April 30, 2013

Interesting NYT article

In last Sunday's New York Times article, Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer, author Peggy Orenstein discusses a number of issues related to breast cancer, particularly the need for mammography. She also said the following:
According to a Fortune magazine analysis, only an estimated .5 percent of all National Cancer Institute grants since 1972 focus on metastasis; out of more than $2.2 billion dollars raised over the last six years, Komen has dedicated $79 million to such research — a lot of money, to be sure, but a mere 3.6 percent of its total budget during that period. (Bold type my emphasis.)
I've been saying this for years, Instead of raising awareness (as if anyone in the US was somehow not yet aware of breast cancer), we should be spending money on research to treat and cure.

As Orentein writes, "Breast cancer in your breast doesn't kill you." It's metastasis to organs that kills about 40,000 women a year.

Orenstein concludes:
It has been four decades since the former first lady Betty Ford went public with her breast-cancer diagnosis, shattering the stigma of the disease. It has been three decades since the founding of Komen. Two decades since the introduction of the pink ribbon. Yet all that well-meaning awareness has ultimately made women less conscious of the facts: obscuring the limits of screening, conflating risk with disease, compromising our decisions about health care, celebrating “cancer survivors” who may have never required treating. And ultimately, it has come at the expense of those whose lives are most at risk.

April 25, 2013

Scan stable/improved

My recent CT scan shows improved and stable disease in my liver - yay! There is some concern about my bones, especially since my rib fractured just before we went to Hawai'i. I will see my orthopedist tomorrow and get his opinion on what to do about the fracture, if I should go back on a bisphosphonate, and whether we would get more information from a bone scan.

Dr G is going to talk with both Dr Flugstad and Dr Winston, my specialty dentist, about the potential impact of Aredia on my jaw. The oldest of the bisphosphonates and actually the least powerful (we looked it up today), Aredia might be a good choice, but all the docs have to weigh in.

More news tomorrow!

April 20, 2013

Aloha oe

Yes, we were in Hawai'i this past week, so my talk of "taking it easy" was really taking it easy! We spent three nights on the Big Island and saw the Kilauea crater in detail. Then we went on to O'ahu for four nights in Waikiki. We climbed Diamond Head (elevation 760 feet!), swam in the ocean, took photos in Chinatown, and ate extremely well every day. I even took a hula lesson!

Bathing beauty

My first lei

Rik does his camera thing

View from Waikiki Hyatt to Diamond Head 

Kilauea crater lets off steam

View from the top of Diamond Head

April 17, 2013

Rib seems okay

My rib doesn't hurt nearly as much as those first two days. Maybe it's a very small fracture after all. I'm still trying to take it easy and have managed to at least lay down if not sleep every afternoon. Had a little diarrhea for no apparent reason but Immodium is taking care of it.

April 11, 2013

A must-read

This is a wonderful piece by Roger Ebert, published at www.salon.com. Click here for the full article.

I do not fear death

I will pass away sooner than most people who read this, but that doesn't shake my sense of wonder and joy

Roger Ebert was always a great friend of Salon's. We're deeply saddened byreports of his death, and are re-printing this essay, from his book "Life Itself: A Memoir," which we think fans will take particular comfort in reading now.
I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
I don’t expect to die anytime soon. But it could happen this moment, while I am writing. I was talking the other day with Jim Toback, a friend of 35 years, and the conversation turned to our deaths, as it always does. “Ask someone how they feel about death,” he said, “and they’ll tell you everyone’s gonna die. Ask them, In the next 30 seconds? No, no, no, that’s not gonna happen. How about this afternoon? No. What you’re really asking them to admit is, Oh my God, I don’t really exist. I might be gone at any given second.”
Me too, but I hope not. I have plans. Still, illness led me resolutely toward the contemplation of death. That led me to the subject of evolution, that most consoling of all the sciences, and I became engulfed on my blog in unforeseen discussions about God, the afterlife, religion, theory of evolution, intelligent design, reincarnation, the nature of reality, what came before the big bang, what waits after the end, the nature of intelligence, the reality of the self, death, death, death.....

Fractured rib

Tuesday night's painful spot on my right side turns out to be a fractured rib. Dr G says I can tape my rib if it hurts more so I have the duct tape at the ready (his recommendation!).

I probably won't heal from this as easily as most people without cancer, so Dr G will talk with my orthopod and a thoracic surgeon to see if I will need surgery. I do have a CT scheduled soon.

I have no idea how my rib broke. Maybe Bob the dog jumped on me one too many times?

I plan to lay low for a bit and not stress my side, so don't be surprised to see fewer posts in the next week.

April 09, 2013

Tumor markers down

The third (and slightly reduced) cycle of Xeloda appears to have worked. My tumor markers went down about 60 points. I'll have a CT scan in a week or so and we'll see what that says about liver mets.

Although I am now on the "off" week, I'm still fatigued and have had diarrhea the past two days. Still, this is nothing like what I went through in the second cycle. I gave myself the pleasure of a day off today to do household stuff (ironed 12 shirts!), catching up on some TV meanwhile, and read a bit. I also took what seems to have become my daily nap.

Every afternoon between 3 and 4 PM, my body says to me, "Sleep....Sleep..." So I am taking my own advice and getting a daily nap.

The hand-foot syndrome bothers me but staying off my feet today seems to have helped. Plus wearing these UGG slippers with the fleece lining makes a difference over regular shoes, even with the fancy lined socks. I swear I'd wear them out of the house if it wouldn't look so dorky and if it wasn't still so cold here that my ankles would freeze.

April 03, 2013

Reduced dose, so far so good

Last time I saw Dr G, I asked if he would reduce my Xeloda dose. He did, by 1/6th (one less pill per day). I've felt been much better this cycle. Although I still want to nap every afternoon, I haven't had the other complications of last time (diarrhea, etc.). That's probably why I haven't been blogging -- I am busy living a "new normal" life and haven't found much to write about.

I'm happy that Passover has ended, although it's still one of my favorite holidays. Rik and I went out for my traditional pizza and beer feast last night at Elemental Pizzeria, new to us. We had a really good pizza topped with smoked mozzarella, kale, and cherry tomatoes on an olive oil base, as well as salads and beer. I had to run off to rehearsal afterwards, but came home early enough to have a full family snuggle on the couch (with dog).

Today I had an Avastin infusion. My blood pressure has been off lately, no doubt due to the Avastin, and I don't know how much longer I'll be able to take this chemo booster. We'll cross that bridge whenever.

I put some more plants into the shade garden on Sunday, but when I went to water them today, something had dug all of them up! It might be said dog, or a random critter. I replanted everything and put up a low decorative fence, which should at least keep the dog out.

Now it's off for that nap!