Cognitive Dysfunction & Cancer Treatment: Old News

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cancer in my thirties

This will probably seem like an odd post, but I’m going to present a snippet of my afternoon from two different perspectives for no other reason than “just because.”  Thanks for indulging me.

Scenario 1:

Across the room, a girl sits in a recliner with a small table beside her.  She is sipping a large cup of tea.  The tea bag tag dangles gently over the edge of her cup. The girl stares off into the distance and a smile crosses her lips.  What is she thinking about?  Perhaps she is remembering a lover from her college days?  Maybe she is picturing a basket of puppies?

Wait… judging from a frame most would describe as thin and a belly that is unmistakably large and rounded, it’s clear that she must be pregnant — she must be thinking of the baby growing in her womb.  Yes.

Her eyes light up as…

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Inspirational Blog Nomination

Inspirational Blog Nomination

Thank you, Tracy at FEC-THis for nominating me for this award. I am shocked; I have not been blogging long, and I am touched that I am inspiring anyone at all.

From what I understand, I am to post about this award and the blogger that nominated (see above), tell 7 (random) things about myself and nominate & notify 15 other very inspiring bloggers. Here goes!

1. I am an only child.
2. I have no children, and have never wanted any.
3. I love punk rock, classic rock, alt rock, and hip hop.
4. As much as I wanted to move to the big bad city when I was in high school, I have remained in my small town//rural area, and I love it.
5. A talking tropical bird with limited vocabulary once bit me on the foot.
6. I am a liberal, but I think I look conservative (few piercings, no tattoos, despite coming of age at a time everyone got them to express “individuality”).
7. As much as I kick against the idea that because I had cancer I was supposed to learn a big life changing lesson, I did actually learn that while I cannot expect life to be all rainbows and puppy dogs after cancer, I can sure as hell work to make it NOT miserable. I spent the last year excising things, people, and situations that made me miserable. So I am going through a mini-mid-life crisis in which I have reverted to behaving like my late teen/early 20s bratty self, and I LOVE it.

Since I am still new to blogging, I hope I am following proper etiquette in my nominations:

Lindsay Sarah Interrupted
Riding the BC Roller Coaster
cancerfree2b
My cancer journey
I Can’t Complain Any More Than Usual
cancerinmythirties
My Eyes Are Up Here
The Pink Underbelly
Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer
regrounding
Telling Knots
Being Sarah
The Sarcastic Boob
Pink Goose
Susan’s Blog from Advocates 4 Breast Cancer (A4BC)

regrounding

Since I don’t think I could have said it any better, I have stolen (with permission) the post below from the always-amazing AnneMarie.

Yesterday, I had front row seats to see what happens when a story hits the media during a slow news cycle. People are tired of hearing about the fiscal cliff which I prefer to call by its “formal name.” Does anyone recall the word? Correct!

S-E-Q-U-E-S-T-R-A-T-I-O-N

No matter. It seems we are ready to hang glide but I’ve been too busy running around a two square block area in San Antonio to pay much attention to any news.

San Antonio is lovely. The Riverwalk is charming. San Antonio is bustling. There are researchers and clinicians and all sorts of folks in the breast cancer arena, from all over the globe, in that same two square blocks.

I am here as a patient advocate sponsored by…

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Talking to People With Cancer 101

Found this on another blog:

1. Before recommending treatment options, do some research, and be sure not to imply chemotherapy, surgery or radiotherapy etc are unnecessary or pointless.
Its tedious having to feign interest in a friend’s well-meaning rant about alternative treatments that have no evidence suggesting their effectiveness combating cancer. Cancer patients go through hell to be cured. The usual treatments (listed above) are the usual treatments because they are known to be effective. Implying that what we go through is pointless or unnecessary is offensive, upsetting, ignorant and exasperating. 

2. When we’re talking about our experiences, starting rambling about people who’ve died or are dying from cancer is not an appropriate segue. 
This should be obvious, but it’s not. People do this shit. Once you’ve been diagnosed with something like cancer you are constantly aware of your own mortality and the possibility of an early death. We are sorry you’ve lost/are losing people, but directly connecting death to what we are going through isn’t really helpful or what we want from friends most of the time. 

3. Just because of what we’re going through, doesn’t mean we suddenly lose interest in what’s going on for other people.
You are our FRIENDS. We care about you and want to know what’s going on in your lives MORE THAN EVER. When you’re sick it’s easy to become separated from the normal world. We want very much to feel involved and connected in the lives of the people important to us.

4. Don’t treat us like we’re fragile. 
 
Well, we might be physically. We might be tired a lot. But we won’t break if you share a bit of bad news with us, or ask a hard question about what’s going on with us. Use your common sense. Be sensitive, but there is nothing more frustrating than people very obviously beating around the bush with sensitive issues like our prognosis or pain or suffering or other nasty stuff. With the really scary things, sometime no one asks, so we assume no one wants to know and we never get to talk about it.

5. Don’t act scared around us.
Yes, we’re the same person.
No, we aren’t judging you for angsting about homework or something.
No, we aren’t about to fall to the floor and die right in front of you.
No, cancer is not contagious.

6. Don’t stare at our bald heads or lack of eyebrows when you think we’re not looking. 
You don’t have to be weird about it. Mention it. Rub our heads. But don’t turn our appearance into the elephant in the room. We get enough of that crap from strangers in the street. And yes we will notice.

7. If you’re not sure about how to approach a topic with us, or if you can hug us or something, anything, ASK.
We UNDERSTAND that there is no instruction manual for our friends and family, just like there is no instruction manual for US. No one knows how to deal with this. And we get that. So just ask if you have a question.

8. Remember that cancer does not discriminate.
A lot of cancer just happens. People who never smoke a day in their lives get lung cancer. Virgin Mary types get ovarian cancer. Rich, poor, good, bad, vegan, carnivore, natural, chemical. Every lifestyle can end in cancer. I’m pretty sure most do.

9. Implying it was somehow our fault or in our control is not ok. At all. Do not.
Don’t “what if” or “maybe if you hadn’t” or “it’s because you eat meat” or “maybe if you didn’t use deodorant” or other insensitive crap. There are infinite environmental, biological, and genetic variables. We all produce thousands of cancer cells every day. It just takes one to be missed.

10. If we say we don’t want to talk about it, drop that shit.

Source: luckyreally.blogspot.com/

Art Therapy And Mindfulness Training Lower Stress In Breast Cancer Patients: Study

Great more money, time, and energy wasted on this non-sense. Before I got cancer, I believed in positive thinking, etc. But I am tired of this pseudo science. I have been through cancer treatment and dread recurrence. I AM STRESSED about that, and the fact that this stress might cause recurrence causes even more stress for me. Please read Barbara Ehreneich’s Bright Sided, first chapter, she lays it out much better. I refuse to believe stress caused my cancer or will cause it to come back. It is equivalent to blaming the patient. Spend money, time, and energy finding the real biological causes of cancer (hello, environmental pollution caused  by huge corporations that lobby our government to look the other way as they pollute the air?), and stop placing this unnecessary responsibility on the patients. We got enough on our plates, ya dig? 

My Eyes Are Up Here

I notice that I often unconsciously place my hand on the spot where my breast used to be. It’s sort of like a breast, at least more so than right after my mastectomy. As I’ve previously mentioned, there’s a calzone-shaped tissue expander in there right under my skin. I do it so often that I’ve begun to worry that I’ll be talking to one of my patients and suddenly find that I have put my hand under my bra without even realizing it.

I have to admit, it’s a pretty good hand warmer. Since I don’t go around topless, it’s well insulated by clothing. Plus, it’s located near the nuclear reactor part of my body, where the hot flashes seem to originate. And since the skin over the expander has no sensation, it is not unpleasant to touch it with an ice cube cold hand.

But mostly, I think…

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cancer in my thirties

So I spent Thursday night through Friday morning in the E.R. with one of my sons.  I was reluctant to go in, but his 106.2 degree fever and listlessness made it necessary.  Though no one likes the emergency room, I have a developed a particular and overwhelming distaste for the whole hospital scene.  And, sadly, this hospital overnight prompted me to realize how “jaded” I’ve become when it comes to the severity of symptoms and illnesses in general.  Call it another side effect of being a cancer patient.

What I am afraid to admit out loud — and even really hesitant to share in this, my somewhat anonymous blog, is that I am beginning to wonder if cancer is interfering with my ability to be the kind of parent and person I want to be (and the kind of parent/person I used to be).

While procedures and blood draws and…

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Too Quick to have Mastectomy?

Interesting tidbit on Huffpost. Here are the comments I sent to Huffpost in response:

There are several interesting aspects to this article. 1) It seems to imply that the either the medical industry is pushing women to get unnecessary procedures and/or women are not making informed decisions. While I appreciate the idea of a watchdog attitude toward the medical industry I worry the motivation behind it is to cut medical costs, but not for patients. 2) It keeps using “survival” as the only measuring stick. Yes, surviving is the best; but why not study risk of recurrence that does not end in death? Maybe women go for mastectomy to avoid not just dying, but going through the hell of cancer treatment again. 3) The last sentence, yes, it would be interesting to see if perhaps women want a sense of control (cancer robs one of that). After eating right, exercising, not drinking, and all the other crap, being a woman with breasts is still the biggest risk factor, why not eliminate it?