Saturday, May 30, 2009

What's with that hair

Hello everyone
I believe my hair has grown. I have taken my strongest glasses (the 250s), as well as my high powered mirror and I would have to say it is official. That being said, I think it is only a millimeter long. It is something though.
Being that I am taking a break from chemo, and I am now 4 days away from the end of the third cycle, I have had 4 days to grow.
At this rate, I may have the equivalent of a crew cut by the Oregon country fair. (July 12th)
I will start my next chemo cycle likely on July 13th, so as much as it will have grown by then, two weeks later it will likely all fall out again. ( won't be as much of a shocker then) I sure do miss having hair. My eyebrows are also starting to go, in a weird sort of way that gives me a Jack Nickelson left eyebrow. I was wondering.....do you think he "shapes" his eyebrows to get that weird left one.
I thought perhaps I just get a set of body rings to replace my eyebrows.... :)

I SURE do miss my hair. Have I mentioned how much I miss my hair?

Love and peace
Janet Bates
jankenb @ gmail.com

Friday, May 29, 2009

So what now?


Hello everyone

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

Janet Bates

jankenb @ gmail.com


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Where IS the beef?

Hi Everyone
Back in Bandon, doing pretty well with the nausea, seems to get a bit better the longer it gets away from the last radiation treatment. On my most recent blood count, my hemoglobin was down to 11, normal for females 12-16, which means I am a bit anemic. 
This is partly from the chemotherapy, but the bleeding I had for several months, combined partly with being a relative vegetarian, I have been low normal for awhile.
In an effort to try to build this up a bit, I have decided to go back to meat whilst on radiation. 
Radiation to the abdomen tends to cause diarrhea, so they suggest a diet low in fibre and high in protein, which kind of rules out the other main source of protein for us, which is legumes.
SOOOo, for the first time in 2 years, on Wednesday I had a hamburger, and on Thursday I had one, and on Friday....etc etc etc..... 
Now I am dreaming about hamburgers. What have I started?  I have been reminded why the entrance to every city and town is lined with a plethora of fast food restaurants all "specializing" in their own "flavour" of hamburgers. I guess I am sort of fortunate to live in a town that only has one fast food restaurant, and it is only "somewhat" fast..... the dairy queen.
Hemoglobin is the molecule that is in the red blood cell to carry oxygen to the bodies cells. Iron is required to make hemoglobin.  The causes of anemia can be many, but the more common causes are bleeding, or a diet low in iron.
Iron can be found in many foods, but in different forms. The form found in meat is the most "ready to use" for the body. The form of iron that is found in foods that are not meat, needs a chemical reaction to occur in order for it to be absorbed.  The chemical reaction requires vitamin C.   So if you take iron in the pill form, you must take it with something that has vitamin C in it, such as fruit. 
I might be wrong here, but I figure that if my gastrointestinal tract is so affected by chemo and radiation to cause all these other side effects, it is likely not doing its best at absorbing iron, so I decided I needed to give it a hand by taking the most easily absorbed form.
How I am going to deal with my newest addiction, I have no idea.

BTW ...re: the rats.  I took away all the fancy bird houses and lo and behold, the rats went away, Ben and his wife and ....children..... seem to have left.......
Ken DOES NOT BELIEVE that they have left, but I do. I think that those rats  were materialistic scumballs and were just not about to eat out of a normal bird house. I brought them into the house and now my dogs are eating out of them! (Ken just pointed out that this last sentence sounds like I brought the rats into the house, where I was meaning to say I brought the fancy birdhouses into the house, I have said some nice things about rats in the past, but I would NEVER bring them into the house :) )

Love and peace
Janet Bates
jankenb @ gmail.com

Friday, May 22, 2009

what can I do personally?


Hello everyone


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

Janet Bates

jankenb @ gmail.com


Thursday, May 21, 2009

not part of the plan

Hello Everyone

Well day 3 of radiation and am finding it is not the piece of cake I had planned it to be.  I am quite nauseated today and the worst part, I had not planned for it. They told me on the first day I would perhaps experience some mild diarrhea about week 3. I had some nausea right after the first treatment, but thought perhaps it was just something I had ate, but it has progressively gotten worse, so I went to the hystersister site and checked it out. Turns out a lot of people have the nausea right away......which then gives way to the diarrhea. This really annoys me as I had big plans for the next 5 weeks, just fun fun fun.
Also very cold all the time, I guess that is my anemia.

Well yesterday I ran 2.2 miles and then went around on my bike to make sure it was 2.2 miles. That leave 24.1 more miles to make a marathon. Not too far.

Ken has gotten to know all the guys in the waiting room who are waiting for their wives who are having radiation the same time as me. One guys wife was having her final treatment today, so I guess someone else will be there tomorrow. They say it is very busy right now, and all the time slots are full. Cancer really is everywhere, where ever you turn, someone else has it. Sad.

Bye for now
Love and peace

Janet Bates
jankenb @ gmail.com


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2 down 23 to go......


Hello everyone
We are now basking in the loveliness of Eugene, watching the geese with all their fluffy little goslings with the CUTE little useless wings. We  are staying at La Quinta which is right on Alton Baker park, so quite a destination place. Too bad we are not just here to hang around and watch the birds. Funny, likely in the past we would never have taken 5 weeks off just to hang around Eugene.....but we should have.

I have had 2 radiation treatments now, yesterday and today. Yesterday was a long appointment.
I had to lie on my stomach with my butt out there free in the breeze in a rather dark room 
They lined up the markers they had made on my hips and sacrum last week and then took xrays.
They then needed to adjust somewhat, and then took more xrays. They then drew all over my butt with marker pens, following the light that the beam of radiation elucidated.
So the parts within the lines were the parts getting radiated. 4 beams, one from each side, one from the back and one from the front.  So essentially 4 separate "treatments".
They start with one (front) then go to left side, then to back and then right side, or something like that. The machine makes a noise while it is sending out radiation. I feel absolutely nothing.
The hardest part for me yesterday which took a lot longer than today because they were still setting up, is that I was lying there on my stomach in darkened room with my butt in the open and every now and then someone would touch me, to do the marking or move me, and I had no idea when there were there.  I guess I wish they would have talked more so I could tell when they were in the room and when they were going to touch me. Of course I was supposed to lie completely still, but when someone is writing on your butt it tickles..... and every bit I move changes what gets radiated.
At the end of the treatment they "tatooed" me, a tiny needle in three places where they line up the laser lights for subsequent treatments.
It is a bit like a sports club, because I have my own little slot that says BATES for changing my clothes, and keeping my stuff in (like the locker room),... made me feel special... The club that no one ever wanted to join, but once there, more than happy to play the game.

I am still only on day 15 from my last chemo, so blood count is low and likely will be down for another week. I am getting more anemic with each chemo, hoping that the 6 week break from chemo will allow my hemoglobin to come up. (Hemoglobin is the part of the Red blood cells that carry oxygen  from the lungs to the body, so when your hemoglobin is low, you are not as efficient at getting oxygen to the muscles etc.  SO your exercize tolerance is a bit less..
I ran 2.5 miles last Friday, going to try again today. Have been walking about 2-3 miles a day and have been to 3 yoga classes. Hoping whilst being in Eugene, the running city, to get back to running and get a real start on my hopes for running a marathon sometime in the next year.

A couple of little  hurdles to get over before then.
Peace and love

Janet Bates
jankenb @ gmail.com

Monday, May 18, 2009

Probiotics


Hello Everyone 
I have found the key to save me for the next chemo cycle (in June)
Probiotics! They seemed to fix everything this last time around, the heartburn, the gas, and  the nausea.
I got onto them kind of late though.
Probiotics are what they put in that activa yogurt as well as many foods that you buy nowadays.
Basically what they are are acidophilus on steroids....Just kidding.
Your gastrointestinal track apparently contains as many bacteria as you have cells in your entire body. They maintain the normal milieu of the gastrointestinal track.  Anything that disrupts this milieu, affects the gastrointestinal tracts ability to function normally, leading to problems such as constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pains, gas, and heartburn. 
Antibiotics tend to kill off the normal bacteria (also known as the normal flora), any of the stomach meds for heartburn change the PH of the gastrointestinal tract, which also kills off  the normal flora. (there are antibiotics in many of the meat sources nowadays)
Of course Chemo also affects the Gastrointestinal tract in a huge way, the cells of the lining are killed by the chemo and that certainly affects the normal flora.
Acidophilus is one of the bacteria that is part of the normal flora and has been available for a long time as a pill, or naturally occurring in yogurt. Recently they have been able to produce in a pill form or in some yogurts, several of the bacteria that make up normal flora.
What these do is replenish the gastrointestinal tract with the bacteria they need to function normally. I have decided to take these probiotics for the remainder of my treatment, both through chemo and radiation to see if they minimize the symptoms and speed up the recovery.

I have had good success in treating patients in the past with probiotics when they had chronic symptoms after surgery on the stomach or bowels.
They are not prescription, they are over the counter at the pharmacy.

It is not mainstream medicine, but I have read some studies where they are trying it with chemo patients. Also as many readers pointed out, on the news the other day they reported on a recent study where they gave patients ginger for 5 days prior to and after chemo and the nausea was significantly decreased. I have tried the ginger after chemo and I use it a lot anyways, but this time I will try it the 5 days prior to chemo as well.

By the way, last Friday I ran 2.5 miles and survived.

Love and peace
Janet Bates

jankenb @ gmail.com

 l

Sunday, May 17, 2009

ben



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) 
This is the theme song for a movie from the 70s about a rat named Ben, sung by Michael Jackson.
I'll bet you can just guess where I am going with this one.





We have been up in portland/eugene for 5 days.... and BEN moved in.  He IS always running here and there....climbing up to the feeders, and when he looks behind....you know what he sees.... ME.
And you know Ben, there really has been a misunderstanding, my INTENTION was not to give you a place to go.
I know this is going to hurt, but BEN I did not build this community for YOU. There I said it.
Another question Ben........where are the squirrel and chipmunks? There were PLENTY of them when we left.
Another question.....why is it you cannot just eat the food, why do you feel you also have to eat the structures, the bird houses, the railings.
Yet another ? ; is there anywhere else you have "always wanted to live".  Like, Downtown lovely Bandon by the sea, howabout Coquille, the weathers better there.
Operation "relocate the rat", is currently just in its planning stages, but hope to implement it in the next few days.

Well Ken and I are back from Eugene with my sister Linda, and life is good, I think I have recovered pretty much from pretty much everything I have been complaining about over the past few weeks. 
The simulation I had on Friday was basically a ct scan. They put markers on my hips and the center of my back and a marker in the vagina. They then did the ct scan
Then to look at the ct scan you can see all the markers. My doctor showed me on the ct scan where all the structure are that she is either trying to HIT with radiation or miss.
So she will now make a "map" of where the radiation beams will be directed. The appointment on Tuesday they will make the markers into semipermanent tatoos so that they will know exactly where to line up the machines to know exactly which structures to hit
I am lying on my stomach for this, and in looking at the ct scan my bowels "nicely fall forward" and out of the way of where she is aiming the beams. The bowels will get some of the radiation which can lead to diarhea, but the goal is to  hit them with the least amount possible to prevent scarring of the bowels.
Phase 3 begins.

We are off the see the show at the Sprague this afternoon at 4, the dance show.

Love and peace
janet bates
jankenb @ gmail.com



Friday, May 15, 2009

oregon country fair!!!

Hello Everyone
Ken and I are over in Eugene, I will be having radiation simulation today, at 1pm we cannot remember, but I think they said it takes about 3 hours.
Yesterday got an email to say I have been asked to play on the community village stage at the Oregon Country Fair. YEA.  Won't be hard to find the highlight of MY summer from these three..:
Chemo, Radiation, playing at the Oregon country fair.
I will be back on Chemo by then, but can schedule my infusions around this to allow myself to be at my best for the day I am playing.
And I know have no shortage of hats...I could wear a different one for every song. Perhaps hatless for one.......
Speaking of hats, Ken yesterday reminded me of the husband who gains weight when his wife is pregnant. Since I lost my hair, Ken's hat collection has grown almost as rapidly as mine, I think he is GLAD I have lost my hair, so he can spend more time shopping in hat stores, his second favourite next to tent stores.

So now we are off to find me some running shoes. My  sister comes in tonite and we go back to Bandon tomorow
I am feeling pretty good except for heartburn that I just cannot get a handle on, perhaps need to find some ginger

love and peace
janet Bates
jankenb @ gmail.com

Love and peace 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

shingles


Hello Everyone
In medical school they used to say that if you knew syphilis, you knew all of medicine, because syphilis involved so many body systems. I am starting to feel that "Janet's cancer" seems to cover a lot of territory.  I guess as everything happens to me, I have been trying to also explain the situation medically. I guess, so the readers can see the situation from a doctors perspective.

I saw the oncologist yesterday and and she diagnosed the problem I have had ever since the colonoscopy as a herpes infection. Most likely Herpes Zoster, which is otherwise known as Shingles. Basically, if you think about it, my body has been through a lot in the past 2 weeks.
First of all an echocardiogram I had indicated I had pulmonary hypertension, which is a horrendous diagnosis, and I spent a week in incredible stress, I had a colonoscopy, (complete with bowel prep) then two days later I had radiation treatment.  (then 4 days later chemo)

The day following radiation I broke out with a terrible inflammation of the rectum, and rash of the skin around.  I have more or less had this for a few weeks, Ken and I have been TRYING to figure out what it was, however not knowing if it should be a concern, because it seemed to be getting better gradually.  I was getting concerned that I would be starting radiation next week, wanting to make sure it was healing, I asked the radiation oncologist and she said it looked like herpes.  I guess Ken and I knew all along it looked like herpes/shingles, but did not have any idea how it could be. 
She said it is an often occurence when someone is on  Chemo Or radiation. The bodies defenses are so low, it just comes out.
I thought I would explain these infections. There are 3 Herpes infections that are most well, known
Herpes simplex type 1 is what causes the usual coldsore, and the virus lives up in a nerve root and comes down and causes the coldsore when the persons defences are down.
Herpes simplex type 2 is basically the same as type 1, but it tends to affect the genital area.
The two can be interchanged, in that a person with a cold sore can infect another person anywhere, usually where mucous membranes exist....lips, nose, rectal area, genitals.
I have actually seen people in the past with herpes simplex infections on regular skin, such as the middle of the abdomen...
The other main herpes infection is called Herpes Zoster. It is the one that causes chickenpox.
Any person who has had chickenpox in the past can at some time in their life get shingles.
A person gets run down, the immune system is run down and they get shingles. The virus lives in a nerve root all their lives and comes out on the skin as a rash.

The interesting thing about herpes infections is that the rash is pretty much the same. So it is really hard to tell the difference between herpes simplex and shingles when the site of occurrence is not typical.
When a person has cancer, is on chemo, and on radiation the risks are great of getting either shingles or herpes simplex , and the presentation is usually far from typical

Although it has been a very uncomfortable  2 weeks, and though this diagnosis creates all kinds of questions (Ken nor me have never had even so much as a coldsore), it is kind of a relief, as I was beginning to think that it was something to do with the cancer and perhaps it had spread to the rectal area.
THE OTHER possible cool part of this is that I was reading last night about Herpes and cancer and turns out that they are refining the herpes simplex virus and using in to treat resistant childhood cancers AND prostate cancer and ovarian cancer. So Herpes Simplex is being considered an anticancer treatment.
Who knows perhaps this was a gift.

I know this was a rather personal topic, but I also feel it is an often misunderstood infection, so thought I would be open about it..

Love and peace
Janet Bates
jankenb @ gmail.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Round three still standing

Hello everyone

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

Janet Bates

jankenb @ gmail.com



Sunday, May 10, 2009

chemo cycle three

Hello everyone
Well cycle 3 has not gone as well as the last one, and I have had a lot of nausea, so am sort of hunkering down, waiting for it to pass. However mentally I am doing well. I am aware that the meds are causing this and I will be fine in a few days.
I think this time I have likely eaten too much of perhaps the wrong things. It is odd, despite the nausea, I am hungry all the time. I think that the massive cell destruction caused by the meds, leaves the body trying to replenish the "building materials" at a time when the stomach just cannot deal with any more food.  The cells of the stomach and small bowel are part of the collateral damage caused by the chemo meds in the effort to "take out" the cancer cells.
So for today I think I will try to eat every couple of hours and keep it simple.
And for now I am going to buy some MORE zucchini plants to replace the ones I grew from seed and put out TOO early.  Happy Mothers day

Love and Peace
Janet Bates
jankenb (@) gmail.com

Friday, May 8, 2009

Well good news and more


Hello everyone
The cardiologist has said that my heart looked fine and the reading that scared me so much in coos bay, was likely an error.
The colonoscopy I had last week found a polyp in my stomach and one in rectum and both were benign.. whew. I am  not sure if I was to do it again, if I would chose to do it at the same  time as chemo and radiation.  After radiation on Friday I developed terrible inflammation of the perineum, and a lot of bruising of the anal canal.
Having spoken to all three doctors, chemo, radiation and the surgeon, I think all three "situations" added to the problem. My blood count dropped quite low over weekend and I think the tiny tears from the bowel prep, which usually would heal on their own, instead got infected. The polyp that was removed in the rectal area may have fallen within the range of a weaker form of radiation on Friday, that would not normally affect normal bowel, but bowel that is healing from a biopsy may have been more prone.  Two trips and back to Eugene did not likely help a sore bottom either. ANYWAYS, I am much better now
The OTHER great news is that my ca 125 has dropped down to 15.
The ca 125 is a tumour marker for ovarian cancer that has never been shown to be a good screening test as often normal women have high rates and only 70 percent of women with proven ovarian cancer have elevated levels.
They have started to also use the test in Endometrial cancer. They have found that an elevated ca 125 level preop is associated with a poorer prognosis.  Mine was 29 and many feel that to be normal, but newer research puts post menopausal women's normal at 25, which would have made mine slightly high.  The one I had done prior to my last chemo was 61, which was concerning, but likely just the effects of the surgery and everything just settling down. HOWEVER to get a 15 this week was very reassuring.
The ca 125 is used after treatments to give an idea of whether treatments are working and after all the treatments are over they are used for surveillance looking for recurrences. Most post treatment surveillance is about every 3 months for the first few years, and often include a PAP of the vagina, ct scans and ca 125.
The ca 125 is one of those tests that is only meaningful when you are following trends and needs to be viewed as such.
On the home front, it has been interesting how this little "settlement" of animals have taken to our little "suburb"  The cops definitely seem to be the squirrels and the biggest fattest one seems to be also the mayor, or the head cop.
The blue jays come in and no one seems to bother them too much, which I cannot say is true for  for the mice and rats. No one wants the mice and rats and Vickie has carefully explained why I also do not want them. The squirrels take running shots at the rats, then the rats will come out of their holes run over the feeder, and grab a mouthful and head back into the hole before the squirrel catches them
I have my microphone set up in plain view of the window and it is a great view to look out at when you are singing. Who else has a studio so..... calming?

Well I am on day 3 chemo, thus far seem to be doing well, I have found that for the first few days Frittatas go down the best, they give me lots of protein and I also try to put in all the other good stuff.
I fry up whatever veggies I need for some form of anticancer, such as asparagus, mushroom, peppers, garlic  then I wisk 7-8 eggs in a bowl, I make sure they are organic eggs, that are higher in omega 3 fatty acids. I then take out half the yolks and throw them away. (actually I do this PRIOR to whisking)
I add black pepper to the eggs and some turmuric and then pour all of this over the veggies, 
I cook on medium to high heat, wrap the handle in tin foil (and save the tin foil for the next time)
then I sprinkle cheese lightly over the top and put this in the oven under the grill for about 5 minutes and serve on multi grain "daves killer bread" bon appetit for the chemo patient...or anyone else.
Love and peace to all

janet bates
jankenb @ gmail.com

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

the pap and the house concert video

Hello everyone
Ken and I are in chemo right now. It seems funny to say " WE are doing chemo" ,"We are doing radiation", however in many ways that is just the way it is. Ken is doing this all with me, like everything else in our life, we are joined at the hip.  I feel so lucky to have someone going through this with me, trying at all times to "smooth" things over to make everything go as easily as possible. I believe what Ken would want the most to do for me (and everyone else who cares for me) is to take away this cancer and make sure it never comes back. This is not something Ken, (or any of my friends or family) can do for me.  However presence is the next best thing, and we spend very little time apart, in fact when he works nights at the hospital, me and the dogs spend the night with him in the van. Cosy!
I think one of the things we go over and over in our minds is "is there anything we could have done differently to prevent this". The trouble with most cancers the "causes" are elusive and all we have( in the medical literature), are "high risk groups", that seem to develop this cancer more readily than others.  Then there are random occurrences, which in some ways, I guess I am. I have outlined in the blog a few days ago how the environment is much more likely to be the cause. We are doing the best we can at this point to "overcome" what we have been left with, the mess that is "the environment we all live in."
Of course the OTHER thing we perhaps think about too much sometimes....is if this could have been caught earlier.  I know in this blog I have explained parts of this in the past, but perhaps a new aspect has surfaced today. As I have explained in the past, my problems with bleeding had been going on for some time, but mostly problematically in the fall 2008. I had bleeding following intercourse, which I as a physician, I have always associated with cervical cancer, and since the PAP test is a screening test for cervical cancer, when mine was "reported" as normal, I was somewhat relieved. The bleeding continued and 4 months later I was diagnosed via an endometrial biopsy with advanced endometrial cancer. I never actually SAW the pap report, I just got a card in the mail to say it was normal.
In my reading about endometrial cancer, it can be sometimes picked up on PAPs, however PAPs are not reliable.  It is more often  "picked up" on a PAP when the cancer is advanced.
To explain a bit.... in a menstruating woman, every month the endometrium (the innermost lining of the uterus) is sloughed off, and that is essentially "the bleeding" a woman experiences when she has her period.  The blood vessels in the muscle of the muscle of the uterus vasoconstrict and essentially cut off the blood supply to the endometrium.  A new endometrium forms over the next few weeks.
So when PAPS are done, they report if any endometrial cells are there on the PAP. Since with a PAP they are really just sampling the cervix, no endometrial cells should be seen unless a woman is just finishing their period.  The pathologists who read PAP tests report it when they see endometrial cells and if a women appears to be menopausal, they report that they see them and also report that it is abnormal to see endometrial cells in menopausal women. OR in fact, in women who are not near their period. ( they do not report that last part, but I researched it abit, since so many YOUNGER women also seem to be diagnosed with endometrial cancer)

I have been unable to obtain a copy of my last PAP, so today asked if I could read it ( we are at the same medical center I was when I had the PAP) It showed that endometrial cells were present, and should be viewed as abnormal in a post menopausal woman.
 So now I am thinking this really could/should have been diagnosed earlier. I guess that is all all water under the bridge now.  I guess the reason I am bringing it up here is because I know at least half of those reading this blog are  female and likely more, and most likely a lot of people reading this are in the age group that might be still getting PAPS.  So if you are in a situation where endometrial cells should NOT be on your PAP be sure and make sure there aren't any.  Perhaps the next time you visit your doctor, he/she could likely just check back. 

I have learned over the past few months that women as young as 25 have been diagnosed with this and more in their 30s and 40s. I am currently emailing with a woman in her 30s who found about me reading this blog. She is 38 with endometrial cancer. I do not in any way want to create panic, and for people who have completely normal periods, this is extremely unlikely.  My only goal in publishing this is for people to become......  better consumers of health care. To know the questions to ask, and to know what the results should be.  A transvaginal ultrasound is a pretty good test for endometrial cancer, it is not quite as good as an endometrial biopsy, but it often can give more evidence to direct an endometrial biopsy.
My transvaginal ultrasound done a year and a half before this was diagnosed was normal, the one done a week after this was diagnosed showed the cancer.

For those who might have missed our latest concert, or for those who attended our latest concert, I thought you might like to see a video of a song Ken and I did....complete with my own hair wig it is posted here

love and peace
jankenb (@) gmail.com 



video

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

the heart is alright

Hello everyone

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

Janet Bates

jankenb (@) gmail.com

Sunday, May 3, 2009

the cancer epidemic


Hello everyone
Had a great day yesterday, completed 3 more songs and 8 more to do then I am done with the cd, well at least until I have to work on the cover. Ben, the producer, has a friend from Florida who plays indigenous flutes, who is visiting this week and will add a few tracks to a few of the songs.

I guess I have really gotten out of touch recently, not seeing the news at all anymore. Overheard Ken and Josh talking about the "swine flu" and heard all about the epidemic. I could not help but wonder how the cancer epidemic seems to just go unnoticed.
Since 1940 the number of cancers has increased in all industrialized countries, and this trend has worsened  since 1975, and particularly in the young. Between 1975 and 1994 the cancer rate in women under 45 has risen by 1.6 percent a year, and in men it has risen by 1.8 percent per year. In France the cancer rate has increased by 60 percent in the last 20 years. 
Brenda gave me  a book called "Anticancer a new way of life" and in it he, (Dr David Servan-Schreiber) outlines many of the causes for this, and he also presents a  lot of data to back up what he says. 
I remember with the bird flu "epidemic" we heard daily about which new country a few people had succumbed to the virus, yet I do not remember reading in the paper about this growing trend with regards to cancer. I think most of us are more than aware of it, just looking around at the number of people we know personally who have been affected by cancer. Apparently it was two smoking doctors who in 1950 proved that smoking caused cancer, and it was not until 20 years later that the first measure was passed against smoking.
My take on it is that infection is good for business, , the drugs, the cleaners, the extra plastic wrapping etc etc.  Industrial practices and products that cause cancer are also good for business. So it is unlikely anything will be done about it, so we must do something about it.

I would highly recommend this book, as a means of "protecting" ourselves from the disease that big business has exposed us to.  Cancer is a disease of  "rich" countries.
I read Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal, vegetable, miracle" last year and I would say that these two books complement each other very well.
She points out how we ended up in this mess after WW2, and he outlines what it is doing to us.
She also showed how one could live on only those foods grown either in her own garden, or locally.

Well back to work now.
Love and peace
Janet Bates
jankenb at gmail.com 

Friday, May 1, 2009

nucular decay














Hello everyone

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

Janet Bates

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.)