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Celebrating the Life of Steve Patterson, Part 1: “I Ain’t Dead Yet”

August 29, 2022 Downtown, Events/Meetings, Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Celebrating the Life of Steve Patterson, Part 1: “I Ain’t Dead Yet”
Blogger Steve Patterson on the Gateway Mall hallway, Citygarden. May 2021. Photo credit: Humans of St. Louis

When I was first diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer in the fall of 2019 I wasn’t sure what to expect from treatment, life expectancy, etc. While getting my affairs in order I remained as optimistic as possible.

I’m not a fan of solemn funerals so I thought about having a big party to celebrate my life in style. But what good is that after I’m dead?  So then a pre-death party followed by another at some point after I’m gone. Perfect.

Then came the pandemic. Scratch anything indoors. I thought about Citygarden, but Kaldi’s closed temporarily so no snacks or restroom access.

Now, even with vaccines, people are still getting Covid-19.  I’ve seen the blood test results on my immune health, that’s why my oncologist says  I’m immunocompromised. Anything indoors would require someone to check vaccination status. Outdoors it is, but not in brutal heat, cold, rain, etc.

As the months and years have passed I’m less interested in a single big event. Instead I like the idea of a series of small informal outdoor gatherings. I’d like to see each of you in person, whether we know each other or not.

The first such event was going to be this morning, but last week I saw  forecast called for rain. It’s always something…

Once I see an opening in the weather I’ll announce the date & time on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) at least 24 hours  prior.

Right now Wednesday morning (8/31/2022)is looking good, so this is a tentative date, 8am-10am. Unless it rains I’ll be on the terrace outside the recently reopened Kaldi’s in Citygarden, 808 Chestnut, enjoying a smoothie that I ordered online via ToastTab app. Please stop by to say hello, tell me I’m often wrong, or whatever. I’ll be sitting in a regular chair, but my orange wheelchair will be nearby.

For those that haven’t seen me in a long time, I now weigh about half of what I did when I had my stroke in 2008! I have to eat all the time now just to try to maintain my current weight.

I’ll announce additional dates/times/locations  for future gatherings on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) a few days prior. I’m open to suggestions for other outdoor locations, the only requirements are accessible via transit, shade, and nearby restroom. I’d also like to do some evening and weekend gatherings. I’ve also thought about using Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Live. Suggestions welcome.

Again, I’d love to talk with everyone at some point. Monday is the first of many. I do ask that if you have any Covid-19 symptoms (or positive test) please wait for a future date.

I definitely want to do something on the 18th anniversary of this blog, on Monday October 31, 2022. Maybe I could dress up as the late Jane Jacobs?

My next scans are in two weeks, I anticipate they’ll also show my “numerous tumors” as still stable.  After my 4-night hospitalization last month my kidneys are returning to normal.

Ok, hope to at least see a few of you Monday morning!

— Steve

 

17th Anniversary of UrbanReviewSTL

November 3, 2021 Featured, Site Info, Steve Patterson Comments Off on 17th Anniversary of UrbanReviewSTL
A warehouse at the point where MLK & Page meet.

Sunday (10/31/2021) was the 17th anniversary of this blog. In years past I’d have prepared a post looking back and forward, published on the actual anniversary. Now I’m enjoying my final years rather than spend all my free time on the blog.

It was two years ago I disclosed I had cancer. In short, I have stage 4 kidney cancer. I’ll never be cancer-free, it’ll never be in remission. My oncologist described it as a chronic disease.

So far so good. I’m arguably better off now than I was 2 years ago. My last scans (CT & bone scan) showed significant shrinkage of several of my numerous tumors. The reality is eventually my cancer will switch from being a treatable condition to being terminal.

Enough about me, I still spend hours thinking about St. Louis. Here are some subjects on my mind right now:

  • The recent loss of population in the 2020 census will make redistricting a challenge. The predominantly black north side is losing population at a significantly higher rate than the rest of the city.
  • The population is largely black and white — in nearly equal numbers. As a result I’m glad the initial draft of a new ward map has an equal number of wards with a majority population of each. Cutting the number of seats from 28 to 14 is something I still support. My hope is it will reduce aldermanic micromanagement, empowering bureaucrats to make decisions based on policy, not political influence from legislators.
  • I’m enjoying seeing the soccer stadium, front office and training facility be constructed in Downtown West.  What will be more interesting is to see how the surrounding blocks change over time. Will they become more urban, or will parking lots/garages slowly replace existing buildings. If I were in charge I’d made it very difficult/expensive for property owners to raze their buildings for parking.
  • I’m glad to see the lawsuit agains the Rams/NFL moving forward, but I hate the idea of St. Louis getting an NFL expansion team as part of a settlement. Why? This would likely put the north riverfront back at risk of being leveled.
  • North St. Louis is continuing to be vacated. At first middle class whites left, making room for middle class black families. Then the last white families either found a way to move or they died off. Middle class black families began moving to north St. Louis County as lower income blacks moving into north city behind them. Those who remain, with many exceptions, are looking to move to south city or into the county.  The region must reverse the exodus out of north city & county.
  • I don’t have the solutions to the bottom problem above, one thought is maintain the positive pockets. Then turn the remaining areas to natural watershed and/or agricultural land.
  • The proposed Target on South Grand, north of Chouteau, is very exciting. However, the large surface parking lot to the south of the building is only ok if temporary. From the south end of the bridge to Chouteau needs to be multi-story urban buildings. Ditto for the west side of Grand.
  • Additional investment in transportation needs to be made to support those us who don’t have 24/7 access to an automobile. Jobs need to be closer to the areas needing work.
  • As a region we need to reduce the amount of urbanized land per person. This means stopping greenfield development on the edges, focusing on denser development in previously developed areas. This needs to be accomplished equitably.
  • As I’ve said before, we need to prepare for the coming side effects of climate change. I’m not at all optimistic the world’s population/governments will take the necessary steps to reduce damage to the environment. Temperatures in St. Louis will rise. In the winter this could mean pests that used to die off each year stick around. In the summer it could mean am increasing number of periods with temperatures over 100°. I often pass a field at 9th & O’Fallon —the tree lawn for these two streets used to have nine additional trees. Going to the grocery store in summer this area is noticeably warmer. The same problem is repeated throughout the region, usually in lower income neighborhoods.
  • It’s very nice seeing medical cannabis dispensaries in the city & region. Hopefully this is employing people who needed it most. Unfortunately the ownership is those wealthy enough to afford the high cost of entry.
  • Food deserts continue. A Save-A-Lot that opened a few years ago in an inner-ring suburb is closing. It’s increasingly obvious to me slim grocery store margins need customers with a mix of incomes to survive. I’ve seen too many efforts to end food deserts in low-income neighborhoods fail. Near me it looks like GreenLeaf will also fail. The few things I used to get there are no longer available.
  • We can’t solve our climate problems simply by replacing all vehicles with electric vehicles. We must make mobility easier by foot, bike, wheelchair, and transit.

The above are just a fraction of the St. Louis subjects I’ve thought about, it’s a bit overwhelming to me. I can’t turn it off.

Thankfully I’m optimistic I’ll have at least another year to post on the above subjects. Thank you for reading.

— Steve Patterson

 

I’m Fully Vaccinated, Will Continue Wearing A Mask In Public

May 20, 2021 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on I’m Fully Vaccinated, Will Continue Wearing A Mask In Public
Federal rules still require masks on buses, trains, boats and planes

The CDC says since I’m fully vaccinated I can go into public buildings without needing to wear a mask. Well, that’s the big overview leaving out important details. I’ll get to those but first a quick review of how we got to this point.

On Friday March 21, 2020 St. Louis Health Commissioner Dr. Frederick Echols  issued a stay at home order for the City of St. Louis, effective Monday March 23, 2020. A similar order was issued in St. Louis County. At this point masks weren’t required, but in hindsight they should’ve been.

On the day the stay at home order began St. Louis announced the first Covid-related death. On Friday the 27th and Monday 30th I had CT/Bone scans & cancer treatment at the Center for Advanced Medicine, respectively. Masks still weren’t required by Metro, BJC/Wash U, or the city.

On Friday April 3, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended the voluntary use of masks in public. The following Monday we received some homemade masks from my sister-in-law in California.  The next day, Tuesday April 7, 2020, I had minor outpatient surgery at the new Park Tower to install a power port in my chest to make my intravenous cancer treatments easier, masks were required. My husband wasn’t allowed to come back before and after the surgery even with a mask.

The following Saturday (4/11/2020) St. Louis first recommended the use of masks in public.  On July 1, 2020 St. Louis city & county issued a mask mandate.

I still don’t like masks, they pull on my ears and I have to remove my glasses as they fog over. However, I’m used to it now. We’ve eaten out numerous times during the pandemic, which we’ve enjoyed.

Last month the CDC said small groups of vaccinated people could gather, maskless. We got to visit and hug a friend on April 25, 2021, we hadn’t seen her in a over a year. A week ago today the CDC made a big announcement on masks.

People fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.  (CNN)

States, cities, and businesses began dropping their mask requirements — for fully vaccinated people. Masks are still required for public transportation (planes, trains, buses, etc), healthcare facilities, and such.

On Saturday we went to Costco in south county, some customers weren’t wearing masks. We were. Yesterday I went to Schnucks downtown, same thing. It feels weird being indoors with my unmasked strangers.

Just over 34 percent of St. Louis County residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s an increase of 2.5 percent in the past week.

In St. Louis City, more than 26.5 percent of people have finished their vaccinations. This is a jump of over 2 percent. (Fox2)

With such a low percentage fully vaccinated I wonder if non-vaccinated are using this as a way to shop without wearing a mask. I know the science says I’m still highly protected, but it’s not 100% guaranteed. I’m not immune compromised, but my immune system needs to stay focused on keeping my tumors from growing. For me it’s just not worth the risk, putting on a mask for a quick trip into a store is no big deal to me at this point. Most of the time when I leave home I take MetroLink to Siteman Cancer Center, so masks are required anyway.

If you’re not vaccinated please get the vaccine, it’s easy. I felt bad the day after my 2nd Pfizer shot, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. I get if you’re hesitant, a friend in her early 70s who’s fearful of the vaccine. My brother-in-law doesn’t want to be a government “lab rat.”

I look forward to the day I can ride the bus, or get treatment without needing a mask.

— Steve Patterson

 

Thinking of Marti Frumhoff While Accepting My Own Mortality

May 16, 2021 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Thinking of Marti Frumhoff While Accepting My Own Mortality
Marti Frumhoff, 1957-2007

Fourteen years ago today St  louis booster Marti Frumhoff died unexpectedly. Three months earlier we’d celebrated our birthdays at the sushi restaurant that used to be at Grand & Arsenal. Our birthdays were ten years and 5 days apart — she turned 50 just five days before I turned 40.

Ms. Frumhoff also became an advocate for the revitalization of St. Louis. She organized and founded several groups that educate agents and prospective home buyers about city living.

She founded the St. Louis Rehabbers Club in 2000. The organization helps people network and share information about renovations and remodeling in the city.

Ms. Frumhoff was also a member of the “We Love the City” Realtors Breakfast Club. The “Big, Big Tour,” an annual tour of city neighborhoods highlighting homes for sale in various price ranges, grew out of that group.

Ms. Frumhoff was a board member of Metropolis St. Louis and a member of Save the Century, an effort to prevent the demolition of the Century Building downtown. (Findagrave)

Marti was home alone, likely had a heart attack. I’m not a fan of death rituals, but I liked how the huge crowd at the Jewish cemetary took turns shoveling dirt onto the casket.

A month before my 41st birthday I had a massive stroke, also while home along. At the time I was certain I’d die. It was 15-16 hours before a worried friend found me, but at least I was still alive.  I came back home from the 3rd therapy hospital three months later, barely able to walk.

I’d think about Marti as I wrote about issues facing St. Louis, asking myself “what would Marti do?” Had she lived no doubt she’d be involved in fighting to improve the city, and region.

In the Fall of 2019 I was diagnosed with stage IV renal cell carcinoma (aka kidney cancer). Stage IV means the cancer has metastasized — spread to other parts of the body. I’ve had twenty immunotherapy treatments so far, my scans still show the tumors as “stable”, though there’s now evidence it has spread to my bones. Another drug will be injected along with my regular intravenous drug to stop the spread in my bones, the downside is a high risk of osteoporosis.

For a while now I’ve been working on getting my affairs in order while also trying to enjoy the present. It’s a very weird balance. When my husband and I recently visited the Missouri Botanical Gardens it was a lovely day but I was thinking it could well be my last time there, same with other non-daily activities.

A few days ago a friend of more than two decades had a second stroke in a week, only a few knew about the first mini-stroke. He died at home, alone.

Hopefully I still have a few more years left before my time is up. Although it’s weird to know I’ll die sooner rather than later I’m very grateful to have time with my husband until then. Not a day goes by I don’t think about the luxury of having time to keep enjoying life, too many don’t get any advance notice.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

So Long 2020: Too Much Death

December 30, 2020 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on So Long 2020: Too Much Death
Didn’t have a dumpster fire photo, so this October 16th McKee warehouse fire will have to do representing 2020.

Most agree 2020 was, overall, an awful year. So much death. Not just from COVID-19, murders in St. Louis also set records. As of December 24th 254 people had been murdered in the city.

St. Louis has seen a nearly 25% increase in the number of homicides over the same period in 2019.

This year is the deadliest year in St. Louis’ history on a per capita basis. In 1993, 267 people were fatally shot, but the city had about 80,000 more residents. (KSDK)

There’s no vaccine to keep our murder rate from going up, no treatment has been found to lower it permanently.

When 2020 began I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to 2021. In December 2019 I received my first two immunotherapy treatments stage 4 kidney cancer. My to do list for 2020 included checking off bucket list items and making final arrangements should the treatment not work.

In early February I got the first news — the treatments prevented the tumors from growing! I was very happy and thought this was going to be a good year. I began thinking about making a 2-week solo trip to Chicago in April. As I was about to buy a round trip ticket on Amtrak everything went into lockdown.

In April, instead of a trip to Chicago, I had surgery to install a power port in my chest. I inherited my mom’s tricky veins, so this little device is connected to a jugular vein making blood draws and intravenous treatments much easier. We’d received homemade masks from my sister-in-law the day before my surgery.

Unlike so many, I’m still here. I’m actually optimistic I’ll see at least 2022. At some point in the 2nd half of 2021 it’ll be less risky to travel, eat out, etc. Unfortunately I’m not optimistic about crime in St. Louis being substantially reduced.

— Steve Patterson

 

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