Tag Archives: Versatile Blogger Award

One year later, all is well

Biking by Bruce Stambaugh

A year after prostate cancer surgery, I am enjoying regular activities like biking with my family.


By Bruce Stambaugh

A year following my prostate cancer surgery, all is well. It’s hasn’t been a totally uneventful recovery. It certainly could have been worse.

I am extremely glad to be able to say “cancer free.” And yet, I do so with humility, appreciation and the realization that too many people never get to utter those precious words.

Men tend to be pretty squeamish even just thinking about prostate issues, much less talking or writing about them. That’s mainly due to the two unspeakable potential side effects, incontinency and impotency. Because of those two potential consequences, some men unfortunately never return to their doctor once they have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Father and sons by Bruce Stambaugh

My older brother, Craig, my late father, Richard, and I all had prostate cancer.

I wasn’t surprised at all when I received the word that I likely had prostate cancer. My older brother had had robotic prostate cancer surgery 18 months before my own diagnosis. Our father had died of the consequences of prostate cancer after a 17-year battle.

It was this family history and the marked vigilance of my good doctors via annual, then semi-annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing that kept the possibility of having prostate cancer at the forefront of my medical exams. I am forever grateful for that watchfulness.

In the months before and after the surgery to remove my cancerous prostate, I received invaluable advice from friends and strangers alike regarding their personal experiences. I also read and researched as much as I could.

Veggie pizza by Bruce Stambaugh

A healthy diet is essential to good health, especially if you have or had cancer. This homemade veggie pizza is both colorful and healthy to eat.

Months after my surgery, a government sponsored panel recommended that regular PSA tests be discontinued as a way to monitor for prostate cancer. That conclusion was based on what was determined to be an overuse of the test and subsequently a high rate of prostate biopsies.

Without either the PSA tests or the conclusive biopsy, I could only guess today whether I had prostate cancer or not. I exhibited no symptoms. When my PSA steadily rose over the course of nearly two years to beyond the danger threshold, I was given a relatively new medical test, called PCA3, that was 90 percent accurate whether it returned negative or positive.

I remember exactly when and where I was when I received the call that my test was positive. It’s the kind of news that one never forgets, like where you were on the morning of September 11, 2001 or December 7, 1941. This was my personal 9/11.

Yet here I am today, alive and well and steadily overcoming the after effects of the surgery. Last November, I had a non-prostate related second surgery that dramatically impeded my recovery. True, left untreated the prostate cancer would not have killed me by now, perhaps never.

Grandchildren by Bruce Stambaugh

This picture was taken just three months after my da Vinci surgery. My wife and I were already traveling with and enjoying the grandchildren.

The biopsy determined that my cancer was the same moderately aggressive type that my brother and father both had. I leaned heavily on my older brother for advice, especially once I decided to move ahead with the robotic surgery, called da Vinci. It’s a surgery that is less invasive, less painful, causes less blood loss, has a quicker recovery than regular radical surgery, and focuses on nerve sparing to lessen the manly issues of being impotent and incontinent. Implanted radioactive seeding or direct radiation were my other options, both with similar long-term side effects that I deemed undesirable.

Through marvelous treatment and care by my doctors, and proper diet and exercise, I have survived. At this point in time, I am ahead of the curve on the two “big” side effects. They are only occasional and manageable inconveniencies. With the cancer out of my body, I don’t ever have to worry about prostate cancer again. No medical test can measure that satisfaction.

I cherish the words “cancer free.” I only wish every cancer victim could say them. Until then, I’ll keep telling my story to whoever will listen. If doing so helps save just one life, it all will have been well worth it no matter what the experts say.

Dewy web by Bruce Stambaugh

Being cancer free, I try to cherish whatever each day brings, even the dew on a spider’s web.


© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

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Being more visible is no accident

By Bruce Stambaugh

It’s no accident that buggies, pedestrians and bicyclists are easier to see when traveling the hilly and curvy roads of the area.

Visible walkers by Bruce Stambaugh

Pedestrians, like these Amish school children, are much more visible since they started wearing day glow vests.

The Amish Safety Committee, made up of three Amish men, has been working for 18 years to educate their constituency on road safety. The most recent focus has been on improving visibility.

Drivers who frequent the Amish areas of Holmes, Wayne and Tuscarawas counties can literally see the impact the committee has made. Recognizing the importance of being seen, lighting has been the biggest improvement. In addition to the required slow moving vehicle orange triangle on the rear of the buggy or cart, most horse-drawn vehicles are now well lighted.

“The biggest factor in most car/buggy accidents is speed,” said Wayne Hochstetler, of rural Millersburg, and a member of the safety committee. “Drivers just can’t judge how fast they come upon a dark colored buggy.” Church rules stipulate that buggies be black in Ohio.

Visible buggy by Bruce Stambaugh

Amish buggies, like this one in Holmes Co., OH, are much easier to see thanks to improved marking and lighting.

“The biggest help has been the blinking amber light,” Hochstetler said. The light is usually centered at the top of the back of the buggy. It operates on batteries, and some models even provide varying blinking patterns.

“The blinking light tells the driver that a buggy is ahead sooner than the triangle does,” Hochstetler said. The committee has suggested other lighting for buggies as well.

“We encourage people to use taillights and running lights for both the front and back,” Hochstetler said. Rear lights are imbedded in the body of the buggy, while running lights are on both sides of the buggy.

The rear lights are red, just as they would be on a motorized vehicle. The running lights serve as a form of headlight, although, according to Hochstetler, they are used more to be seen than afford light for the buggy operator to see.

Tied buggies by Bruce Stambaugh

Amish buggies are marked with Slow Moving Vehicle orange triangles, reflective tape, and lights. How they are marked is determined by the church district to which they belong, or which sect of Amish, like the Swartzentruber buggy with no SMV.


In addition, smaller lights are often used on the top front of the buggies, too. These are white, amber or sometimes blue, though law enforcement discourages the latter. Most of the new lighting is LED lamps, which create a brighter, easier to see light. Most buggies also have white reflective tape that outlines the back of the buggy.

The illumination improvements haven’t been confined to horse-drawn vehicles either. Many pedestrians and bicyclists now wear reflective and lighted vests for easier visibility. Like the buggy lights, the lighted vests blink at night. Some walkers use LED lamps attached to their hats in order to be seen by oncoming traffic.

Bicycles also use red blinking taillights and bright white headlights. Reflective straps are also used around horses’ ankles and on the shafts of the buggies to which they are hitched. This permits reflectivity from traffic approaching from the side.

Safety sign by Bruce Stambaugh

Drivers of all kinds are reminded to drive safely in Amish country.


Besides Hochstetler, other committee members are Gid Yoder and Rueben Schlabach. Detective Joe Mullet, of the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office, and Lt. Chad Enderby, of the Wooster Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, serve as ad hoc advisory members.

Hochstetler said that the grassroots efforts of the committee have been so well embraced by the Amish in Holmes, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties that they have been invited to help form other safety committees in other Ohio Amish communities.

“We have even been asked to share in other states like Indiana, Michigan and New York,” Hochstetler said.

Mullet said that even the Swartzentruber Amish, the lowest order of the sect, are now using two lighted lanterns with front and rear lens. They formerly used only one.

Mullet said that he spends several days a year visiting Amish parochial schools to teach the students practical safety measures. They include the proper way to walk and ride bikes to and from school, and encouraging wearing the day glow vests.

Mullet said he often tells personal stories to make it more meaningful for the students. Mullet also has an advantage in keeping the students’ attention since he can speak Pennsylvania Dutch with the students.

In addition to being proactive on safety, the Amish for several years have paid a self-imposed donation to the Ohio Department of Transportation to help improve area roadways. Hochstetler said each church district has a person designated to annually collect donations for each horse-drawn road vehicle owned by the household.

ODOT shares the money with county and township officials for local road improvement in areas where Amish live. The money is intended to be a monetary substitution for road improvements in lieu of paying gasoline taxes, which owners of motorized vehicles pay each time they buy fuel.

Buggy lane by Bruce Stambaugh

Donations by Amish families to the Ohio Dept. of Transportation help construct and maintain buggy lanes for safer traffic flow. This buggy was traveling near Mt. Hope, OH.

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Better late than not at all: Humbly accepting the Versatile Blogger Award

By Bruce Stambaugh

Last March, I was honored to receive an award I really didn’t know what to do with. I had only been blogging for three months, and I wasn’t sure if this was legitimate or the blogger’s version of a chain letter.

Versatile Blogger AwardAaron Graham was nice enough to bestow the Versatile Blogger Award on me after he read my Questions post. And for my more cynical readers, I have never met nor do I know Aaron. He adequately described the award and why I received it, along with a few others. In accepting this coveted award, all I had to do was write a post thanking Aaron. I also had to proclaim seven little known facts about myself, which would have been a piece of cake since I am so little known to start with. And I had to hand out the same award to up to 15 other bloggers. In my naiveté, I wasn’t sure I knew 15 other bloggers. Sure, I had more people than that visit my blog, and several posted comments. I could have easily gone back through those comments, clicked on their blog and christened the 15 I felt most deserving as fellow Versatile Bloggers. But I didn’t.

You see one of my many faults, and my kind wife will attest that it is only one, is that I procrastinate. I wrote about that, too, once. But that was long before I starting blogging. Still, the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and here we are in 2012 and I still haven’t passed on the award the way I should have. Until now.

What spurred me on? One of my blogging friends, Mikalee Byerman, was awarded the Versatile Blogger award after her hysterical Jesus is my Trash man post. When I saw that, I knew the award was valuable and for real. In fact, Mikalee was on my short list of bloggers to nominate.

So thanks to Aaron, who by now has probably forgotten me, and to the nice lady from Bellingham, Washington who crowned Mikalee, I am finally accepting this award, revealing seven startling insignificant facts about my life and naming 15 very deserving bloggers for the same award.

And the nominations are:

Bob Zeller for his persistent and informative posts about his two great loves, besides his wife, photography and birds. His shots are amazing.

Patricia Koelle, who shares some exquisite shots from her home in Germany.

Scott sees the extraordinary in the ordinary, and has the wherewithal to share it. http://littlecrumcreek.wordpress.com/.

Subhakar Das, who knows both books and photographs with equal expertise at http://ficfaq.wordpress.com/.

Heather who shares a love of animals and words, not only with me, but also with her long list of devoted readers. http://becomingcliche.wordpress.com/.

Lucy Gardener loves food, photographs and life. She incorporates all three very nicely on her blog. http://lhgardener1988.wordpress.com/

I think you’ll find Carrie Craig a most appreciative person.

Judy at Northern Narratives beautifully chronicles the days through her lens.

Though focusing on poetry, the subjects and style of Kvenna Rad’s poems are indeed versatile and deserving of this award. http://kvennarad.wordpress.com/

A military spouse from Texas has an important and timely message to follow on http://sottmp.com/.

Grace encourages people to decorate their life at http://www.herumbrella.com/.

Tinkerbelle loves laughter, and shares her youthful sense of humor from her London base. http://laughteriscatching.com/.

Fiona takes an upbeat look at life from China. http://fionaqiqi.wordpress.com/.

Anyone that takes a picture a day, plus loves words and dogs gets my vote. http://livingtheseasons.com/.

And last but not least, any 16-year old who titles his blog, Learning to be Wrong, has to be right. Way to go, Justin. http://learningtobewrong.wordpress.com/.

As for my seven personal revelations, they’re not nearly as revealing or as exciting as the bloggers I’ve listed. But to fulfill the award’s requirement, here there are:

1. I can’t swim.
2. I’m afraid of the water.
3. I almost drowned when I was two.
4. I only take showers (See a pattern developing?)
5. I have never water-skied.
6. I used to have long, blond, curly hair until the seventh grade.
7. I attended the Cleveland Browns’ last World Championship (now hyper-marketed as the Super Bowl) victory, a 27-0 trouncing of the highly favored Baltimore Colts in 1964. Of course since then the Colts moved to Indianapolis, and the Browns moved to Baltimore, thanks to Art Model. The good folks of Cleveland sued to get their name back and won. Unfortunately, the Ravens, really the exiled Browns, went on to win a Super Bowl so Model could be buried in his camel’s hair overcoat and a championship ring on his finger. Or was he already? I can’t remember. I haven’t followed pro football since Model moved the team. I’d rather go swimming.

Well, folks, that’s the best I can do. My procrastination has finally been overcome by guilt, and the Versatile Blogger Awards have been duly handed out. Bring on the Oscars.

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