Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
It is Friday and Ken and I are on our way back from Eugene.
Eight radiation treatments done and......17 to go.
I think they are going pretty well. The nausea has not been as bad this week, until today. We have been able to do a lot of other things in Eugene this week.
My radiation oncologist told me that my gastrointestinal symptoms might be less if I went into my treatments with a full bladder. For my treatments I am lying on my stomach and the radiation beams are directed front to back and back to front and left to right and right to left. The left to right and right to left ones are aimed towards the back half of the pelvis. The bladder is in the radiation field and all the areas where there are lymph nodes at the bottom and back of the pelvis. When the bladder is full it "lifts" the bowels out of the pelvis and out of the radiation field. Lying on my stomach also moves my bowels to the front. Today I just did not do a very good job of filling my bladder before treatment.
I finished all the vocals for my cd yesterday and so now, it all just needs to be mixed.....and the cover work needs to be done. This has been weighing heavily on me, feeling after all the work that has gone into this cd, that I want to finish it, but many days just not feeling up to doing the work.
So now I have some time to reflect, look at where I am at and figure out what I want to do after all the treatments are over (end of August). You always hear of cases of cancers where someone is given 2 months to live, 6 months to live....whatever. Clearly that is not my situation at all. Often people in those situation are extremely ill, and not able to do anything much.
You always think...if I only had x long to live, I would do y.......
My situation is that I am undergoing all these treatments with the hope of a cure......ie, live for a long time and die from something else. There are no guarantees though. Cancer being cancer, it may recur. That is basically the reason I am getting chemo and radiation, as I was felt to have a high risk of recurrence.
I am bound and determined to do everything in my power to prevent this. If it does recur, 50% will recur in one year, 75% in 2 years and with endometrial cancer, it is rare to recur after 3 years.
So what to do for these next 3 years? If it does recur, I foresee more radiation, more chemo, or more surgery combined with a poorer prognosis. I have had 3 long months to come to terms with my diagnosis to the point of making rational decisions about my future.
I think that the operating principal here is DO NOT DELAY GRATIFICATION. To make my life as idylic as possible... as soon as possible. The good life just cannot wait. Somehow all of life's stressors seem easier to deal with from that perspective.
Unfortunately it is not great now, with chemo and radiation, however once that is done, I can work towards change.
I have had a very stressful past few years between the politics of my job and oddly, enough the music. I do love my job, and I do love the music, but they both have extremely stressful parts to them, but perhaps viewing them from a different perspective is all that is needed, we will see.
So life will change, but only because it was due to.
love and peace
jankenb @ gmail.com
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
We are on our way home from Eugene, having completed 4 external beam radiation treatments. Monday being a holiday, I start back on Tuesday.
My feelings tend to go up and down a lot (just ask Ken), but for right now I am feeling quite positive about my ...future. I am being treated for a cancer that at my stage a few years ago, had a 50% 3 year survival rate. They have however in the past few years started treating this "situation" with both chemo AND radiation, which prior to that ..they had only used one or the other, on stage 3 endometrial cancer. I am now told that the success rate of treatments are much better. Being young and not obese also improve my chances as does the fact that my cancer is "well differentiated" which means that under a microscope it does not appear as aggressive as do others.
I am basically getting all the therapy that is potentially utilized in endometrial cancer pretty much at its maximum "dose"
To add to this I have started to pursue what I can do personally to "improve my odds"
From the reading I have done over the past few months I have determined that there are many other things a person can do to improve their chances of surviving a cancer, in addition to the chemo and radiation. There is medical evidence of all these things, but they have not really reached mainstream medicine. (probably because they are not expensive)
Most of this info I obtained from the book "anticancer a new way of life", and I am satisfied as a physician by the research that is used to back up the use of the following "modalities"
1) Maintain a normal weight ( best a BMI less that 25, definately under 30) (just google BMI and calculate to find out how to find yours). The rise of obesity has paralleled the rise of cancer in the past 60 years in the North America.
2) Exercise regularly, It has been shown that the risk of recurrence of several cancers is significantly less in those who exercise regularly. For instance with breast cancer recurrence is much less in those who walk a total of 3 hours a week or more. With colon cancer, those who walk more than 5 hours a week have less recurrences. Aerobic exercise showed even more benefits.
3) Meditate There is much talk in the literature about stress and cancer and that often when asked about stress at the time of diagnosis, people will admit to having been through an extremely stressful time recently. So to turn your life around and rid yourself of your stressors, or at least learn new ways to deal with stress has been shown to be beneficial in outcomes. There is evidence that people who practice yoga regularly do better, as do people who meditate. This must have reached mainstream medicine because at the clinic I go to for radiation treatments they have a yoga class and a meditation class. (I have been to 3 of Yemaya's yoga classes, and Ken and I are going to our first meditation class next Tuesday)
4) Anticancer foods. This is an extensive topic, but from what i have gleaned from the extensive reading I have done, the foods that I am going to try to eat more of are: Green tea, turmeric (which has to be mixed with olive oil and pepper to be "effective"), GARLIC, cooked asparagus, ginger, cooked tomatoes.......If you eat the suggested tablespoon of turmeric a day you start to smell like turmeric.
The list is long, but these are at the top. With regards to the meat and dairy products, it is important to find out whether or not each product comes from grass fed animals, vs grain fed.
This is a whole topic in itself, but meat, cheese milk and eggs from animals fed grain are much higher in omega 6 fatty acids, whereas those fed grass, are higher in omega 3 fatty acids. Diets high in omega 6 fatty acids are associated with higher risks of heart disease and cancer, whereas the reverse is true with diets high in omega 3 fatty acids. Finding cheese that comes from grass fed cows, is the hard part for us right now.
So these are all things that Ken and I are pursuing to decrease my risk of recurrence and to decrease the risk new cancers for either of us.
How to go from a type A obsessed personality to a calm, cool copasetic type. Kind of a catch 22, I am stressed because I have cancer and I am supposed to be calm to make it go away.
Well I am doing better than I was. Will see how meditation works
Love and peace
jankenb @ gmail.com
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Ben, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for
With a friend to call my own
I'll never be alone
And you, my friend, will see
You've got a friend in me
(you've got a friend in me)
Ben, you're always running here and there
You feel you're not wanted anywhere
If you ever look behind
And don't like what you find There's one thing you should know
You've got a place to go
(you've got a place to go)
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Well I have emerged from round 3 barely scathed, well actually perhaps a little scathed. Well to be honest I am quite relieved to be taking a break from chemo for awhile.
It has been a tough week, but Ken and I are currently on our way to Portland to be fingerprinted by homeland security. (another story).
When I am not feeling up to doing anything, and Ken is working, the days just drag. Under normal circumstances, I almost never go online to google news anymore, however yesterday was different. I was saddened to hear about Farrah Fawcett, and though I usually do not read about the lives of the stars, something in her story hit me. She was diagnosed in 2006 with anal cancer and received chemo and radiation. It was felt that the cancer was gone in 2007, and then in 2008 it recurred.
Ryan O Neal, her long time companion announced yesterday that the cancer was now in the liver and she was bedridden and that she will likely succumb to the cancer.
Usually the lives of the stars does not interest me much, as it seems so artificial. This just seemed sad that she had gone through the chemo and radiation (which was very frightening for her) and the cancer returned......so soon. Ryan discussed the "fight" she had put up and it had made him "fall in love with her all over again".
I have always wondered why the term "fight" is oft used as a metaphor for the "interactions" ones body has with a disease. "She fought it bravely..." "he beat the cancer..". I remember 12 years ago, Ken's very dear aunt Genie, was diagnosed with a very end stage stomach cancer. She lasted only a few precious months. It seems that she had accepted her demise long before those who loved her, however did not want to let anyone down by giving up the fight.
I think now that I am in the situation, that "fight" is a very suitable metaphor. Out walking yesterday I envisioned myself as "the boxer". You know the one you would find in any boxing movie. Kid out jogging, dreaming of the fight.....well....... dreaming of the victory. (do they really dream of bashing someone's head in.....?...I digress)
.. Building up the muscles, eating whatever is going to make him stronger. Listening to the coach when he says "buck up kid", " you can beat this guy". Knowing his opponent, knowing all his moves, and knowing he is stronger. Preparing for the next round. Or the next fight.
I have never physically fought another person in my life, but in thinking about boxers, I wonder how a boxer could enter a fight that he did not believe fully he would win.
Farrah was quoted in the tabloids a few years ago as having said "please just let me die" In a recent interview she has said how hurtful the media has been, that she would never have said anything like that. (if you think of it why would anyone undergo chemo and radiation if they wanted to die). We all know that the tabloids are basically scumballs, and this is pretty typical for the likes of "the National Inquirer". I guess its just sad that enough people are interested in trash to make tabloids such a lucrative business. Sad!
Ken is now off for a week, and we are going to have a little "holiday". Well sort of, kind of like, in a way. Kertis is looking after Rex and Chewy.
We have an appointment in Eugene on Friday afternoon for my "radiation simulation" and my sister Linda is driving down from Canada on Friday. We will then drive back to Bandon on Saturday, and most likely start External beam radiation on Tuesday next week, in Eugene.
I am feeling pretty good today and walked 2 miles yesterday.
Peace and love
jankenb @ gmail.com
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The news today is great.
I had a stress echocardiogram today and it was completely normal.
The cardiologist was unsure of where the abnormal readings came from but todays were normal.
The one I had 10 days ago was a regular echocardiogram, the one today was a regular one, and one after I had been on the treadmill for 9 minutes.
In fact he was impressed I did so well on the treadmill, for someone on chemo. I think that the stress I have been in over the stress echo, is a good test of my heart in itself.
Onwards for chemo tomorrow
love and peace
jankenb (@) gmail.com
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Ken and I are just driving back from Eugene, I had my final brachy radiation today and we took Josh to the airport. We had a great visit with Josh, he certainly seems to have "grown up" this first term of college. He had several long walks on the beach, and several "supreme burritos" at El Halapenos and basically, for now, got Bandon out of his system.
This "Brachy" treatment there was a nurse in training tagging along with the regular nurse, and her explanation of the treatment added a whole new perspective.
The radioactive seed "resides" in a machine referred to as "the house". The "house" is about 2 ft by 2ft by about 3 feet tall and on wheels. There is a thin clear plastic tubing coming out of "the house". When they have the "cylinder" properly placed inside me they take a few xrays to make sure it is in EXACTLY the correct spot. (the cylinder looks like a plexiglass cigar and the purpose of brachytherapy is to radiate the vagina where many "recurrences" of endometrial cancer occur)
They then hook up the plastic tubing to the plastic tubing inside the cylinder, dim the lights and turn on some new age music. Then they all go into a little cubicle and "the house" makes a noise and "apparently" the seed then travels up the tubing into the cylinder. Apparently I am radiated during this time. I have to say that this is all theoretical to me because I have had no signs that anything has happened to me. What if it is all pretend and they are just billing me 2 thousand dollars a week???
( Are we watching too much of Law and Order...? The other night on L and O, a pharmacist in order to raise money for some religious group, diluted the cancer patients chemo infusions by a half.....hmm....and I am wondering why my hair started to grow this chemo cycle....)( I was relieved the hair fell out on my legs, to make sure I was getting my moneys worth :) )
Now is the interesting part. "the seed" is a radioactive bit of cobalt (I think it is cobalt) and like anything radioactive, it "radiates" for only so long. So as "the seed" is used over and over again it starts to loose its radioactivity (that is called decay).
Every radioactive substance has its own rate of decay, 1000 atoms of uranium, for instance take 4.5 billion years to decay. Iodine 131 takes 8 days. So as the seed gets old, the treatments get longer. So if you are getting treatments with a NEW seed they are short, and with an old seed they are longer.
I was thinking if they used uranium they would never have to change the seed :)
....also I was also wondering how many "other people" this seed has gone in and out of.....hmmmm...
I guess there was some sense of achievement today, in that at least one form of my cancer treatment is over.
I am feeling much more positive about the outcome at this point.
On Tuesday I will have stress echo, which is an ultrasound of the heart while it is being stressed. (I gather it is whilst I am on a treadmill) to see what happens to the pressures in the heart whilst I am exercising.
Wednesday I will be getting my third chemo.
Peace and love
jankenb (at) gmail.com
The reason I am listing my email address like this is that some "spam bot" has found me and I am getting a lot of mail from poor people dying of horrible diseases, with large sums of money they want to send me. ( I have always wondered if anyone actually falls for that stuff.)