Uber Me This

IMG_0056Uber has been on my radar for at least a year – probably longer. The first time I used this crowd-sourcing, ride-sharing service was last spring, on the way to the airport with a colleague. While it was convenient and easy, I still harbored suspicions about regulations, safety and whatever other excuses cropped up. Fast forward to a girl’s night out a few months ago. We were going to a nearby “Paint and Sip,” with particular interest in the sipping. Neither of us were enthusiastic about driving – and then I remembered Uber! It was a great choice – everyone got home safe and sound. More

An N of 1

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The most recent roller coaster ride seems to be coming to an end, though that sounds remarkably like “famous last words” – never good!

For those keeping score, here’s the update:

About four months ago I started on my third-line treatment – everolimus and exemestane. I started the treatment with trepidation. After nearly three months it seemed, to me, that I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. Tumor markers were rising (that’s not good) and the side effects weren’t great. So I started looking for “what’s next.” Time to look at my options – clinical trials.

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Third Line Therapy

Mphotoemories of another angst-filled day of sitting in bed waiting for the side effects of my first round of chemo playing tug-of-war with what I know must happen, I ask John to bring me my pills.

“The new ones?” he asks.

“I guess,” I grudgingly respond. Really, this is me? Really?

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TRANGST

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We’re familiar already with the term SCANXIETY – the persistent anxiety that surrounds PET, CT, Bone, MRI and whatever other scans they can throw at us. It pertains to the test itself, and to the wait — the hours or days it takes to get our results. But as I await the shipment of my new meds from the speciality pharmacy, I think we need coin a new phrase, TRANGST, perhaps? The angst that surrounds the change to any new treatment protocol, with it’s unknown side effect and unknown impact.

And that is where I sit today…

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The Measure of Time

CalendarLast week saw yet another CT scan and, unfortunately, some progression: albeit slowly, my cancer is growing again. And so I am now looking at my third-line treatment. I must admit, its all a little surreal. I was going to be that girl who got years on each successive therapy, denying to odds and beating down the doors of a ripe old age. Strike that – I AM going to be that girl, just not the way I planned.

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Chemotherapy Patients, Please Flush Twice

The indignities never cease. Truly. There are probably 1001 things that chemo patients go through that are never spoken about. Here are the ones I remember best, and just for fun, I’m hoping others will share!

  • In the treatment center, you have to flush twice. Yes, the drugs they pump into your veins are so toxic that one flush doesn’t cut it. More

So is Hemlock…

When it comes to cancer “cures,” the debate about natural remedies, complementary therapies, and the medicinal value of peach pits and coffee enemas will likely never cease.

As I’ve posted in a number of forums, I support first and foremost the right of each of us to make our own decisions about treatment. Period. While someone may make very different decisions about treatment than I have, I will never question nor criticize that choice. We each need to sleep at night, and the only way to do that is with confidence that we’ve made the best decision we can, and one that is consistent with our values. I will call out anyone who passes judgment on the choices of others regardless of whether they fall in to the “traditional” or “alternative” medicine camps.  (Read: I’d love your comments on this post, but when it comes to criticizing others, play nice!)

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The War on Cancer

ImageIn the way that our blogosphere seems to build from one post to another, Marie at Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer recently shared thoughts about the language of “survivorship,” and leads right into some thinking I’ve been doing this week.

All this talk about language, and I’m a bit stuck on the issue of “war” verbiage. I sense there are those who are “fighters” and those who are “living with” cancer. I respect both deeply, and hope for a time when they can respect one another!

I have been vocal (can we be vocal in writing?) in my frustration with the “war rejectionists,” if you will. If fighting a battle against cancer doesn’t work for them, then without question they should find language that is more fitting or comfortable. But they need to leave others to use the language that fits. I wonder, too, whether war language is easier to critique when treatments are behind you, and perhaps something that is particularly beneficial for those of us in treatment. As I read the comments on Marie’s earlier mentioned blog, it was not lost on me that most of the feedback was from women who were NED, their cancer treatments behind them. To continue my own analogy, they are no longer in the trenches. Like great generals, they can step back, be objective, wonder what the war was all about and how to move forward.

So, as someone who is back in treatment with no end in sight, I find the “living with cancer” language a tough pill to swallow. Breast cancer cells have taken up in my bone marrow. They have begun to erode my pelvic bone. They are in perfect position to spread to other vital organs. 75% of women in my condition are dead in 5 years. I do not, under any circumstances care to “LIVE with my cancer.” I want it DEAD. Completely. Annihilated. Gone. It is most unwelcome and I am not interested in living with it, being kind to it, or making peace with it. I don’t want these cells to settle in and feel comfortable.

So, I’m not prepared to see myself as “someone living with cancer.” I would much prefer to be killing it. Doing so, for me, is active and empowering. Killing cancer cells is what my body needs to do to save my life.

Being the Change We Wish to See…

How does working the night shift impact your breast cancer risk?

Would the early detection of DNA damage help determine future breast cancer risk?

Can breast milk be screened for breast cancer, or to determine breast cancer risk?

Does one’s breath contain biomarkers for the early detection of ovarian cancer?

Might acupuncture improve the sleep of breast cancer survivors?

Clinical trials. This is how we will find the cure to breast cancer. However, the only way to complete and assess the outcomes and potential of new threapy is to conduct and complete a clinical trial. And as frustrated as we can be with the pace of trials, and finding a cure, we hold the key — we can be the change agent….

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