Thursday, August 20, 2009

radiation and osteoporosis

Hello everyone
Have had the most amazing last couple of days. Two nights ago we went and camped atop Langlois Mountain at the Langlois Mountain retreat. The local Port Orford "astronomical" club 
met up there and brought their large telescope. Ken and I just went along as friends of the owner of the retreat, Jamie. Ken and I both felt it was the most wonderful night we have had since the beginning of all of this.  We went  up a little early, took a long all the fixings for a great salad. The dogs just ran wild as there was no one else there, and save for the occasional bleating of a lamb, there was no sound. From up there we could see miles of the ocean beaches from Bandon on down to Langlois, we could also see for miles in every other direction. Jamie then came up and we played music while the astronomy group set up their scopes, and started to zero in on Jupiter.
Once it got dark, Ken got out this cool little application he has on his iphone to identity the constellations etc.  Me....I just laid back and watched for shooting stars and satellites.
I do not think I have ever done that,  where I had a 360 view of the sky. Most mountain tops have trees in the way. We met a whole bunch of nice people we did not know and the whole experience, I thought, was perhaps a good first step on getting on with life.
How do you get on with life after something like this, when your whole focus as been so ...narrow... for so long.
As a second step, we spent several hours yesterday getting our garden in shape and planting. Our garden now is beautiful, we put down this thick recycled paper over all the weeds and then a thin layer of pea gravel. So now what little I have that is growing in the garden stands out from the weeds. I am starting to plant  my fall crops, I feel all the plans I had for my garden this summer sort of fell through. The tomatoes in the green house are incredibly healthy as are the basil, because that is where I have focused, so hopefully we can also have  a fall crop and it will be one of many things to divert my focus away from this cancer stuff.
I guess it is all part of my plans for "when I am feeling well"
One of my big plans for when I am better is to start running, but I am thinking very cautiously there though. My muscles and joints certainly seem to have taken a hit from all of this, however part of all the muscle and joint pains could just be the chemo drugs.

I am mostly worried about my hips and running.  Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder characterized by low bone mass with microarchitectural disruption and fragility, resulting in an increased risk of fracture.  Estrogen inhibits bone resorption and, after the menopause, estrogen deficiency results in increased bone resorption and rapid bone loss. I gather I went through menopause about 3 years ago, which by the way is the average. Age 50.
I have long felt that I was low risk for osteoporosis because of  my running. I have been a long distance runner for the past 17 years or so, and it is the constant weight bearing impact on the major support bones that improves density and prevents bone loss. Weight bearing exercise does not have to be running, walking does the same thing. 
In fact cycling does not though. Ken and I for the past 12 years or so have taken every Friday off and went off to the forest. I run and he cycles, and for many of these years, we did a 21 mile cycle every Friday. Some Fridays we did more, up to one Friday I actually ran 35 miles. Over the past 5 years, life etc, has somewhat abbreviated this distance to the point that the last time we went for a run in the forest was the week before this cancer was diagnosed and I almost fainted. Ken has always worried that he, as a cycler, was not maintaining his bone density as I was.
The really new worry is that radiation to the femur, which occurs in the treatment of endometrial cancer, along with cervical cancer, prostate, and anal cancers, increases the risk of hip fractures (from osteoporosis) up to 600 percent. My lower spine was also radiated and and this is another area that fractures commonly occur with osteoporosis.  (the femur is the bone that joins up with the pelvis to make the hip joint, so a hip fracture is actually a femur fracture).
So anyone who has received radiation for any of these cancers is at a very high risk of osteoporosis in the bones that were radiated.  This does not seem to be a well known fact, and I think it should be. I plan to go for a bone density scan after I am done all of these treatments and if need be, go on meds to build the bones back up, well at least look into it.
From what I have read, the problem exists, but what to do about it has not been determined,

I will keep you posted on what I find.

Love and Peace
Janet Bates
jankenb @

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