Wednesday, April 30, 2008


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


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!