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Cancer

If you have cancer.

If you had cancer.

If you know someone with cancer.

If you want to talk about cancer.

We won't pray.  We won't blame gods.  We won't give credit to gods.  

We face the diagnosis and know, it is what it is.  

To the extent that we can, we will define our own course.

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Cancer

Cancer changes lives.

We have to deal with medical profession.

We have to deal with medications.

We have to deal with new discomfort and pain.

We have to create dignity, where there is indignity.

We have to deal with family members, friends, coworkers, and strangers, in a changed way.

We resolve to go forward with strength, resilience, purpose, pride, and integrity.

We define ourselves. Cancer does not define us.

A Personal Cancer Blog

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Comment by Joan Denoo on August 10, 2013 at 3:18pm

Sentient, I share your concern about your doctor's suggestion to stop meds for a week. I have a few questions, not for you to answer me, but the ways I would go about making a decision. What are the pros and cons of each option? What is the survival rate for each option? What is your prognosis? Get another opinion? 

Comment by Daniel W on August 10, 2013 at 12:46pm

Here's a link to webMD regarding ginger for nausea during chemotherapy.  

"

By the end of the first day, patients who took the two lower doses of ginger -- which Ryan says contains the equivalent of one-quarter and one-half teaspoon of fresh or dry ginger -- rated their nausea as 1 or 2 points, meaning they had no or very slight nausea.  In contrast, those who took a placebo rated their nausea as 4 to 5 points, meaning they had a lot of nausea.  The higher dose of ginger also worked, though not as well. The benefits were maintained for the four days of the study.

This is a link to medline regarding ginger for nausea.  

I should say, I'm not normally a fan of herbal remedies.  But culinary herbs and spices are in our diet anyway, and if they help with a troublesome symptom, I don't see anything wrong with them.  The science is less established than an FDA approved drug, and never will be solid - no mega profits in sipping some peppermint tea.  But I know if I am nauseated, and if it is less, that's good.

Comment by Daniel W on August 10, 2013 at 12:25pm

Joan, thanks for describing your experiences.  Your strength is inspiring.

MIndy thanks for describing your struggle.  It sounds a bit like chemotherapy without the cancer and drugs.  Not pleasant at all.

For me the 3 main symptoms have been nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue.  All are common side effects of the medication, and all could be results of the surgery and changed anatomy, and there could be a role of microscopic cancer cells that don't show on scan.

I finally decided to pay closer attention to what I eat and what I do and see if I can make the symptoms less problematic.

For the past 40 years I've been drinking 4 to 8 cups of coffee a day.  I love the smell and taste and ritual.  I drink it black, and use purified water, grind my own beans.  Thinking about timing and that I drink more at work, and had more symptoms at work - cut way back on coffee.  Now 1 cup a day.  

I also drink a fair amount of fruit juice.  I discovered that acidic juices make me run to the bathroom within about 30 minutes of drinking them.  So I stopped those.

I've also cut out most dairy.

Now I've been drinking tea.  Flavored or herbal.  Tea with cinnamon, clove, or mint, soothes my stomach and colon a lot.  I'm thinking it's the essential oils, like menthol and maybe cinnemaldehyde in cinnemon and eugenol in clove oil, that have those effects.  Whatever the reason, I'm a lot more comfortable.

I moved my medication from am to pm, and I take it with apple sauce.  Apple sauce is high in pectin and lines the stomach, and smooths out the medication release.  It helps me a lot.

I starting telling that to my oncologist and he interrupted me and said we should just stop medication for a week.  Which floored me - this is a fast growing cancer, and there are only 2 medications that are well established to stop it for a while.  And the other one has just as much nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue, as this one.  I can deal with those symptoms, I just wanted some guidance.   I'm starting to be not impressed with him.  We'll see.

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 10, 2013 at 12:18pm
Mindy, let's hope the researchers continue their search for a complete cure. I can't imagine living that long with such a misery. You indeed have strong genes and courage!
Comment by Joan Denoo on August 10, 2013 at 10:50am

Neuropathy of the Digestive System is new to me. It must have taken many experiments to find what works for you. That takes a lot of determination and persistence. Good for you! I hope there is a cure. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 10, 2013 at 9:56am
March 19, 2013, my primary physician called to tell me my most recent breast exam and follow up revealed cancer. On Sept 4, I will have completed my 16 weeks of chemo, and on Sept 5, I start radiation with what they call a “simulation” in which they take measurements and figure out how to dodge my pacemaker, lungs and heart in order to “hit” the left breast cancer spot. That left side has caused problems with the pacemaker and heart. So far, so good. I expect to be finished with radiation five-days a week for six weeks on Oct 11.
Dr. Fairbanks, the radiologist, explained that although the cancer was found early, we started treatment immediately with surgery > chemo > radiation, because one is a very aggressive form of cancer, the other is just an ordinary cancer.

That will be seven months of living, eating, breathing, thinking, paying attention to my cancer.

The bad part of all this is the nausea, diarrhea, unknown and unfamiliar procedures.

The good part is I have experienced no pain caused by needles, knives, and awkward positions on strange pieces of equipment. No pain whatsoever!

My teams began to form at once, the family rallied in ways beyond my reasonable expectations even joining in a “shave Joan’s head party”, my medical team works together in a seamless flow of coordinated appointments and procedures, my neighbor team rallied and offers assistance, good wishes, and shared stories, my friends team rose to the occasion sharing their expertise in nursing, social services, mental health processes, and of course, my Atheist Nexus virtual team generously give encouragement, share histories, and funny thoughts.

In the Chemo Room, I’ve observed loved ones holding emesis basins as patients wretched, people just starting treatment with eyes revealing fear and anxiety, others finish treatment and they get a big group cheer as we send them on their ways, and I observe people who are alone, look lonely and afraid. My daughter and granddaughters reach out to them in the most loving, compassionate ways to bring them beverages or snacks or blankets and encouragement.

Life offers many opportunities to confront challenges with courage, intelligence, and determination. I expect to overcome this cancer challenge. I still have the fighter characteristic that seems to be so necessary for making life healthy, happy, peaceful, even as the warrior in me remains.
Joan Denoo, 2013-08-10
Comment by Daniel W on August 9, 2013 at 10:24pm
Patrica, your approach sounds similar to mine. I have taken the attitude of what do I need to do and how and when. My cancer is faily rare. Some of the optimism by the gastroenterologist and surgeon and oncologist were incorrect but I dont know what to make if that. Also they are not very good at managing nausea, which is kind of pathetic. But I think I figured that part out for now. And the diarrhea too. I hope.

I know a fair number of atheist doctors but have not asked the surgeon or oncologist. My primry care doctor is Jewish. He is a caring doctor and I drive 45 extra miles to see him.
Comment by Daniel W on August 9, 2013 at 9:59am
p.s. srry for any typos. fat fingers. tiny keypad. :)
Comment by Daniel W on August 9, 2013 at 9:58am
Hi Patricia, thank you! You have had a long journey. I wope you have many more years.
Im only a few months sine my partial gastrectomy.... we will see how it goes. It has been a learning process. Thats what life is.... learning!
Comment by Daniel W on August 8, 2013 at 10:11pm

The logo is the zodiac "cancer" symbol via wikipedia commons.  It's a  play on words.  Plus I'm feeling a bit crabby at the moment.  :)

 

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