Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy End to 2008!

Well, I am winding down 2008 with a slight cold but otherwise in fabulous condition :)

I have set a goal to complete a mini-triathlon by the end of 2009. That's a 750 (or sometimes 500)-meter swim, a 20 K (12.4 mile) bike ride, and a 5K (3.1 mile) run. Can I do that now? No. But I can do some of it, and I'm sure that in time, I will be able to do all of it. Honestly, I just want to be able to finish it. I can do that.

I swam 75 meters without stopping today, for the first time :) Baby steps...

I will be able to train with a trainer for a short while longer. In my ideal world, I'd train once a week with a trainer, year round. It's expensive, though :(

Here's to good health and toning up the body!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the itch...

...is definitely pool-related, and putting lotion on right after a shower right after swimming helped a lot.

small panic over :)

we now return to our regularly scheduled program...



(And if you're in AZ, you have 13 days left to make a tax credit donation. I'm accepting. Send me a message for more info.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

I didn't call...

By this point, a day after my massage, most of my soreness is gone :)

I was going to call the doc today — that was the plan over the weekend. I always plan out what I'm going to say. Since I'm going to be leaving a message, I want it to be as clear as possible. Well, while I was rehearsing said message, I realized how ridiculous and paranoid it sounded, so I didn't call. I haven't been itchy since Thursday night, which is the last night I went in the pool. My back is mostly better today, after a massage yesterday. It was just coincidence.

Thanks for putting up with my little freak-out session [sheepish grin]

I had a pool session with my trainer tonight, and it kicked my sorry butt. It was really good :) Just what I needed to ramp up my swimming.

Off to shower and put on some lotion and see if that helps the itch.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

soreness and knots and stress

I went to the gym last night and did a good long stretch and foam rolling when I was done. Typically, when I roll out my legs, there might be a knot here or there, but those muscles by this point are pretty smooth.

Legs last night were knot city.

Last night, TJ rubbed my shoulders and it felt like he was rubbing bricks.

This morning I was kinda stiff through my back, neck, and shoulders.

So currently, I am attributing back stiffness to general stress, to which I am also attributing the knots in my legs and soreness in my neck, shoulders, and back. There has been no shortage of stress 'round here.

Working on this assumption, I went to get a massage this morning. Neck, back, shoulders: knot city. The soreness I had this morning is gone. The soreness I had before is still there. A couple of friends who do massages more often said that it would take a couple of days for that soreness to go away, if the massage will do it, and that I might feel worse before I feel better (and not to panic if that happened). So we'll see how it feels in a day or two or three...

In the mean time, I am less freaked than I was yesterday. It sure would be nice for that trigger not to be so sensitive...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

hoping hoping hoping it's nothing

For the last month or so maybe, since I started swimming on a more regular basis, my skin has been super-itchy. I have been sometimes putting lotion on it, which sometimes helps. I've been making sure to wash more thoroughly after being in the pool, taking showers that aren't quite as hot, etc., trying to reduce drying agents. I assumed that the itchiness was either a reaction to chemicals in the pool or dry skin as a result of the season and the pool.

For the last week-ish, my back has been sore, just right up the spine. If I'm sitting or standing normally, I don't notice it. When I twist, it's a "I worked out too hard" kind of sore ... but I hadn't worked out those muscles when this started. Also, I can do general back exercises and they don't bother the soreness at all.

For reasons unknown, I went just now and looked up the vague symptoms that help lead to Hodgkins diagnoses. Itchy skin and vague back soreness are both on the list.

I'm a bit freaked. OK, I'm a lot freaked.

Everything else is fine. I have no other potential symptoms, my breathing is fine. I think that maybe my inability to explain why my back is sore is ramping up my current anxiety. Itchy skin I can explain away.

Lymph nodes in my neck are not noticeable. I don't know how to check any of the other ones. Though I am guessing if this actually *is* a recurrence, it would be in the same place as the old one, and I can't check there.

I'm going to call the oncologist's office on Monday and see if he thinks I should be concerned. I'd like to be able to talk to someone sooner, but it's not something to bother the doctor on call about, I don't think.

Fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

reclaiming my body, and some thoughts for Tam

I saw my abs today! It was their first sighting in a year and a half! I finally feel like I'm getting my body back. It has been slow, but little marks of progress along the way make it a little easier.

I decided earlier this week to "test" to see if I still need to wear sunscreen all the time (it's getting a little old...). I had a couple of errands to run each day but was mostly in the house, so I didn't put on sunscreen ... and I have a couple of faint sunspots on my face. Yup, still need to wear it. While I understand that it's a good idea to wear sunscreen in general, if I'm just going to the grocery store and back, it'd be nice to save the few minutes it takes to put it in, as well as saving the sunscreen for when I need it, as well as saving my skin from having that crap all over it. It's OK. It's my price for living right now. Chemo messed up my skin (temporarily), but chemo let me live to complain about it.


And Tam, I read your birthday blog post ... For whatever it's worth, the anti-nausea drugs they gave me made my vision blurry, but my eyes cleared up just about immediately after treatments ended. I had trouble with Neupogen, so they switched me to Neulasta - is that available to you? Maybe it would help more? I needed only one shot, and it sent my white cell count through the roof! I had all kinds of "chemo brain" and often had trouble holding a normal conversation because I couldn't think of words and because I would forget what I was talking about mid-sentence. It went away after treatments ended. I have a little trouble every now and then now, but it's mostly gone. And they said side effects could last for up to 18 months, and I'm still inside of that window. The butt problems went away, too.

As far as life after cancer and its problems ... no, it's not the same as it was Before. But it is good, or it can be good. The scans aren't endless - they just feel like it, especially because we have so much life left. Hell, I'll certainly outlive my oncologist by quite a margin! It is super-easy to get bogged down by all of the negative possibilities — there are so many of them! I have just decided that they are not a possibility, and I do my best to live so that my thoughts, my hopes, and my actions all match. It ain't always easy, but it's worth the work!!

If you want to talk, let's figure out a way to exchange e-mail addresses without posting them here. (If not, that's totally OK, too.)

Hope you are feeling a little better...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I like being helpful

A friend of a friend was recently-ish diagnosed with lymphoma and was in the same hospital I had been in. I have never met her, but I wrote her a letter, telling her stuff that I found helpful when I was going through all that crap, hoping that one or two pieces of it would be useful.

She called a few days ago and left a message about how nice it was, how helpful it was, how she feels like she has a friend and hopes to meet me one day.

:-)

A coworker mentioned to me a couple of days later that her friend was just diagnosed with some kind of cancer, and did I have any words of advice for her? I edited the letter and sent that to her.

I got a message on a message board today saying that her husband is in the process of being diagnosed with lymphoma (type currently undetermined) and can I help her to help herself and to help him? I sent her an email with what I could think of and attached the revised letter.

It is kind of cool that people are seeking me out for help, support, advice. I hope that something I tell them resonates and is useful. All feedback I've gotten so far has been positive. Maybe I'll post the letter here... Hmmm...

In the mean time, Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

milestone :)

Yesterday was my one-year anniversary, according to my oncologist for being CANCER-FREE!! HOORAY!!

It feels like more than a year has passed. Funny how days go so fast, years go so slow, but bunches of years go so fast.

We had a little celebratory dinner with friends. Yum!

I also had a good hard work out at the gym, which felt good. I still have this crazy little hope in the back of my head that the "right person" will read my blog, or the magazine article and will decide to gift me dance lessons or personal training at my gym. That would so rock my world.

(In real life, things like that don't tend to happen, but hey, a girl can dream, can't she?)


Regardless of any of that, I am happy to have been here for another year, gettin' things done, living life, loving life.

Cheers!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

how to say "thanks"?

In June, I went to a survivors' brunch at the hospital. As a door prize, I received a BB King box set of 4 CDs. The lady giving out the prizes said that he donated them himself. Pretty cool.

So I know it's months later, but I'd like to write a thank you note, saying I won them and have enjoyed listening to them thanks for donating them. I don't know how to go about finding contact information.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm getting rant-y about cancer!

An article that supports one of my rants!

Breast cancer stuff frustrates me. This is not because I think that breast cancer research is bad or unnecessary or frivolous. However, many many more women and people die of lung cancer than breast cancer. The 5-year survival rate for lung cancer is worse. And heart disease is the leading killer of women overall (though that changes by age group).

A chart of causes of death by age group.

A less detailed page, compliments of the CDC. (The first link is actually on this website.)

According to familydoctor.org: "Women are at risk for heart disease and heart attacks, just like men. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women over 65. American women are 4 to 6 times more likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer. Heart disease kills more women over 65 than all cancers combined." (my emphasis)

Do you hear about heart disease? Not so much. Symptoms for heart attack in women are different than they are in men, though many doctors tell both genders to watch for the same symptoms. Most women don't have chest pains. Women are also less likely than men to survive a heart attack.

OK, so am I trying to start a panic? No :) I'm just (highly) frustrated with the skewed coverage of women's health issues.

Another of my cancer rants:

There are walks, runs, golf outings, drives at the grocery store, and a gajillion other ways that people raise money for cancer research. People turn out in droves for these things, fundraise lots of money for them. Many many people are involved. I don't know anyone who would not like to see a cure for cancer.

Of those zillions of people who actively participate in these events (I won't even count people who just give money, even if it's a lot of money), how many of them have changed their lives? My doctor told me that two-thirds of cancers are lifestyle related.

Two-thirds of cancers are lifestyle related.

That means that if everyone who had known carcinogenic habits changed them, well over half of the incidents of cancer would (should) disappear.

That makes me angry. It makes me angry because it's another example of an external locus of control that seems to have invaded our collective mindset. "This is such a horrible disease. Why can't they fix it?" (puff puff on a ciggy)

Now, I certainly don't begrudge research and have benefitted greatly from it. Research enables me to be sitting here typing to you instead of being in an urn on Tom's mantle (or wherever). And even if two-thirds of cancers went away, one-third would still exist (including mine).

"But it's so hard." Uh-huh. So is hearing the words, "You have cancer" ... and then dealing with everything that comes after it, presumably for the rest of one's life (though I can't report on that yet for sure).

"It won't happen to me." Uh-huh. I didn't sign up, either.

(I had other things I was going to list here, and I've forgotten what they all are...)

Anyway, what is carcinogenic? A whole hell of a lot of things.

•plastics: they say only plastics with PBAs in them, and that you shouldn't store stuff in them or use them in the fridge/freezer/microwave. I don't trust any of it — a couple of years ago, none of it was dangerous... They (whoever "they" are) did research on breast cancer, and they dissected a whole bunch of breast cancer tumors. Know what they found inside them? Plastic. Except for dry goods in the pantry, I've sworn off plastic (almost) completely. This means that I've given up yogurt (if you ever see it in a container that's not plastic, let me know) and, for the most part, cheese. Can't buy cheese in not-plastic, either.

• grilled meat: lots of crap in there. Meat in general is not recommended for a healthy diet, and grilling it actually creates carcinogens in the meat. Lots of them. It's unfortunate, as many people turn to grilled meat as a "healthy alternative" to meats cooked in other ways. Better for your arteries, but not better for other things.

• pesticides: I read a piece that explained that the best fruits to buy organic are the ones where you eat the skin. Strawberries washed 12 times still had traces of chemicals on them. We've started buying some organic fruits and vegetables, though we haven't been able to find organic red delicious apples anywhere nearby.

• tobacco: duh

• obesity is almost as large a risk factor for cancer as smoking. And we're so used to looking at overweight people and damning the supermodels that we have an unhealthy view of what healthy looks like. (I am not in any way saying that we should strive to look like supermodels!!) I have about lost count of the number of people who have called me "skinny." I'm not skinny. My upper arms and legs still jiggle. I'm not fat any more, but I'm not skinny. It's not a matter of appearance — it's a matter of health. (Of course, there are many many other unpleasant diseases that obesity increases your risk for, but I suspect you know about those already.)

• one of the artificial sweeteners (I think it's aspartame) when it heats up. In a soda, if the soda is stored somewhere hot, that'll do it. Also not good to bake or otherwise cook with in place of sugar. I've sworn off artificial sweeteners altogether, as they have a variety of health issues beyond cancer. I'm working on weeding out the sugar, too, but I can only do so much at one time :) And people keep buying me tasty treats, ones that they know I really like :) One day soon, I'm going to put out a request for that not to happen any more.

• the sun: as just about everyone knows, I've become obsessive about wearing sunscreen, and about what kind of sunscreen I wear. This is mainly because "melanoma is a common secondary cancer" and I could see myself turning pink very quickly, even in indirect sun. I suspect that by the time next summer rolls around, I will still be cautious about wearing sunscreen outside, but I won't be so gunshy about being in the sun. Regardless, wearing sunscreen helps prevent wrinkles, too, as cellular damage can happen even without a burn.

• cell phones?: I read two articles (that I will post if I can find them) about cell phones. One indicated that men who carry their cell phones in their pockets tend to have less sperm than those who don't. I realize that this is, at best, correlated and not necessarily causative, but still. The other talked about how, while there is no cancer link between cell phones and cancer, there is abnormal cellular activity within 10 minutes (I think) of talking on a cell phone (that is, talking for 10 minutes or more). So maybe or maybe not carcinogenic, but I like my cells to be normal and happy :) So I use my hands-free when I talk on my cell phone for more than a minute or two. And if possible, I don't leave it in my pocket.

OK, that's enough of the rantiness for now. I am curious to opinions, however, if you'd like to share them...

cancer, death rates

I subscribe to Nutrition Action Health, a small magazine with information about health and nutrition (as you might have guessed). They often have interesting articles to read, and every edition has a comparison of a bunch of different brands of some type of food (cereal, yogurt, etc.). They rate them all on a bunch of different criteria. It's interesting.

Anyway, a new copy came yesterday, and the cover article is "Cancer: What You Need to Know." So I looked through it. It lists several kinds of cancers, what elevates risk for them, how many people are estimated to get them in 2008, warning signs. There is also a chart of the top 15 killers for men and women. The chart was fascinating to me. (Chart info cited from the American Cancer Society. Numbers represent estimated deaths in 2008.)

For women:
1- lung (71,030) (Lung cancer was not one of the cancers they gave all of the other information for, interestingly enough.)
2- breast (40, 480)
3- colon & rectum (25,700)
4- pancreas (16, 790)
5- ovary (15,520)
6- non-Hodgkin lymphoma (!!!) (9,370)
7- leukemia (9,250)
8- uterus (7,470)
9- liver (5,840)
10- brain (5,650)
11- myeloma* (5,050)
12- kidney (4,910)
13- stomach (4,430)
14- bladder (4,150)
15- cervix (3,870)

For men:
1- lung (90,810)
2- prostate (28,660)
3- colon & rectum (24,260)
4- pancreas (17,500)
5- liver (12,570)
6- leukemia (12,460)
7- esophagus (11,250)
8- bladder (9,950)
9- non-Hodgkin lymphoma (9,790)
10- kidney (8,100)
11- brain (7,420)
12- myeloma* (5,640)
13- melanoma (5,400)
14- oral cavity & pharynx (5,210)
15- larynx (2,910)

*I didn't know what myeloma was. Cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Treatable but not curable. I'm glad I didn't learn that one through experience.

There is another chart that shows 5-year survival rates (as a percentage) in four columns: total, local, regional, distant.

Looking at local (meaning it hasn't hit lymph nodes) survival rates, cancers that are in the 90s for 5-year survival (of the ones listed) are female breast cancer, colon/rectum, kidney, melanoma, ovary, prostate (100%), thyroid (100%), testicle, bladder, cervix, uterus. This means catch it early!

Those in the 80s were larynx and oral.

Those between 50 and 79: stomach.

30-49: esophagus, lung.

Below 30: liver.

For "distant," meaning it had gotten into lymph nodes and spread to distant sites in the body (the explanation given to me at the hospital was, "Does it cross over the horizontal plane of the diaphragm?"), all were at or below 30% except prostate (32), testicle (70), thyroid (56).

OK, enough numbers. They were really interesting to me.

The more detailed write-ups were about cancers of the breast, colon/rectum, esophagus, kidney, ovary, pancreas, prostate, and uterus. Of those, prostate was the only one that didn't list weight as a risk factor. Ovarian cancer, the research is inconclusive about weight.

That leads me to my next cancer rant, but that will need to wait for another time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

PSA: tax credit money in AZ

We take this break from our cancer programming to bring you this message.

If you (or someone you know) live in and pay state taxes in Arizona, you are able to receive a tax credit of up to $200 ($400 if married filing jointly) when you make a donation to a public school.

I am soliciting tax credit donations for the instrumental music program at my school. If you are able and willing to give us some of your tax money, follow these steps:

1- Download the form here. Print it out.

2- Fill in the information.

3- Check the box, and on the line underneath of it, write "Bethune Instrumental Music"

4- Mail the form to the address given, along with a check in the amount of your choice.

About a year from now, I will get a list of all of the people who donated money to my program. I'll send you a thank you note written by me, and some thank you notes written by kids. So you give us "free money" and get thanked for it — what could be easier?

If you are unsure as to how the tax credit program works, ask me and I'll give you more details.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

this just fell into my lap

The guy who runs this posted a comment a few posts down. I checked him out and found all kinds of cool stuff that made me cry. I kinda wish I'd known about this a year and a half ago ... though with the mindset I was in, I'm not sure I would have used it.



There's also a webpage: I'm Too Young For This. I might buy some of their paraphernilia. I definitely would have bought it a year and change ago.

Check it out.


Friday, October 10, 2008

carcinogens in food

Most people know that grilled beef has lots of carcinogens in it. But lots of people opt for grilled chicken over fried in an effort to be more healthy when eating out. This article might sway you.

no more PETs!!

I had an appointment with my oncologist this afternoon. I already knew via phone call that I had another negative PET scan a couple of weeks ago, so I expected nothing useful in this doc's visit ... which is OK :)

So while there was no new info, per se, he did say that in three months, instead of getting another PET scan, I should have just a chest X-ray; he wants to limit my radiation exposure. Unless the X-ray shows something or I have symptoms, I am DONE with PET scans!!! Hooray!!! No more IVs! No more radioactive injections! Hooray hooray hooray!!!!

This whole stupid cancer thing is more and more becoming a thing of the past. Not that I'll ever be rid of it (and with all I've been through, why would I disown it?), but it sure is nice for bits and pieces of it to fall by the wayside!

My one-year-mark is in just over a month :)

And, unrelated, one of the chemo nurses came to talk to me just before I checked out. We were talking about health and fitness. We had talked while I was going through treatment, and she is recently having some troubles, blah blah. It was cool for her to seek me out, though :) She said she's considering joining my gym. We could be workout buddies :)

Ahhhhhhhhhh...... :) I feel good!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

results are in!

I got a phone call regarding my recent PET scan, and it is another negative one! Woo-hoo! I had no reason to believe it would be anything else, but it's always nice to get confirmation.

I have an appointment with the oncologist on Friday. I don't expect it will yield any particularly useful conversation, but I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 26, 2008

no, not Mambo No. 5...

I had PET scan number 5 this morning. I'm an old pro. Since all of them have been negative so far, and I have no reason to believe any of them will ever be anything but negative, my only anxieties about these are getting the IV. The last two have both been one-stick days, and fortunately, today was no different :)

They check blood sugar, as the test apparently won't work if blood sugar is too high. I always forget about that, so there's always one more poke than I'm ready for. Not a huge deal (or I'd remember it), just annoying.

Anyway, this morning was easy. My check-in time was 6:30, so I was (am) super-sleepy. Regardless of being there before the sun came up, I was third in line to check in. I fell asleep in the machine (which is OK, as I was strapped in).

I put sunscreen on before I left (have I mentioned how much I LOVE sunscreen?), and the nice lady who walked me out neglected to mention that I had a white stripe down my nose.

Anyway, my doc's appointment isn't for two more weeks. I'm guessing I'll get a "your scan was fine" phone call some time before then.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

nothin'

Fortunately, there's been nothing noteworthy happening :) I'm back at work - and it's been crazy! I'm working out at the gym pretty regularly. My long-term goal is to do a mini-triathlon. Not sure what my time frame is. Depends on how well I can improve my swimming, really. We'll see...

In the mean time, I have a PET scan scheduled for late September and a doc's appointment shortly thereafter. I don't suspect there will be anything noteworthy, but I'll definitely let y'all know that there's nothing new to know ;)

Here's to being healthy, staying healthy, living life :)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

a neat promising therapy

This article on a potential new treatment for metastasized cancer was sent to me by a brother-in-law. It's pretty neat.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

the hair project has officially ended

I decided that since
1- my hair was getting annoying and
2- it was longer than I normally wear it, and I grew it out from that length a couple of years ago and
3- I really just wanted to see if it would be curly and
4- it's not

it was time for a cut ...

A friend's recent cut-and-color inspired me to perhaps add some color of my own. I had never dyed my hair before. I wasn't sure I was going to today. I knew the cut I wanted, and I picked a color :)

Here are the results of today's trip to the salon:



Funky, no? I'm kinda diggin' it. I'm not sure I'll get it colored again, mainly because there are other things I'd rather spend money on (and the chemical-ness of it was kinda gross), but it was fun to do :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

it's been a year :) and other misc tidbits

Well, it's been a year since my first negative PET scan :) The docs are counting time from when chemo ended, which isn't for another several months, but I'm celebrating from the first sign of no cancer!!

One year down, 65 to go ;)

Also, I've been working out regularly, sometimes with a trainer. While it's frustrating that I'm not nearly as strong as I used to be, it feels good to exercise hard. I'm grateful to be back in that routine.

I have gotten together about 100 pages of my cancer book. I still have a lot to go (I wonder if it will be too long?!?), but it's been fun and interesting to work on it!

And last, if you see a Summer 2008 copy of "Spirit of Women" magazine, look inside — there is an article about me in there!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

hair project

Here are pics for July, a little overdue. My hair is long enough now to be called shaggy. The back always turns out. I am likely to get the back trimmed in the next few days. I'll ask them to trim the underside a little shorter than the outside, so it turns under.

I've been thinking about how I'm going to have it cut/styled when the hair project ends, either at the end of 2008 or when I get sick of my hair, whichever comes first. Suggestions? Parameters: must be wash and wear — no product, no hair driers. Limits the options, I know...



Friday, July 4, 2008

this is dang expensive...

I received an e-mail from my health insurance company, asking me to look at something on their website, so I logged in. While I was there, I checked out "claim history." Of course, it is extensive. I downloaded it and used the "sum" function, just to see... Now, before I give you my partial running total, a detail: My insurance changed last summer, so this total is for the last 12 months. It does not include my 3 trips to the ER, my hospital stays, my first two (three?) chemo treatments. I am thinking about contacting my previous insurer to get numbers for all of that.

OK, that said, the total for July '07 to July '08 was $136,111.77. Chemo, radiation, doc's appointments, blood draws, PET scans, PICC lines. I expected it to be more than that, but that's still not chump change.


And I haven't forgotten about the hair project pic. I should have it up later today. If not, definitely tomorrow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

hello, strangers

As you might have noticed, I have a counter on my blog. It is interesting to me to see how many hits this blog gets, even though I don't know who it is.

Through the stat counter, I can find out the rough location of people who click on my blog, and the link they used to find my blog, if any.

Most of the hits I've gotten since putting this counter on have been through Google and have landed on the picture of the PICC. These hits are literally world-wide.

When I did the radio show, there were a few hits from Chad's website.

There are occasional hits from Facebook and from a message board I frequent when I have time.

Some people know about the blog and just type in the address. I can usually take a general guess as to who those might be based on location, though there are a couple that have me baffled.

Anyway, I'm just taking a moment to say hello to all of you who I don't know, or who I know but don't know you're here. Feel free to leave a comment saying "hi." If you want to contribute to my book, feel free. I had put a deadline on it, but I've done much less work on it so far than I had expected.

With that, off to the gym! Getting stronger every day!! I'm planning to run another 5K in the fall, when it's a little cooler. The new most recent time to beat is roughly 34:00, but I'd still love to get back down to under 30:00.........

And Alicia, wherever you are, whatever is going on, I hope you're OK...

Monday, June 2, 2008

hair project

First, good news: I saw the radiologist today who said that I don't need to see him any more :) I'm down to one doctor, once every two months. Rock on :)

Here's what the hair's looking like these days:


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I love giving good news :)

I had another appointment with the oncologist on Monday. He confirmed that the PET scan results were negative. The chunk of scar tissue has shrunk slightly. Blood levels are all normal. Lymph node is just about gone. And I don't have to go back for two months :) Hooray!

Goodness goodness goodness all around :)

Friday, May 9, 2008

4 for 4!

I got a phone call from the oncologist's office this morning - my PET scan from last week is negative!

We're on a roll, baby!

And, while we're at it, the swollen node in my neck is almost imperceptible :-)

I love having good news to share!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

it's almost that time...

We are rapidly approaching the one-year anniversary of my entrance to the hospital (May 16). It actually is kind of making me nervous, like there's something inherent about May that is going to cause me to wake up one morning and not be able to breathe again.

I just sent an e-mail a few minutes ago, and in it, I was bitching a bit about having our district festival on Wednesday, and how that means I'm in teacher mode until 9:00 Wednesday night, after which, we get to clean up. I'm conducting the beginning band, so it's not like the afternoon when kids are rehearsing is putz time. (Actually, though, I'm looking forward to conducting a band that has more than 20 kids in it.)

Anyway, in the e-mail, I said that last year, the day of the district festival was the first day I was in the hospital, so I'm glad this year to be going to the festival instead. But even as I typed it, "hopefully" was somewhere in my head. As if to say, I won't believe that I will actually be there until I'm there.

I'm planning our spring concert and how to wind down the year with collecting instruments and such. I wasn't there for any of this last year. And there's a funky little something inside that makes me wonder if I'll be there for it this year.

Now, in real life, I have very little reason to believe that I wouldn't be there for it. (The only anything is the swollen lymph node.) I'm planning for it, and it all should be fine.

I was at the gym on Friday and today and did some decent cardio and felt fine. Breathing was fine, knees were fine, chest was fine - everything was fine. I think that once I get past some of these events that I missed last year, I will be fine. But for now, it's a funky kind of background paranoid, like when you see something out of the corner of your eye, but as soon as you turn to look at it, it disappears.

Only time will tell.

hair project

Two pics of the latest 'do. I might need to get it cleaned up a bit - it's driving me a bit mad. But for now...


Friday, May 2, 2008

PET

Had a PET scan this morning. I had the same tech as last time (by request) and it was a quick, easy, one-stick ordeal.

As I always say, if you're going to get injected with radiation, you shouldn't have to be stabbed more than once to do it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

sunscreen

I was able to use my regular SPF45 sunscreen yesterday afternoon and this morning with no discomfort. One more thing to check off the list :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

general update

I had my monthly check-up on Monday last week.

My lymph node is still swollen. It has gotten marginally smaller, maybe. Definitely hasn’t gotten bigger. Definitely hasn’t gone away.

“You know, I can’t guarantee that that’s not cancer.”

I know. I’m willing to do whatever needs to be done, but I don’t want to do anything extra. If he says, “You know, that needs to come out so we can biopsy it,” well, let’s get it out! But he maintains that it’s OK to be watching it for now, so we’re watching. I’m not feeling really stressed about it, though I suspect that some “background tension” will be noticeably absent when this little thing isn’t puffy any more.

Skin is still sensitive. I’ve been in sunscreen and/or long sleeves all the time. I’ve been using Neutrogena Ultra-Dry Sheer Touch SPF 45. Last time I went to the store, there was only SPF 55, so I got that. No big deal, right? Well, while I was in NJ, putting on sunscreen started to burn my face. (Not a sensation I’d recommend.) Then just plain moisturizer burned. Then soap and water. Then I had a rash. So I stopped using the sunscreen and was careful to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

I checked the two bottles of sunscreen when I got home. As it turns out, SPF 45 and 55 have very different ingredients. I am hoping that the problem was just something in the 55 that’s not in the 45. I haven’t had sunscreen on since Saturday, but my face accepts moisturizer now. I am going to try sunscreen this afternoon before my commute home. If it’s not the sunscreen and it’s my face, I’m not sure what I’m going to do…

The doc didn’t have much else to say, except that it’s time for another PET scan. I have it scheduled for Friday, but I won’t get results from it until my next appointment, which is on the 19th. I assume that if there’s a problem, they’ll call me, and that as long as I just keep my next appointment, all news should be good news.

I got copies of my most recent blood work, and for the first time in almost a year, all levels of everything are normal!! My immune system is finally back up and running in the realm of “normal,” though I’m not sure where is typical for me specifically. No matter. It’s good to be able to take myself off of the “immuno-compromised” list.

My hair is driving me batty. I’m not sure that this hair project is going to last a whole year. I’ll post pics later this week, but I think it’s going to need to be cleaned up. It’s coarser than it was before (though not terribly so), which might be why it’s resisting being parted. It’ll probably just need to be longer. But I need to clean it up. I’m kind of missing the days of #2 all the way around.

In general health … TJ and I have been vegetarian at home now for two or three months. It’s been going well and has been much easier to do than we had anticipated. We have had lots of very tasty food that just doesn’t happen to have meat in it. I’ve also finally gotten my sugar cravings back under control (which is to say, close to non-existent).

In cancer-preventing health:

I have replaced the plastics that I was using for lunches and other food storage with glass. I’ll use plastic to hold dry goods in, but that’s all at this point. This includes not drinking bottled water. (At this point, if I drink bottled water, I can taste the plastic.) The only thing I can’t find is an ice cube tray that isn’t plastic…

I had been avoiding grilled meats, but going veggie made that a lot easier.

I’m overly careful with the sun (“Melanoma is a common secondary cancer” – no thanks! once was enough!) and am looking forward to the sun not being an adversary any more. I’m adapting to constant sunscreen and can probably do that indefinitely without too much bitching, but the long sleeves and staying out of the sun with sunscreen on is not making me happy.

Unless I know that I’ll be on for about two minutes or less, I don’t use my cell phone without the earpiece. I read some studies they’re doing have shown that cell phone use causes cells to do funky things that they don’t normally do. No specific cancer link (yet?), but I don’t need to wait for more info, really.

I have cut out artificial sweeteners whenever possible (I don’t always know, and I don’t always remember). I know those links are not strong, but that there’s a link at all makes it worth it. I figure, stuff that is that processed isn’t good for your body anyway, regardless of its potential as a carcinogen.

I think that’s all, but it’s been plenty. Aside from the sun thing, I feel comfortable in these changes. And really, I think they’re all healthy, even if they have no bearing one way or the other on cancer.

I’m starting to work on my book in slightly more tangible ways than just thinking. It’s kind of fun :) I hope it turns out well.

*whew* I think that’s the complete update for the moment. Pictures in a couple of days, then updates on the latest PET scan, once I have news.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

book project

I’ve decided to try to put together a book about my cancer experience, mostly comprised of my e-mail updates and blog entries. I thought it might be interesting to include things from you, my followers, supporters, cheering section, caretakers.

I have a few thoughts/questions:

If my experience has somehow changed your life, in any way that you’d like to define “change,” can you write about it? Or make an audio recording and send it to me?

If my experience has had an effect on someone I’m not aware of/in touch with, can you pass the above request on to them?

I saved all of the e-mails I received that had anything to do with what was going on, beginning the day I went to the doctor. Is it OK with you if I include text from yours (if applicable)? Do you want me to show you what I have first?

For all requests, I’m happy to maintain anonymity if you prefer. Let me know if I can use
1-your full info (TJ Bigman, husband)
2-your first name and relation to me (TJ, husband)
3-your relationship to me but no name (husband)
4-no potentially identifying info (an acquaintance)

If you’ve got nothing to say, well, then say nothing :)

Please e-mail or snail mail me by mid-June. (If there are a few that come in later, that’s OK, but I’d like to have this piece pretty well solidified before I start work again on July 28.)

Leave a comment if you need my contact info.

Many thanks in advance.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

5K

I ran my first post-cancer run this morning.

I was in no way ready for it, but that's just how it goes sometimes.

It was fabulous.

At one point, kinda early on, I was a bit overwhelmed at the emotional significance that I've attached to it. I ran in this same event last year - the last 5K I ran before cancer - so I felt it to be fitting somehow to make it the first run after.

The same as last year, the course was hilly, so I was slower than I would have liked to be. I'm a flat-terrain runner :)

My goals for my first ever 5K, which was in the neighborhood of 5 years ago were:
1-finish it without walking (run the whole time)
2-don't come in last
3-don't die

I met all three goals for that race. I didn't quite meet them this time. At the water station (which we passed twice), I walked fast while drinking, in an effort to get more from the cup to the inside of my mouth. At one other point, there was a small hill that I just couldn't run up, so I walked. It was only about 10 steps. Honestly, if I had walked the whole race the same way that I walked those three times, I might have finished faster.

The time on the clock when I pulled in was 39:30. We can shave 20-30 seconds off of that for time lost at the gun, as I wasn't on the front line.

A funny story about that: there was a woman with an elementary-aged child near my friend and I, who ran together, as we were all crowded around waiting to go. As the "motion" started to make its way back to where we were, people started jogging, and I heard, "Oh! These people are fast! These are real runners! Look out! We'll wait for them to go!" I thought this was especially hilarious because I was back where she was because the "fast, real runners" were up front.

This is the first time that I've run a 2-lap race that I was slow enough to be finishing lap 1 while someone else finished the race. (It was at the 20-minute-mark.) That was kinda sad. But I didn't get passed by anyone pushing a double stroller this year, so it all evens out...

They had little fruit icee things, but by the time we slow ones pulled in, they were gone :(

In any case, I am super-glad I went. I'm glad my friend went - it was nice to talk while we were running, and I might not have finished if she wasn't there. I was feeling pretty dead at the end of the first lap. I caught a second wind and it was OK, though.

As far as the body and recent issues are concerned: my knees got sore within the first mile. I bitched them out (in my head), and they were OK the rest of the run. They're a little sore now, but not bad.

I felt kind of the same as the last time I went running (really tired, short of breath) for a while, but it burned off, so I was glad about that :)

All-in-all, an excellent way to spend an early Sunday morning :-) I think I'll do another...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

hair project 4-3

OK, here are the most recent hair pics. You can't tell from the pic, but in the front, if I pull the hairs down forward, they almost reach my eyebrows. At this point, it's a little long for spiking, so I've been combing it forward on top, down on the sides. I tried parting it, but that's still not quite happening.

I haven't noticed much difference between now and before it fell out. A little lighter, maybe, a bit thicker, maybe. That's about all.



I did trim the "tail" on the left to even out the back a bit. It was quite a bit longer than the right.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

hair project issue...

I have pics but I can't get them to upload. As soon as I can get them from the computer to this website, you'll see them!

Monday, March 24, 2008

quick update on the doc's appointment

Well, I forgot my paper with my questions, so I didn't remember to ask them all.

I wear sunscreen on all uncovered parts whenever I leave the house. Today, I am wearing short sleeves, so I put sunscreen on my arms before leaving work. By the time I got to the doc's, my right arm was sunburned. That kinda answered the sun question. I asked anyway, and he said that it would be best if I wore long sleeves. "Indefinitely?" "For a while." I'm not sure how long that is, and I didn't inquire. So I'm going now to look for one or two long-sleeved shirts (one definitely in white) that I can wear over my short sleeves when I'm outside.

I've been having the weird skin sensitivity lately, like I had during chemo. It's not nearly as bad, but it is noticeable. I asked about that, and he said that he wasn't concerned about it. (The doc's answers aren't great for those of us who like to know "why" -- he's just answering from a "should I be concerned" perspective.)

He listened to my lungs without my request, and he said nothing about them, so I assume they are fine. If I continue to have the same problem with exercising, I'll call.

The swollen node is about the same - everyone agrees - so no action necessary at this time. I should call right away if I notice a change for the worse (no kidding!!).

And I'll have another PET scan 3 months from the previous, so that will be mid-to-late May, the year-mark of when this all started. The end of the school year approaching is raising a bit of anxiety in me. Funny, since the point in the school year had nothing to do with everything that happened. Ahhh, associations.

So that's where it's at right now.

every now and then, it taps me on the shoulder...

It’s all kind of surreal.

It’s different than denial.

I mean, I know I had cancer.

I remember a lot of it more clearly than I would like to.

Yet it still doesn’t feel real, somehow.

I had an appointment at the radiologist’s this morning, to check on my swollen node. It’s still swollen, but it’s about the same as its been all along. (It was kind of annoying, actually. From the time I got out of my car to the time I got back in was 15 minutes. I could have just called and said, “Yep, I’ve been checking it every day, and it’s still the same.”)

I noticed on my way in and out that the paintings we did at the Day of Art are framed and hanging in the hallway. I could see mine. Mine was a tribute to all of the people who carried me through the journey: medical staff, husband, friends, family. It is not a fabulous painting, but it says what I wanted it to say.

Seeing it made me want to cry. Writing about it makes me want to cry. I can’t entirely pinpoint why, either.

I went running Saturday late afternoon. It was easily the hottest it’s been for an outdoor run for me since before diagnosis, and the sun, while low, was still up. I did my usual 2-mile (my house up to Baseline and back), which I’ve been able to run without walking for quite some time now.

I couldn’t run it.

I ran all the way to Baseline and did a combination walk/run the whole way back. The whole second mile. I was completely out of breath and tired. (Legs felt OK.)

This funky incident (which was most likely a result of me not being used to the weather), had me in tears by the time I cooled down. I was out of breath, which is a problem I haven’t had, which *must* mean there’s something wrong, which *must* mean that the long-dead cancer is causing problems.

Shit.

I wonder if this paranoia ever goes away. I don’t like it.

Well, in any case, I have an appointment with the oncologist this afternoon. Questions I have:

- when do the side effects of the chemo wear off once and for good?
- I love being outside in the sun. As long as I wear sunscreen vigilantly, is the sun something I need to avoid? Are clothes sufficient barriers, or do I need more sunscreen than I thought?
- is the restriction on hot tubs, hot showers, massages, etc. permanent, or was that just during treatment?
- the funky blue veins in my chest are still visible, and the area inside my left collar bone is still slightly swollen. Shouldn’t that have gone away by now?
- please listen to my lungs – I had some issues when I was running over the weekend.

*sigh*

Yeah, if you have the opportunity to miss sharing this adventure, that would be a good thing.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

update on the node

the swollen lymph node (from however long ago) is still swollen but barely. i can still find it 'cause i know where to look, but i wouldn't find it by accident like i did before. i am assuming this is a good sign and that we needn't worry about it any more :)

docs' appointments on the 24th (one in the a.m., one in the p.m.), so i'll have confirmation by then.

Monday, March 3, 2008

the hair project 3-3-08

Well ... I took my digital camera to school last week and left it there over the weekend, so this month's picture is a couple of days late... Anyway, this is what it's looking like these days. The style is gel-free, though sometimes it needs gel. Don't know why.



Tuesday, February 26, 2008

swollen node, exercise

I saw the radiologist yesterday (for an appointment that was scheduled on my last day of radiation). He checked out my still-swollen lymph node, measured it, said he wants to see me back in 4 weeks, and if it gets any bigger, they'll have to biopsy it. I knew that already. So on March 24, I'm seeing both docs: one before school and one after school. *sigh*



I recently joined 24 Hour Fitness. It has been fabulous getting back to the gym, lifting weights, not running alongside traffic, etc. My membership package came with four training sessions. I'm looking forward to them :)

If you ever want to get me a gift, they sell gift cards :)

I still need to pick a 5K to run in March. We'll see about that...



Hair picture in a few days!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm 3 for 3, baby!

I had a doctor's appointment this afternoon (that I managed not to miss...), at which I got the results of Monday's PET scan.

It's negative!!

I'm not terribly surprised, but with this little swollen node thing going on in my neck, there was a larger-than-average possibility that it would have not turned out so well...

Speaking of that node ... the doc asked if I'm OK with it, which I am (for now). He said that if it's really a problem for me, that he would be OK with taking it out, but that if I'm not freaking out, that a wait-and-see approach would be fine.

I see the radiologist on Monday. The oncologist said to be sure to get his opinion about it.

That's all the health news on this front. Another hair picture in a week or so - it's getting long!

Monday, February 18, 2008

ONE TRY!!!!!

I had a PET scan this morning. They take a while (total time at the office without waiting = 2 hours), but they don't hurt or have side effects or anything.

But they do require an IV :(

This is the third PET scan I've had. The other two, just like the chemo, always required three attempts before the IV was in and working.

I told the guy this morning that if he got it in one try, he'd be my best friend.

He did :) It is the first IV I've gotten since the ER that went in without lots of poking and digging.

Results on Thursday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

cold...

OK, not so happy to have a cold now. Yes yes, it's still better than cancer (my goodness!), but I'm ready to be healthy again...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

quick update

I woke up significantly congested this morning - I've never been happier to have a cold.

The lymph node is still swollen but less so.

Good news :)

Friday, February 8, 2008

thoughts from the doc

I called this morning for an appointment. They had a 1:00 appointment with the nurse available. I took it.

The nurse agreed that my left neck lymph node was swollen and inquired about sore throats, nasal drainage and the like. I've had some of each every morning when I woke up, but it clears up during the day. (I've been chugging Emergen-C, gargling with salt water, and using the NetiPot in an effort to stave this thing off ... getting enough sleep might help, too...) She said that was likely the reason for the swelling and she'd get me an antibiotic. OK. She left, and I waited ... and waited ... and waited ...

When she finally came back, she said the doc was going to squeeze me in, if I didn't mind waiting. No problem with waiting. I was grateful.

He came in, checked out my neck and armpits, asked the same questions that the nurse had asked. He said that his recommendation would be to come back in two weeks. He said it's probably from the cold I'm fighting off, but that we need to be cautious given my history. He said he could do a biopsy right then, but he wouldn't recommend it. If it *is* cancer again, two weeks isn't going to make a difference. If it's not cancer again, in two weeks, it'll be gone. So I have an appointment for two weeks from yesterday. If it gets any bigger, I should call right away.

I also will be having a PET scan (which was in the works anyway) and should have the results of that at the same appointment.

So that's where it's at. Here's to it all being just a cold .....

Thursday, February 7, 2008

shit...

I had a doc's appointment today. I missed it because I was way late because there was a crazy amount of traffic.

Normally, this wouldn't bother me too much, 'cause it's just a follow-up appointment. They tend to be really short and not very interesting.

However, I noticed earlier today that on the left side of my neck, the lymph node is swollen.

Originally, my make-up appointment was scheduled for Wednesday next week, but I'm going to see about going in tomorrow.

I'm scared...

Friday, February 1, 2008

the hair project 2-1-08

Here's what my hair is lookin' like today, February 1. I have that weird little tail thing going on, and around my ears feels unkept, but otherwise, it's doing well :)



I'm not noticing any lingering side effects of radiation, and the side effects of chemo feel like they are mostly gone. Funny, here we are, 2.5 months after chemo ended, and there are still bits of lingering side effects.

I suppose that as long as there are no cancer cells, I can deal with minor lingering side effects :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

I'm DONE!!!

I have officially completed my treatment for Hodgkins!!!

Both techs gave me a big hug this morning before I left, which was sweet :)

I cried tears of joy and relief on the way out.

It's funny - in some ways, I'm feeling like it will be nice to have my life back. In other ways, I feel like I've mostly had my life back since chemo ended, and the rest of what's been going on has just been sewn into my days. Getting up so early was certainly not fun, but there are WAY worse things that could have been necessary.

In any case, all I have now are follow-up appointments and periodic scans. I have an appointment with the oncologist in two weeks, one with the radiologist in a month, then I'll only see one of them on a monthly basis (probably the oncologist, or rotating).

Life is good.

And with that, there is much more to be done today. Hooray for 3-day weekends :)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

side effects

Well, I was told that the two most likely short-term side effects from the radiation would be fatigue and a sore throat. I haven't had any fatigue yet (yaye!), but about a week ago, swallowing food started to become uncomfortable, kind of like how it feels when you swallow something too big and it's kind of stuck. But I learned quickly that if I took small bites, chewed a lot, and stayed relaxed, most of the time, it wasn't too bad.

I saw the radiologist on Monday after my treatment. He asked how swallowing was. I told him it was a little uncomfortable but not too bad. He said it would get worse as treatment progressed, which makes sense. Here's the kicker:

It's getting better. In the last few days, I have had almost no discomfort in swallowing at all :) I suppose it is something that I could be adapting to, but I don't see that as a likely answer. Of course, the radiation not having the same effect is not a likely answer, either, so I don't know. Regardless of why, I've enjoyed feeling normal :)

And aside from being sleepy from getting up an hour and a half earlier than I'm used to every day, fatigue hasn't been an issue. I've been able to do all the things I normally do, except that my evenings are cut short so I can try to go to sleep early so as not to be tired.

There it is :) I don't suspect one more treatment is going to produce a landslide of side effects, so I think I'm pretty much in the clear :) :)

With the way things have gone in the past, I kind of am nervous about what's going on that I can't feel, but I'm not going to worry about it. There's not anything I can do about it anyway — just stay in touch with what things feel like and report them as needed.

Monday is my last radiation :) :)

I got my appointment moved to 7 a.m. (from 5:50), so I can sleep in (haha). Be on the lookout for one happy post on Monday...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

It's been 8 months...

...since the last time I worked out at a gym. Almost to the day. (Last gym visit was May 14 - I had a session with my trainer.)

I went this afternoon :)

Of course, I can't lift anything close to what I used to. Except for dips, I didn't do any upper body on more than 20 pounds. I can still leg press more than my weight, which pleased me, even though it's over 100 pounds less than where I left off. I also was able to do leg lefts with my legs straight (bent knees is much easier) for a set and a half, which made me happy; I was mentally prepared not to be able to lift those straight legs even once.

Now, I didn't do many exercises to failure, so I might have been able to lift more, but at this point, I just want to start to get back into a routine and get my muscles used to doing some work ... without being sore for 3 days.

I also did some elliptical, which completely kicked my ass. I was a little surprised about that, since I have been running some, but it is what it is. I haven't done any running since last weekend, which would contribute, too.

In any case, I worked out for about an hour (maybe a little less) and was exhausted and happy at the end. :)

Related: I don't actually have a gym membership now. I used a "try our gym free for a few days" pass at LA Fitness. It's good through Tuesday. Then I'll do the same at 24Hour Fitness. Then at another gym. Until I've tried out all the ones in the area that I'd like to try. Then I'll join one. If you have a recommendation (for or against) any gyms in the east Valley, lay 'em out there!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"you're looking better"

It's amazing what 1/4" of hair will do.

That's probably the amount that my hair has grown since the last band concert we had before Christmas. It's the only thing about me (as far as I can tell) that looks different than it did a month ago. Yet five people came up to me before yesterday's rehearsal and during break to say how good I was looking and they were glad to see/hear that I was feeling well.

It was nice, but it was kinda weird...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

over the hump!

Quick radiation update:

9 treatments done
8 to go
no noticeable side effects so far!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

new radiation tmt

I went for radiation this morning. It was the first day of the second leg of treatment. The first treatments were really short: a little shot to the front, a little shot to the back, and I was done. I was laying on the table for maybe 2 minutes, plus another 2-3 to get set up.

The rest of these are much longer. Including the time it took to get set up, I was there for about 25 minutes. The machine moved all around and zapped me at different angles. The tech explained that I would hear some clicking, and not to be alarmed about it.

Basically, the machine is a big circle on an arm. The arm enables it to rotate around the table. in the middle of the circle, there is a rectangle. Inside the rectangle, there are lots and lots of little tiny grey pieces (of what?). It kinda looks like one of those novelty toys with all the pins, where people tend to stick their face or hands in and it maintains the shape.

The little grey pieces move to make holes to let the radiation out. The clicking is the pieces moving. When the machine was in my field of vision, I was watching it — it was pretty neat, and it changed every few seconds. The tech said it would change about 200 times during my treatment.

I decided earlier that while I was laying there, I would visualize myself running a 5K. This would help time go faster, give my mind something to do, put positive things in my head, and maybe help me run ;-) It's the first time I've ever run a 5K in 20 minutes :-D

Eight down, nine to go...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

misc goings-on

I've been having some chest pain for a while now, similar to that which was previously associated with the shots I got after chemo to keep my white blood cell counts up.

It has persisted though the shots have not. Last time I saw the doc, he said to call if it got worse. Over the weekend, it got worse. It was almost constant (as opposed to very intermittent) and was more intense. Now, don't get me wrong — it has never been excessively painful, even at its increased intensity (I've never taken even an Advil for it, much less anything stronger) — but it's not supposed to be there at all. If I knew it was nothing serious and would go away eventually, I wouldn't think about it at all. But I don't know that yet.

So I went in to see him yesterday. He asked a bunch of questions (same ones he's asked before) and basically ruled out a cardiac problem. It doesn't bother me any more or less when I exercise, and I'm not short of breath or anything like that. I'm set up for a bunch of tests to guess-and-check, starting with a bone scan tomorrow. I don't know what they entail or how long they are, but I'll know soon...

Of course, it hasn't bothered me at all for the last three days. If it stays away, I'm going to see about maybe cancelling the second and third tests — they're not until the 21st. I see the doc again next week on Wednesday, so I'll perhaps have more info then.

In other health news, all bodily systems are up and running as they should be (or at least close to normal) as of about a week and a half ago. Body is healing from the chemo and isn't failing yet from radiation.

Five radiation treatments done, twelve to go.

They're changing my treatments on Tuesday. My time changes Monday and Tuesday (to accommodate my work schedule). I've been going at 8 a.m. Monday I go at 6:20 (!!). Tuesday onward I go at 5:50. Yes, a.m. Pretty heinous. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to leave there (well before 6:15) and go to work, go home and take a nap, or go to the gym. They all have perks and drawbacks that I am too lazy to type right now.

Oh, and there's a possible kink in the hair project: I am going to a wedding in the end of March. Depending on what it looks like by then, I may be wanting a trim. We'll see.

Earlier this week, I was able to jog two miles without walking. This is the first time since May that I've been able to do that. I'm looking forward to being back up to 5K stamina and am hoping/planning to run a 5K in March or April. I think that's a reasonable goal...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

the hair project 1-1-08

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I am growing my hair out in 08 - see what it looks like without being cut. (How will I know if it has the "chemo curl" if I keep it at #2 all the way around?)

(Anyone who knows me well or remembers the last time I grew out my hair knows that this might not actually happen...)

I will post a pic on or near the first of every month, for anyone who would like to watch my hair grow :-P

Here is the first: