Thursday, November 29, 2007

Does this mean I can't keep staying up until 3am?

From today's CNN, an article on a research study that says working nights is a big risk factor for breast (and prostate) cancer. Yikes. My typical schedule is to work at my computer until 1am (on an early night) to 4am (on a late night), and then get up around 11. In the winter, I am definitely restricting my exposure to sunlight--on weekends I might sleep in until noon or later.

The article seems quite specific to nighttime work, but the principles identified should apply to me, even if I'm not in a workplace per se. I'll be checking out the original study and will let y'all know!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The hair IS growing

I may complain about how slowly it comes in, but recently it has started to seem really obvious that my hair is actually growing. Yay!

(For fun, you can click the "photo" tag under labels, at right, and you'll be able to compare this one to the one just 2 little months ago.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Plus ça change...

Something about the change in seasons has me really thinking about how this year feels different from last.

I have hair, for one thing. This past weekend, many of my friends and colleagues were at the Wharton Junior Faculty conference, for Organizational Behavior professors. Last year, I spoke at that conference, wearing a wig because my glorified stubble was still just a little not-ready-for-prime-time. I really thought I'd have hair down to my shoulders by now--I know my hair's always been quite shy and retiring, but I thought it could at least grow... In any case, it took a long time, but I've graduated from baby clips and air-drying to toddler clips and blow-drying, and sometimes it actually gets in my eyes...amazing.

Then there's energy. These days, I can pretty easily go out for 5+ hours of beach volleyball, if the sunlight is cooperating. I've never been a runner, but today I ran with Kibble for about a mile in addition to our mile-plus walk, and felt great.

During chemo, energy was a weird, weird thing. Ordinarily, I think of energy as depleting somewhat the way a bathtub drains--slowly, steadily. But during chemo, it was as if the bottom of the bathtub suddenly vanished, and all that water just gushed down at once. One minute, fine. The next minute--empty. A while after all my treatment ended, we went out for a walk and, about 5 minutes into it, I had to sit on someone's wall until I could summon the strength just to get back home. That was the last time the "emptying" happened, but still for a long time I got tired quickly, had fewer resources, just couldn't push through at those times when I needed to.

As mentioned in a recent post, surgery gave me a numb armpit and arm; taxol gave me burning feet. Adriamycin gave me awful nausea, and chemo in general gave me heartburn, which lasted until the first day of my diet, whereupon it magically disappeared. I had fuzzy thinking and lost words, lost periods, altered sense of smell and taste. I even had a hot flash or two.

Today, every single bit of that is gone. My hormonal system is still reeling, I think, but the rest of me is pretty much back. Thanks to diet and exercise, I'm in better shape than before.

Obviously, no one can be sure that cancer won't come back. But for now, I really want to report to anyone still going through treatment (or just finished) that you do get your life back. Going through the whole breast cancer Experience really sucks and is scary. But from this point of view, looking back, that one sucky year has not taken over my life. I hope it helps someone out there to know that. Just hang in there!!