Tag Archives: cancer survive

Cancer Support Now

Go to the Cancer Support Now website and check the Spring Conference and a wonderful local cancer support organization right here in ABQ.                      http://cancersupportnow.org/

 Announcing

 Fourth  Annual Long Term Effects of Cancer Survivorship Conference

March 28, 2015   8:30 am to 4:30 pm at
Central United Methodist Church   in Albuquerque

The Conference includes 4 breakout sessions  held twice, morning & afternoon

1. Fatigue/Sleep Issues
2. Lymphedema
3. Creative Movement/Visual Art an interactive, experiential session
4. End of Life Planning and Support

Keynote sessions:

The Morning  keynote speaker is  Michael N. Linver, MD, FACR.
Dr. Linver is a busy
lecturer on mammography, having presented over 900 talks throughout
the United States and in over 20 countries around the world.
The Lunch keynote session is a panel of experts on rehabilitation topics of concern to post-treatment survivors and their caregivers.
Location: Central United Methodist Church,
201 University Blvd. NE,
Albuquerque, NM 1 block north of Central
For more information call
505.307.3414 ore-mail ptorn@comcast.net
Registration is required & opens mid-February

 

A marked woman

Radiation treatment follows certain protocols. My treatment is at the MD Anderson satellite here in Albuquerque. After meeting with the radiation oncologist, Dr. G, I have my simulation appointment. This includes a CT scan, painting on the bull’s eyes with magic marker and tape, measuring for an arm mold for placement.

My breast is bare to three people. Since it has already had a mammogram, an ultrasound, a stereotactic core biopsy, wire placement and surgery, it is beginning to feel like community property and is no longer shy. Now it has war paint so is feeling pretty bold.bull's eye

Next the experts will do their calculations, the mold will be made and I will be ready to go with the three week plan plus a extra week to zap the surgical site. This means treatments five days a week and with the extra week, it will be four weeks or twenty treatments.

My choices were the standard six week plan, the three week plan at double dose or the one border markerweek plan that includes inserting a catheter into the breast by the surgeon( imagine the arrow through the head in the really old movies). Radiation seeds will be placed in the catheter twice a day for five days. This was not for me. I did meet an 83 year old woman who was fine. She said it was uncomfortable but she was glad to get it over with.

MD Anderson has Kurig coffee so they get my vote. I always have a cup. It insures staying awake on my drive home.

Treatment is quick. I have number 12 tomorrow. I listen to favorite music as I take my Mini  on its little road trip. Arrive, show my cancer card to reception, check on the lonely fat goldfish in its big tank, make my coffee. Next is patient changing, coed with private stalls for changing into gowns. Waits are short. A good place to compare notes with other patients.

Staff are always friendly and supportive. They take my card. I lay on the table, arm up in the mold, breast bare, bull’s eyes clear. Staff leaves, zap one side(this side has a little sigh in the machine), machine rotates over me, zaps the other side(no sigh). Done. 5 minutes?

My card is next to my coffee and my locker key which is attached to a miniature tennis shoe. I change. Back in the car and home to rest.

I had a rocky start to treatment in that I was trying to do to many other things during treatment. I was extremely tired and discouraged.

The following routine works well for me. I have much more energy on weekends and feel good. I wake, make coffee and journal in my favorite spot(this is leisurely). Shower and dress routine. To Defined Fitness for Tai Chi, M-W-F. or silver sneakers classic workout( a good thing)on T-T. Then home for lunch and a rest. Drive to treatment. Home. Rest. I’m good!

Remember I am also dealing with severe RA and an unfinished thyroid cancer treatment. I think most of us have those complicating extras.

The exercise is guaranteed to cut the fatigue, a major side effect of radiation. It makes me feel better.

My skin seems to be doing well. Some get painful redness like a bad sunburn. I am fortunate Aloe skin Gel so far. A dear client and friend, Julie sent me this Gel. It is excellent and helps me. I put it on when I wake up. Shower it off for treatment. Put it back on when I get home.

Tuesdays I see Dr G. Thursdays, x ray day. This Tuesday I will have another CT scan for machine placement for the surgical site zap week.

Radiation treatment is a good time to take care of your body. Mine appreciates it. My whole body had been through a lot of stuff. There is more to come. It is a good time for love and respect to yourself as it’s your own body that gets you through this. I have a great respect for mine.

Bring out the best you through exercise workshop

Recovering from cancer,  Addressing  the issues

Presbyterian Kaseman Hospital  >>open to all cancer patients>>Wednesdays 1-3>>                        call  505-559-8761 to join group or come to an individual class. FREE and Supportive +++good for any level of ability

10-1-14                                                                                                                                          Lymphedema discussion                                                                                                                             Ada Portman, MPT,CLT and Gretl Bernaert, OTR/L,  CLT-LANA                                                                Activity:   therapeutic exercises

10-8-14                                                                                                                                                               Fatigue and activities of daily living                                                                                                          Overview, management :     Ann Mustoe RN, ONS and Gretl Bernaert, OTR/L,  CLT-LANA                 Activity:    Chair exercises

10-15-14                                                                                                                                                              Nutrition and dietary considerations                                                                                               Overview,:   healthy eating, weight gain/loss Jan Esparza RD                                                                      Activity:     nutrition game and circuit training

10-22-14                                                                                                                                                             Peripheral neuropathy  and cognitive impairment                                                                              Overview, management     Monica Bartley, exercise specialist  and Ada Portman MPT, CLT               Activity:       balance class and cognitive exercise with movement

10-29-14                                                                                                                                                              Long term side effects and exercise                                                                                                           Bone:    Gretl Bernaert                 benefits of exercise                    estrogen blockers                             Activity:  low impact aerobics

All classes also include breathing and stretching and journaling

After cancer treatment what next?

Surviving Cancer is a tough trip.   After the treatment is done,  before the next tests,  there will Couragealways be the worry that the cancer will come back.  There will be the worry that a new one will soon reveal its ugly form.  After all, the body betrayed itself once.

Then,  after all the dust has settled and friends and family have disappeared back into their own lives,  the long term effects of treatment settle into roost.  Fatigue.  Fatigue and more fatigue.  So common.  So very hard to deal with.  Chemo brain. Peripheral neuropathy.  Feeling fragile.  Being fragile.  Reality.  Then there is the huge financial upheavals.

Maybe a visit to the Caring Hearts Support Group at Kaseman in Albuquerque is in order. This group embodies what human spirit is all about.  A  group sharing a common experience, meeting for a late lunch, a presentation by a medical oncology specialist, time for talking. People who understand your issues and are willing to help.  Be brave come for a visit.

Caring Hearts Support Group meets in six week blocks. This block started last Thursday. On Thursday, 2:30-4.  Lunch is served at 2 and included. The Cancer Center at Kaseman. Open to all cancer patients.  Call Eric at 505-559-8761 for more info.

Cancer Club Thought of the day: how about no choice in the matter

cancer club thoughtsCathy, my very dear sister-in-law, and I were having one of our long conversations.  She is in New York.  I am here.  If we were in the same place, we would spend a lot of time together.  She was saying we have no choice but to carry on.  We were discussing difficult times and when someone says, “How’s it going?”,  she says what choice do we have but to say fine because we have to carry on.

Her husband, my brother, died of metastatic colon(appendix) cancer about two and a half years ago.  She’s had a hard time.  They were married over 40 years. They were a good fit.  Being alone has been hard for her. I am always missing my brother so it has been hard for me too.

I have two cancers.  I had to be tested, to have surgery, to have radiation treatments, to have new pills and then more doctors’ visits.  New news is shocking, life changing.  There is the adjustment period. Then  adaptation and just keep going.  With the nature of my situation, I will have more cancers.  I wondered how I will be.  I know now.  I will just proceed through a variation of the above steps and I would carry on.

That is what we all do. We go through the necessary steps and then we carry on.

Everyone says I have a great attitude. I don’t see it as a requirement to being a cancer patient. My attitude is good, in part, because I have had much intense adversity in my life.  I am used to difficult times.  My attitude is good also because I find a great deal of pleasure in the day to day.  I know how to be happy in the present moment, just like a little kid.

I carry on even though I have very difficult times. I carry on because I do in fact love the little things in life. I would miss them to much if I didn’t carry on.

 

Cancer Club thoughts-zoo music

Shaggy bleached blond at 9 years old.  He was on the heavy side but solidly built.  Beat up old sports shirt. He stood solid in his shoes. He knew who he was and where he stood in the world and was fine with it.  He had a sureness about him many adults wished they possessed. He followed the rules. He did ask his mom if it would be okay if he walked around. Off he went with his cousin, a boy who also had a devilish glint.

We are at zoo music. Paula Cole is the entertainment. Lounging in lawn chairs after a picnic of summer delights. Feeling good. Under the trees. On the grass. Surrounded by an amazing supply of people just right for people watching. Good to be with friends.

I just finished my 6th week of Cancer Rehab at the Healthplex. I am stronger. I have better balance. The program is doing what I had hoped. I am rebuilding. I will be healthier or I will have more stamina for the next round. Either way I’ll be better than I was without it.

Cancer Club thoughts-helping

Cancer victims have concrete problems.  Cancer makes a person face his mortality.  Suddenly life is no longer taken for granted.  Survival becomes an issue.  Add to that the  scary thought of the big C spreading throughout the body.  There is a feeling of loss of control. Unnerving!  Life becomes uncertain forever. Still, many cancer worries are  about everyday issues. Am I going to be able to function independently during treatment?  Where do I turn for help? How do I get to the pharmacy for prescriptions?  How to I make meals when I feel so sick?  What if I become very sick during the night, will I die alone?  How will I pay for my treatment?  Are my friends avoiding me because I have cancer? Cancer can be fatal. Some cancers can be cured. Cancer can also be a chronic condition. There are many cancers that cannot be cured but can be managed. These cancers require careful monitoring and intermittent treatment.  Cancer can recur. It can recur any time after treatment. It can recur after years of being monitored. Cancer treatment side effects can last forever. When you want to help a friend with cancer, offer concrete help. The most important help you can offer is to stay connected and be a resource for your friend.  Call your friend. Text them. You might:

  • Drive a friend to a doctor appointment or a treatment.
  • Get them out of the house for a coffee or lunch.
  • Be clearly available if they need help when they are in treatment.
  • Pick up a prescription for them.
  • Call or leave a message to say you are thinking of them.
  • Offer to help with laundry, cooking, or light housework.
  • Drive them to family events and bring them home when they are tired.
  • If you are far away, send them greeting cards.

Many cancer patients feel deserted by friends and family once the initial crisis is over.  It is frequently expected that a sick person will be treated and then will get back to normal.  Well meaning family and friends will insist that sick time is over and it is time to get back in the routine. This is not how it works with cancer.

Cancer effects are long-lasting. Extreme fatigue is common. For cancer patients, treatment and then side effects can extend over a long period of time. Physical stamina may be diminished. Finances may be devastated.

Readjusting to a new normal takes work and it takes time. The most important thing you can do to help is to stay connected. Call. Text. Send Cards. Offer specific things you are willing to do to help. Be helpful in ways that work for you. Remember there are few quick fixes for cancer.