Tuesday, September 1, 2009

a day without plans, goals, or commitments

Hello everyone
I have been thinking how much our lives have changed over the past several months. In many ways it needed to happen, I just had no idea how to get here from there.  How do you go from having every moment earmarked for something,( and feeling lost when you haven't), to free floating?  I guess there are many positive bits to all that has happened over the past 7 months that perhaps now I can begin to appreciate.  I am gradually developing a different perspective on life, but it has been slow.

I am on day 9 and though I just want it to be totally over, I do have another 2 weeks of chemo effects, well at least the acute effects.  I am  going through the sores in mouth, heart burn phase today.  This time though a new symptom has emerged that I had hoped I would not get.
My toes and fingers have started to go numb.  It has been subtle and just over the past few days. First just the toes on the right foot, then the tips of the fingers on the right, and then the left foot. I have been particularly concerned about this with my guitar playing.
When I got it I marched down the road to ask Jaime, my neighbour who has been through  a similar treatments with one of the same drugs, of her experiences with this numbness. She said that hers had started sooner in treatment and had progressed to point that for awhile she could not play her violin. She said that it did eventually go away.  I then went to the medical literature and looked up "peripheral neuropathy", which is what it is a form of.  I know it occurs with other chemo drugs, but "Taxol" is the one I am on and most breast cancer patients also take Taxol.
What I found was that they have been studying this and that it occurs in as many as 60 % of people on Taxol, and it often goes away, but in 27 % of those who experience it, then go on to develop "neuropathic pain", which is a chronic pain disorder, which involved fingers and toes.

I mention this not because of fears of my developing this, but more to point out an ever broadening area of medicine, and that is the long term care of cancer survivors.  The study I referred to points out that with the greater successes of cancer treatments people are living much longer and the chronic complications of chemo and radiation are being looked at with the hopes of preventing them, catching them earlier and finding the best ways to treat them. 
There are many aspects to being a physician caring for patients who have received chemo and radiation in the past, that need to be addressed. Just as an example, anyone who has had pelvic radiation to treat the gynecological cancers, anal cancer, or prostate cancer, should actually have a colonoscopy every 5 years, instead of every 10 years.

My cds arrived a few days ago and I wanted to take this opportunity to invite  everyone to a party/cd release/chemo release party, open house..... next Friday. September 11th from 5-9 pm come by for just a while or for the whole evening.  I am celebrating the end of all of this, and would like to share the evening with the people who have stuck with me through thick and thin in reading this blog.
 I will be serving some of my best party recipes such as Canadian Quesedillas and chantrelle pizzas.  If you have a special dish you want to bring feel free, but do not feel obliged.  My address is 89569 Sunny Loop lane which is out Prosper road. Email me for directions jankenb @ gmail.com   (leave out the spaces)
We are going to play some music, Mark our drummer is coming down from Eugene, Jaime, down the road from us will be playing violin and of course Ken on Bouzouki.

Look like I may have hair for the event. I had sort of resigned myself to baldness now until the end of September, when it gets to 8 weeks post chemo, however a couple of days ago I noticed a very thick crop of new white hair. It won't be down my back by next week, but it might be half an inch or so :)

peace and love
Janet Bates
jankenb @ gmail.com

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