise things while running and then forget once in office!”….wrong! Rod Smith truly cares about putting the welfare of others above himself.
“He has the ability to help people assess a situation, to get other people to look beyond the issue in front of them, see the bigger picture and come together for a solution. He is not afraid of long hours of work, to get things done,” said DeeDee.
Rod Smith was born in Missouri, spent his early years in Oklahoma, and moved to South Florida at the age of three. He grew up helping out on the family vegetable farm and learned early on about hard work. Rod and Dee Dee still live on the family farm in Alachua that his parents bought when he came to Alachua County for law school. Smith attended a public High School in Boyton Beach and went on to the University of Tulsa and then the Law School at the University of Florida.
Here is what I like about Rod Smith. He doesn’t care what side of the fence he is on, he cares about doing the right thing and how it will affect the people around him. Smith got things done in Tallahassee that others couldn’t.
Who has helped you be where you are today?
I was lucky to be surrounded by so many people who taught me the values that I live by today. Working beside my father on our farm was where I learned the importance of hard work, responsibility, and integrity.
Why should someone vote for you?
I have a long record of standing up for the people of North Central Florida. As State Attorney in the 1990s, I worked with others to create new programs that still benefit our community today. I believed that effective prosecution was about more than just punishment and conviction rates, it was also about prevention and rehabilitative programs that helped people change their lives and made our community safer. I was able to put politics aside to start one of Florida’s earliest environmental crimes task forces.
As Senator, I was, and again will be, an independent leader who worked with both parties to create responsible legislation that put my District and Florida families ahead of the special interests and the partisan bickering that is ruining this country.
I want to go to Tallahassee to fight for children and families, local farmers, first responders, and other working people. I will work to help create a world-class education system, a health care system that is affordable and accessible, and more and better jobs to ensure the future that our children deserve. Our current education system and our health care system, that leaves too many people with too little, needs to be fixed. Based upon my experience, I am the person that can help make that happen.
What are your plans when you are in office?
After serving this District of Florida in one way or another since 1993, and representing working people for more than forty years, I have to say I am concerned about the direction of modern politics. Each party would too often rather see the other side fail than see the people or the state succeed.
From the day I get elected I will work equally hard to effectively represent Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. I have always said I am a free man, first, after that I am an American, a Floridian, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a lawyer, and a Democrat. In that order! Money now determines every consideration, partisanship is rampant, and our country is bitterly divided. Why? Because we have created a new industry the “perpetual campaign.” What is now referred to as “an agenda” is found ed on sound bites rather than sound polices. I firmly believe that if leaders do nothing but follow what the “polls” tell them we will never develop the innovative leadership that is so badly needed. As Truman once said, “It isn’t polls or public opinion that counts. It’s right and wrong and leadership.”
Hitchcock’s 11th Annual Golf Tournament raised $51,550.00 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The event was held at Ironwood Golf Course on April 28th. Over 150 vendors and Hitchcock’s employee’s participated in this tournament. The Hitchcock stores had been collecting donations from customers all year and were excited to give their donation.
Charles D. Benberry Sr., Vice President of Merchandising for Charle Hitchcock’s presented the check and said, “It is important that we give back to our community. Hitchcock’s has a long history with the MDA and we all look forward to many more years of helping them raise much needed funds.”
“We couldn’t provide any services to our local families without companies like Hitchcock’s! Hitchcock’s has been part of our Shamrock Pinup Campaign and golf tournament for 11 years and we couldn’t be more thankful for them!” – Christina Warmouth
by Dr. Allison Grow
I had the pleasure of meeting Bonnie Moran in early 2012, when she needed CyberKnife radiosurgery for three small recurrent brain lesions from breast cancer. She was a little dubious about me at first since she’d been so well taken care of by Dr. Perman, who left our practice in 2010 but we learned to love each other. Her story is absolutely incredible, and I attribute that largely to Bonnie herself, but also to the growing variety of weapons we have against breast cancer now. She’s been treated with most of them; her breast cancer history parallels the explosion of treatment modalities that have developed in the last 20 years.
She was diagnosed with DCIS in 1993 and treated with lumpectomy and radiation to the breast. She had recurrence of invasive breast cancer in the same breast in 1995 and then underwent double mastectomy and took tamoxifen for 5 years. In 2005, against all expectation, she developed headaches and was found to have multiple brain metastases. Happily, all the lesions responded beautifully to whole brain radiotherapy. She was also started on endocrine therapy and had both ovaries removed in order to block estrogen stimulation of her breast cancer.
In 2007 she was found to have involvement of lymph nodes in her chest; these areas were also treated with radiation and again responded beautifully, with no recurrence to date. In September 2009, one of the previously treated brain lesions recurred, and was treated with CyberKnife radiosurgery, controlled since.
In 2011, she experienced a strange and terrifying episode of obtundation, which she describes below; this was eventually felt most likely to be related to seizures caused by her brain lesions, and she has been on antiseizure med- icine since that time. In early 2012, she had recurrence of three more small previously treated brain lesions, and I met her at that time; we treated them all with the CyberKnife and she has had no further recurrence in the brain.
Very shortly thereafter, she developed a small lesion in the left side of the liver, and that was treated with the CyberKnife in early 2012. In 2013 and 2014, she had CyberKnife three more times, for a lesion just below her lower sternum, for a cancerous lymph node to the right of her upper sternum, and for another lesion in the right side of the liver. All of these lesions have been controlled since. Most recently, she has undergone a treatment called radioembolization, where tiny microbeads carrying a radioactive isotope are injected into the liver arteries to kill additional liver lesions.
She has also been on multiple drugs including various forms of endocrine therapy and chemotherapy, which have been very helpful in preventing recurrence of some of these lesions; the excellent responsiveness of her tumor to radiotherapy has allowed her to take breaks between the various drugs and maximized their effectiveness.
Through all of this, she has maintained a full life in every aspect and remains one of the most loving and graceful people I know. She kept working with her husband running their small business, planned her daughter’s wedding, became a grandmother and cares for her toddler grandson nearly full-time, volunteers with her church, is helping her husband launch a political career, and asks about my kids every time I talk with her. She doesn’t know whether or when her disease may next rear its head, but she doesn’t let that bother her for 5 seconds. Her own words below are characteristically modest, so I wanted to give a better sense of how truly remarkable her story and spirit are.
1-Where are you from? Do you have family and where do you live…I think in High Springs?
I was born in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and grew up in Pompano Beach and Coconut Creek, FL. Most of my close family live here in High Springs or within a couple hours’ radius. I met my husband in high school and married in 1984. After 7 years we had our first child.
2-How did you find out you had cancer?
After the birth of our daughter, I noticed a small lump. After several doctor appointments the lump and lymph nodes were removed (still living in south FL). Three years later I had a recurrence, and sought out cancer specialists who treated me more aggressively.
3-What was the first thing you did when you found out? Did you know who to call? Did your doctor put you in touch with Dr. Grow and Dr. Hayes?
We moved to High Springs in 2003. In Sept 2005 I started having terrible headaches. My diagnosis was multiple lesions in my brain (from the breast cancer). At NFRMC I met my new doctors: Dr. Bhatia and Dr. Perman. My original treatment plan was that there was nothing they could do for me. However, Dr. Perman offered me an aggressive treatment plan by doing FULL brain radiation. My results have been very positive, I am still walking and talking, the negative side effects are minimal compared to my life.
My story travels thru twenty-two years and counting, so skipping many other less severe issues, I will go to 2011. Have you ever just pulled the plug on your computer? It just shuts off and does nothing. That is what happened to me. I spent three weeks just shut off. No idea that I was not aware of anything, not seeing, hearing, talking, moving, feeling. Just off. Have I mentioned my great est support? My wonderful husband, Jeff, who stayed by my side through everything, and my sister who was always there, my church family, and of course God.
Well, something woke me up. Probably, my husband singing and playing Amazing Grace, my favorite song. That triggered my brain to WAKE Up. Slowly, but it was coming back.
My next stop was rehab. A “Mister Toads” ride, with a couple of firemen, start ed making me recognize where I was. At Shands Rehab I went through intensive speech and occupational therapy as well as physical therapy. My team of therapists worked diligently (and so did I) to get me home by the fourth of July. Of course, I had to finish wedding decoration and plans for my daughter’s wedding!
4-How long have you been dealing with cancer? How have the treatments changed since your first one?
So, I have been dealing with cancer for 22+ years. Although I started with Dr. Perman as my radiation doctor, Dr. Allison Grow has stepped in to make sure I am always getting the best care.
I am so thankful for Dr. Grow and Dr. Bhatia. They are my lifeline. Both Dr. Bhatia and Dr. Grow call me if they feel it is important and I can call them anytime which is very comforting to know. If I call for an appointment they can usually see me within 24 hours but if it is urgent they find a way to get me in right away.
5-Do you have any tips for those who have just been diagnosed?
My advice to those who have been diagnosed with cancer is to Bring On The Birthdays. Sounds crazy, but my real advice is Pray to God, have Faith, it will help you keep a positive attitude which is a MUST. You have the choice of giving up OR fighting. Your choice. Would you like another birthday? Stay Strong, pray to God, Have Faith, and be Positive, Positive, Positive.
6- Would you recommend going to The Cancer Center and if so why?
Yes, I would recommend The Cancer Center. I have faith that my health is always their first priority.
by Trish Utter
After decades of putting events together like Hoggtowne Medieval Faire and the Gainesville Art Show for the City of Gainesville, Linda Piper is now retired!
The City of Gainesville hosted a retirement party and honored Piper with awards. Her husband, Patrick, nominated Linda for the Spirit of Gainesville Award. She moved here from North Miami Beach to attend the University of Florida and took a job as the events coordinator at the Thomas Center for the City of Gainesville. Piper has now retired to Tarpon Springs with her husband of 35 years, Patrick and the couple are enjoying the Good Life at the beach along with their black lab named Misty. Everyone at Good Life Community Magazine wishes Linda all the very best and we look forward to seeing her enjoying retirement in the Sunshine state.
by Trish Utter
The doorman greeted me with “Good Afternoon Ms. Utter are you checking into the Waldorf Towers?” The small but elegant lobby on 50th Street is reserved for Waldorf Towers guests only. The Towers takes up the top part of the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel located in mid-town Manhattan.
The intimate lobby was full of staff awaiting your every whim. I am so used to long check–in lines but here you feel that you are, the only guest…in fact we were the only guests in the small lobby. I was given a little gold box of chocolates by the receptionist. My kids, Colt and Brooke and I were escorted up to our suite. From the beautiful fine wood elevator to the glittering chandelier lit hall way fit for a princess we knew this was not like any other hotel experience. Black and white photos of many movie stars, world leaders and royalty that have stayed at the Towers adorn the hallway walls.
The door swung open and there was what looked like a Parisian suite with a view of Manhattan that took our breath away. Two large bottles of water and four chocolate cupcakes were there to nibble on along with a thank you card from the staff.
An exquisite over stuffed couch, large desk with lots of outlets, paper, pens and anything else you might need. A wet bar, with fridge, which was more like a butler’s pantry area, mirrored French doors that led to a king bed room and a huge marble bath room fit for a princess. Every detail was taken into consideration. In the hall closet were two Waldorf umbrellas. In the bedroom were slippers and cotton dressing gowns of the highest quality and lots of hangers. Many hotels are slick and modern but this was just like staying at Windsor castle or maybe even the White House! The furnishings were so amazing that each piece must be worth thousands.
It is worth noting that every room in our suite had its own thermostat. This is great as you know how family can be. One likes it hot and another likes it cold.
When you stay at the Towers you have accesses to their Concierge floor. That means you get to visit the special lounge area in the morning for breakfast. They serve fruit, eggs, freshly made in house pastries, juice, coffee and anything else they can bring you. In the afternoon between noon and four they serve sandwiches, cakes and afternoon tea or coffee. This is all included in your room charge. The staff in here got to know us fast and upon our arrival they had everything we needed ready. That is what makes the level of service at the Towers so amazing. The staff know you by name and know what you want. One evening we asked a waiter where an outside restaurant was. Instead of giving us directions he took the time to walk us across the street to where we were going! The chamber maids were as quiet as mice. You never see a cart in a hallway. Not sure how they work this magic but they do. No one ever knocked on our door about making up our suite. Somehow they knew when we left…even if we were out for ten minutes we would return to a beautiful clean suite. Service, service, service!
This was not only the most luxurious stay I have ever had anywhere but surprisingly it was the quietest. What, in New York you say! Yes, I slept like a baby. Didn’t hear a thing during the whole stay. The bed….oh the bed! If I could have brought it home I would have. It felt as if I was sleeping on a cloud. Usually my back is killing me from hotel stays. This bed and the pillows were wonderful. I know I am gushing with compliments but it is all true.
In the main hotel lobby is the Peacock Alley Bar & Lounge. Music from the grand piano wafts the air. We sat there many times after walking miles sightseeing enjoying a drink and listening to the music. We also had the pleasure of dining in the Bull and Bear Steak House. The intimate, round booth gave you privacy and comfort. I had a famous Waldorf salad which was superb followed by a mouthwatering steak. Once again the service is unbeatable. Not only are the staff attentive they were all very happy.
As you all know I do a huge amount of travel writing but this by far was THE best hotel experience I have ever had.
Apart from all the fantastic hotel food you can also find very affordable meals right outside the property. Several times we ate from food trucks that are on every corner. These food trucks are very clean and you will see all the office workers dashing to get their lunch here. We found Indian, Chinese, breakfast food within a block of the hotel and great meals for under $8!
New York is huge so it is important to choose a good location. We were one block from St Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue and a block or two from Grand Central Station which is also full of restaurants and food vendors.
I honestly have never been so sad to leave a hotel. It was almost cruel to end my stay.
We met up with our Gainesville friend Paulette Raulerson and were trying to find ideas for things to do when we met NYPD officer Andrew who gave use great tips of what to see and where to eat. I can’t say enough about the people in New York as they were so helpful.
Everywhere you go there is something to see. The world famous store windows, street entertainers in Washington Square, a walk in Central Park. I encourage you to ask local people what you should see and do. The Diamond District is a unique area and also within walking distance from the hotel. Here you will find great deals on jewelry and get fantastic knowledgeable service. You can also sell your jewelry here.
We used Uber but we also found that taxi cabs were not much different in price and we never spent more than $20 per ride for all of us. The Subway was easy to use and cost us $3 each.
Big Bus Tours
The first thing I like to do in any new location is to take a tour with this company. We got on at Times Square and toured lower and upper Manhattan. You jump on or off at any of the many stops along the way. The guide tells you about local exhibits, history and even about who lives there. We rode around Central Park, through Times Square and then to Soho, the Village and around the 911 Memorial. This is an invaluable part of any vacation. BigBusTours.com
Metropolitan Museum of Art
You can spend months in here as there is so much to see. Something for everyone. Paintings, furniture, fashion, Egyptian artifacts and more. Brooke and I loved the fashion exhibit and Colt enjoyed the rooms that are set up like palaces with antique furniture. MetMuseum.org
The Rockefeller Center is within walking distance from the Waldorf. We would have missed this fantastic place if it hadn’t been for a chance conversation with a local New York police officer named Andrew who told us about it. He said we would really miss something great if we didn’t go up there so we did and Andrew was right. We took the elevator to the 67th floor. There were terraces all around with huge glass walls so you have un-obstructive views of every part of the city. We walked up to the 69th terrace and then to the 70th floor terrace where there is a complete 360 view of the city. TopOfTheRockNYC.com
On Your Feet
This Broadway show all about the life of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. The Latin music was so good that we were, on our feet dancing! Funny that here we were in New York seeing a story about a girl that grew up in Miami. Fantastic true story of a young Cuban girl’s chance meeting with Emilio and working together to create the Miami Sound Machine. All the objections the couple overcame and their wonderful love story. You just can’t sit still to this one. OnYourFeetMusical.com
You have limited time on vacation so if you don’t want to miss the most important attractions and you want to save 40% then this is a must. Attractions include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Top of the Rock, Empire State Building and more. Some restaurant coupons as well as shopping. www.CityPass.com/NewYork
by Kent Vliet
Alligator Specialist at the University of Florida
Mating season is supposed to be the most dangerous time to be near gators so when is it?
In our part of the alligator’s range, courtship behaviors typically start about the second week of April and build through the next month to peak in mid-May. Most matings and fertilization of eggs within the females occurs at this time. Courtship behaviors usually cease by the end of May.
How far away should you stand from an alligator?
It is best to stand 15 or 20 feet at a minimum from a wild alligator. Many alligators are habituated to the presence of humans and will allow people to approach much more closely than this, but it is best to keep enough distance so that you do not cause a reaction on the part of the alligator, or that you have enough time to get away if one does react.
If you see a retention pond is it safe to assume there are no alligators in there?
Alligators can occur anywhere there is water (and some places without water). Alligators move a lot, especially at night in the warmer months, so one were none there the day before.
Are alligators found at the beach, in the ocean?
Alligators are generally creatures of freshwater lakes, marshes and rivers. Some gators living in coastal areas venture regularly into salt marshes and mudflats to feed. Occasionally, alligators will be seen swimming in the surf along beaches, or washed up on the beach if they tire out fighting the waves.
Can alligators get over a fence and if so how high should a fence be to keep them out?
Alligators, even quite large ones, can climb over chain-link fences. The fence does not have to be high, but it needs to have a turn-back along the top to prevent the alligator from climbing over.
If you see an alligator sleeping is it safe to touch them?
No. It is never safe to touch an unrestrained wild alligator. Alligators literally sleep with one eye open so they can be instantly roused and are capable of remarkably quick snapping movements.
Are there alligators in the local Springs?
Alligators can be anywhere where there is fresh water. So there is a chance that alligators may be found from time to time in our local springs. Generally, alligators will not venture into the main spring boils of springs that have lots of human visitors, but they may be found along the spring runs, especially those with lots of vegetation.
Who do you call if you have an alligator in your pool or yard, or if you see one that is injured?
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission maintains a 24 hour, toll-free wildlife emergency phone number the public can use to report a nuisance alligator. 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286)
by Trish Utter
A fundraiser for the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation brought out car enthusiasts from all over the state of Florida and even Georgia. The Tioga Car show was celebrating its 5th year and raised $16,000. Over 160 antique, exotic and muscle cars lined the streets of the Tioga Town Center. Put this event on your calendar for spring 2017.
by Trish Utter
Where are you from, and when did you move to High Springs and why?
I was born in North Carolina and moved to Lake City, Florida in 1989. I spent most of my life in Lake City before moving to Oklahoma for college, then returning to High Springs to take a Music Department position at Impact Family Church.
How do you relax?
I like to travel. There is just something about getting away from the everyday crazy that helps me relax.
Where do you like to go for a weekend getaway and why?
Orlando is our weekend getaway spot right now. Our son loves SeaWorld.
What gadget and/or app can’t you live without?
Well, I could probably live without all of them, but the one I use the most is probably my iPhone and the Facebook app.
What is in your fridge?
There are definitely leftovers. Probably almond milk, some assortment of fruit and tons of salad dressing.
Who inspired you as a child?
My father, Timothy Williams. He has always been a hard worker and has shown me that being an honest and trustworthy person always pays off.
What is your favorite thing to do locally?
My wife and I love going to Mark’s Prime Steakhouse. I like to order their filet and asparagus.
What type of music do you listen to?
I like Jazz, but most days are spent listening to some sort of kids, sleepy-time music.
What is your favorite movie?
Favorite of all time is Patch Adams.
What drives you crazy?
People who don’t use common sense.
What don’t people know about you?
I have played the piano for over 28 years. I like to play contemporary Christian music.
What have you always wanted to do but never done?
What was your first car?
1990 Pontiac Sunbird, fire-engine red.