March 01, 2015

Chestita Baba Marta!

Welcome Grandmother March fromBulgaria!

In honor of spring's approach, here is a photo of my newest martenitsa, a cute hedgehog wearing a tiny spiffy red and white bow.

February 24, 2015

The latest

On February 3, 2015, the FDA recently approved the newest drug for my kind of metastatic breast cancer, Ibrance (palbociclib). Last week, Dr G told me he wanted me to try it. Last week my health insurance company approved one month's supply. Yesterday the pharmacy called to tell me the drug had arrived. Now that's what I'd call fast service.

Dr G wants me to take it because palbociclib was first used to treat brain cancers and I have brain metastases. Abraxane was beating down my red and white cell counts and my platelets, so it was time to move onto another therapy.

According to the website, "IBRANCE is a prescription medicine that is used along with the medicine letrozole for the treatment of postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative advanced breast cancer as the first hormone-based therapy for their metastatic disease."

You can read more about Ibrance here. I'll be sure to blog about how it affects me. Let's hope again for good tolerance, limited side effects and fast work at reducing my tumor markers!

February 11, 2015


Last week's scans show mostly stable disease, especially a reduction of tumor growth in my liver. The radiologist's report on the brain MRI seems inconclusive. Dr G may change my treatment simply because the Abraxane is becoming more toxic and lowering my counts too far. More news next week....

February 10, 2015

February 08, 2015

Cancer manners

I ushered at a local theatre today and was at the front door taking tickets. A random woman came up, offered me her ticket to scan, then looked at me (wearing my chic little black velvet cap) and said, "God bless you." I hadn't sneezed.

One thing cancer patients experience over and over are people's inappropriate remarks. Sometimes from strangers, sometimes from family and friends, when people don't know what to say, they often say the first thing that pops into mind, instead of saying nothing at all.

I recommend reading "The Etiquette of Illness" by Susan P Halpern. Although not new, many of Halpern's suggestions from ten years ago remain pertinent. She offers many stories, comments and suggestions on how to respond, and advice from her years counseling those with serious illnesses and their families and friends.

And when you don't know what to say, and are tempted to open your mouth anyway, remember that it's okay to say nothing.

February 03, 2015

More white blood cells at last

I had labs last Monday, last Friday and again yesterday. Dr G finally approved chemo since my white blood cells had increased enough (not sure how much is enough). I ran into him in the hallway and he said that we may be at the end with this cycle of Abraxane. It has to be effective without taking me down a little more each time. So he will do some thinking and research, as will I, and after my scans next week, we will perhaps make a change.

January 29, 2015

Visualize white blood cells

My white blood cells from Monday's lab draw were too low to permit me to have chemo on Tuesday. I've been caught between too much energy and things to do; fatigue after being too active; napping for two hours or longer every afternoon; and more insomnia at night.

Which is why I'm typing at 11:18 pm.

I go back to Dr G's  office for labs tomorrow and then we'll see what he orders in the way of treatment.

In the meanwhile it's supposed to be sunny and warm(er) again in Seattle, so Rik and I will run some fun errands at the Pike Place Market. I have a craving for sumac, which I can only find at Market Spice, and there's a new gelato place I hear I must try. It's a date day!

This is the toy white blood cell I received as a gift.
Now you know what to visualize.

January 19, 2015

New computer

I didn't realize what a control freak I remain, even after living with advanced cancer for twelve-plus years (something that one has no control over), until we bought a new iMac last week.

We'd been talking about this for more than a year, since the old computer was hit by lightning. Don't ask. It hadn't failed completely but it was older and slow. We have had Macs for years.

I was at The Mac Store getting iPhone advice from Mike the Macologist. Afterwards I browsed the new iMacs and saw there was a special loan: buy one of the two models on the deal and pay 0% interest for six, twelve or eighteen months. Like buying a new car except less money. (Hah.) I texted Rik back and forth, the deal expired the next day, so we went back together and bought a new computer.

Rik set it up. All is hunky dory, except I can't get used to the new keyboard (no number pad, only a back delete button). Or the updated software, such as Safari. Where are the emails in the Mail inbox? Where are my Notes? Yes, Rik backed up everything before we bought the new computer, but some things are either still hiding or never copied.

I'm trying to use Pages for the first time. I haven't even tried Numbers, although it's certainly a better name than Excel. And I know very little about Power Point, so Keynote hasn't been an issue. Yet.

In short, my control freakiness is still present and accounted for. I'm sure this is because there are so many things I have so little control over in my life. Nonetheless, I am frustrated, trying to learn new tricks, and trying not to take out too much of this frustration on Rik.

Just venting here.

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I dance with cancer. Oy!