Monday, November 30, 2009

LittleLifePreservers.com



Another beautiful hand-made card from Lesa, a breast cancer survivor from Massachusetts. This one has pearls glued on and fishing line. She makes these beautiful, creative cards for other cancer survivors. Thank-you again, Lesa!!!!

So our unusually warm November is gone but as long as there is no ice on the ground, I'm out there pounding the pavement. I made turkey matzoh ball soup from all the leftovers yesterday. Naomi came over for that. Today I had a return visit as she noticed artichokes in my refrigerator and they are her favorite. The other kids love them too. I used to serve them to their friends, many who never saw an artichoke before. They always looked puzzled to see us all happily dipping them in the lemon-garlic butter sauce. She had plenty of drama in her apartment last night as the other apartment mates had a fight that involved the police coming. The other woman was escorted out by them. She is quite violent and was breaking everything she could get a hold of.Hopefully they won't kiss and make-up. She will have a baby in a few months. All I can think is Oh My Gawd!

Just as my lower eyelashes are almost grown in, the uppers are beginning to fall out. It is so puzzling what havoc chemo still plays with my hair follicles so long after I had it. I would love to have a scientific explanation for how my genetically determined straight hair is now curly.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday funny

These following alternative definitions are from the Washington Post:

1. Coffee (n.), a person who is coughed upon.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly
answer the door in your nightgown.

7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle (n.), an olive-flavored mouthwash

9. Flatulence (n.) the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are
run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanor assumed by a
proctologist immediately before he examines you.

13. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish
expressions.

14. Pokemon (n), A Jamaican proctologist.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), the belief that; when you die your Soul goes
up on the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent (n.), the opening in the front of boxer shorts.

Every few weeks or so, I try to see what is new in cancer world. Not much. I think all the news will be presented at this month's San Antonio Conference. I did find an article that for BRAC1 ladies whose moms had cancer from the gene, get cancer 6 years earlier than their moms suggesting that here must be some environmental factor. It would be useful to know what this factor is. But it also suggests that women should be more viligant earlier.

Susan Love has publicly supported the new recommendations delaying screening mammograms until ones 50s. People are outraged at that and now are withholding contributions. Not all people are aware of their BRAC1 status (if you received it from your father, it isn't as obvious). 10% of breast cancer is due to BRAC1/2 gene variants. If these ladies are now getting their cancers earlier, these new recommendations will contribute to delayed diagnoses and increased deaths.

I went out with a friend to the local Vietnamese restaurant last night. Very tasty.

I'm still sore from my Pilate's misadventure. But the muscle fibers are sore for a reason and don't hurt unless I move. The minor aches would go away if I'd just take an ibuprofen. When on Taxol, my muscle fibers ached for no reason even if I didn't move. Furthermore ibuprofen did not help one bit. There was no escaping the pain due to inflamed nerves (neuropathic pain). One of the new useless articles I found today said that Taxol causes neuropathic pain and thus this side effect should be weighed against its benefits. Unstated is the benefit of possibly saving one's life.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Agita




When I enrolled in my 5 week Italian experience in the summer of 2008, I was one of the few non Italian-Americans students(though one of my dear readers is married to an Italian American). Most of the little Italian vocabulary I had was based on watching The Sopranos. 'Agita' was one of the words constantly used on the show meaning aggravation as in Naomi gives me such agita! Ever since I broke my arm, I had been taking ibuprofen to deal with the pain which resulted in a shredded stomach lining. Even though I stopped the ibuprofen, I still had the stomach issue (now renewed thanks to the Red Devil though I am weaning myself off of the Prilosec)I was controlling the heartburn with Rolaids but somehow being in Italy aggravated it and I was out of my 5 week supply of Rolaids in 2 days. I needed drugs. Fortunately Italian pharmacists have great powers to give you what you need without a prescription but unfortunately the one in Castelvecchio did not speak English. Two days of Italian didn't make me fluent so I brought my roommate Nancy along to help as she grew up listening to Italian. My plan was to list possible proton pump inhibitors and see if the pharmacist had any. I didn't know the generic names (do now!) and sadly the drugs all have different names there. Nancy described me as having 'agita'. No I don't! thinking they would give me Valium. But he did figure out what I wanted and all was right with the world.

Yesterday I was doing a crossword puzzle almost finishing it (if I don't finish it, I worry that chemobrain is kicking in). One clue I didn't get was 'Tum target'A_I_A.
The answer: Agita. So agita is their word for heartburn too. You were right Nancy!

It is sunny here today and I went for a nice, long run even though my body is sore from my Pilate's experience. Then Josh came over to eat our leftovers. Now all I have left is the carcass which is being converted to soup as I type.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pilates

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, the Y was having some free classes. My friend and I took the beginning Pilate's class. Now another thing I suck at. I couldn't even breathe correctly (they want you to breathe in while pushing your belly out and exhale bringing your belly in- I do just the opposite). I especially wasn't good at that exercise where one lies on one's side and lifts the whole body by one arm-seems more difficult than an one-armed push-up and I can't even do a 2 handed one. Even though I have been working on my lack of flexibility, I did way worst than anyone on maneuvers emphasising that. My friend was lost too but at least she got points for being flexible although they told her maybe she was too flexible. So Pilate's is supposed to work on 'core muscles' and I guess I just use my peripheral ones. Afterwards, I lifted weights. No coordination needed for that.

The class made me sad or maybe I was just sad already. Got the blues.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving


After dinner today. Pictured-Dontae, Naomi, Julia, Josh, Me and Steve

So much to be thankful for this year. Aside from my family and friends, I am alive and recovering.

I woke up early to make the pecan pie and stuffing. Later I made the green bean casserole and gravy. My guest provided the relish, pumpkin pie, and pear salad. Julia brought a sweet potato casserole. So much is left over.

While the turkey roasted, I did a run in the cold rain. I should have worn a hat, especially one with a visor as the raindrops on my glasses made seeing difficult but I was comfortable.

We will be having turkey here for the next several days.
Happy Thanksgiving to you in blogsphere!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Having your cake and eating it too.

Back in the lab while performing tasks that didn't require much thought, my lab mates and I would amuse ourselves by conversing in silly idiomatic sayings. Our favorite was I'm going to fix your wagon! meaning we are going to throw a wrench in the works. The former is confusing as fix does not mean 'repair', the common usage here but the opposite. More like 'fixing' races. Another we invented for the lab itself was 'loaves and fishes' (from the Miracle at Cana) In our lab vernacular, it meant we got over 100% yield for our reaction. Usually this meant our stuff was wet.

But the dumbest is: You can't have your cake and eat it too!

Then what is the point of having cake if you can't eat it.

A good portion of Naomi's disability was the inability to make inferences. (Recently the school psychologist tested her and ruled that she has no disability that would qualify her for accomdations though did suggest she might have ADD) Part of her 'treatment' was meeting with the speech therapist (though she had no fluency or enuciation disorders) going over 'idioms'. A sample:

What does it mean when you say'People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones' ?
Ummmm..they shouldn't dress in front of the windows?

Recently Oliver was tested for possible language delays. To see how well he understood 'receptive language', he was asked to put a book on his mom's foot. He just handed it to her instead

New record for running without stopping: 65 minutes vs 1 minute last March. Woo-hoo! In the drizzle no less.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What bothered me the most..

Right before my minivacation, I went to a breast cancer support group. Another woman and I were comparing notes about our baldness experience. The moderator stepped in and asked if I found baldness to be the most distressing aspect of cancerfest. What?!?!! If that were true, baldness could have been easily avoided by not allowing the red devil in my veins. How about the fear of early death being the most distressing? No I didn't enjoy being bald, not a good look for me. The day that handfuls of hair came out from my burning scalp was not a happy day.

I must have been voted most likely to contradict that day. Another woman was going through the thought processes she went through to choose a particular treatment and how she doesn't regret her decision for a second. The moderator said something about how noone regrets the choices they made for themselves.
NOT TRUE. I made the decision about the lumpectomy vs mastectomy without knowing the full extent of my disease. They can repeat all they want how survival is absolutely the same for either but I don't believe it. Either the research is based on a small sample or that it is full of bias they couldn't correct (the mastectomy patients tending to have more advanced cancers for example).

On my busy schedule for today, a dentist trip. I had run 37 miles in the past week. I rested my weary legs by working out in the Y.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Breast issues

Recently there was a research report about after surgery/radiation breast pain. Apparently even up to 2 years after treatment, 47% of women report persistant breast pain; half of these report it as severe. Apparently surgery and/or radiation inflames the nerve resulting in neuropathic pain. NSAIDs are ineffective against this type of pain. I still have pain too but I would rate it a one on a scale of zero to ten. It concerns me mainly because in my mind, breast pain could mean the return of cancer along with the lumpiness and hardness I feel. But apparently, this is the new 'normal' for me-hard, lumps in a painful breast as I was just checked out and found to be 'cancer-free' at least in my breasts.

One of the 'myths' of cancer is that if you have a lesion that is painful, it is not cancer. From what I read on boards, it seems that at least half of women report that their tumor was painful.

And the big issue of last week: the recommended stopping of screening for breast cancer in women 40-50 as there are too many false positives. Since this came out, the major insurers have all promised to keep paying for mammograms for this age group but we'll see how long they will keep that up. 1.6% of women in this age group develop breast cancer (source Merck Manual).Unfortunately, it is more likely to be the more aggressive, non-hormone dependent type that could kill if not stopped early. Once a woman reaches menopause, her breast cancer is more likely to be the slow growing, estrogen dependent type that one might get a way with screening for every 2 years (I am the exception to this-a mammogram found my aggressive non-hormone dependent cancer relatively early and probably saved my life). I read many blogs and most of these ladies are much younger than myself; it isn't just an old lady's disease. These are women who are still raising their children. It is true that many of these women discovered their lumps themselves but in some cases, it was by mammogram. I guess it all boils down to how much a life is worth. What is needed is a develpment of a marker that is more reliable and cheaper than mammograms such as the breast aspirate that Susan Love's crew is working on.


I posted more pictures on my blogs for the past week now that I have more time to be on the computer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back home


Our last night with the boys though they will be in Michigan in a month


Such big blue eyes!!



So there is at least one person on this earth with bigger feet than mine.


Steve and downtown Boston

On our last day in Boston, Steve and I headed downtown. It was so warm, we didn't need a coat and the rain had finally stopped. We went to the touristy Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market to get some "lobstah' bisque at the Chowda House and then on to the North End to pick up some Italian goodies such as limoncello, a lobster tail for Shanna (a large sfogliatelle), rainbow cookies and macaroons. Late in the afternoon, I went for my last Boston run. It was very windy. Fortunately my path is U shaped so I'm not headed one direction for that long but on the way back, there was a 1.5 mile stretch in which I directly faced the head wind. For extra fun, the low setting sun was directly in my eyes so it was tough going on my tired legs. I had run 20 miles in the 3 days I had been there. It is strange seeing the sun set at 4 pm. Of course we in Michigan are on the western edge of the Eastern time zone and used to later sunsets.

Later that night, Steve and I watched the boys so Ramy and Shanna could have some rare alone time. Fortunately Oliver was in bed already but Daniel was up and wanted to eat. He was very annoyed to find a bottle instead of his mother and complained vigorously. He was placated by Steve walking and rocking him until his parents came home.

All week I had been having bad dreams about Naomi's life going down the drain. She is my number one worry.. (Cancer is high on the list but she gets top billing) We drove back in one day so I could help her today but as of 2 pm, no Naomi to be found.
Update: Her highness did come over later for our weekly tutoring session. Things didn't fall apart as much as I feared. I missed my son (and his wife and dog) who visited while I was out on my run. Oh well, they'll be here for Thanksgiving. Last year, Julia fixed it as I was 'in treatment'.

It's roughly 760 miles back. Fortunately we had good weather and made good time. We have 2 border crossings to deal with. Outside of Buffalo, they had a sign giving the delay at the various border crossings. Of course the one on our planned route had the longest delay so we went for the Rainbow Bridge instead. So we could see the Falls as we waited our turn on the bridge. Fortunately the delay wasn't too bad and off we went. Coming back in the US took even less time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Boston

video

Oliver running 'around'

Rain, rain go away. I will have to wait until late afternoon for a dry run. I ran to Castle Island yesterday. It's very nice along the water. We took the kids to the playground yesterday to burn off Oliver's considerable energy. Today we will go to the North End, not all that far from the South End which is close to where Shanna lives. The North End is where the Italians and their restaurants are. Yum.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hooter Hider




Daniel smiling
They have lots of new toys and equipment for babies now. Shanna has a 'hooter hider' (from bebe au lait), an apron like device so one can nurse discreetly in public. Also new, is the concept of 'tummy time'. When my kids were babies, we were told to have them sleep on their tummies. Now this has been reversed as studies show sleeping on the back prevents SIDS. To build up their arm muscles, babies need supervised tummy time. But these babies hate it though once they can roll over, it isn't needed.

I watched the speech therapist today try to trick Oliver into speaking. He has been able to get what he has wanted through a series of grunts and signs. He is capable of speaking but finds it not necessary.

It is nice to be able to run along the water for miles.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Boston Babies


Steve in the White Mountains






We are now in Boston with the babies. When I saw Daniel last, he was struggling to breathe and put on weight. Now he is huge and can look around, smile and chortle.

As soon as I saw the sun start to rise, I took off running while we were in Longueuil, on the south side of the river facing Montreal. After about 7 minutes of crossing over expressway entrances and busy streets, I was on the rail to trail that gives right aways to the bikes (and runners). It was cold. A few puddles were frozen solid. It was nice to run after taking a few days off. The downtown has cute stone houses that are probably quite old. We stopped at a patisserie for breakfast. In Montreal, they serve cafe au lait in huge bowls (bols).We had really good amande croissants. I brought back some for the Boston folks.We went to visit the ladies one more time before leaving. Jeannette is 90 but her skin has very few wrinkles as she always avoided the sun. Her main bane is congestive heart failure which has swollen her ankles quite a bit. When she was my age, she had ovarian cancer but survived despite the lack of treatment in those days other than surgery.

We went down to Boston mainly through New Hampshire. There were several ways to go: with Naomi I went via Burlington and Waterbury so she could see the Ben and Jerry factory but it involved a no expressway route through numerous small Quebec villages and was slow.This time we went through the White Mountains after stopping at a Thai restauratnt in the bit of Vermont we were in. We had camped there years ago in the Franconia Notch State Park. I wanted to walk through the Flume again-a narrow canyon that you walk on a boardwalk with water rushing below your feet but they took out the boardwalk for the seeason. The Old Man in the Mountain's nose had fallen off so it is no longer recognizible. It still is on their license plates along with their bizarre "live Free or Die' slogan. There was a sign on the border exhorting us to 'drive the New Hampshire way, with courtesy'. In rural Quebec there were numerous moose crossing signs (none seen) and signs saying we should have snow tires on by December 15 to be safe.

We scheduled our arrival at rush hour. Good planning (not!)but we only suffered halfway through the tunnel to her exit-about 4 miles of stop and go.

It is good to be with the precious sweeties again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

O Canada!


Many of the islands along the Thousand Island Parkway have their own little houses on them
One of the many other inns on the street we stayed on. This one looked the nicest from the outside but I prefered the inside of the one we ended up staying at

Kingston from Fort Henry. This was a fort used to defend against us land-grabbing Yankees.

Our Inn at night. Naomi thinks it looks haunted but it is very pretty.

Half of our two person shower. Note the 19 heads. It was called a 'walk-in' shower but how else do you get into a shower?

Thousand Islands on the way to Montreal


Kingston waterfront with windmills on the island across from it


Our breakfast at the B&B. Yum!

Detail of an angel in the dining room


The inn in Kingston we stayed in.

Right now I'm in Longueiul across the river from Montreal just having visited my 90 year old step Grandmother Jeannette. She was only 42 when she married my 72 year old Grandfather making her just a few years older than my father, her stepson whom she has outlived.

So yesterday we began our adventure. I noticed that we will have good weather for the next few days, a good time to travel. We stopped in London Ontario for lunch. We had come there several years in a row when Josh was on a travel soccer team. They always felt it necessary to spell our city Ann Arbour.(At the inn we stayed at, our host registered us as living in Ann Arbour too). The teams he played always seemed to be made up of one nationality in Canada. Anyway, we ate the Quebec speciality poutine with Montreal smoked meat on top. Poutine is a(un)healthy mix of French fries, cheese curds and gravy.Smoked meat is similar to corned beef. We were going to stay some place closer such as Belleville but couldn't find a nice place so on to Kingston, which is a very nice town with beautiful limestone buildings. We stayed in a place I stayed before, the Rosemount, styled like a Tuscan villa only with better plumbing. Our walk-in shower had 19 heads!Not all used at once though. Ten when you used the sit down shower feature but 9 otherwise. A good place to shave legs if I only had anything to shave. We had a very nice gourmet breakfast and took long walks in the city. I thought I was getting a cold so I didn't run but that seemed to past. We went along the Thousand island parkway on our way to Montreal. We ate in a pub in the town of Brockville and made it to my step-Grandma's exactly at the time I said we would despite very heavy traffic. I tried to practice my French. Not so good. But we had a nice dinner and Gilberte made her special drinks for us-a champagne cocktail. Gilberte is Jeannette's cousin who lives near her and helps her handle her affairs. Down to Vermont tomorrow and eventually Boston to see the little pumpkins.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Indian Summer

It is 70 degrees here. I was able to run out in the country in shorts this morning. In the past week, on 3 occasions, I've been stopped by people congratulating me on trying to run so often. These people don't know the whole story but it's nice they are trying to encourage me.

We will probaly go to Montreal tomorrow (although we are stopping in Kingston along the way) to see my step-grandmother who seems to be becoming increasingly confused. I tried to speak to her by phone with a really bad connection. I have trouble enough understanding "Parisian" French (what they teach in schools): the Quebecois variety is very hard to understand with the bad connection. The expession c'est moi (it's me) in French French is pronounced Say moah. In Montreal it's pronounced Sah moy. Presumably the Canadians speak the 18th century French and modern French has evolved away from that. I will call her cousin who isn't so confused and speaks English still.

The moms came over last night for our Italian night. A fun time for all although my walls, floor and table cloth got drenched with red wine.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ypsilanti



Ypsi is the next town over from us (pronounced Ip-see not Yip-see). Although I never lived there, I did have a Ypsilanti address when I lived out in the township. It was always fun spelling it out on the phone. Naomi lives there now near EMU's campus although she is going to a community college nearby.

Today I went to the BC support group at the Wellness community. We had a new woman there currently going through chemo. Glad to be down with that.

So for my Italian dinner I am making for the moms: penne pasta (not pene pasta which would be penis pasta)with lemon marscapone walnut sauce; melanzane ripiene (stuffed eggplant- means crazy apple as they thought eggplants were toxic and would cause craziness) and trofie (type of pasta with a sticky surface good for pesto to stick to) with basil pesto that I lugged back from Italy. Along with wine, I have limoncino (similar to limoncello but made with 'northern' lemons) Someone is bringing a zucchini salad: another a Caprese salad. Another is bringing an appetizer that will be a surprise. (Una sopresa: I bought back some Kindereggs that have una sopresa inside)For dessert: cannoli (singular: cannolo).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chestnuts


Can't argue with this logic!

Chestnuts are tired sayings. In Cancerland we hear a lot of them: When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. etc. But chestnuts also are one of my favorite foods. It also is what our last name means in Croatian. I'm not sure when Steve's relatives spent time there but at one point, they must have. It was chestnut season in Italy while we were there. There are especially a lot of chestnut trees in Tuscany though I think the ones that make their way here are from Silicy. Chestnuts for many years were considered peasant food. Even if you couldn't afford to buy much, you could always forage for chestnuts for free and convert the nuts into flour. In Lucca, we had crepes made from chestnut flour-castagnaccio filled with sweetened ricotta. Yummy. In Roman times, bread was made from chestnut flour as it is resistant to spoilage and also contains Vitamin C.
Chestnut blight wiped out most of the trees in the US though my friend has a tree that was saved due to its isolation. She has to battle with the squirrels for the nuts.

I had my cancer cooking class last night. Most of the participants there this time have dealt with breast cancer including the instructor who had it twice unrelated to the other incidence (different breasts: one ER-, One ER+) Basically the idea is how to include nutrient rich, healthy foods into your routine to decrease recurrence and to increase ones quality of life. We made this pesto from lime, cilantro, and pinenuts last night that was particularly tasty. A big debate always amongt the folks is the danger/benefits of soy especially with the ER+ ladies.It also is comforting to be with people who understand what you are going through. Non-cancer people just expect you to move on as soon as you finish treatment if not before. I'd like to move on too but somethings remain.

I run 5 days a week and go to the Y on the other 2 days where I use the ellipitical trainer at the highest level I can stand using different muscles than running. I then do the weights. I like to have a fan on me while I am doing my ET workout as I really work up a sweat. Today some woman wanted to work out next to me and started to move the fan away. There were planty of free machines all around that were fan free but this machine 'was her favorite'. She allegedly gets 'chilly' easily. Well work out harder or wear more clothes!!! No I didn't say that but said that I really needed the fan and got here at this time when I knew I wouldn't be bothering people. She sighed and disappeared.

I will try to make some of the Italian dishes I had while in Italy tomorrow for the 'moms'. Then maybe Sunday or so I'll go to Montreal and visit my step-grandmother who seems to be getting weaker and weaker. Hopefully it'll be too early for snow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Hair



My new hair

Aside from a year when I was 13 of putting Summer Blonde on my 'dirty blonde' hair, I have never dyed it. It started turning white when I was in my twenties. Premature grayness is linked to the Graves' disease gene but although others in my extended family had Graves', I'm the only one with the early grayness or even late grayness. But it really wasn't gray until after cancer. It was a mix of white, blonde, dirty blonde and light brown.My hair was silky, thick, and straight as straight can be. But in July, it started growing in salt and pepper and curly and it made me look even older than I am. But what to color it? Naomi thought I should go brown as light blonde is too close to gray in her eyes. So now it is dirty blonde. I was hoping for my highlights but I could add them later. The necklace is this silk band I bought on Isola Bella in Italy. Now I need to lose the rest of the weight and may be some plastic surgery and then maybe, I'll be ready to face the world.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Beware of bears!!!


Make sure you read the last paragraph on how to distinguish between grizzly bears and black bears!

It's nice to run in November wearing shorts and a T-shirt and still get hot. I love Indian summer. Today will be nearly the same but I've run so much in the past 3 days, I will lift weights instead.

We had a marathon studying session yesterday afternoon as Naomi (my own little bear) tried to catch up on her schoolwork plus plan a schedule for next term. After almost 5 hours, she was getting more and more frustrated. She did a slightly better job at not taking her frustration out on me but the whole afternoon was a challenge.

Later we went to Josh and Julia's house for a nice dinner. I hadn't seen Julia since I've come back. Sunny, their energetic German Shepherd was happy to see us too. Naomi was in a good mood by the time we got there but took her own car (ours!!)so she could escape lest we become too annoying.

I had a dream last night in which some stranger started speaking to me as if I had cancer. I told her in the dream, How can you tell, I have hair!! Everyone can tell.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Vietato


When I went to Italy the first time, the countryside was covered with little paths with signs in front of them saying
"Vietato Accesso" which I translated as access to paths, which I then proceeded to access. I walked across these paths many times and noone ever stopped me to remind me that I was on private property and my presence wasn't welcomed.

However on this trip, I kept seeing the word "vietato" and it occurred to me that maybe it doesn't mean cute little walking trail but FORBIDDEN. I saw these signs around the train tracks especially as in VIETATO! Don't cross the tracks!

Oh well.

It is warming up here. A good day for a run.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Grandbabies


The boys were monkeys for Halloween






The boys together
Oliver in 21 months: Daniel is 10 weeks

We had a hard frost last night that probably did in my flowers. They have survived temps as low as 25 deg but 20 deg is too much for them. But it was calm so I felt comfy running my 7 miles out in the country. I will carve a body out of this block o'flab yet. I ran a little faster than the other day so maybe I'm improving.

Naomi came over in a more reasonable mood (plus she really wanted those dishes). She is thrilled that I am doing something about my hair FINALLY and quickly found haircolors and styles she thinks I should have. She's annoyed that my appointment is during her classtime and is considering calling my stylist begging her not to let me be light blond as that would be too close to what I used to have. She has always been embarassed to have an older mom. I think I'd be more embarassed to have a teenage mom but go figure. The girlfriend of Dontae's friend has moved in with them now. She's 5 months pregnant. Not sure what will happen when the baby is born. Still no furniture in the place. They sit on the mattress to eat. I asked if they'd prefer a bed frame or a kitchen table for X-mas. Of course she'd like both.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sue's Escape from Difficult Child Land


One of these doggies is different-Look for the red hair.

But there is no escape although technically the child is now an adult at 18. I had just bought a few items from IKEA for her very bare apartment. I came home to a letter from the school from her teacher wondering why she was 'not participating' in the class. So things are not 'fine' as I had been told. She shortly shows up 'to get HER stuff' and I ask about the letter. She went into a tirade about me (though I wasn't the one who openned it)going through her mail and sped off (in my car)without my presents.

So do I let her dig herself into a hole of poverty and ignorance that will be impossible to get out of and just close the door when she comes for help? Part of me wants to teach her a lesson but I know what the result will be.

Harder than cancer she is to deal with.

As for myself, I did make an appointment to deal with my hair. I am running a lot but I am not losing weight. I am definitely firmer with better muscle tone but there is just too much of me to love. Must make changes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

all clear


No sign of cancer! Woo-hoo!





After numerous retakes and additional magnifications, it was decided finally that I was fine. But after the first set of images and when she said they needed additional films, I started to panic as it sounded too familiar to the day I was originally diagnosed. And the technician, polite and professional as she was, was very difficult to read. When she went to get me for a third time, she had such a grim face on, I feared the worst but all was fine. Even though I received good news, I am still trying to recover from my fear at the thought: it came back. So they were looking for 'local recurrences'. If they had found one, it would mean repeat everything except for the radiation. A mastectomy would be the treatment and a drug other than the red devil would be used as I had the lifetime allotment already. At UM, they don't look for distal recurrences unless you have symptoms or if you were node positive. At this stage, the amount of false negatives and false positives would make most screens not useful. Worrisome symptoms: unexplained cough/shortness of breath(lung mets?) jaundice/ digestive issues(liver mets?) bone pain (bone mets) headache or weird CNS symptoms (brain mets-but I did get a sneak peak at my brain-looks fine to me). As time goes on, less worry. For now, I see someone every 3 months.

I didn't sleep well last night with the what-ifs. I did have an amusing dream in which my hair was green and everyone kept insisting I had did this somehow. No it just grew that way. I am considering coloring it though-not green. Brown with blonde highlights or light blonde. This salt and pepper can-fro isn't doing it for me. I did get a nice run in before my 3 hour adventure at the cancer center and my friend lent me her car so I didn't have to run there though it would have been a nice downhill run into the river valley, I'd be a tad sweaty.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Don't sleep with the light on...



There are many behaviors linked to breast cancer but here is a new one..incandescent lighting. Apparently the blue wavelengths associated with it suppress melatonin, which in turn is a tumor suppressor. Computer screens also suppress melatonin. Apparently women who routinely work night shifts and are thus exposed to artificial light have higher cancer rates. Conversely, the rate of BC in blind women is low (and they have high rates of melatonin). All here in the following:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/19/AR2008021902398.html

Tomorrow I go for my mammogram and follow-up with the radiation onc. I have a bit of 'scanxiety'. My original tumor(s) could not be felt. Who knows what has sprung up in there? My husband will have the remaining car we have being an election official. I guess I could run to the hospital or have my house guest wake up to take me...

Yesterday, though cool, was actually quite pretty.We still have maybe 25% of our leaves here in "Tree Town"-Ann Arbor's nick-name though less apt since the mountain ash borer invasion. I had a nice run and later walked through the Arb with Steve. I also did just a bit of gardening. I still have some stuff in bloom: cosmos-one plant is over 10 feet tall and English daisies. My house guest later returned from her travels.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Are you Celibate?

At my chemobrain study the other day, I mentionned to the investigater that I just returned from Italy. Her eyes lit up and said that she had gone recently herself and to prepare for the trip, listened to numerous Italian tapes so she could handle any situation she might find herself in. But I couldn't figure out how to say that I am single. OoH! Ooh! I know the answer to that one, you say "Sono nubile" Hmmm, doesn't sound like me (she's in her 40s). So if a man is single, he's
'celibate' (pronounced chell-eee-bah-tay, not cell-ee-bah-tay as it was mis-pronounced on purpose in "Under the Tuscan Sun'such that the main character was wondering if they were asking about her sex life, not her marital status)but unmarried women are 'nubile'.

So occasionally my arcane knowledge comes in handy. Last Sunday, I found myself 'paperless' and got the NY Times, in part for the puzzle. It was not an easy one and still is unfinished making me wonder if maybe I do have chemobrain. But one of the clues was "hell's angels, e.g." Answer: oxymoron.

It is now November, my least favorite month though January is a close second. Disappearing light, leaves, cold outside-yuck! Not many kids found their way to our door last night and even the med students who collect food didn't come. I did run yesterday trying not to slip on wet leaves facing 40 mph wind gusts that fortunately were not 'sustained winds'. Less windy today here in drabland,but I am feeling lazy.

A Miracle in Cancerland



Four years ago, Kim in Washington State was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer when she was only 26 years old. She underwent grueling chemo to deal with the tumors that theoretically would destroy her fertility too. Fortunately the chemo worked as far as the tumors were concerned though she will be on Herceptin for the rest of her life to inhibit any further growth. She writes all about this in: http://sonarbat.blogspot.com/. Last spring, against all odds, she found herself pregnant. Now herceptin attacks tumor cells that have the her2 antigen on their surface but what would it do to the baby? There were only a few cases out there. The biggest risk was that somehow it affected the amniotic fluid levels: too low of a level could impact the baby's kidneys. As soon as little Anya's lungs were deemed to be mature, they were going to induce, which they did 10/23. Little Anya came out screaming and 'damn cute'. She will go home soon.

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