Sunday, August 28, 2011

Last and final update

It ain't over till it's over.  The fat lady hasn't sung yet. Bread is still baking in the oven. Now I'm out of cliches.  Suffice it to say that you thought I was done and I thought I was done, and my husband sensed that I was done, but the reality is that I'm not done.  After a weekend of fun in the sun, lake swimming, trail running while the kids are away on their Disney cruise with grandma, plus a lot of skin healing, I realized the trapezoid sunburn pain is not really that painful, and cancer regrowth would be a lot worse than a short term sunburn.

I have no  idea why I thought that the sunburn was worse than cancer.  Temporary insanity.

So the scales of good judgment are back in balance.  I returned this week to the zap machine at Sloan Kettering to finish the last five of twenty-five treatments.

So by September 1, we will be DONE with radiation.  Dare I say "Done?"  Could it be true?  I darn well hope so.  Just in time for race day.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Update on treatments

But last Thursday, I did it and quit.   I drove to Sloan Kettering, talked to the nurse, teared up, and told her I was afraid of more treatments.  She didn't talk me into it or out of it, and didn't really say much of anything, except to remind me that she had warned me that the skin would burn. Yet the fact that she warned me a month ago had nothing to do with how I felt last Thursday. So I followed my conviction, threw in the towel, and I left.  I know that I may have reduced my risk somewhat by the radiation but did not completely eliminate the risk.  I reasoned that I was in the "grey area" to begin with; one oncologist recommended radiation to reduce my risk of recurrence to the chest wall, and the other said there wasn't enough medical evidence that it was necessary for someone in my shoes. 

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Family reunion 2011

I love my family. We have a family of comedians. And comediennes. Cousins from up and down the east coast converged on Rocky Gap Resort and State Park in Maryland for a weekend of catching up on graduations, jobs, health, boyfriends, kids and everything else. Outdoor activities, food, exercise, and socializing were on the agenda.

Since the theme of this blog is surviving breast cancer, I need to point out that some of my relatives are breast cancer survivors.  Two aunts and a first cousin, to be exact, so it is a relatively known disease in this family of mine. Fortunately, no one that we know of in the present generations, which includes individuals from 6 months of age to 86 years of age, have died of the disease. My 86 year old aunt had it twice, once in each breast, in 1970 and 1975, before chemotherapy was used. She had mastectomies and radiation and no recurrence. No chemotherapy, no anti-estrogen pills, just radiation and a radical mastectomy.

Was her health care options as broad as those available today? Definitely not.  But external beam radiation, directed to a specific area of the body, was available.  And it was enough to get rid of the cancer, not cause any fatal radiation overdoses, and kept her alive and well for another 35 years and still going strong.  She may well still be running around at 100 at her rate. The radiation alone and the mastectomies, for her, prevented any recurrence. While I am sure 1970 and 1975 were not happy years for her, and probably left some battle scars, life was much more full and memorable and didn't stop in 1975 for her.

So thinking about my aunt, and her 85 year old sister, and my cousin, reminds me not to fear the radiation, but just to get through them by putting my nose on the grindstone.  (Is that the right cliche?  I'm not even sure what it means.  Hopefully you do).

I know there are radiation overdoses and long terms risks, but I am pretty certain that my facility crosses its t's and dots its i's in terms of checking the equipment every morning, making sure that the dosage is accurate for each patient, and spending lots of time ensuring that patients like me are positioned in the same exact way for every treatment, with one arm up and laying my head and arm in the plaster mold made just for me.  At least that's what they tell me, and I have to believe them.

There are lots of holistic options, from oils to diet and herbs.  But it seems to me that we ought to take advantage of all modern medicine offered.  I know I want to make sure that my life is just as long and cancer free as my aunt's is.  Not only is she cancer-free for 35+ years, but she is fit and one of the sharpest tacks in the family gene pool. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Did Google send you here?

Google's blogspot website tracks the traffic to each particular blog. Not only does it indicate the number of "page views" per day, but it also tracks the popular key words that people used in a search engine, which led them to unwittingly stumble onto a blog. So I found myself, earlier today, reading the numbers. I was at first shocked to learn that more than a handful of people read this blog. Shocked. Though I'm not exactly sure if they read it, or just mistakenly clicked on it then ran away to the blogosphere.

But I was more shocked to learn that three people -- whoever they might be -- used the google search words "little girls breast" and then were led to one of my entries from April 2011. And that entry had nothing to do with those keywords, I might add. Nothing.

I was amused at the thought that such a disgusting, demented person may be in for a surprise to find that this website is about the breast cancer journey of one very conventional mother of two, and nothing more than that. What sicko searches for "little girls breast" on google? Don't you, dear person, have anything more important to do than succumb to perverted desires as you sit yourself in front of your monitor on a lonely Friday night?

Maybe my misleading the person to this website will be so aggravating to the pedophiliac researcher that he will just give up and log out. And my writing this little blog entry will save a child from having their image peered at for demented entertainment. That would be a good thing.

(By the way, I am amused at the thought that anyone who now searches for "little girls breast" will probably land on this website, judging from the frequency in which I used those words in this post alone.}

On the other hand, if the search was related to a medical condition or other legitimate question or concern, then I'm sorry I called you a name, and good luck with that.

I admit that I have done google searches to learn about medical conditions. In our house of hypochondriacs (and I speak only for myself here), there have been dozens of symptom searches. I have been known to search for "how to extract baby tooth that won't come out" and "do I have skin cancer or a hairy wart" and "what does green poo mean." Don't ask.

So I could be misreading the situation. Or misreading the stats that blogspot provides. Either way, I really hope that whoever is searching "little girls breast" is not finding what they are looking for. Unless they need to find it for medical reasons. Then it's okay.

For those of you who read the blog out of pure interest or concern, please come back to read more. I swear you are almost completely in good company.