Friday, November 29, 2013

How to Jinx Yourself

This past week I learned I can use my blog to jinx myself. While looking forward to stuffing my face with Thanksgiving dinner I managed to pick up a stomach bug/major GERD flare and sadly had to interrupt my month of no doctors appointments. Tuesday night I had stomach pain so bad I put my mother on stand by to go to the hospital. I was sure that I was about to reinact the scene from alien where it bursts out of the guys stomach. Luckily, after some dry heaves and full use of a heated mattress pad the pain subside and I was able to stay in my own bed.

Wednesday, while still sore and with some pain I was able to head into work. I mean, I have done the whole not eating anything, sipping on water still getting my work done thing before. I wasn't able to see my PCP, but they were able to get me in to see an NP I have never seen before. Although, I knew I was probably just being a wuss I wanted to make sure that I hadn't ruptured an ovarian cyst or anything (side affect of tamoxifen is ovarian cysts).

The NP took one look at me, heard my story and said "You have Norovirus, you have to go home and you can't work today or tomorrow". Whoa, whoa, whoa. I proceeded to argue with her that I was missing some very key symptoms of Norovirus, mainly all of them. She reluctantly did an abdominal exam, said "Yup, definitely just a stomach bug. Make sure to follow good hand hygiene" (got her to downgrade it). Washed her hands and headed for the door while letting me know that if my symptoms and right lower quadrant tenderness didn't go away to come back on Friday. Then glances at my med list and says "Do you have breast cancer?". She realized she forgot to check if I was in a active treatment.

Now, I was pissed and slightly embarrassed for being a hypochondriac. I said to her as she headed for the door "I am sorry for wasting your time, but you need to understand that as a cancer survivor you become a little bit of a hypochondriac." This did stop her in her tracks and get her to turn around. She told me I hadn't wasted her time and that it was important to rule out appendicitis and ovarian cysts given the location of pain. Then closed the door and walked out. Her and I will not be friends, but I think I may have taught her a lesson.

Later in the day, I myself got taught a lesson. While chatting with my cancer friend I was whining about missing out on another year of thanksgiving overeating when she told me she may have cancer. Again. A second primary cancer. Well, lets just say swallowing my foot that I had put in my mouth, did not ease the stomach pain. We chatted about her upcoming doctor's appointments and tests, an all to familiar process.  Sending positive thoughts her way today for one of the diagnostic tests!

For the record, my stomach was slightly cooperative for thanksgiving and a small plate of turkey and mashed potatoes with a comically small piece of pie was able to be consumed.

Mom and I were able to continue our black Friday tradition and were happy to report this year was much better than last. It did inspire a lot of "This time last year..." comparisons. Instead of her trying to convince me to not go to work or to take a nap we happily buzzed through the deals with me being the pack mule. Just the way we like it. High Energy Christmas shopping. (For the record I am 75% done now).

Stomach is back to normalish (still a little fiery) and looking forward to my leftover's sandwich. And as the video below says "I love it!"

Monday, November 25, 2013

Month of Grattitude

There is a facebook campaign for people to spread out their gratitude for the entire month of November. People share the items that they are thankful for. Everyday, without needing to post a new "status" I am reminded of something I am thankful for. And most of my gratitude starts with "Well, this time last year...". Everything when compared to getting ready for the 3rd round of chemo lends itself to a grateful situation. It also is a great self motivation technique. Don't want to go to the gym? Remember self, you were only able to run twice in three weeks this time last year. And off I go to they gym. Thankful that I can.

Another thing I am grateful for? Hair cuts. They are still uproariously fun. I mean I giggle like a little kid throughout the entire time. This month, my new hair grew back so thick that I actually needed it thinned. HA! I needed my hair thinned. BC (before cancer) my hair couldn't have been any thinner. My hair has straightened out a lot in the past two weeks. I am still fascinated to see what texture each week brings. Grateful, however, for the full head of hair.

I have said it many times before, but I am thankful that the cancer I had was one of the most treatable and well studied cancers. I am grateful for the response (and utter decimation to cancer) the surgery, drugs and radiation provided. Working in a hospital and seeing the horrible things that cancer can do to people makes your grateful. When a patient from about a year ago, who was starting her cancer treatment around the same time as you, comes back in with a recurrence and metastasis, you are grateful to the point of tears for the way your cancer hand was dealt. When you and the attending physician shed some tears together over the patient's prognosis, you are thankful for everything in your life, but mostly you are grateful for life.  


This year I am working on Thanksgiving day. It's my turn and I am 100% sure that I will feel better than I did "this time last year". Especially, because I will not have had a chemo infusion and nuelasta shot. I am still grateful for my Mom's mashed potatoes and still ready to eat 2x my body weight worth of said potatoes.

Happy Thanksgiving 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Flashes and foot fire

I am having some issues with my thermal regulation. The drastic shifts in weather this week have been mirrored by my internal thermostat. Thursday morning while at work I found it intolerable to have my lab coat on, spent time using my consult sheet fanning myself and turned a nice shade of purple. The social worker asked if there was anything I could do to stop it/make it less. When I told her take my shoes off, I got a sympathetic "oh". This long burn lasted a good 45 minutes before I froze for part of the day. 

Friday, it was gorgeous out and I enjoyed being sans coat. Mom and I, while at the grocery store had a flashback to a year ago. A bald woman with glasses (right on sister friend you rock that bald head!)was grocery shopping with her mom. This was such a frequent task her and I did together it was surreal to see. Even better was when the cancer fighter's mom asked if she wanted her to pay for some of the groceries. Is it 2012 again? Am I watching film from the Somerville Stop and Shop? My full head of hair says nope. 

Saturday I did not have anymore flashes, what I had was major foot fire. I believe if I were a super hero my super power would be shooting flames out of the bottom of my feet. (We all know my kryptonite is not being awkward). My feet were so hot all day it wasn't until a solid 6 hours were spent sock free that they and the rest of me cooled off. 

Just now a I was able to thwart a flash by getting rid of the blanket I was napping under. Sleep + heavy blanket= tinfoil wrapped baked potato, and your the potato when you are internal thermostat has gone berserk. 

We'll see if I can wear anything but short sleeves this week. Maybe I can put my socks in the freezer... 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Science on Milk is about as clear as Milk

This week I have definitely had my crazy pants on. Pretty much cemented on. No idea why. My main ravenous research focus has been milk and specifically recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). And guess what? I got many of the facts wrong while not fully reading things, but hear is what I learned now that I have simmered down a bit and actually read through some things.

First, rBGH is only approved for use in the US. The European Union, Canada and other countries don't allow it. rBGH is a synthetic hormone given to cows to increase milk production. rBGH increases the cow's milk production by increasing the hormone Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1). The main concern is not rBGH, because as humans we wouldn't use this hormone (we don't have the receptors), but rather the end hormone result IGF-1. IGF-1 is a hormone that helps cells grow, and in some cases helps tumor cells develop. Now here is where the science gets murky. Early studies found a link between prostate, BREAST, colorectal and other cancers, but the strong link has not been repeatable. Some studies have found the correlation to a lesser extent.

IGF-1 concentrations are higher in milk from cows treated with rBGH. IGF-1 is not destroyed by pasteurization. However all people who drank milk, treated with rBGH or not, or those who drank soy milk not cows milk also had higher circulating levels of IGF-1. So it is unclear if there is enough of a direct relationship.However, rBGH milk adds an additional 0.9% ( IGF-1 according to studies. 

So while the American Cancer Society doesn't take a formal position on rBGH, I am going to go with Ben and Jerry on this one. As a scientist it pains me to go with murky evidence, but as a cancer survivor I am going with no rBGH containing dairy. Potential carcinogen is good enough for elimination for me. This means I check the label to make sure it says that it is hormone free on my dairy products or pony up the big bucks and by the organic. Oh my goodness, can we talk about how delicious organic milk is? And how long it lasts. It might be in my head, and I am ok with that.

Because I really didn't want to be this guy:

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. American Cancer Society. Accessed 11/12/13.
Epstien, SS. Unlabeled milk form cows treated with biosynthetic growth hormones:a case of regulatory abdication. Int J Health Serv. 1996, 26(1):173-185.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Hair-raising Good Time

This time last year I was bald. I am reminded everytime I put on my favorite hat. Do you know that I still check for hair inside my hat? I know it's not falling out, but I still check because the soft inside used to be filled with hundreds of bits of peach fuzz. Little black specs in the white fleece inside.

In order to celebrate having hair and halloween I did this:
Wearing my shirt that my friend gave me for chemo. I wore the shirt with my pajamas on the day after nuelasta shots. Now it is part of my halloween costumes/everyday wear. Love it.

Everyone has decided that because I used to be the bald girl I should just start doing crazy things with my hair. Faux hawk one day, head full of spikes the next, spray color. It's hilarious. And fun.{and don't worry Mom, I probably won't} Because I never appreciated a head of hair before, but I appreciate my full scalp coverage now.

I think I may have already posted this. But it's just that good. And I sing it in the morning while I do my hair.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Red Sox Fever

I haven't posted in awhile. In fairness I haven't had many thoughts besides this:
Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Halloween Sleep PARADE!

Basking in the World Series win, 'cuz every little thing is gonna be alright.