A Successful Medical Journey for Boy Suffering from Rare Cancer
Back in March of 2005, 3–year-old Ethan Smith, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Neuroblastoma. Throughout the past year, the family has depended largely on the help and support from others so that they could help care for both Ethan and his 6-year-old sister, Sierra.
It’s been a long and difficult year. However, Ethan remained stronger than anyone could have imagined. He has been through six rounds of high-dose chemotherapy; abdominal surgery to remove the tumor; and a stem cell transplant with dangerously high levels of chemotherapy, causing him to be in isolation. All of this was then followed by 12 rounds of radiation.
On October 21, the doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, informed his parents that they could not find any evidence of cancer in his body. The bone scan, MIBG scan, CT scan and the bone marrow biopsy results all came back negative. This was the official day that they declared Ethan to be NED, which stands for No Evidence of Disease. It is a term given, rather than remission, due to the reason that this is a form of cancer that usually returns quickly. The doctors are left to assume that there must be residual cancer cells that can not be detected, so they call this NED.
Ethan continues on an experimental study at Sloan Kettering for the next two years. The therapy that he is receiving, called 3F8 Antibody Treatment, is a mouse cell that is coated with a protein that is attracted to Neuroblastoma cells. It attaches itself to the cancerous cell and attacks it. The phase I study of this clinical trial has shown to increase not only the time between the average reoccurrence, but has also increased the survival rate to 40 percent instead of the 25 percent Ethan was originally given.
Amazingly, the trips to New York cost the family next to nothing. With 100 percent health insurance coverage, the free at the Ronald McDonald House was free, thanks to Sloan Kettering and Flight Angels, the non-profit organization that flies patients round trip for no charge. The only expenses are gas, for those who drive, and food, which is needed anyway.
After the fourth round of antibody treatments in February, Ethan’s trips to New York become less frequent. The schedule, at that time, will allow Ethan to spend eight weeks at home before returning to New York for two weeks. His parents are planning on taking turns with these trips, which results in taking time out of work every 16 weeks. It is a thrilling time for the family, as they can finally start to live life with the freedom of being able to return to the work force again. It’s a small part of normalcy, but a big achievement, on Ethan‘s behalf.
The family would like to take this time to say thank you to everyone who has helped with their prayers, donations and fundraising to support Ethan through his battle. This support has allowed the family to stay at Ethan’s side while he encountered every phase of his journey. He has come a long way and couldn’t have done it without all the help. Keep updated on Ethan’s website at www.caringbridge.org/visit/ethansmith.
Editor’s note: Hudson~Litchfield News Correspondent Maureen Gillum goes undercover to get the scoop on local restaurant favorite, Suzie’s Diner. Although her true identity is discovered early on, her mission is successful: good people and good food.
Suzie’s Diner: Smoke-Free and Customer-Full
by Maureen Gillum
Okay, so I blew my undercover “Phantom Gourmet” attempt at Suzie’s Diner. I tried sneaking into the packed Hudson diner (76 Lowell Road, opposite T-Bones) last Friday for an incognito lunch and impromptu owner interview. Hardly missing a beat or looking up from serving customers, a friendly waitress, Darlene, gave me a big personal welcome, and asked if I needed “a cuppa coffee.” My cover dashed, I took the last empty booth to look over the menu and soak up the atmosphere. While the warm greeting made me feel special, I soon realized it’s just one of Suzie’s trademarks.
Sent in “on assignment,” I wanted to find out what’s up there, or rather, what’s no longer there: smoke. In a bold move, the ever-popular Suzie’s Diner officially went “No Smoking,” as of December 1. “Being a small diner, we didn’t have the greatest ventilation and the smoke could get thick,” admitted Sue Semple, the down-to-earth owner, “so we decided to try smoke-free.” With all 16 tables and eight counter stools filled and a line at the front door, it looks like things are going well.
“Overall, we may have lost a few long-term smokers,” Sue reported with her easy smile, “but we’ve gained even more customers that prefer smoke-free.” She also reveals some of her smoking gangs have come back solo, “we may have even inspired two to three of our regulars, like Alex,” who she points to, “to quit smoking.” “We’ve always loved the food and staff here, but the smoke used to be a deterrent,” disclosed one pleased lunch pair, “now we’re here at least twice a week!”
Ordering from the menu, not from Suzie’s eight to 10 daily white board specials, clearly marked me a “newbie.” “Most everybody orders off the board; we’re known for our homemade soups, fresh fish, and daily specials,” says Suzie as she slides into the booth across from me, wearing her apron. “Some people come in like clockwork for our weekly specials, like Al’s meatloaf (Thursdays) or pot roast (Fridays).” As for me, I gave up trying to pick up my delicious haddock sandwich ($6.95!), where the fresh fish overshot the bread, and opted to finish eating it with a fork and knife.
“I’ve always worked in restaurants,” recalls Sue, a late thirty-something native Hudsonian. Originally owned by Kay and Manny Souza (formerly Kay’s Coffee Shop), Sue and Al Semple bought the diner from Nikki and Peter Lind, about six years ago. “I worked for Kay 20 years ago and then made the circuit working for Stevie P’s and T-Bones,” shares Suzie with her easy smile, “I guess I’ve come home and a lot of my friends followed.”
Usually “stuck out back, cooking,” Sue most enjoys the quick and perpetual bantering with customers. “About 80 percent of our customers are regulars,” Sue estimates, “some come every day.” At table one in the corner, I meet Hudson residents, Ronald and June Morin, who confirm, “we’ve been coming here pretty much daily for two years.” Among their party, is June’s dad, 94-year-old Andy Polak, who was Hudson’s Police Chief for 27 years until he retired in the late 1970s. June shared, “He still loves to get out and see everybody in town and this is the place to come.” Besides, she adds enthusiastically, “the food is terrific, the wait staff is superb and the price is right!”
Suzie’s amazing wait staff, including Heidi, Chris and Darlene, zips around with glass coffee pots and greeting nearly every customer by name. Sue quietly admitted, “Our ‘wall of names’ helps us keep track.” Peering into Suzie’s inner sanctum, there’s a wall with hundreds of customer’s names scrawled in many colors and scripts -- often accompanied by code names, like the “3 Stooges” (she has two sets) or “Charlie the hat man.”
As nearly everyone in her family is involved in the diner, Suzie has a following among relatives, too. Husband Al, a former Hudson policeman for 22 years, helps her more in the winter, but she quipped, “he doesn’t like me being his boss.” Both daughters (Victoria, 21; and Tiffany, 19) and their respective fiancé and boyfriend (William “BJ” Nault and Roger Soulard) also work there. “They’re all good kids who are working hard to learn the business,” said Sue proudly. “Eventually they’ll take over from me, and we’ve considered opening up a second place.”
Beyond smoke-free, there’s many reasons to check out Suzie’s Diner. It’s open daily, 5:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and is one of those unusual places that serve breakfast all day, along with a full menu. “We’ve also extended our hours on Thursdays and Fridays until 8:00 p.m. for dinner,” adds Semple, “which is going great!” First and last, Suzie’s Diner is an authentic diner with plenty of great homestyle cooking, fair prices, and an awesome staff to make you feel at home and keep you on your toes. It’s a special local hang-out to try, if you’re one of the few in town that haven’t already made it a favorite.
Proposed 2007 Hudson School Budget Break-Downs
by Maureen Gillum
While the last school budget article (“Hudson’s Proposed School Budget Tops $37.5 Million, Up Just 3.5%”, Hudson~Litchfield News 12/23/05, page 5) focused on the “big picture,” this follow-up article highlights the Hudson Budget Committee meetings on Hudson’s six individual schools and the collective bargaining sessions, which wrapped up on January 5.
After nine lengthy meetings over the last six weeks, Hudson’s Budget Committee has completed its review and recommendations of the Hudson school budgets in preparation of this week’s public hearings, the upcoming School deliberative session, (February 11, School; 9:00 a.m., Hudson Community Center), and ultimately our next town ballot (March 14). Impressively and for the first time, SAU 81’s 2007 developmental budgets are accessible on-line at: www.hudsonnhschools.org/html/SB/sbBudget06.html, for all to review.
As a quick top-down review, the proposed 2007 Hudson School District budget came in from the School Board at $37.527 million -- a relatively minute increase of almost $329,000 over the current adjusted 2005/2006 budget of almost $37.20 million -- which the Budget Committee unanimously approved. Projected enrollment for SAU 81 for 2006 - 2007 is expected to decrease slightly to 4,125 students, down from 4,200 the previous year. With the SAU’s operational budget essentially “level-funded” at 0.88%, and the overall budget up just 3.5% (provided all warrant articles are ratified in March), Hudson School Budget is at “inflation-rate levels for the fifth year in a row,” according to Superintendent Randy Bell.
The District Budget by School
After the Introduction to the School Budget (12/12/05) and the District-wide (12/14/05) reviews, the Budget Committee delved into each of Hudson’s six individual schools at five follow-up meetings from December 15 to December 29, attended by Randy Bell and respective School Administrators. Hudson’s four elementary schools were the first to undergo budget reviews with some clarifications of each department or line item but relatively little debate. Zone C (Hills Garrison, 12/15) overall budget increased 4% to $3.46 million, up from $3.33 million, according to Principal Marilyn Martellini. Nottingham West (Zone B, 12/20) budget ticked up 2.4% to $4.1 million, as presented by Principal Peter Durso. Zone A (12/22) overall budget increased 6.6% to top $1.7 million (Dr. H.O. Smith) and $1.4 million (for Library Street), according to Principal Scott Baker. All elementary schools cited double-digit increases in utility costs and rises in benefits and salary costs.
Hudson Memorial School (HMS) and Alvirne High School’s (AHS) budget reviews, respectively on December 28 and 29, revealed flat or declining budgets; largely driven by their respective 1.9% and 1.5% declines in budgeted salaries due to the collective loss of more than 30 staff members last year. HMS budget came in at $7.1 million, a mere 0.06% increase over last year; while AHS’s budget actually decreased slightly (-0.12%) to $11.76 million. HMS Principal Sue Nadeau reported, “our most significant budget increase was $22,755 to replace outdated Grade 8 science text books;” followed by 18 new/upgraded PCs and the continued renovation of HMS bathrooms.
While AHS budget declined, AHS Principal, Bryan Lane cited new requests for new text books (Foreign Language, Consumer Science, American Government, Marketing, and Computer), math software, the Edline subscription service and continued facility upgrades (replace hallway lockers, exterior doors) as part of his 2007 budget. One of the most controversial issues within the School budget reviews was Alvirne’s “budget-neutral” athletic department reorganization, which will enable the official launch of Varsity Hockey and Varsity Swim programs at AHS next year (see Hudson~Litchfield News, 1/6/06, page 8).
The proposed 2007 district-wide budget, at $7.93 million or roughly 21% of Hudson School Budget, represents personnel, programs and resources that are shared district-wide. This includes such things as bus transportation, district-wide employees (Technology Coordinator or Music Director), curriculum and professional development, Special Services administration, and the twelve staff members at the Office of the Superintendent.
Hudson’s Continued Inflation-Rate Funding and Low Cost Per Pupil: At What Costs?
Given the continued and significant increases across the board in key areas, such as utilities (25%), health care benefits (5.8%), transportation (almost 5%), Budget Committee members made inquiries within its review cycle about Hudson’s continued flat or inflation-rate funding. For example, a concerned Budget Committee Vice Chairman, Ted Luszey, pointedly asked at the December 28 HMS budget review meeting, “are we starting to cut into Hudson’s educational framework of delivering a quality education to our children, in order to keep our financial budget down?” In response, School Board Chairman, David Alukonis, “remained confident of the high quality of Hudson’s education” and reminded the committee that budget increases this year were largely off-set by the “significant savings in staff payroll and reduction in debt services.” While Superintendent Bell previously cited “we caught a financial break” (an overall salary decrease of $197,500), from the “loss of 38 teachers leaving the district last year,” he clearly emphasized it was “not an educational gain” for Hudson.
Another key measure of educational costs or investments is “cost per pupil,” which was included in every school’s 2007 budget, but not typically highlighted in Budget Reviews. Hudson’s overall cost per pupil was $6,888, or almost 20% below the New Hampshire state average cost per pupil of $8,497 in the most recent year of comparison (2003 - 2004, updated 1/3/06), according to the New Hampshire Department of Education (www.ed.state.nh.us/education/data/financial.htm). Even with the slight projected increase to $7,114 in Hudson’s cost per pupil for 2006 - 2007, SAU 81 is likely to significantly lag behind the state average and surrounding districts. Within the district, Dr. H. O. Smith represents the highest cost per pupil in the district ($8,356), while Nottingham West has the lowest cost per pupil ($6,102) per year.
The proposed 2007 Hudson School District Budget Summary table below, compiled by the Hudson~Litchfield News, from the thousands of electronic pages from SAU 81’s 2007 development School Budget found on line, details Hudson schools by projected student enrollment, total budget summaries (2007, 2006, and % change), and projected cost per pupil.
Source: Hudson Litchfield News, 1/06, based on SAU 81’s 2007 Proposed Developmental Budget
Collective Bargaining Session, School District Warrant Articles & Wrap Up
The Budget Committee’s collective bargaining session on January 2 uniquely began when Budget Representative, Shawn Jasper, resigned from his three year term of office and sought an immediate short-term re-instatement (through 3/06), to enable him to run in the March selectman’s race. Budget Committee Chair, Howard Dilworth Jr., “accepted with regrets” Jasper’s resignation and the motion passed unanimously to reinstate Jasper immediately, which notary and Budget Representative Bob Haefner did.
Runaways Romp to Rome
by Doug Robinson
Neither Interpol nor the Italian authorities seem to be able to locate two Alvirne High School juniors, who took a flight of fantasy to Rome, Italy, on January 5, skipping school as well as their responsibilities back home.
Marc LeBourdais, 17, and Corwin ”Cory” Lagueux, 16, both honor students at Alvirne High School, Hudson, armed with passport in hand and debit cards to use, flew to Rome, Italy, for a “sightseeing” trip, stated police Lieutenant Bob Tousignant. While these students have been in constant contact with their parents, it appears that their European travels are a “catch me if you can” trip, as reported by WBZ news in Boston.
According to the friends of these truant Hudson teenagers, as reported by the Lowell Sun, this “was a trip they’d been planning for more than a year… (and) they used their parents’ money to fund the trip.”
The parents of these two teenagers state that “our boys are runaways” (and) we as parents, love our children and are extremely concerned with their safety. We currently do not know their location, but we do know they were in Rome for a short period. We do not know whether they are still in the Rome area. We are in anguish over concern for the speedy and safe return of our children.”
The police have been tracking these classmates by following the money trail as well as by locating the vehicle they used. The first debit card transaction was performed at the Newark, NJ, airport at noon. A second attempt to withdraw money was unsuccessful. The vehicle they used was located at Logan International Airport in Boston by Massachusetts State Police.
Bryan Lane, Alvirne High School principal, commented that he is “aware of the situation and hopes that the teenagers will be located and returned home safely.” He continued to state that although “students for various reasons become truant, it is on rare occasions where the student will travel over state lines.”
“(The) kids are not in danger, and that they went to Rome voluntarily,” said Detective Sergeant Charles Dyac “The kids had money and had access to debit cards. They paid for the journey. We are continuing to work with Interpol, as well as the Italian authorities so that we can bring them home safely. Both the Detective Division and the Patrol Division have combined their efforts, following up all leads in efforts to locate these minors as quickly as possible. When found they will be taken to the American Embassy, escorted to the airport, placed on a plane, and then returned home to their parents in Hudson, New Hampshire.”
Student Wins Hudson Memorial Geography Bee - Moves One Step Closer to $25,000 College Scholarship
Fionna Howes, an eighth grade student at Hudson Memorial School, won the school-level competition of the National Geographic Bee on January 5 and a chance at a $25,000 college scholarship. The school-level Bee, at which students answered oral questions on geography, was the first round in the 18th annual National Geographic Bee.
The kickoff for this year’s Bee was the week of November 14, with thousands of schools around the United States and in the five U. S. territories participating. The school winners, including Miss Howes, will now take a written test; up to 100 of the top scorers in each state will be eligible to compete in their state Bee March 31.
The National Geographic Society will provide an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for state champions and teacher-escorts to participate in the National Geographic Bee national championship on May 23 and 24. The first place national winner will receive a $25,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the society. Jeopardy! host, Alex Trebek, will moderate the national finals on May 24. The program will air on television.