Archive for the 'cancer' Category
This is one of my lists for March’s theme of “Lists” for nablopomo, which I am miserably failing at keeping up and or writing lists at least once a day. April’s theme is “Letters.” Go here if you want the details.
Chemo sessions I had: 12
Duration of each chemo session: 3-5 hours via IV
Frequency of chemo: Once every 14 days
Days I was bedridden from chemo: ~72 days
Times I puked from having chemo: 432 - 864 (that figures about 6-12 times each of the 72 days)
Hair lost: every strand on head & body except eyebrows
Neupogen shots I received to boost my system so chemo wouldn’t be delayed: 48
Radiation therapy sessions: 10
Duration of radiation: 45 seconds front & 45 seconds back (kind of like roasting or grilling) I think it was 45 seconds.. can’t remember now.
Preparation time before radiation: 15 minutes
Lives we’ve been gifted as a result of all the above: 3 (my very own, and our 2 children)
I came upon this Disease Risk Index page at Harvard.edu
I was intrigued and wanted to see what it would say about my risk of cancer, and see if the test is accurate or remotely accurate. However, I was dismayed when I had to answer “yes” to the 2nd question, which in essence screws up the entire survey and prove the survey useless. Also, the list of cancer was limited. (I did not look at the other diseases)
The whole bit about cancer is that, you (you as in, anyone and everyone) just don’t effin know if you will get it or not. There are too many exceptions, preventing any real cause/effect scenarios, hypotheses or theories to be drawn. You could be as healthy for your entire life (like me), and bam! the next thing you know, they’re tell you about your new cancer diagnose. Or you could be a chimney, chain, nonstop smoker / second hand smoking / whatever else, and you never ever get sick from anything. Ever.
It’s like playing Russian Roulette.
Oh sure the assessments might work for some people. But for the majorities, I think it’s a crap shoot.
Last month there was an article on The Washington Post about overuse of CT scans and its possible affects it would have on patients, especially younger women and children.
In my experience, there is no doubt that CT scans have saved my life 7 yrs ago. From the time I showed symptoms of Hodgkin’s (tiredness, itchy legs, night sweats, chest pains — I know! How can those be considered symptoms of cancer?! But sadly they are truely symptoms of Hodgkin’s) to the time I was diagnosed, was a long 5 month period. Five fat months where the cancer ran rampant and amok within my body, growing from the nodes inside my chest up to the nodes in my neck. And yet, doctor after doctor, copay after copay, test after test, nothing conclusive, but with several misdiagnoses. Isn’t that lovely, not only they don’t know what’s wrong, but they tell you something completely off the wall!
I guess I could say that the x-ray did give the hint (when they finally ordered one!), but really it was the CT scan that really showed it was a mass, a big bad mass. I eventually also got a gallium scan as a diagnostic scan, and a PET scan midway through chemo. I don’t know what doses of radiation these scans gave, but I think it was absolutely worth it for the benefits it provided. After all, the radiation couldn’t have been a small fraction of the two-weeks-long intense
frying radiation therapy I received.
However, there comes a point when the scans aren’t necessary in certain situations or for certain people, as the article pointed out. But who determines that, and how does everyone’s interest plays into the final decision?
Are we, the general population, getting more diseases, or do we just have the technology and knowledge of diagnosis, therefore simply are uncovering what would be there anyway?
Last week I received a set of appointment schedules in the mail. The appointments are for January next year, and the hospital is 3.5 hours away. (I don’t live in the boonies but this is a world renowned clinic and I prefer going there, also, my oncologist is there).
I’m due for my annual checkup, which includes a whole-body CT scan, several gigantic tubes of blood draw to test thyroid levels and whatever other things they’re suppose to check, physical examination by the oncologist. I’ve done this umpteen times so I’m not overly stressed. I just don’t like the required fasting, the barium sulfate crap, and the needles. OMG the needles. Did I tell you about the countless times where more than 2 people have to access my veins, because they can’t find it? Or it rolls? Or it’s been so busted that there aren’t any good ones left? Once both my arm veins were collapsed and I couldn’t bend my arms pain-free for over a week, and I had a 27 lb 1-yr old boy that needed carrying. Needles and I don’t get along very well at all. I digress.
There was a surprise appointment in there. A mammogram! I’m not kidding. I’m very flat. I’m 31. I’m still a long ways from the “required mammogram” age group. I don’t want to get my none-existent boobs squished between cold glass plates. I’m not ready. I’m too young for this. Sigh.
The reason why I need to do the mammogram is because I had Mantle Field radiation after chemotherapy, as an “insurance” thing (it’s very typical protocol). And because of the radiation, there is an increased risk of developing breast cancer. It’s a good thing that they’re keeping an eye on stuff, but yikes, I really don’t want to get squished.
I’m also suppose to see my GI doctor there (which I have to call and add on this request), so I can refill my prescription. This GI problem of mine is very embarrassing and I’m too ashamed to talk about it openly with anyone. It’s a chronic condition, which means there is no cure for it, and I’m required to take daily medication for the rest of my life. Let’s leave it at that okay? (I feel as if I’m 85, having all these medical problems…)
SO. It will be a very fun field trip day for me. I’m not looking really forward to it and I’m slightly anxious; I’m grateful nonetheless. Let’s just hope the weather cooperates and I wouldn’t have to drive in a snowstorm. Several more weeks of blissful ignorance before the onslaught of yucky barium sulfate drinks, iodine injection, and SHARP pointy needles. And squished boobies.
Grab some tissues before proceeding if your tears run easily like mine.
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A lot of times I don’t believe things happen for a reason, but if I allow myself to take a closer look to dissect and analyze events and sequences in which they happen, I often end up with the conclusion that indeed, things do happen for a reason.
I “met” Sandy because of this year’s Nablopomo. Her blog is Momisodes. She’s funny, witty, talented, beautiful inside and out, and our two-year-old daughters are exactly 6 days apart. From reading her blog, she’s also likely to have the same taste in food choices as I do. I wonder how often we would hit the noodle joints and dimsum places together if we lived closer and close to good ethnic foods.
Unbeknownst to me, Sandy is also a co-founder of ConnectingMoms, and she wanted to interviewed me! I was very excited at the opportunity and said yes. Here’s the interview link, in which you’ll read about some of the things in my past and where I talked a little about our store KangarooBoo as well. Little did I know she also wrote a very moving post about me yesterday on her blog. I cried when I read her post. I broke down and wads of tissues ensued wiping my eyes and nose.
Thank you Sandy for everything. I am so glad to have met you online and hope we will meet in person some day. I’m sure our girls will enjoy each other’s company as well.
Light the Night Walk took place here on Saturday. All of us went. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people young and old, even some dogs (and swans in the lake). There was food, dances, bounce houses, hot air balloons, and of course, lots of tears.
In less than 3 weeks’ time, my Hubby and I raised a grand total of $1968 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (in cash, checks, and online donations)! We chipped in ~ $700 to match donations but overall our friends and family did the most! I want to thank each and everyone of you who made it possible!!! Next time, whenever that is, we will certainly start earlier to have a even better outcome.
It was not as emotional as when we did it back in 2002. I was rather occupied with caring for the kids. However I still cried rather unsightly - I’m not a pretty crier - when the dance / drum team came through. They were very good! They roused up my inner feelings and I just couldn’t stop for a good few minutes.
Amongst the hundreds of white (and red) balloons, I spotted a young girl about 7 years old or so at the walk holding a white balloon (cancer survivors carry white balloons while supporters carry red ones). One would never have known the trials she went through if it was not for an event like this. She was cheery and happy, so full of life, holding tightly onto her mom’s hand.
This, is exactly why I want to do my part in raising money.
Some of you have received an email from me regarding this already. Feel free to ignore this if so.
I would very much appreciate it if you would consider making a donation for it (tax deductible). You can either donate online here via the secured site, where it only takes a few minutes and you can remain invisible or have your name displayed on the ‘contributor’ section. Or if you’d prefer, email me for my address to donate with a check, payable to “Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.”
I would also understand if you don’t. Honestly.
Light the Night is a really moving experience (I think any event of such scale or cause would be, like the 3-day, or the relay, just to name a few). When we participated in 2002, there were literally thousands of people there. After dusk, participants carry red illuminated balloons and cancer survivor carry white illuminated balloons and walk the designated distance — the balloons are illuminated because there is a small battery-operated light inside. It’s a heck of a sight, makes me teary eyed just re-thinking about it. Some walk in honor of their friends/families while others walk in loving memories of those lost in the fight. It’s a VERY humbling experience, knowing there were so many people who lost their lives, or so many who have gone through what you went through and are proud to show their battle scars. You just feel they get it, and I’m not alone, and I’m here for you, and you and you.
Seeing how the weather is lately, I hope it doesn’t rain that night!
As a cancer survivor myself, and a parent of two kids, I am very protective of what kinds of toys they put into their mouths. I’m very glad to learn that San Francisco is taking a step in the right direction toward total toy safety. I hope the entire US will follow suit, however, I’m not optimistic considering our current president’s stance on many environmental issues.
The latest F!sher Pr!ce recall is just another example of how corrupted things are in Ch!na. As you can see, most of the recalls in the past has been real physical safety issues, whereas the latest one dated August 1 is lead paint. I read in a press release - too lazy to find the link right now - that the company has very good relations with the manufacturing factory and vendors, and very stringent rules but somehow a large volume of lead paint escaped into the line. So if even a major company like this could get contaminated by lead paint, who is to say the little guys are not susceptible?
Remember another recent recall, the train one? Also lead paint contamination. Also China.
Unfortunately, China is not alone. Lead paint is not banned in many many countries (such as Malaysia and Thailand, just to name a couple). It so happens that China is the largest producer / exporter hence it gets most if not all of the spotlights.
These toys are in the hands of young children constantly, and often times, in their mouths as well. Toys simply cannot be made with any toxic material. Period.
Bottom line is, lead paint needs to be banned in China. And the rest of the world.