All posts filed under: Cancer

Look Good Feel Better

There is one good thing about chemotherapy. It is the Look Good Feel Better program. Fun. A time to share. Like Christmas. It is a two-hour appointment with a cosmetologist in a small group of women who have cancer. I had participated in a program five years ago when I was in radiation treatment for breast cancer. That appointment was at MD Anderson on Indian School near Kaseman. This session was at the Rust Cancer Center and was equally as good as the one five years ago. We are each given a cosmetic bag full of cosmetics that matches our skin tones. The bags come sealed and ready for us. At our places we each have a mirror and cosmetic wipes. Opening the bag is like Christmas. My bag had Chanel powder, lipstick and blush. Clinique foundation, Estee Lauder face cream and eye makeup, IT brow powder and a set of brushes, body lotion and sun screen. Pure joy. Our instructor walks us through the steps of taking care of our face during cancer treatment. …

How my hair came to fall out, more experiences with cancer treatment

  I remember when I learned about my latest cancer (#3).I knew that once again my life would be consumed by all things cancer. After major comprehensive surgery (they took almost everything out), it was time to settle into chemotherapy. My oncologist, Sara Jordan, had explained the reasoning behind the treatment she proposed. Chemotherapy would be part two after surgery and before vaginal radiation. I figured she might be able to cure me which sounded appealing and worth the effort I would be expending. This picture shows my hair, but it was taken after surgery and before chemo. The chemo was to be a commonly used combination of Taxol and Carboplatin. Six sessions in 21-day cycles. Hair loss is definite and is estimated to be 2-3 weeks after initial infusion. This allows a little planning time. My hair stylist, Audrey, cut my hair into a short pixie. Much better than a butch or a clean shave. The second part of the plan was to shave it when it started falling out. About day 19 after …

the joy of roses

Cancer Number Three and RA

  It is almost a month since I had a robotic radical hysterectomy and it has been four days since I had my first chemo. I feel pretty good all things considered. Additionally, a minor surgical procedure placed a power injectable SMART PORT under my skin connected to a catheter that was threaded into my jugular vein and down to my superior vena cava creating fast access to my body’s circulation.  It is not as bad as it sounds. Sloan Kettering has a PDF that explains the procedure. My skin has been tender, but the lidocaine ointment works and relieves the discomfort. My RA is complaining with all joints hurting morning and again evening time. Walking hurts my feet even though I have custom shoes and custom triple layer inserts.  I am glad I take methotrexate injections, Plaquenil and meloxicam. I take 6 mg Medrol and can boost the dose into a dose pack if needed. So far, I am holding steady. With RA I think it is important to move. Aerobics are nice but …

Cancer Surgery Number Three

My surgery is over, and after an overnight hospital stay I am safely home. The doctor took many things out of me and she biopsied the rest. My doctor is a GYN oncologist surgeon, Sara Jordan. She is amazing and couldn’t be better. She feels that my serous uterine cancer, a rare subset of endometrial cancer and known for recurring, needs to be treated aggressively. I completed the first step, surgery. Prepping for the surgery was a challenge. I was required to spend Mother’s Day on a clear liquid diet. Then on Monday I was reduced to NPO status even though surgery wasn’t until one pm. I was running on empty so when I approached my preop, well-padded bed, I was relieved to get in. Stripped down like a hijacked car, clothed in the traditional blue gown, IV successfully inserted, I was ready for surgery. OR nurse stopped in. Anesthesiologist checked in. Dr Jordan reviewed the surgery again and introduced me to the second surgeon. Time seemed to accelerate. It was five minutes past one …

My RA and CA and me

If it weren’t for the third cancer hanging over my head, I would be a very happy soul. As it is I am just a happy soul. My roses are blooming. This is their big month and they are not disappointing.  Gardening and puttering through the various chores of my household reminds me of my housewife days. Good days. I aspire to the Hobbit life. Mellow and satisfying. Life in my home. I attend warm water pool classes at the Presbyterian Healthcare facility on Eubank. It is a long drive, but the classes are worth it. A comprehensive and aerobic workout that is manageable in the pool but not on land. Yesterday, I suddenly had a severe pain in my pelvic area that ran down the inside of my leg. Something new. Scared me. I thought about getting out but decided to lower my exercise level and see if it would pass. It did. I am no stranger to pain, back pain, joint pain and now this. Johnny Cash’s Peace in the Valley is sounding …

Rheumatoid Arthritis a training ground for cancer

Rheumatoid Arthritis: A training ground for cancer. That is how I think of it. When I was diagnosed last year with RA, I read everything I could find on the subject. I was trying to figure out where I stood with the disease. My favorite book was M.E.McNeil’s The First Year Rheumatoid Arthritis. The value of this book is that it offers an approach, a way of thinking, to come to terms with a chronic, progressive disease. It gave me the same help when I had to come to terms with the diagnosis of two different cancers. • I journal regularly, expressing myself and establishing a timeline. • I think of my medical providers as my team that does include my pharmacist, physical therapist as well as the 6 specialists that I am seeing currently. • I see myself as the head of my team. I have confidence in my team. Each has a role. My role is to be proactive, to do my part. • I am able to accept my current situation, relaxing …

Thyroid CA next step

Monday I visited my surgeon. She had my pathology report. I like to see her. She has so much positive energy. She is knowledgeable. She is very helpful. My cancer was not encapsulated and was within a mm of the border. not sure about this.My cancer was also in my lymph glands. So I will have a radioactive treatment. Next stop today was my endocrinologist. The radioactive treatment is complicated. Prep work is detailed and takes time. I will have to become extremely hypo active. I will be on a low iodine diet.  There is an injection called Thyroglobulin that costs $2500 that would cut the prep work to a much smaller time. My insurance will pay $1600 of it. I certainly am not able to pay the rest. In addition there will be the cost of the full body scan,  $300 under my plan. The drug company has an application for assistance. I filled it out and gave it to my Doc and she will give it to the person who will be getting authorizations. …

Thyroid CA surgery is done

On 10/16/13 Dr. Vasquez operated on me. I say she slit my throat but the appropriate procedure was a total thyroidectomy and central neck resection. I was lucky. I  had one of the best surgeons in the southwest doing her magic in my neck. I felt safe. I was supposed to arrive at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. with a clean neck and an empty stomach.  The evening before I received a call from the hospital and was told my arrival time  was pushed back to 7:30a.m. and my surgery to 9:30a.m. Good I thought, I can sleep in. Next morning I took my designated meds as instructed(BP meds, prednisone, Plaquinil) dressed in loose easy to get into clothes and I am ready to go. As we were loading into cars for the trip down the street and around the corner, my phone beeps and another change in the plan.  It is the hospital saying they are ready as soon as I could get there.  We are there in 5 minutes.  I register and copay.  …

Cancer and RA in older people.

I visited my rheumatologist today. I am in a flare. My feet are the usual problem, as are fingers, toes, ankles,shoulders. My wrists are too, but I still can do downward dog. New is my right pointer finger, swollen, painful. Because of the surgery she can’t add a biologic.  She said after the cancer is removed, my joints might improve. In an older person who develops sero negative RA, she strongly suspects cancer. She had mentioned this before. She said when the immune system is not working properly, cancer is also likely. She was right. Hopefully, the surgery is uneventful and the RA settles down. Her instructions were to stop the methotrexate the week before surgery. If my incision looks good, I can resume the methotrexate a week after the surgery. ( I will not be seeing the surgeon for two weeks following the surgery.) The surgeon wants me to stop the meloxicam a week before the surgery and resume a week after the surgery. The surgeon is seasoned, highly respected and board certified with …

My son said I needed to set the RA aside

My son, who was trying to be helpful, said I needed to set the RA aside while I deal with the cancer. Sounded like a good idea to me. Wish it could be so. I have been more fortunate that many with my RA. I am functioning. I do have energy most days. My pain varies but it manageable. I have a few small deformities. They are not big ones. I have an excellent rheumatologist. I have an excellent endocrinologist.  Yes, it is amazing. I can even spell these big words without looking them up. Added to my collection of experts is an excellent surgeon with a warm and friendly attitude. She is board certified with  special training in endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic. She also has  extensive experience with thyroid surgery. I will feel confident in my slumber under her knife. I expect to wake up, vital neck structures still intact. This is so very reassuring to me. Today I had an ultrasound of my neck. Thursday I have my last PT with Christine. …