Monday, August 25, 2008

Thank you - each and everyone

Wasn't yesterday the best? For those of you who couldn't make it to our Day with Dino, we, all of us, soaked up every bit of our favorite son, brother and friend. And to all who were there, your presence carried us through what, for maybe another family, may have been a real tide of grief.

Instead, the opportunity to meet and touch and talk with all of you left us with the best of memories, and I know our boy was truly pleased with an event so rightfully in his honor.

I've been responding to a few e-mails today - obviously I'm taking it easy, but I wanted to mention something that's brewing amongst us family members. It feels like there may be more to Dino's Journey - I really don't know exactly what, but it seems like there's something else hanging out there - some kind of very focused intention. Stay in touch with me, would you, particularly if you've got some ideas.

As always, all our love to you.//Dick, Mary, MiMi, Nick & Amber, Chris & Virginia and Theresa and family

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Special Tribute to Dino on KSCO AM1080

There will be a special two-hour radio tribute to Dino this Saturday, August 23 on KSCO AM1080. The live program airs from 10AM to 12N and they'll be taking your calls.

If you live out of the Santa Cruz area, you can listen to the show on your computer by connecting to the live stream at

To call in to the program from anywhere, dial (831) 479-1080.

Michael Zwerling, the station owner has known Dino for many years as Dino did a numbers of radio shows from there (like calling in reports from the winter Olympics in Albertville, France).

On the e-mail front, we're approaching 250 and they just keep coming. You know I promised to respond to all of them, but I'm realizing now that it won't be before Sunday - so please forgive. I think the memorial is going to be quite amazing. Hope you can make it. Love to all.//Dick

The Celebration after the Celebration

As part of getting ready for Dino's memorial on Sunday, I wanted to let you know that we're going to be having a feast after the memorial at Peachwood's which is near the Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz - and you know that you're all invited. It will give us a chance to talk to so many of you that have responded to Dino's blog. My e-mails just topped 200 this morning and the stories are absolutely priceless.

We'll have an open mike there, so if you want to ramble at some length about our boy, you'll have the floor. Also, Marjorie Puruganan, one of Dean's co-workers at Sega is putting together a slide show. If you've got any pics you want to submit, e-mail them to Marj at

Getting to Peachwood's is easy - it's very near the Hwy 1/Hwy 17 interchange (we call it the Fishhook) and there will be maps at Pacific Gardens Chapel to assist everyone in getting there. Since the memorial's at 2PM, we should be heading over there by 3 or 3:30. Here's the address:

Peachwood's Steakhouse
555 Highway 17
Santa Cruz, CA
(831) 426-6333

Looking forward to our meeting. Love//Dick

PS: Dino's obituary was published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel today. If you'd like to read it and add a remembrance, go to

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hope You Can Make It To Dino's Memorial

I'm just beginning to read all the e-mails you are sending (over 120 so far) and it will take awhile to respond, but I will, to each and every one of you. Such loving thoughts coming in from all of Dino's wonderful friends.

We picked the date for Dino's memorial: this coming Sunday, August 24 at 2PM in Santa Cruz. Here's the location:

Benito & Azzaro
Pacific Gardens Chapel
1050 Cayuga Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 423-5721 - Vince Azzaro

We sure hope you can make it. Afterwards, (we haven't picked the location yet, but it will be close by) we'll have a celebration, one that Dino will be most excited about. I'll tell you more as it comes together. (Any ideas, let me know.) Thanks for being there for us.

We love you,
Dick (Dino's dad) and MiMi (his step-mom or bonus mom) Scoppettone
Mary (Dino's mom) Scoppettone
Nick (Dino's brother) Scoppettone and his fiance, Amber
Chris (Dino's step-brother) Petrakis and his girl, Virginia

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'll Know What To Say

My son, Dino passed away this evening a little after 8PM. My heart hurts to say it and I know yours hurts to hear it. But this was Dino's Journey. Over the months, on those nights when I thought about losing him, I stayed away from it by insisting on focusing on the present. For most of my life, I've been something of a rehearsed man, often planning things months in advance. No more. I told myself that I will know what to say if this day ever comes, and now this day is here.

My son was a beautiful man who belonged to all who knew him. No loner was he, but rather a blend of everyone he met and loved, interwoven with his buddies and their children and their parents and his workmates. Though he didn't raise a family of his own, he belonged to many families, and over the past weeks and months, we've had the privilege to meet them, all wonderful people.

When I finished a novel some years ago, he read it, and re-read it, and re-read it again, each time adding a missing comma or suggesting another way to punch up a phrase. And each time I trusted him. He and I spoke the same language.

When it came time for him to move on tonight, his mother, Mary was rubbing his hair, and around his bed, everyone touched him gently; my wife, MiMi; my son, Nick with his fiance, Amber; Dean's stepbrother, Chris and his girl Virginia; and his good friend, Andrew McGraw. Moments after he passed, Carlos arrived, as well as Dino's special friend, Andi who had flown from Seattle.

Over the months, as we saw all the responses to his blogs, it became apparent that there were many people we had never met. Can I ask a favor of all of you? We really need to touch you, whether truly hand in hand or by e-mail. Here's my e-mail address: If you knew my son or read his blog, would you e-mail me and tell me your thoughts? This journey of the last three months wasn't done alone, it was done with all of you.

I will let you know of the funeral arrangements as soon as I know. For sure, the gathering will be in Santa Cruz. Hold us in your hearts. We love you all. And my boy continues on the grandest journey of them all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mt. Hoffman

Picture yourself on the summit of a high mountain in the Sierras. The view in every direction goes for hundreds of miles. To the south is Mt. Lyell and Mt. Ansel Adams, the east Mt. Dana and Mt. Conness, and about 3,000' below the tips of your toes lies Tenaya Lake. You have arrived at the 11,200' peak of Mt. Hoffman.

Years ago, when Dino was just a teen, we made the ascent to this glorious place and sopped up the most spectacular views and emotional highs in all of Yosemite. Mt. Hoffman is the geographic center of God's summer home, Yosemite National Park, and that day remains instantly accessable to me. During the climb, we found ourselves momentarily surrounded by a storm (the black rolling thunderheads were actually below us, encircling the mountain) and we took refuge in a small outcropping of rocks. Normally, one would never climb during nasty weather, but that morning began as a blue-sky day and we were three quarters of the way up the mountain.

The storm passed and we made it to the summit around noon, each of us silent, in awe, captivated completely by something we'd never before experienced. I quietly, almost respectfully, pulled a walkman from my pack and passed the headphones for each to take a breathless listen and fully complete the panorama - the Largo movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony.

I felt compelled to speak, "Someday, when one of you is facing a crisis of some sort or just a terribly stressful day, wherever you may be, whether in a high-rise or by the ocean, remember this moment. No matter what may happen to you, this place, this picture will always be here just as you see it now."

Let's visualize this for Dean. The view of a thousand miles, snow-capped peaks, a swirling gentle wind. That view is God. As you inhale, you feel millions of fresh energy cells fill your body, stimulating your senses like the dawn of a blue-sky morning. Breathing out, you watch the shriveling cancer cascade down the rocks, breaking into pieces and ultimately turning to fine dust. Inhale the good, exhale the bad. Do this whenever you think of Dean.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Chemo's Dosing Dem Cells Outta Me Body

(As dictated by Dino to Dick)
Hi gang, Dino back in control here for the moment. It's now been 24 hours since they started my chemo treatment and there are lots of sighs of relief happening from a great many family and friends.

Thus far (knock on wood), I have yet to feel any seriously detrimental side effects; in fact, the drugs have made me lazy today and seem to have helped the pain level. We are unclear of the complete protocol, but we will let you know when we know more.

Very happy to be back at Alta Bates after five days at Alameda. We needed to be in Alameda to receive the pain pump. However, the quality of care at that facility simply does not measure up to what Alta Bates has to offer. To give you a short example, when I asked for a 10mg dose of Dilaudid, the docs at Alameda seemed so shocked and were so reluctant to provide this -- even though it was standard at Alta Bates -- that they made me wear a permanent EKG unit to check my heart function. This stupid unit caused me a considerable amount of discomfort and irritation for the five days I was there. I don't want to slag Alameda too much, but suffice it to say, we're all very happy to be back at Alta Bates.

Medically, there are a lot of niggling side issues that have kept us from getting chemo to this point, but when push comes to shove, we needed to begin chemo and blow out the cancer that's in my body. I won't bore you with the many details of these finer points that have held us up, but some were serious enough to force the doctors to err on the side of caution. Now, it's time to endure the protocol and take it as we go from there. If the treatment leaves me feeling anything like I do today, then I will consider myself to be truly blessed. Something tells me it won't be this easy the whole time, but we'll just take each day as it comes.

I have received several notes and e-mails recently indicating that I need to inject more of my presence back into the blog. I hear your messaging loud and clear. All I can say is that for the past two or three weeks, I have really not had the mental or physical energy to put together a substantial blog post. As we move through chemo and also deal with the recovery period in each cycle, I hope to begin a more reliable routine in which I can keep you all updated. A friend of mine said last weekend "We will always be here for you, but you need to sometimes make yourself available to us." I totally agree with that statement; each and every one of you deserves to know exactly what my current situation is. To that end, I have asked my Dad to take "dictation" which he is doing now and I will continue to use my parents as a resource so that you can read my thoughts through their fingers.

As for visitors, I know there are many of you that have expressed interest in coming to see me, and that makes me immeasureably happy. Unfortunately, my energy levels go up and down at a whim so often that making advance plans can be difficult. Please understand that most visits should be held to about twenty minutes or less; this is simply because several occasions of long visits have led me to pretty severe exhaustion and pain that is not easily controlled. I would love to see all of you guys, and I know that when the time is right, I will.

So that's the big news for the week. Now it's simply a matter of enduring whatever it is chemo has to offer. It may be a few days before I update again or I might have Dad or Mom help me with one. Outside of that, just waiting for football season to get started. Hope this blog brings you a little bit closer to where I am in the current moment. Keep livin', keep lovin' and enjoy your hot summer afternoons. With much love,


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Chemo Has Started

As of early this evening, Dino is finally getting his first round of chemo (four different drugs with continuous drip over the next four days). This morning however, started with another bump. The surgeon who was to install the PortaCath (a semi-permanent port in Dino's chest to use mainly for the infusion of chemo drugs) decided that since Dino still has some sort of infection and a slighly elevated temperature, he wanted to wait until next Monday to do the surgery for this port.

Another depressing moment - until late this afternoon when a nurse came into Dino's room to say that they would be starting chemo shortly. I asked if she knew the port had been held up until Monday and she said that she had just spoken to Dr. Cecchi, Dino's oncologist and he directed her to start chemo immediately, port or no port. So, for now they are using the PICC line instead. Like us, Cecchi simply didn't want to wait any longer.

So, let's pray that the next four days will begin to knock back the tumor. I think we've got to put up the "No Visitors" sign again (until Dino gives the go-ahead).

I know there's little miracles happening here, so keep pushing them our way. This afternoon, after Mary returned to Santa Cruz (and prior to hearing of Cecchi's order to start right away), she sent out an e-mail to her group of friends asking them to pray for the removal of all these continuing obstacles. It was shortly after that e-mail went out that I called her from Dino's room to tell her that Cecchi said, "We're going now!"

And yesterday, some of you may have noticed a brief note in response to Monday's blog (from a fellow named Trent). I picked up on it immediately and contacted him. He's here in the Bay Area, and in 1992 had surgery for a "retro-peritoneal myxoid liposarcoma" - a 20 lb. tumor in fact. Almost identical to Dino. It seems he had been watching Dino's blog for some time and finally decided to weigh in. Since this particular form of cancer is so rare, we're hoping to put he and Dino together soon.

Sorry to be so short, but it's late and I'm really tired. Hang in there, gang.

Dick Scoppettone
Dino's dad

Monday, August 4, 2008

Baubles, Bangles and Bumps

As most of you know, Dino has a new bauble, his SynchroMed II pain pump. Over the last four days, his doctor has readjusted it, slowly zeroing in on what will be the best pain management. Dr. Behravan's goal is to get him to a "3 or under" on the 1-to-10 pain level chart. I think Dino is probably very close to that now, but it's still a bit of a balancing act.

It feels to me like the pump may possibly need to be adjusted downward, primarily because Dino's spent the last day hallucinating quite a bit. Last night was one of those "no sleep" nights for both Dean and I because he spent the entire night talking to countless unknown characters, sometimes very loudly, sometimes singing, mostly unintelligible (except for when he told someone, a waitress I suppose, that "I'll have the scrambled eggs with bacon, but I'm not going to pay $1,100.00 for it!")

One of the bangles that accompanied the pain pump is a hand-held unit whereby Dino can give himself a "bolus" (an extra dose) every four hours if he needs it. He simply holds this device over the pump and presses several icons on a small computer screen to activate the bump-up. However, Dr. Behravan advised us today to hold off on the bolus for awhile because Dino appears to be addicted to the high levels of Dilaudid (I know, we don't like it either, but it goes with the territory) and thus it's time to begin a partial withdrawal down to a point that still regulates his pain but doesn't prompt hallucinations. So, the baubles and the bangles do serve their purpose, but nothing is perfect and we still have to get this one under control.

Regarding the bumps, we found ourselves saying shortly after his surgery (almost eight weeks ago) that things were probably going to get worse before they get better. I've kind of given up on that phrase and shifted into a different gear by saying that things aren't necessarily getting worse anymore - rather there's a continuing series of bumps that will be occuring for awhile. After all, we haven't started chemo yet (maybe by the end of this week), but we know that will be a bumpy road. And who knows what else is on the horizon.

I do know one thing, and maybe you can weigh in on this - we've got to get Dino mentally (and physically) back into the driver's seat. He's become accustomed to being waited on hand and foot (out of real necessity, of course), but he needs to take back some control for himself now. As an example, I ask him everyday if he wants to do a blog, but he passes on it. Same with having visitors, he doesn't want any. I know his world has gotten extremely focussed of late, but I think it's time to start the re-expansion process - time to get his juices flowing again. Let me know what you think.

Stay tuned for the chemo schedule. As soon as I hear, you'll hear. Love ya.

Dick Scoppettone
Dino's dad