Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spring & Opportunities

Can you feel it? favorite time of year.

It's cool, not cold. Nature's colors are striking. The smell of wood smoke and fall baking fills the air.

And that's all great, but right now I'm ready for personal spring.

Yes, ready for the re-birth of my body from the horrible cancer treatments of the last 6 months. My hair has finally pushed through the scalp and I have about a 1/4" of fuzz up there. My fingernails are slowly, slowly growing out, hiding the signs of chemo. My scars are becoming more invisible by the day. And soon, the redness of radiation burns will be a distant memory.

Women have problems with body image to start with, so the effects of cancer treatments are especially cruel to the fairer sex. We are conditioned to have good hair, smooth skin, flawless nails. All of that goes out the window. You really get to where you hate to look in the mirror. You get used to it, but you still hate it.

Yes, folks, my spring is coming.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all bad. I've also come to appreciate some of side effects. I saved a ton of money on razors & shampoo this summer. I packed for a weekend get-away and only had to take a back-pack. When's the last time you packed that lightly? No hairbrush, no razor, no curling iron, no hair dryer. I could eat whatever I wanted this summer, doctor's orders. I caught up on my sleep - good drugs!

And most importantly, I've taken time to count my blessings.

Sure, I cursed, ranted, raved, cried & screamed. Sometimes it was all too much for one person to handle. But then I remembered it wasn't just me. God was with me. My family was with me. My friends were with me.

Maybe the cancer was my opportunity to see the blessings in my life? I think this scene sums it up pretty well.

Life is full of opportunities.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lab rats, mice & guinea pigs, Oh My!

Happy Hump Day!!!!!!  

That was the message from my radiation oncologist today...I am half-way through my 30 treatments!! Today was #16. Other than the daily drive, this is a walk in the park! I am starting to turn pink and by the end of it I will have the most effed up looking 'sunburn' you will ever see! Not that you'll see it though. :)

I have 99.9% decided to go on a clinical trial for a drug that has shown promise in reducing the recurrence rate of breast cancer, hence the title of today's blog. This is a decision I have really struggled with over the past couple of weeks. The good thing is that it is an established drug, so doctors already know the side-effects. The bad thing is that it is a double-blind study, which means neither I nor my doctor will know whether I will be receiving the drug or the placebo.

About the drug, it is called Metformin. It is used in patients with Type 2 diabetes to lower insulin levels. Doctors in Britain noticed that diabetes patients who had had breast cancer & had taken Metformin for diabetes had an almost 56% less chance of recurrence than other diabetics. Scientists are finding a link between the amount of insulin your body produces and the chance that you may develop breast cancer, apparently breast cancer cells 'feed' on insulin, so lowering the insulin may help lower the risk of recurrence.

It really took a lot of soul searching & prayer to come to this decision. At first I was afraid of how I would react if finding out I was on the placebo & my cancer came back. How would I take that on an emotional & mental level? How would my body react to the drug? It can't be any worse than chemo was, right?

In the end, it was my radiation oncologist that helped the most. Her advice was to "not feel guilty" what ever I chose to do. She was right. I was stressing about it too much. And knowing what kind of cancer I had, I will take any weapon I can put in my arsenal.

Please pray for me to get the drug - not the placebo!!! :)

In other news, Svensk Hyllningsfest came and went - whoosh! My mom's lung infection has reared it's ugly head again, but doesn't seem to be tucking it's tail and running from the antibiotics this time. Pray for her, too. Looks like we will be visiting with some pulmonary specialists soon. Mom's the one who taught me to fight, so I'll be right there with her the whole time, fighting some more.

So with that, everybody take a deep breath, have a moment of Zen, and keep us in your prayers. You are all in mine.