Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Not to Say

Wow, this is a great summary of how to interact with people who have cancer--and it was posted on Craigslist, of all places! Craigslist is totally tha bomb.

I found it thanks to the Imagine Bright Futures blog, one I haven't linked to previously--but will.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sad news

Randy Pausch has died.

Cancer isn't a test. It doesn't separate the good people from the bad, it doesn't spare those who deserve sparing, it doesn't teach benevolent lessons and then release those who learn properly. It just kills people, indiscriminately, hastily, unfairly, too early and too often.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

All Clear

The MRI results came back--completely normal. :-)

I go back in 6 months for my regularly-scheduled mammogram, and an ultrasound just for better imaging.

Every time I get news like this it's like I just got my life back again. Which is great. You can find me this weekend, on the beach, playing volleyball. (Or, after dark, analyzing data and writing papers!)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Not quite on topic, but very important

Hi folks--
If you read this blog at all, if you are reading this post, please click over to this other blog, by the family of a 14-year-old girl with a mysterious, undiagnosed, and rapidly degenerative neuromuscular disease. She is running out of time to find a diagnosis and effective treatment--imagine if there were no known treatment for breast cancer, or if we didn't really even know what the problem was! The family is just looking for ANYONE, anywhere, who has experienced similar symptoms--so if you are (or know) a doctor who might have seen such a patient, or if you are (or know) such a patient, please contact them. (The father is a professor in my field at another university.)
Thanks, and this just underscores yet again how randomly cruel life can be.

Friday, July 11, 2008


One thing I thought cancer might do for me was take away my fear of needles. I always hated them, in any setting. Never worry that I might become a junkie, I always said: the first time I poised that syringe over my delicate inner elbow, I would definitely be scared straight.

I became pretty stoic during the 4 months of chemo (I did not have a port or a pic line--it was a new needle in my left hand, every time; we managed to keep the same vein going for a long time before it threw in the towel and said "find someone else!"), even though I never reached truly blasé. I always asked the lab techs to "stick me" while I wasn't looking; I whimpered a little--no, a lot--when, toward the end of chemo, Lilia had to poke around for a while to find a cooperative vein. But still. I didn't have knots in my stomach beforehand, I wasn't truly freaked out, and it all seemed pretty under control. I figured it was a new era for me, needle-wise.

But it didn't last.

This has been quite the needle week for me. I had to have some fillings repaired by the dentist, and that required numbing my right jaw. I had them give me nitrous oxide while he administered the shots. Of course, I probably could have handled it, but I was a whole lot happier floating several feet away from my body while that needle was probing around my jaw hinge.

And today, I had an MRI. Now, some of you may be thinking that organizing this post around needles is a pretty back-handed way to tell you I had an MRI, so let me be informative. In late spring, I was trying on some clothes when I realized that I had increased a bra cup size on the left (that's the non-cancer side), even though I hadn't really gained any weight. And then I started noticing some aching that didn't seem to correspond with a hormonal cycle. So I called Christy, who said "It's almost certainly nothing," but endorsed the idea of my visiting one of the surgeons out of an abundance of caution.

I saw a new surgeon (Mel has moved on from USC--though I have to admit, I might track him down if I ever need a scalpel wielded again). He did a thorough exam, said it was probably nothing, but felt some lumpiness in the same area where my gynecologist found some lumpiness in December '06. At that time, I had an MRI and ultrasound, and though for a while the medical team thought there might be something to biopsy (again, out of the "abundance of caution"), by the time they went in with a hollow needle, there was no spot looking suspicious anymore.

Well, since it was lumpy again in that area--and I should mention, I am apparently just an extra-lumpy kind of gal--he ordered a new ultrasound. Which was completely, 100% clear and normal. But (always with these abundances of caution) he also ordered an MRI. Which I had today. Which I'll find out about sometime soon. Which I'll let you know about.

And which necessitated another needle--this one in my arm, for an IV push of "contrast dye," which helps illuminate all the booby tissue for better diagnosis. Anyway, this time I was anxious about the needle just like in the old days before chemo. It was like that whole toughening-up experience never happened. Funny. I have been really happy for the "reset" on so many things (getting my hair back, getting my health back, getting my life back). Too bad I also have to get back some things I didn't really miss.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Good eats

Much silence from me lately! This reflects both good news (trip to Europe, getting work done, playing lots of volleyball) and not so good news (I'm feeling resentful about my involuntary association with the world of cancer, partly because of its effect on my own life, and partly because someone very close in my social circle--and younger than me--has just been diagnosed and is being dragged into this world herself).

I break my silence with little to say about my own life. But the NY Times strikes again with another great piece on nutrition. This is just a general "what you should eat" article, but most of these items are on my nutritional oncologist's list of things to eat every day.

Bon appetit!