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January 2009

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Vol. 2008-2009 No. 6

Football in February: Lynch to speak

IU coach Bill Lynch will talk about football when the IU Association of Retired Faculty and Staff gathers at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11. The meeting will be at the IU Foundation’s Showalter House.

A native Hoosier with more than 30 years’ coaching experience, Coach Lynch is preparing for his third year as IU’s head coach. Last fall his injury-plagued team compiled a disappointing 3-9 record, with the lone Big Ten win at Home-coming against Northwestern.

Off the field, however, a school-record 22 players earned Academic All-Big Ten honors. Fully one- third of the players have cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or better, with 28 players earning this distinction at the end of the fall semester. A random sample showed majors in accounting, biology, finance, computer science, and criminal justice.

The academic record underscores Coach Lynch’s priorities. “Our No. 1 program goal is to graduate our players,” he says. “First and foremost, we want to be known for recruiting student-athletes who graduate, represent IU in a first-class manner, and compete for Big Ten champion-ships.”

Junior defensive end Jammie Kirlew, who earned MVP honors, was named to the All-Big Ten team and was one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation’s outstanding defensive end. Kirlew is also among the Academic All-Big Ten honorees. Redshirt freshman punter Chris Hagerup was recognized on three Freshman All-America teams. Hagerup, an honorable mention All-Big Ten, wrapped up his first season handling the team’s punting duties with a 42.4-yard average, the seventh-best single-season average in IU history. His average ranked third in the Big Ten, 22nd nationally, and third best by a freshman in the country.

Coach Lynch led Indiana to its first bowl appearance since 1993 when the Hoosiers played in the Insight Bowl at the end of 2007. Two players on that team, Tracy Porter and James Hardy, were second-round NFL draft picks in 2008.

Coach Lynch’s coaching philosophy is “to develop each player to his fullest potential, both physically and mentally. We want to coach our players like they are our own sons. That includes positive reinforcement, developing a great work ethic, and, at times, some tough love.”

Take a break from winter weather, and join us as we anticipate fall foliage and football.

Thornton explains proton therapy

Thanks to the erudition and charm of MPRI’s medical director Allan Thornton, M.D., people left the January 14 meeting of the Retirees Association marveling at the miracles of proton therapy and rejoicing at the presence in Bloom-ington of the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute. MPRI is a joint venture between Clarian Health Partners and IU Research and Technology Corp. and is affiliated with IU School of Medicine.

Conventional X-ray radiation affects everything in its path. It continues to pass through the body even after reaching the tumor, affecting healthy cells beyond it. High-dose, precision X-rays can be delivered through image-guided, intensity-modulated therapies, but a larger area is exposed to low-dose radiation than in proton therapy. Proton therapy minimizes damage to healthy tissue and surrounding organs. A lower dose of radiation is released at the surface, but a sharp burst of radiation is released as the proton beam reaches the tumor site. Proton radiation stops at the tumor, leaving the healthy cells beyond it unaffected. The proton beam can be contoured to the exact shape of the tumor, further decreasing radiation exposure and limiting side effects. Proton therapy is particularly effective for localized cancers, cancers near vital organs, and pediatric cancers.

The Bloomington site is one of only five in the country, although 14 more proton therapy centers are under development, at a cost of from $125 million to $150 million apiece. The Bloomington unit started with a fixed horizontal beam and a robotic positioner. Two rotating gantries have since been added.

Right now 40 patients are being treated at the institute, which reached a high of 66 patients in a single day last summer. As of May 2008, 425 patients had been treated, for these cancers:

Current applications are for ocular melanoma; skull-base sarcoma; pediatric neoplasia; meningoma, the most common brain tumor; and paranasal sinus carcinoma, which affects particularly woodworkers and metalworkers. Dr. Thornton sees new clinical efforts going toward breast cancer; rectal carcinomas; cervical and uterine cancers; and lung cancer that cannot be treated by surgery. “We now have a 17 percent cure rate for lung cancer,” he said. “Surely we can get it up to 30 percent.”

Dr. Thornton gave a brief history of radiation oncology. It began as a European phenomenon, first in France in 1898, with the isolation of radium. It’s probable that Madame Curie treated the first patient, a woman in her lab who had breast cancer. In the early 20th century the British and Germans developed machines to deliver radiation. In the 1950s radiation therapy came to the United States by way of Canada.

Unlike neutrons, protons can be aimed very directly. Proton therapy requires careful planning and extremely accurate delivery so that a high dose can be directed toward the tumor while sparing surrounding healthy tissues and organs. Treating brain tumors in this way is especially useful for children because it doesn’t damage other brain tissue. Dr. Thornton’s first patient was a 5-year-old who is now in fifth-grade, “at the top of his class.” Without the precision of proton therapy, Dr. Thornton said, “he’d be lucky to have made it into special ed.”

The beam’s precision is also useful in treating pediatric retinoblastoma, where the cancer can be eliminated without affecting the development of the face. Dr. Thornton told of a 7-year-old Amish girl with a skeletal muscle tumor. She couldn’t have managed surgically or with chemo, but proton therapy eradicated her tumor. He treated a boy from French Lick for throat cancer without damaging his tongue, and he takes particular pride in the progress of a Michigan girl. Following treatment for a brain tumor, she is now a straight A student who plans to enter college and study medicine.

Responding to questions, Dr. Thornton said the number of patients is limited by the three treatment rooms; the limit is about 65 a day, and that means operating from 7 in the morning to 10 at night. “The waiting period has been pretty much eliminated,” he said, and it now takes only a month between seeing the patient and the beginning of treatment.

Dr. Thornton has to do battle with insurance companies with about 90 percent of his patients, but he wins 95 percent of those cases. “I’m Scottish,” he said, “and when I finally get to talk to a doctor in the insurance process, I have an excellent response.” The treatment can range from $60,000 to $125,000.

Don Weaver introduced Dr. Thornton and told a story about how IU wooed him away from Mass. General. A senator who assisted in that effort developed prostate cancer and has been treated at the MPRI.

Dr. Thornton said that Jill’s House, which opened July 1, 2008, with 25 bedrooms for out-of-town patients receiving cancer treatment at the MPRI, is a tribute to a caring community. Susan Dabkowski, executive director of Jill’s House, attended the meeting. She said that on average patients stay at Jill’s House for two months to 10 weeks. Patients come from all over the United States, “from California to the East Coast,” she said, and also from Iran, India, and Ethiopia.

About 50 retirees braved the snow to hear the presentation and lingered afterward to talk with Dr. Thornton and Ms. Dabkowski – and also to sample the delicious cookies made by Fran Bell, Shirley Pugh, and Barb Randall.

United Way: good news, bad news

Speaking at the January meeting for the Retirees Association United Way Committee, Doris Burton announced that retirees as a group did not reach the lofty goal of $90,000 for the 2009 United Way Campaign. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, despite the current economic doldrums, 152 retirees pledged $75,595. Forty-one retiree donors are Vanguards, pledging $1,000 or more. If you have questions, please call Doris, 336-7184, Harriet Pfister, 339-3364, or Wain Martin, 336-4913.

Editor’s note: Last January, Newswatch reported that 154 people had pledged $91,706.49. So, yes, our numbers are down, but not as much as our portfolios. It’s entirely possible, nay likely, that the United Way will still accept your pledge. Be sure to mention that you’re a member of the IU Association of Retired Faculty and Staff.

From art, accordions to Machu Pichu: Emeriti Center offers diverse sessions

Members of the Retirees Association are offered a varied menu of events at the Emeriti House, 1015 E. Atwater Ave. The following programs will take place on Wednesdays at 4 p.m.:

Jan. 28 – David Parkhurst, SPEA professor emeritus, will speak on rebuilding New Orleans.
Feb. 4 – Raging Grannies vocal group will perform.
Feb. 11 – Harry Geduld, professor emeritus of comparative literature and film studies, will read from his writings.
Feb. 18 – Joe and Ruth Miller will offer a Machu Pichu travelogue. Joe is retired from the marketing department at the Kelley School, and Ruth is retired from the Office of International Services.
Feb. 25 – Svetla Vladeva, virtuoso accordionist, will perform. A native of Bulgaria, she is a member of the Silk Road Ensemble. By the end of high school, she had placed first three times and second and third each one time at the International Accordion Competition.

At its January meeting, the executive committee of the Retirees Association approved a grant of $250 to support the seventh annual Emeriti House Art Exhibit, scheduled for the month of April. Retiree submissions are welcome, be they painting, graphic arts, jewelry, pottery, woodworking, photography, or other media. Submissions are due in early March for jurying.

John Woodcock is chairing this year’s show. Other committee members are Gil Clark, Dick
Dever, Bill Hansen, Audrey Heller, Sandy Hertling,
and Ruth Miller. If you have work you would like to submit, or questions about the submitting process, please contact John at or 339-2741.

The opening reception for the art exhibit is Friday, April 3, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Let’s be fine: It’s 2009

The clue in a recent New York Times crossword puzzle was “common holder for a remote control.” “I don’t know anything about electronics,” I thought. “I’ll never get this word.” But I did. The answer? Couch potato.

That clue reminded me of a presentation I heard earlier this month by Chris Arvin, an exercise physiologist and program director for fitness and wellness at IU Bloomington’s division of recreational sports. Chris said that one-quarter of Americans have a sedentary lifestyle, 65 percent are overweight, and 30 percent are obese.

Here are Chris’s “10 Things We Know Are True: Strategies for a Fit and Healthy 2009,” with a few editorial comments thrown in.

  1. If you’re inactive, even small increases in activity pay off. As anyone who’s recently been hospitalized knows only too well, you can exercise even if you’re lying flat on your back.
  2. Being active is important for absolutely everyone – no exceptions. Even if one part of your body has to be non-weight-bearing, you can still exercise.
  3. Consistency is crucial.
  4. There will be times when you’re inconsistent. My husband is fond of saying, “Moderation in all things – including modera-tion.” And consistency.
  5. Physical fitness is especially powerful in protecting health and promoting longevity.
  6. Variety is important, both mentally and functionally. Vary your exercise. As one wag observed, the difference between a rut and the grave is measured in inches.
  7. Be realistic in your expectations. Think sustainability. If you make grandiose resolutions and fail to meet them, you’re apt to think you’ve failed. With more modest goals, you can succeed.
  8. Internal motivation makes all the difference. Go with what resonates for you. For some people, it may be an exercise bike; for others, it’s yoga or hiking.
  9. Incentives are helpful. That’s why many of us choose an exercise class. Seeing friends helps get us there.
  10. Have fun! We do those things we really want to, so find what you enjoy. Far better to exercise with a smile on your face than with grit in your teeth.

Chris listed some benefits of exercise: more energy; increased endurance, strength, and flexibility; healthier muscles, bones, and joints;
improved ability to cope with stress, to fall asleep and sleep well; improved mood, greater self-esteem and sense of well-being; reduced anxiety, tension, and depression; reduced spending for health care; and reduced risk of dying prema-turely or becoming obese.

He called attention to programs available for IU faculty and staff through Recreational Sports, particularly the Step into Fitness program. Annual rates for retired faculty and staff are $193 for an individual membership and $386 for a household membership. Members have access to both SRSC and HPER facilities and to more than 80 group exercise sessions. For people who travel frequently, note that RS members can get a “NIRSA passport” and work out at any of the 663 National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association member institutions. Call (812) 855-SRSC for more information.

Plan for your future now

After the Feb. 11 presentation, only two programs remain in the academic year for the IU Associa-tion of Retired Faculty and Staff. Now that we have located our 2009 calendars, here are two dates to add to them:

We do not meet in March because we’re all on spring break.