Monday, January 28, 2008

The Party's Over!!

Jim comes home from vacation today. This week has just flown. But I enjoyed my piles and projects and honestly feel like I got quite a bit done.

I see the psychiatrist today for medicine management. I am pretty stable emotionally now, so he may reduce my visits to every 3 months. I would like to try for antidepressant reduction again in the spring/summer. Maybe after we get back from Europe.

I was visiting LifeLink to get Methyl B-12 for neuropathy (it worked well on Maxie's diabetic neuropathy), and ran into Evening Primrose Oil. I was looking for supplements that address nerve function, and saw that EPO also enhances Tamoxifen’s ability to suppress breast cancer. There has been a clinical study on it. Took a risk and ordered some; haven't spoken to the oncologist about it yet. That may do no good, though, because he poo-poos all supplements.

The fatigue and bone and muscle pain continue. I have a follow-up appt. with the endochronologist in about 3 weeks, with blood tests for calcium, PTH, and Vitamin D later this week. This has been going on for 5-6 months now. I am really going to whine to the endo this time about DOING SOMETHING!!

I met another breast cancer patient recently. She is in the Saturday yoga class, the one that is not at the cancer center. I believe she is still in chemo at this time, and is considering an autogenous (own tissue) breast reconstruction with a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia. His name is Joseph Serletti. He might be useful for a second opinion on my DIEP flap.

Jim should be limping considerably when he gets home today. He tried one round of golf, and he knees took the brunt of the twisting with the golf swing. Ouch! He also may need to "detox" from all the non-alcoholic beer he drank during the week. He said he "had to" keep up drink for drink with his golfing buddies when they went to the bars. Sigh!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Getting Warmed up for Europe

Today, we got our first tickets for our Europe trip. The Ceremony of the Keys--the traditional nightly locking up of the Tower of London. We have invited Steve [and Jock] (formerly in Sweden and now in London) and his wife Sabina to join us.

I have been browsing around for things to do during our free time in London. I am looking at the Tate Britain, which is the national gallery of British art. Its website allows you to identify pieces you want to see and to build a tour, which you then print out and take with you. Admittance to the general collection is free and they have some free guided tours. Sadly, the major Turner pieces will be out of the country at the time of our visit.

My friend Elaina, who has been to Europe, has suggested some other places for me to check out--the Rodin Museum in Paris, the British Museum, and taking a train trip to Canterbury.

Some of the hardest part of this is web pages in foreign languages and currency conversion. Babblefish and other web sites help me with those. I am so computer-dependent, I know I will be just lost without computer access on the trip. I don't know anything about wifi or computer cafes or any of that. Another problem is that for many museums, the exhibitions for May (the time we will be in Europe) are not yet listed on their websites.

If anyone has suggestions for "must do" things in Europe or for internet access, please let me know.

Jim's away for a week on a guys-only golfing trip. Jim has golfed in the past but I don't know if he'll be up for it now. But he will have fun hanging out with the guys and riding in the golf cart. There are some courses they will be playing that do allow the cart on the fairway. Otherwise, I doubt Jim could walk the course. Arthritic knees.

And I have a whole week to pamper my menopause. Can be up all hours of the night, play the TV as loud as I like, put the computer on speakers instead of headphones to listen to NPR. I am getting some things done. Yesterday, I replaced the guts in a toilet, did some painting of cabinets and shelves to go on the walls, washed venetian blinds. Jim doesn't like that kind of chaos when he's around, because I can't finish one job all at one time, and leave my tools and mess out all day and sometimes overnight. The house is almost completely tidied up from Jim's move in, and now I am working on filing stuff in my office that has collected over the past two years. And I will have to start planning for income taxes.

Sue, the woman for whom I am a chemo buddy, did really well with her first chemo session. She was scared, but once the infusion started, she calmed down and was fine. She suffered through the Neulasta bone pain, and was over all the acute side effects in about 9 days. She is getting her infusions every 3 weeks (I had mine every two), so she will have alot more "good time" between infusions than I did. Her next infusion is a week from now, and her husband will be taking her.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Treatment Buddy

This week, I get to start a new breast cancer journey of sorts. A woman from my online Wellness Community support group lives nearby, and I will be her treatment buddy. Tomorrow (Monday) she is getting her first chemo infusion.

Sue is 50, and was DX last fall with invasive ductal carcinoma in one breast. The tumor was somewhere around 1.5cm, and she had a lumpectomy. One sentinel node showed micrometastatic cancer. There was a differences of opinion about the nature and severity of the tumor, margins, and micromets, but Sue went with the pathology from two of the three labs that agreed. Had Sue taken the third opinion, she would have been facing a full axillary node dissection, which means the removal of all lymph nodes under her arm, setting her up for lymphedema, the life-long painful swelling of the affected arm.

Sue is going to the same facility that did my treatment--Helen Graham Cancer Center--although a different oncology practice. She will be getting the current standard of care which involves 4 infusions of Cytoxin and Taxotere. That likely would have been my chemo treatment if I had it now, 18 months later. The Taxotere is a new generation Taxol (which I had), and is reported to have fewer side effects, most notably the neuropathy, which I still have. Sue is very happy to avoid the Taxol. She is diabetic, and the steroids that are given with the chemo are likely to mess with that some.

Sue also will be getting a full 6 weeks of radiation. Hopefully, I can guide her through that a little better than I was guided so that she doesn't experience a bad burn.

Sue also plans to get a hysterectomy so that she can take the post-menopausal estrogen suppressing drug, instead of the pre-menopausal drug I am taking--Tamoxifen. She prefers the side effects of that other drug.

Sue has been through cancer before, most closely with her daughter, who has had leukemia since she was 12. Sue is a very strong woman, but she is understandably fearful. She has been told that the night before the first chemo is the worst, and I agree with that. It is a fear of a huge unknown. But she seems as medically and emotionally prepared as possible to face the treatment.

How about a bunch of "ATTA-GIRLS" for Sue?