All posts tagged: Cancer

No more methotrexate

RA Dilemma Number Five There is another dilemma to face when you have rheumatoid arthritis. I was surprised by this one. After all, I have had RA for seven years and feel I have covered a lot of ground in that time. I know infection posed  a very high risk while taking RA meds. My mind thought flu or maybe pneumonia. This one started five months ago. Suddenly and out of the blue, my right breast developed a lesion and stated to drain. I felt feverish and went to see my oncologist who sent me to the breast surgeon oncologist down the hall because she was the one who had the ultrasound machine. She came in, introduced herself and looked at my lesion. She instantly knew that it was caused by necrotic breast tissue due to radiation for breast cancer. The radiated tissue gradually degenerates, expands until it pushes through the delicate breast skin and drains. It cultured positive and I was sent to the wound clinic. Eventually, it was determined that the only solution …

I’m Back

I have completed chemotherapy and I have completed radiation. At this point I think I am cured. It’s been a long year. I am grateful as I have friends who are not as fortunate. In addition to  being diagnosed with another cancer this year, my computer died. The new one arrived Friday. It is nice to be up and running again. My RA doc has moved on to the VA. She is going to be working on research projects as well as seeing patients. I have followed her as I am a Vet.  She is happy. She had spent several of her student years working at the VA and appreciates its culture. She has ordered Voltaren Gel for the pain I have in my feet. The pain is a problem for me when I go to bed. Voltaren is a topical gel of Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory. It arrived this morning. I will let you know if it works for me. Albuquerque has been one of the cold spots in the nation. It’s been down to …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Living with and Beyond Cancer

                    Come and be supported. This will be the best conference ever. You can register on the cancer support now web site.  I am on the board of this organization and also on the committee for this conference. I became involved with it after completing radiation therapy for breast cancer and for thyroid cancer. It is a port in the storm for cancer survivors. I will be at the registration table. Come say hello.

A celebration of Recovery 10,000Waves

About as high as you can go up into the mountains in Santa Fe on the road to the Ski Basin is tucked a high-class Japanese Spa specializing in bodywork and skin care. Ten Thousand Waves.  My destination. Just what I need. I desperately need. My treatment choice is NOSE TO TOES. A Mother’s Day gift certificate from Chris and Katie. I live in Albuquerque and this would be my first road trip in three years. I gassed my Tin Lizzy, my 5-year-old Mini Cooper Clubman. Pepper white. Turbo. Added bottled water, spa directions.  Put on my winter jacket. Ready to go. Finally!  This is November. I headed toward I-25. Sunny day. Cool. I am on the road.  I am also on the recovering end of a devastating year. The year was 2013. Almost three years ago. I had been diagnosed with a severe rheumatoid arthritis followed by two different diagnoses of cancer. Surgery. Radiation for each. Pills forever. No relief for the RA until this year with the start of Orencia. It is a …