Monday, September 29, 2008

Living in the present

I guess the universe is trying to teach me a lesson--how to live in the present.

My sister was in town this weekend and I actually ended up in the ER on Saturday morning with chest pains. (I have a real talent for entertaining out-of-town guests!) Fortunately, they couldn't find anything wrong with my heart but the six-hour detour put a damper on the already-wet weekend.

And then today, I went in to the clinic to begin another round of Vidaza only to be told by my doctor that he wanted to hold off for another week. (My platelets are down.) So, that means that plans I've made for next week have to be changed and that all of a sudden, I'm free this week. Makes it a bit tough to plan ahead...

What I'm getting at is this: If you've made plans with me to do something, please forgive me if I have to reschedule! On the other hand, if you're free right now, this very minute--5:01 pm Eastern--I'm in great shape :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TrueBlood: Time for a Refill

After five days of barely moving, I finally got a refill today (aka, a transfusion) and am feeling like a somewhat-normal person again. I wish there was some way to thank the person who donated the two pints of blood I got today. I wouldn't be here without people like you.

To celebrate, I talked John into leaving work a few hours early and we did part of the Billy Goat Trail. Needless to say, I could hardly have made it out of the parking lot yesterday.

As usual, we saw deer, herons, and turkey vultures. I am continually amazed at how much wildlife there is so close to D.C. What was really special today (not to mention the thrill of just being able to walk along the river) was seeing a kingfisher, hearing an owl, and feeling a bit of fall in the air. Here are some pics from our walk.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More evidence that less treatment is better

The New York Times describes a new study today that some women with early breast cancer may be able to get away with less radiation that previously recommended.

Unfortunately--as one of quoted experts admits--many doctors will be slow to institute the changes so women will have be assertive about asking for this new protocol. Just more evidence that you really need to do your homework before starting cancer treatment (as if any of us who have been through treatment didn't know this already)...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Laying low

Nothing exciting to report. I haven't done much this week because my hemoglobin is very low which means I am short on red blood cells and energy. (Even Fatty, our 17-year-old cat, is more active than I am today!) My doctor decided to give me Aranesp, a very expensive red-blood cell booster, on Monday (rather than another transfusion) so I'm hoping it will kick in soon.

If you're wondering what this funny picture is of and what it has to do with my health: It's of a bus at the Museum of Visionary Art in Baltimore that's covered from front to back with trinkets, colored glass, and toys. It has nothing to do with my health. It just makes me smile.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More on meat and breast cancer

More evidence from Dana Farber that what a woman eats as an adolescent may impact her risk of breast cancer. Folks, think about raising your kids vegetarian! Even if you don't do it for the animals' sake--or the environment--you could save your kids from a life of chemo and radiation.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In memory you can help

Just a brief note late on a Saturday night. Sadly, two other folks I've corresponded with on my cancer listserves have passed away. One was a young reporter in England, Adrian Sudbury, who campaigned tirelessly for bone marrow donation. It's made me realize that I could do more to help others in my shoes. And if you're wondering how you might help, here are three suggestions:
* Register as a bone marrow donor.
* Donate your newborn's cord blood. (Cord blood transplants are an alternative when no matching bone marrow donor can be found.)
* Donate blood.
If you can do any of the above, thank you so much! As someone who benefited for two years from a cord blood donation and who currently is transfusion-dependent, I can vouch for how life-saving these donations can be.

P.S. My second round of treatment (this past week) went fine. If there's one thing that heavy-duty chemo does for you, it's make you appreciate the lighter stuff, the kind I'm taking now...

P.S.S. The photo is of lotus flowers at the Kennilworth Aquatic Gardens in D.C.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Failures of animal research

Newsweek's Sharon Begley is one of the few mainstream journalists I've read who ever addresses the limitations of animal experiments. In her new article on the failures of cancer research, she includes a bit on the drawbacks of using animal "models." She also talks a bit about the reasons we focus on cures rather than prevention. (Drug companies can't make any money on broccoli sprouts.) I wish she had written more about the cancer-preventing benefits of meatless diets (and exercise), but the article is excellent and worth a read.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Weekend update

Just a quick update to say that I'm still feeling well, hiking the river, and getting ready for Round 2 of Vidaza--which starts on Monday.

Meanwhile, one of the neatest people--of the many neat people--I've met in my transplant journey just passed away. Debbi Hoegler was a major force on a listserve I'm on for anyone contemplating or dealing with a bone marrow transplant (BMT-Talk at She was incredibly funny, irreverent, inspirational, and witty. She always offered us the best advice--including silly but oh-so-wise tips like bring a rubber chicken to hang on your IV pole at the hospital or a Nerf Blaster Gun for nurses who barge in at 4 am to take your vitals. Two of her favorite sayings were:
Blessed are the cracked for it is they who let in the light.
If you're not living on the're taking up too much space.
Everyone on the list misses her terribly.

Here's to Debbi and the other wonderful people I've known who have fought so graciously against cancer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Good news!

Just got home from the clinic. I'm happy to say that the Vidaza seems to be working already! My neutrophils and platelets are back to normal and my red blood count only went down a bit since last week even though I haven't had a transfusion for almost two weeks. Of course, no one knows if the drug will continue working or for how long, but so far, so good. As my good friend Amy Joy Lanou always says, "Happy Day."