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My RA and serous uterine cancer

 

I became suspicious that there was more to my D&C and biopsy than I was expecting. My GYN Doc called me in to her office a week early to discuss my biopsy results. It was also her day for surgery.  She came up from the OR suite just to talk to me. Bad signs.

I like her. She is a petite woman of Asian heritage. Friendly. Personable. Professional. She quickly arrived carrying pictures she had taken during the D&C and a copy of the pathology report. She handed it to me. I read serous cancer. Reconfirmed. No doubt about it. She said she wasn’t familiar with this type of cancer, but I suspect she was playing the discussion forward to the next doctor. I have an appointment with an experienced GYN oncology surgeon on Monday.

Uterine papillary serous cancer, UPSC for short, is also called uterine serous cancer and uterine serous adenocarcinoma. Docs and Google will understand if you just say serous cancer. It is a rare subset of endometrial cancer. It is relentlessly aggressive and accounts for a high number of endometrial cancer deaths. It is in the same class of seriousness as ovarian cancer. The treatment is brutal, and the cancer is still relentless. Scared the Dickins out of me.

Once the treatment process starts, it will change my life forever. I will lose much of the progress I have made after my hip replacement. I will be sick. I will have no energy and no hair. After a comprehensive surgery, chemotherapy is next. Radiation may be added. The cancer keeps coming back and as long as chemo can be an option, it is repeated.

The five-year survival rate is 27% when other types of endometrial cancers are eliminated from the statistics. Not good.

Serous cancer was separated out from endometrial cancer about 20 years ago. I have a GYN nurse friend who never heard of it. She stopped working about 25 years ago.

This week-end I am working in my yard, my favorite. Like many other cancer patients, I am also starting to clear the decks and to plan for treatment. My son says he will miss my cooking but will be happy to take on the duties he had when I had my hip replacement problems. He will take me to my appointment Monday.

With past cancers, I was told, “You are lucky we caught it early”. I wish that is what I heard this time. Just like everyone else, I will do what I need to do. The medical community requires that a cancer patient have a good attitude. To do otherwise is like being unpatriotic. I think that places an additional burden on a patient. I’ve seen too many incredibly optimistic cancer patients die. I sometimes think that it is a symptom of cancer mortality. I don’t want to be too optimistic. I just want to live to 95.

 

 

RA and Another Biopsy

Back to the hospital for another round with the medical community. When I had learned that I would need an endometrial biopsy for uterine changes due to the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen and a D&C due to polyps, all I could think of was here we go again. I am six months out from a difficult hip replacement recovery.

I am still recovering, stiff and sore. But I am in much better shape than I had been. I am in warm water therapy classes several times a week. My garden is a joy. Beautiful, productive and satisfying. My yard is home to rabbits, a squirrel, quail, roadrunner and a happy assortment of birds. By the end of the year I hope to be certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. My brain is finally working, and I am starting to write again. Then this.

I had previously written a blog on getting more bad news. This really isn’t bad yet. I won’t know for another 10 days or so. Those with RA are at increased risk for a fatal outcome with a cancer diagnosis. So far I have proved the statistics wrong.

My experience in day surgery was a good one. My nurses were professional, pleasant and helpful. I was well taken care of. My OR experience was so much better than the one I had for my hip surgery. My doctor had been concerned about my hip during her surgery and made sure I was comfortably positioned before putting me to sleep. My recovery was uneventful. I rested for a day or two realizing that my age warranted the rest time.

I am much happier alternating restful activities with motion. Sitting too long is not good for anyone. I have learned with my RA that pacing works. I have a more satisfying day when I alternate rest with action. My shelf life is longer.

We have had extreme winds the last few days. It hasn’t been safe or comfortable to work outdoors. I have great respect for the trees, plants and wildlife in times like this. Hopefully, the winds are calming down today. I will take a trip to Lowe’s and walk the garden aisles with my cane looking for plants that I need for my garden. Coming home I will take a nap. Then I will fill the feeders, watering holes and start the planned watering.

Life goes on even during a crisis. I have the hope that this is merely a blip in my life’s experience. If not, as my son told me, we will get through this one day at a time.

RA and the Bread Machine

In December I had the urge to make bread. It was the same urge that I had several years ago to start knitting. I knitted everyone a beanie, or a wrap or a special heart to say I cared.  I am still knitting. I am working on a blanket project that is over half done, a wrap for my Watertown, NY sister-in-law and a fluffy, bright red beanie for a friend.

Now I am adding breadmaking to my list of activities. I researched bread machines on the internet. Found the one I liked, a two-pound Oster and added it to my wish list. Eventually, Amazon made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse. In December during my hip replacement recovery, I became the happy owner of an Oster bread machine. The bread is made in loaf form, has nine plus settings and produces perfect bread mostly by itself in a little over three hours.

Along with the machine, I ordered The Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna Rathmell German. It was her first book and I love it. One of my favorites is the honey nut oatmeal bread. Simple ingredients including honey, rolled oats, whole wheat flour, protein rich bread flour, cranberries and walnuts. Truly a healthy feast. Great toast for breakfast.

My reasoning was that I like fresh, whole grain bread for breakfast. There is no better way than to make your own. I had lost 25 pounds during my hip odyssey and continue to lose although at a slower and healthier rate.

The Arthritis Foundation says we should eat whole grains, fruit, and olive oil. My bread machine also produces dough for Focaccia. Left to rise on a peel, pressed with olive oil and fresh herbs, sprinkled with coarse salt and baked on a baking stone in a nice hot oven. A tasty addition to supper. Pizza is also good and quick to make with a fresh tomato sauce and plenty of mozzarella cheese plus pepperoni for those who like it.

When I started making bread in December, I was still at a time in my recovery where it was hard for me to stand for more than a few minutes at a time. I used to quickly measure and toss the ingredients into the machine, turn it on and let it go. Now my hip is much better. I can enjoy the process of my bread baking. I have found specialty items, explored the thoughts of other bread bakers and experimented with new processes.

I am now in an RA flare. My feet rebel as do my hands and shoulders and the rest of me. I have started a Medrol dose pack. I still feel lucky to be involved with creative activities that keep my mind happily engaged.  I did have orange bread (made with orange juice and orange peel) for a snack today and plan on pizza for supper tomorrow night.