Sunday, January 31, 2016

Practicing the art of comfort in, dump out

I have blogged a couple of times about the great LA Times article on how to be a comfort to people and not say the wrong things in hard situations. For a refresher, here is the great Op-Ed piece by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman.

Over the past couple of weeks I have found and witnessed that it is often against people's first reactions to practice comfort in, dump out. People sometimes value their own pain over those who are in those inner most rings and it's really hard not to put yourself into the center. It really is ok to not say anything at all, especially if you don't know what to say. Never is this more on display than at a wake or a funeral.

My boyfriend's mother passed away from pancreatic cancer a little over 2 weeks ago. It's a really sad way to meet someone's entire extended family. For those who were just outside the inner circle (the inner circle being: my boyfriend, his dad and his brother) for the most part people were practicing comfort in. My main job was to give my bf a dump out ring and offer comfort in. It involved me biting my tongue when one relative decided to tell us about his theory that a cure for cancer exists and that it's a global conspiracy between big pharma to not release it. Being the "dump out ring" meant it was also my fault that pants don't fit, sweaters shrank and shoes just look stupid. Practicing comfort in can also sometimes mean that you buy a brand new winter coat because your person in the inner circle has become so fixated on it that it becomes a point of anger. A quick trip to Macy's and you get a smile on a face for the first time in weeks. Not all things are that easy. Sometimes you cry together in the grocery store, or you have to just listen and not try to fix during a 3 hr rant about how much the universe sucks right now.

After the funeral my boyfriend's father told me that he couldn't imagine what I went through with breast cancer. I told him that compared to everything he and his wife had been through that it wasn't even on the same level. He said his two sister (both concurrently in treatment for cancer) said the same thing. People often preach that cancer is cancer. There are some universal experiences, but there truly are different levels. I was never faced with writing my own obituary or picking out the outfit I wanted to be buried in. I didn't have to go down those roads. I hope to not have to for another 60 or so years.

I will forever be grateful for being given the chance to get to know my boyfriend's mother before she passed. It will always make me sad how short our time was, but for right now that's something I'll only share with the next circle up.

Rest in peace Joanne.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A little follow up and a little research

Yesterday, I had my Larry Bird (33 month) follow up for the PRESENT study. It's just blood work, urine and physical exam. You know, the usual. But, what is super exciting is that I am at the 33 month mark for the clinical trial. The 3 year clinical trial. I was given the date of my scans (CT, Bone, Heart, Mammogram) and the date of the last round of injections. Next month I will celebrate my 3 years being NED. Wow.

My follow up was uneventful. I am still Iron deficient. No one is worried. I've been eating less meat and I've been running. Not uncommon. I'm still not deficient enough that I have to take iron supplements or have further tests. So a hamburger and some Grape Nuts (highly fortified cereal) will be in my future.

While riding the bus home from work, smiling about good blood work I came across an article stating that sucrose (sugar) consumption had been linked to breast cancer. My dream bubble filled with cookies shattered into a million chocolate chips. I then hunted down the research study.

The article I read was siting the research study by Jiang et al, A Sucrose-Enriched Diet Promotes Tumorigenesis in Mammary Gland in Part through the 12-Lipoxygenase Pathway, published in the January 2016 edition of Cancer Research. Basically, the group at The University of Texas/MD Anderson took mice who had been injected with triple negative breast cancer cells or breast cancer lung mets and then randomized the mice varying levels of sucrose enriched diets. The control group received 0 g/kg of sucrose, then 62.5 g/kg of sucrose, 125 g/kg, 250 g/kg and 500 g/kg. The study found that those on the higher sucrose diets (125, 250, 500) had an early onset of tumors although no information about the statistical significance is stated. The statistically significant results that the study did find were that the mice on the high sucrose diets had larger tumors than the control (no sucrose) and had a significantly greater number of lung met tumors. Therefore this study did show that the inflammatory pathway (12-Lipoxygenase as referenced in the study title) which is stimulated by the ingestion of sucrose may play a role in the growth and spread of breast cancer tumors. However, the authors admit that the knowledge on the pathway that was being studied was incomplete. It also was testing triple negative breast cancer (that without hormonal markers). And it was also mice. And the results of the mice fed 62.5 g/kg were not mentioned.

Very interestingly, the mice on the higher sucrose containing diets did not gain statistically more weight than the control mice. Therefore, overweight-a known risk factor for breast cancer, cannot be the cause.

What does it mean? Well, it is difficult to ascertain what the results in a human will be from animal studies. Also, the mice were already given breast cancer so it does not address sugar consumption and the cause of breast cancer. It does however give me pause coming off the holiday season were I definitely over indulged in the sweets. It also makes me pull up my dietitian boot straps and start working towards getting back to the American Heart Associations goal of 24 g of added sugar. Which, I have tried to do every year as noted by my post from 2014. But, when I look at today I only had 12 g of added sugar. So, it can be done.