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Life-Threatening Illness & Reality Check

kms

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I was thinking about you today. That's really encouraging news and I hope all goes well.

Best wishes from the land of Rolling Rock.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
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Bear Up North said:
Bear and Mrs. Bear plan to celebrate Thursday night at a local establishment, Loma Linda's. Bear will probably not have any beer.

Bear In The Air :)

I was just up there at the end of July visiting fiance's family and attending a wedding (well, Cedar Point too) and it occurred to me while we were at Loma Lindas that you lived up there and were going through a lot. If I could have gotten to a computer I would have dropped you a line!

I'm glad to hear things are turning a little more positive. I hoist a virtual Rolling Rock in your name! :b:
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
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Zoning Goddess said:
Congrats on the good news, Bear. When will you be going for the transplant?

ZG.....here's what I know so far.....

Within a week or two I will be taking a few day trips to the University of Michigan's Cancer Center. They will do a physical on me and each trip will be spent "harvesting" some bone marrow stem cells from me. To do this they hook up a machine that is similar to a blood transfusion machine.

As they collect the world-famous Bear stem cells they will freeze them.

When I finally arrive for the long stay at U of M, for the actual transplant, they will reinsert those stems back into me.....after about 3-4 days of high-dose chemo.

My guess is late September for the mini-trips (harvesting) and 2nd week of October for the beginning of the tranny.
_____

Thank you to all for your nice words. You are an encouraging group.

Stem-Bear
 

Queen B

Cyburbian
Messages
3,174
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25
I must have missed this thread, I have not been on line since I am not working.

So I would like to send my best wishes to you and yours!!!!

I have had a few slip from life because of cancer. My grandma, and just two weeks ago a friend that had moved to Idaho and because of not working , I couldn't manage to get the money together and go see him before he died.

My mom had breast cancer two years ago but is fine now.

Good luck in all your future treatments, may they be as "bearable" as possible.
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
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The Bear and Mrs. Bear made another trip up to the University of Michigan's Cancer Center, in preparation for my upcoming bone marrow stem cell transplant. There are some "complications" that we went over.

My severe allergic reaction to a drug called Nuelasta, about a year ago, is a major problem. That drug was given to me at the beginning of my chemo treatments, to rebuild white blood cells. I was the ONLY patient at the Toledo Clinic to get that drug and have that severe allergic reaction.

They use that drug.....or close "relatives" of that drug.....as part of the entire BMSCT regimen.

The doctor said, "You have given us a considerable challenge."

They are now going to consult internally and get back to us with possible "plans". One such plan would involve pumping a bunch of anti-histamine-type drugs into me before the treatments, as a pre-treatment to possible prevent the allergic reaction.

Another plan would be to do a style of BMSCT that was common about fifteen (15) years ago, involving techniques that are outdated and not as good or safe as the newer techniques.

Why do I have to be so dang different?

But then.....while we were waiting, we observed the little kids with bald heads, brought to the center for treatments. etc. Some were holding little teddy bears as they walked in or out.

Smash !!! Another reality check hits me in the head.

Bear
 

B'lieve

Cyburbian
Messages
222
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9
Best wishes for the success of the transplant, and to the doctors finding a way around that allergic reaction.
 

nighthawk1959

Cyburbian
Messages
334
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11
Best to you Bear

Bear, I have truly "been there, done that". 1996 was not a good year, diagnosed with Hodgkins, wife left the same weekend, two strokes somehow connected with the chemo, wife cut off health ins halfway through the chemo, then my employer at the time said adios. If i ever find the guy who said may you live in interesting times I'l...... Well whatever, we are all with you and hope and pray for the best for you.
 

Bear Up North

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nighthawk1959 said:
Bear, I have truly "been there, done that". 1996 was not a good year, diagnosed with Hodgkins, wife left the same weekend, two strokes somehow connected with the chemo, wife cut off health ins halfway through the chemo, then my employer at the time said adios. If i ever find the guy who said may you live in interesting times I'l...... Well whatever, we are all with you and hope and pray for the best for you.

Nighthawk......my best wishes for your continued good health. 1996 was also the year I was diagnosed with Hodgkins. Went thru four (4) months of radiation. It helped for awhile.

1996 was also when my wife was diagnosed with MS. We have some similarities in our history, 'Hawk.

Bear
 

Bear Up North

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kms said:
I was thinking about you today. That's really encouraging news and I hope all goes well.

Best wishes from the land of Rolling Rock.

KMS.....belated "thanx" for the kind words and a question for a western Pennsylvania resident:

Steeler football fan?

This Bear is.

Duce Bear
 

kms

Cyburbian
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6,868
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Bear - I'm not much of a football fan, but I would NEVER wish bad luck on the home team. I've been known to enjoy a boxing match every so often, and I do watch the Kentucky Derby every year. I cheer for my son's basketbal team. :) That's about it for sports.

You keep on cheering for the Stillers!
 

nighthawk1959

Cyburbian
Messages
334
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11
Hang in there Bear!!

My interesting results were probably a result of my oncoligist intention to put me in the hospital. He gave me a double dose of chemo, MOPP/ABV. Being the uncooperative SOB that I am, I continued to work in a job in retail, meeting the great, unwashed masses every day. I guess I'm not normal. Anytime you want to talk or rant or whatever, just im me. Keep the faith, you are strong and will be fine.
 

Bear Up North

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Dang, I keep getting hit with bad news.

Was at Ann Arbor (University of Michigan Cancer Center) for four (4) different appointments today, Thursday, 10-14-04. At the last one (1) the doc in charge of stem cell transplant says, "Bear, we gotta problem."

This time it appears to be the damaging effects of the chemo that I had for nine (9) months in 2003 and 2004 and the two (2) 3-day 24-hour chemos that I had in June and July of this year. Looks like the chemo knocked some important threshold numbers below safe limits.....in my ticker and in my lungs.

So, the chemo that I was scheduled to start next week is cancelled and the docs will regroup and figure out a different plan of attack. That plan will still involve a bone marrow stem cell transplant but it may have to revert back to somebody else being the stem cell donor.

We were there a long time and that involved a lot of "people watching". We saw at least six (6) different kids with bald heads, coming from or going to treatment. One (1) child was only about two (2) years old, asleep, looking angelic. Another boy, about ten (10) appeared to have Down Syndrome and was obviously being treated. Reality checks, so get a life Bear, it ain't so bad.

Pray for those children, seriously.

Bear
 
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When you posted this, I was on the phone with my sister, who is in chemotherapy for what may be a metastisized cancer or what may be a completely unrelated cancer to what she was treated for a few years ago. The survival rate for metastisized cancer is about 15% and the survival rate for the agressive kind of cancer she has is 5% to 20%. She has a 9 year old child. However, she is getting excellent, cutting-edge care and her odds look very good.

I am a walking miracle and it seems my sister will be too. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you. But I seem to be fresh out. :-\
 

Rumpy Tunanator

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Sorry to here the news Bear. Keep on fighting though, and maybe you'll want to look into some other alternative for treatment.

Best of luck :m: (where's the bear smilie?)

Rumpy, routing for the Bear (not Chicago Bears)
 

The Irish One

Member
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Tough times indeed, hang in there and get well. :l: Lots of kind love and thoughts for the little ones :l:
My lifes problems are completely in check. Thank you, seriously :) .
 

JNA

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Went into the the ER on Monday with chest pains. :-c
Took me in right way, warning flag to them was middle age white male with diabetes.
Hooked me up to a ekg, O2, took a chest x-ray, gave me nitro.
They kept me over night still connected to the ekg.
Tuesday morning experienced 12-lead ekg stress test, Doc and tech said everything look good. (a prayer of thank you God that it was not my heart)
Next I experienced a series of x-rays while I swallowed a barium solution in various positions.
Both tests were done after a 10+ hr fast.
Result upper GI reflex creating frequent Heartburn even with meds still bothers me.
 

Tranplanner

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Bear, I sure hope they find a way to get you better.

JNA, sorry to hear of your scare - hope things turn our alright!
 

Bear Up North

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Michele Zone said:
When you posted this, I was on the phone with my sister, who is in chemotherapy for what may be a metastisized cancer or what may be a completely unrelated cancer to what she was treated for a few years ago. The survival rate for metastisized cancer is about 15% and the survival rate for the agressive kind of cancer she has is 5% to 20%. She has a 9 year old child. However, she is getting excellent, cutting-edge care and her odds look very good.

I am a walking miracle and it seems my sister will be too. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you. But I seem to be fresh out. :-\

MZ.....our prayers are with your sister and her health struggle and you and your love, compassion, and concern for your sister.

Bear
 

Bear Up North

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JNA said:
Went into the the ER on Monday with chest pains. :-c
Took me in right way, warning flag to them was middle age white male with diabetes.
Hooked me up to a ekg, O2, took a chest x-ray, gave me nitro.
They kept me over night still connected to the ekg.
Tuesday morning experienced 12-lead ekg stress test, Doc and tech said everything look good. (a prayer of thank you God that it was not my heart)
Next I experienced a series of x-rays while I swallowed a barium solution in various positions.
Both tests were done after a 10+ hr fast.
Result upper GI reflex creating frequent Heartburn even with meds still bothers me.

JNA.......hang in there, bud. Sounds like just a "close call" and all will be well.

Bear
 
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Bear Up North said:
MZ.....our prayers are with your sister and her health struggle and you and your love, compassion, and concern for your sister.

Bear
You are clearly a man of uncommon strength and graciousness to offer compassion (and not pity) amidst your trials. I get a sh*tload of pity on a regular basis but rarely genuine compassion. So pleae forgive my uncharacteristic speachlessness earlier today when I first read it. And I was gone for much of the day. Now I am crawling off to a much-needed hot bath, thus the brevity and lack of grace of my reply.

I tip my hat to you and thank you.
 

Bear Up North

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Tick tick tick tick.....

Bear heading for University of Michigan Cancer Center on Thursday (10-28) for beginning of multiple infusions of white blood cell building drugs and installation via surgery of another access port for all the plumbing they will use to kill my bone marrow.

Bear returning to same on Monday (11-1) for beginning of "harvesting" of stem cells. I will drive up every day until they count out enough for my transplant.

(Visions of creepy men in stained lab coats, counting little microscopic cells, giggling, with beakers in the background, steaming.)

Looking like I will be admited on or about 11-15-04. Yum.

Please Pass The Bunsen Bear
 

nighthawk1959

Cyburbian
Messages
334
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11
Look at the bright side, Bear. The plumbing can save a lot of time at the bar. Just plug in. I tried to do this with my shunt but nobody would cooperate!!! Keep smiling, Bear, I'm with you. Also to MZ and any others in dire straits, you are all in my prayers. Thanks for being there.
 

Bear Up North

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The Bear, home in the den, not feeling so chipper today. Yesterday, Katie and I were at The University of Michigan's Cancer Center. At 8:00 AM they gave me my first injection of Leukine. I will continue to give myself daily injections of this drug, as the countdown continues for the BMSCT.

At 10:00 AM I went into surgery for a triple-lumen Neostar (device). This device has infusion ports and will provide an EXIT for mainstream blood (filled with stem cells) and an ENTRANCE for that same blood, minus the "harvested" stem cells.
A machine similar to a blood transfusion machine does the harvest process.

Those stem cells are collected and frozen.....saved for the actual transplant, now scheduled in Mid-November. The harvest begins ("shine on harvest moon" :8: ) on Monday, 10-1-04. They will have me return to Ann Arbor on a daily basis until they have collected enough.

I still dont' have a digital camera. I would love to show you the Neostar. I hate it, because it's dangling from my body and I have to be very-very careful. The plumbing from this Neostar goes directly to the big central veins in the center of the Bear's body.

The three (3) plastic lines that snake out of the central line (coming from the chest) look like the VCR/DVD lines and caps on the back of your TV. Katie asked if she could plug me in to try to get better reception.

The visiting nurse this morning told us that I would probably have this puppy dangling from my body for a considerable number of months after the BMSCT.
Oh, goody.

It will make a good halloween costume.

Fuzzy Reception Bear
 

Plannerbabs

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Bear,

May your reception improve, and all go well. As long as you have a sense of humor--that seems like 1/2 the battle. I've known a few people who have gone through pretty much what you are now, and come out raring to go, and who are still doing well several years later.
MZ--best wishes and thoughts for your sister.
 
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My sister is on Leukine and she and I have talked about some of the side effects and what she does to treat them. However, she is also on several other drugs, so I have trouble remembering which drug has which side effect. If I recall correctly, the Leukine helps promote white blood cell production? But also, um, gives you terrible heartburn/stomach problems? If so, I know she treats that with fennel tea (among other things).

I took care of my sister after her first mastectomy. My kids were kind of horrified to be near her with all the drainage tubes dangling from her until she began making joking references to The Borg (I don't remember now if she claimed she was a Borg or wasn't one). Perhaps you should dress up as a Borg for Halloween. ;)
 

Bear Up North

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Well, BMSCT fans, here's the latest.....

Third trip in three (3) days to Ann Arbor to the U of M Cancer Center. Today they plugged me in and started what resembled a four (4) hour blood transfusion. The blood was pumped out of me, went into a machine that had a centrifuge as part of it's internal workings, and pumped back into me.

The centrifuge spins the blood, separating the white cells, the plasma, and the stem cells. The stem cells are "harvested" from the "pile" of stem cells that was created.

I have to go back tomorrow (Tuesday, 11-2) for more harvesting.

This process and the Leukine that I have been self-injecting the last few days has left me a bit tired.

Odd coincidence: One (1) of the other patients, also scheduled for a mid-November stem cell transplant, is from Manistique, MI. This is one (1) of my favorite Upper Peninsula places and is located just a few miles east of the eastern suburbs of my fictional drawn city, De Noc.

No comment about the U.P. is complete without mentioning the local favorite watering holes: Buckshots, in downtown Manistique or Jack Pine Bar, located in the woods about twenty (20) miles north of town.

McCormick Bear
 

JNA

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Just got the instructional mailing about having an Upper Endoscopy.
Appearently it is treated just like same day surgery and everything that goes with it. +o(

Q. Anybody ever experience this procedure ?
 
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Bear Up North said:
This process and the Leukine that I have been self-injecting the last few days has left me a bit tired.
My sister says she always sleeps a good 10 hours when she gets her weekly Leukine injection. And since it ups your production of certain cells, hey, it is a little like a new born baby growing fast and sleeping a lot.

I think that being tired is one of the worst parts of having a serious illness because it means that even though you don't feel too bad to do stuff, you cannot come up with the energy to do stuff. It is 5:13pm and I am still waiting for my energy to rise enough to shower and go run a couple of errands...hopefully, before too many stores close, or I will be unable to get some things done, even with the compromises I plan to make. :cool:
 

Bear Up North

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I should change the name of this thread to the "More Bad News Thread". I just finished a couple days hooked up to the blood-transfusion-like machine, attempting to harvest stem cells. It didn't work.

The amount of stem cells that they were able to harvest was way too low. So, I get to hear the saying again:

"Mr. Bear, you are an unusual case."

Evidently, in rare cases there are problems with the body's ability to push stem cells into the bloodstream. Now they are back to talking about giving me the dreaded Neupragen injections along with more Leukine. As said before, I'm very allergic to Neulasta (a drug in the same family as Neupragen).

If that doesn't work, they would go into my bone marrow "the old fashioned" way. They would insert a needle into my hip bone and suck out a bunch of bone marrow so they could grab those pesky stem cells from the marrow.

Anybody got any used stem cells laying around? They would be packaged in a maize and blue outer package with the inner items wrapped in black and gold. The part number on the bar code affixed to the carton would be:

14dathumb-big10champs-old96-1948

Please forward to:

Bear
69 Libertarian Elitist Way
De Noc, Northern Michigan

Stemless Bear :-c
 

Bear Up North

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JNA said:
Just got the instructional mailing about having an Upper Endoscopy.
Appearently it is treated just like same day surgery and everything that goes with it. +o(

Q. Anybody ever experience this procedure ?

JNA......best of luck. Good place for info on any medical stuff is the internet.

Doc Bear
 

ecofem

Cyburbian
Messages
203
Points
9
Hey Bear:

I'm sorry to hear of all that you and your family have been going through. I have been in a similar place. Kinda makes this election stress seem kinda silly, no?

My mom went through a series of both Neupragen and Neulasta shots. She had pretty good results with both, but the Neupragen gave her some difficulty with joint pain. I hope you are able to tolerate it well.

Not too terribly much I can say except stay strong, maintain a sense of humor if possible (and you seem to be doing very well)... I'll send some warm thoughts and Florida sunshine your way.
 

Bear Up North

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Zoning Goddess said:
Bear, is this something where bone marrow donors could be of help?

Not yet. We will be trying to gather my stem cells in the two (2) manners described above. Or, I could rob a bone marrow stem cell bank.

Bonnie & Bear
 

Cardinal

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The doctors have likely taken samples from you, so you know how fun it is to have a needle inserted into your hip bone. The ride home from the hospital is awful. From there, you can lie on your stomach for a few days. Hopefully it won't come to that.
 

Bear Up North

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This news bulletin in from the KFWB News Center, bringing you all the news all the time, especially when you need to grin and BEAR it......

Friday, 11-5-04
Spent most of the day at the Cancer Center. They started by pricking my skin in four (4) places, testing two (2) drugs that have been either used by me with a severe allergic reaction (Neulasta) or planned to be used by me (Neuprigina) as part of the BMSCT.....and adding control pricks (no this is not a politcal thread) in the form of saline and histamines. Had NO bad reaction.

Next step.....went to under the skin needle pricks with Neuprigina. Had NO bad reaction.

Next step.....went to 10% watered-down Neuprigina, given as a shot. Had NO bad reaction.

Final step.....went with 100% dose of Neuprigina. They kept me in a room for a few hours and monitored me. Had NO bad reaction.

This is GREAT news for this Bear. Even though the drug that I had the severe reaction to is related to the Neuprigina that is vital to my BMSCT.....they appear to be far apart enough chemically that I have NO bad reaction.

Next week.....back to the slab at U of M Cancer Center for more attempts at bone marrow stem cell harvesting.

Signing off because the wife and I are heading for Loma Linda's to celebrate.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Bear
 

yaff

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107
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Signing off because the wife and I are heading for Loma Linda's to celebrate.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Bear[/QUOTE]

- Bear

So glad to hear some positive news this time. Thanks for the updates. My thoughts have been with you and I continue to try to send "healthy" vibes. I really admire the courage, humor and grace that you have demonstrated here. You have shown me how I would like to face life's challenges. We are all wishing you a successful treatment and recovery.
 

Bear Up North

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Update # 3,452,986.....

Arrived University of Michigan Cancer Center early this morning. They gave me two (2) Neupagen shots. No bad reactions. Good.

Drove home (about 75 miles). Kinda tired. Still planning on going back to work tomorrow morning.

Katie cruised over to the Flower Hospital (Sylvania, suburb of Toledo) pharmacy to pick up the rest of the vials of Neupagen. Two (2) shots in the morning and two (2) shots in the evening, for about a week.

They start the bone marrow stem cell harvesting again......on Monday.

My dad used to take two (2) shots in the morning and more shots in the afternoon. He wasn't taking Neupagen, though.

BTW....the twelve (12) vials of Neupagen cost $2500. Wow !!!!!

Thank (insert name here) for health insurance.

Looking at admission date of the day before Thanksgiving. "Here, Turkey, have a piece of BMSCT. You want white meat or dark meat?"

Bear In the Cavity With the Giblets
 

Bear Up North

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Well, sports fans, the second batch of "harvesting" of stem cells didn;t work any better than the first batch. The first, a few weeks ago, was with preliminary drug of Luekine. The second, this week, was with Neupagen.

Now what?

This means that they have to try something else. The docs are getting together on Thursday (11-18) to decide. It looks like one (1) more try at a drug that will push the stem cells into the blood stream. The results from Monday and Tuesday of this week were .2 and .2......and they need 10.0.

OTOH.....when I was laying on the bed, hooked-up to the BMSCT harvet machine, they brought in a young girl to show her the process. She was a real cutie, about eight (8) years old, asking questions. She asked me if it hurt. Of course it doesn't so I told her "no" and showed her the Neostar 3-Line device that is surgically attached to my chest. I don't know if she had one (1) attached to her.
I had been laying there feeling all sorry for myself. Her bright eyes and sense of "this is an adventure that will make me well" made me feel like a real cad. Tears welled-up in my eyes when she left and all day today I have felt sad, for her. Such a cutie.

Bear
 

PlannerGirl

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Ugh. I wish I had some wise words to comfort or inspire but I dont, all I have are my prayers for your health (and that of the little girl) and support if there is anything I can do.
 

Gedunker

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I don't know what to say, Bear. I just wish you the all best.

Maybe a polar swim would get the stem cells into the bloodstream? I know it would shiver me to the bone ;-)

Gedunker with rattling teeth.
 

yaff

Cyburbian
Messages
107
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6
Bear,

I have already asked Santa (and any other powers out there that may be able to help) for some stem cells for you. Adding my prayers to the pile for you.
 

Bear Up North

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Well, this Bear took some time off, to surround the regular time off for the 4-day weekend (Thanksgiving). One (1) more day off and then return to work for a few days.

On next Friday this Bear will again go under the knife.....ouch, ouch, owwww......as my oncology doctor will be doing a bi-lateral bone marrow biopsy. They want to look at my bone marrow and see if they can figure out why it doesn't produce stem cells "normally" and they want to look to see the status of my Hodgkins.

I still have the Neostar 3-hose device hanging from my chest, plumbed into the central vein. It's a bit of a pain in the rump because I have to be very careful I don't bump it and when I shower I have to cover it with plastic wrap that is taped to my body. The showers are pitiful as I stretch under the water stream trying to wash my hair and not get the Neostar wet. Dampness is very bad for the hole going into my chest.

My hair is back, although very short. Folks who don't know that I have been doing this chemotherapy bit for nearly two (2) years probably think I'm some sort of an idiot.....first he's got hair, then he's bald, then he's hairy again, dork of Swanton.

All of this, of course, means that the planned bone marrow stem cell transplant that was supposed to take place the day before Thanksgiving is now on hold.

To top the weekend off, we just got back from the funeral home. The mother of one (1) of Katie's fellow-workers died of cancer on Friday. People at the funeral home were asking, in a concerned way, about how I was dealing with everything. I responded that I was "fine" and I'am.

Nice to have a caring Cyburbian community to unload on, sometimes.

Thanx!

Bear :-$
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
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BUN no one is more is my thougths than you, my sons, and my mom....get well soon. 'Cause I wanna kick your ass in basketball.
 
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