I am officially Cancer Girl New Mexico

As I was recovering from my hip replacement, my RA doc thought it might be time to try the biologic Actemra. It worked for me before hip issue. It was time to do it again. But, she said, first we needed to check out the change in my uterus that was noted on my hip MRI.

She ordered an ultrasound of my uterus that included a vaginal probe (didn’t know they could do it.) Actually, she handed me the probe and told me to put it in. I did it.

Results showed a thickened uterus consistent with tamoxifen use. It also showed a mass.

Next stop was the GYN doc who thought it was a polyp not cancer since there was no bleeding.

Next stop was outpatient surgery of a D&C and biopsy. She was optimistic.

The results weren’t good. It is sometimes called Uterine Serous carcinoma, or uterine papillary serous carcinoma (UPSC), or serous adenocarcinoma. It is easily googled just writing serous cancer.My doc said she didn’t know much about this cancer. She referred me to a GYN oncology surgeon who I saw in three days. In the meantime, I googled it. And it scared me,

Serous cancer is a rare, subset of endometrial cancer that is aggressive and carries a poor prognosis. It is erratic in its behavior similar to that of ovarian cancer.

I am in the lose hair stage of carboplatin/taxol first infusion. Not as bad as I thought it would be,

So here I am, back in the world of cancer. I was expecting it, but not expecting it. Hope I can be of some use to my fellow cancer travelers.

 

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Spring is here and CSN Conference is done

After a few days of  sunny mild days, cold, rainy, cloudy days have replaced them. We need the rain as we always do especially now with trees and bushes waking from their winter slumber. I   planted these tulips last Fall. They are beauties and brighten the gloomy day.

Now is time for a little break. Our CSN just completed its 6th Annual Living with and Beyond Cancer Conference. I love this conference and recall when I first attended it as a  two time cancer survivor. For me, it was a port in the storm. Now I feel privileged to be on the planning committee which becomes active in the October before the conference.

The conference is a full day. It is for cancer survivors, caregivers and professionals. It is free and it includes breakfast and lunch. Our keynote speaker was Gail Rubin, author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for those Who Don’t Plan to Die. Excellent. Other topics included mind/body health, lymphedema, hospice, medical cannabis, sacredness in healing and more. Join us next year.

If you would like to be on CSN’s mailing list, email me: marymann@comcast.net.

Cancer Support Now March 18 Conference Breakout Session Vial Of Life

 Vial of Life

 vial-of-life

Tanya R. Lattin, NREMT-P/FC is a nationally registered paramedic and fire commander for the Corrales Fire Department. She has been active with the fire department for 20 years and has been involved in Emergency Medical Medicine for many of those years.

In this breakout session Tanya will cover a number of issues involving medical communications and hints to make your experience with the fire department, ambulance service, or the hospital emergency room more efficient and easier for everyone.

She will cover such things a carrying some important papers with you and present The Vial (or File) of Life, what information is needed to complete it, and how to display it. She will discuss EMS, DNR and MOST orders. Information on choosing home or hospital hospice will be discussed

In this world of smart phones, Fitbits and Jawbones, Tanya will discuss the ICE concept and how to apply it as well as other available options like lock boxes for keys. This session will leave everyone better prepared to face their future!

 

Cancer Support Now’s 6th FREE Annual Conference

Living With & Beyond Cancer

Saturday, March 18, 2017

8:30am to 4:30pm

Central United Methodist Church, 201 University Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM

If you have not registered

Registration can be done  online at www.cancersupportnow.org

logo-csn

Cancer Support Now

PO Box 37338, Albuquerque NM 87176

www.cancersupportnow.org

Helpline 505-255-0405

Ride the rail runner free senior or military

Free Senior Wednesdays are Back!

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is excited to announce that our promotion inviting seniors age 62+ to ride free on Wednesdays is back this summer!

From July through September, all Wednesday trains after 8 a.m. will be free for seniors, giving residents and visitors the opportunity to explore locations in Santa Fe and Albuquerque using public transportation.

How It Works:

Every Wednesday during the months of July, August and September, seniors age 62+ can ride any north or southbound train for free after 8 a.m. Just show the onboard Ticket Agent your valid photo ID (must contain your birth date). If you are planning on making a connection to an ABQ RIDE, Santa Fe Trails or Rio Metro bus, ask your Ticket Agent to print out a free bus transfer slip.

Learn More

Also, if you are retired military or have the VA medical ID you may get a free unrestricted pass for the whole year.

Albuquerque Cancer Family Retreat

In January of 2014 I had radiation treatment for breast cancer. Every day I would drive across town to MD Anderson Presbyterian for my treatment. As the treatment progressed, I was unable to attend my Tai Chi class. I still remember my wait time in my patient gown with fellow cancer patients with fondness. It was there I heard the personal stories of cancer and I finished my treatment with an even stronger conviction of the beauty of the human spirit.

Next I had the radiation treatment for my thyroid cancer. The diet, the thyrogen shots, the radioactive swallow, the isolation, the inflamed salivary glands. Now all done.

Next I signed up for The Family Retreat sponsored by the Cancer Services of New mexico. I received the application. My oncologist, Dr Bernard Agbemadzo, signed off on it. I mailed it in not expecting to be approved.  I was approved. I am in the second picture on their web home page.

The Family retreat is a three-day event full of information for those with cancer and their families. It is held twice a year Spring and Fall at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North Hotel.  All meals, hotel rooms and events are free. It is truly a wonderful event. Visit their website to learn more. Cancer Services New Mexico web site

 

Sandy Ginsburg

Tiny, energetic. Warm eyes and welcoming smile. That is my first impression of Sandy Ginsburg.SANDY She is President of Cancer Support Now, a grass roots cancer survivor organization that believes no one has to go through cancer alone whether as a survivor or caregiver, whatever their needs may be. As CSN’s leader she lives this core belief every single day.

I met Sandy for a leisurely summer lunch at the Indigo Crow in Corrales. We see each other at board meetings and committee meetings. It was nice to have her all to myself with no distractions.

A surprise to me, Sandy was a reporter for many years. She worked for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, based in Washington, D C. She also worked for the Institute for Social Research which is the world’s largest academic social science survey and research organization at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

In New Mexico, she worked for Dr. Hal Rhodes, chairman of the Political Science Department at UNM. She was involved in establishing the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy with First Lady Kathy Carruthers. She has managed the NM Arts and Crafts Fair and has been involved in the Wheels Museum.

She is married to Ron. Her daughter Sarah is a lawyer and her grandson, Mark, is well loved.

Sandy is no stranger to cancer. She was first treated for breast cancer when she was 47. She completed her treatment and thought she was done.   Breast cancer appeared in her other breast at age 50. Realizing that cancer wasn’t just going away after treatment, she pursued all the things we do when we are trying to optimize our health. Three years later another cancer appeared in a lymph node that was missed during her second cancer treatment. At this juncture, she came to the conclusion that all the things she did to help her body stay healthy were not working.  She changed gears. Determined to enjoy her life, she stopped pushing, lives normally, and is happy.

She was treated for a brain tumor in 2002.  Cured, she says. She is currently being treated for a ten-year-old Leukemia(CML) and for a three-year-old bladder cancer. Sandy amazes me.  She is the leader of our group and she is always there. Strong, smiling, good natured. She is a role model for me. She is a role model for all of us who have crossed paths with cancer.

Sandy joined People Living Through Cancer as a committee member. PLTC was founded by Catherine Logan-Carrillo as a local cancer support community. Seeing the value in PLTC, Sandy became deeply involved as a board member and then as president. When Catherine retired from PLTC and later started Cancer Support Now, Sandy joined her. Sandy is current president.

She had said her strengths were in networking, bringing people together and organization. Having seen her in action for the last year, she is right.

Sandy attends many local events and keeps connected with her many contacts.  Frequently, at committee meetings she will include a new person with interesting insights that will contribute helpful information.

Yesterday’s board meeting is characteristic of Sandy’s organization. We had a written agenda.  Members present have assignments or are on active committees.  Each was asked for progress. Meetings are informal. There is ample time for discussion. Still the agenda is covered and at the end of the meeting we know where our organization stands and what we need to do next. She’s an excellent community leader.

I asked her why she gives so much of her time to the community. She said her family has a history of community involvement and it was automatic that she should too. Simple as that.

Eleanor Schick

 

Eleanor
Eleanor

I instantly liked Eleanor when I met her. She pays attention to you when you are speaking to her. She cares,  is thoughtful and helpful.

She manages the Cancer Support Now Helpline which is available seven days a week for those in the community who need answers to questions about their or a family member’s cancer.   She is available 9 am to 9 pm 7 days a week by calling: 505-255-0405 or 855-955-3500. This is what she told me about her work with the helpline:

“I refer callers, whether caregivers or patient/survivors to groups, or to one on one support or when neither seems appropriate I provide support to them in the moment, and on an ongoing basis, and whenever they need, sometimes for years.

Though cancer issues are what prompts someone  to make the first call, supporting them becomes whatever they need…whether its referrals to other providers, or ongoing emotional support…about cancer but also about anything.

There are some people who need support but ask me to please call them regularly, rather than initiating the call themselves, and I’m happy to do that.

I support people on hospice and people who have a loved one on hospice, and I continue to support people who have lost a loved one to cancer for as long as they need, sometimes years.

Cancer often brings up issues of PTSD because new trauma tends to reawaken old trauma. I have experience with PTSD and often support people who are working through it. I have referred some with PTSD to counseling, though I continue to support them as well.

I love this work.”

It is easy to see that she does love her work.  Beyond her work at the Helpline she has so much to her credit.

  • She has written and illustrated over 30 published children’s books. When Mama Wore A Hat  was distributed free to cancer treatment centers across the country by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. It is now distributed free by Cancer Services of New Mexico in every child’s gift bag made available to all adults treated with cancer who have children in their lives.
  • She was a professional dancer in a NYC company.
  • She loves to write. She believes,”writing allows us to follow a train of thought to completion in a way that expresses an inner wisdom that isn’t available in normal conversation.”
  • For 10 years, she was a Writer in Residence in the Rio Grande Writing Project at UNM, a local site of the National Writing Project.
  • She has been a community support for many writers. She has given author talks in Children Literature classes at UNM.  She has done the same in many elementary schools around the city.
  • Her writing experience spawned the idea of writing support groups for cancer survivors and for caregivers. She and Anjie Cureton developed the two ongoing writing support groups  at UNM Cancer Center. They each meet once a week: Journaling Support Group,(caregiver, 255-0405) and Survivors Writing Together (255-0405).

Eleanor wisdom:

“I believe that cancer, even with its traumas and losses, gives us each the chance to connect with a higher wisdom in ourselves if we do the work, and if we reach out for support in it.”

It is easy to see why I like Eleanor so very much.

Living with and Beyond Cancer Conference

dave the date

I went to this event two years ago shortly after I had completed radiation therapy for breast cancer and for thyroid cancer. It was a port in the storm for me. I met many who were having the same experiences that I lived through. I had many questions answered by the excellent speakers.

Last year I joined the board of the sponsoring organization, Cancer Support Now. I was on the committee that planned the conference. I am still on the board and am on the committee for this year’s conference. It will be the best yet. It is also free and includes breakfast and lunch. If you are in NM register and come. I will be at the registration desk so stop by and say hello.

Conversation for NM Cancer Girls in July

        Admitting that we  have thoughts about  death when we are diagnosed with cancer,          is both a gift for ourselves and a gift from our family.

Once cancer strikes we are  at risk.

For many our cancers can be cured.                                                                                                     For others, cancer hangs out in our bodies until it becomes center stage again.                             For some cancer  becomes a losing battle.

When the battle is finally lost, I have seen angry women become peaceful. Not having to constantly strive, they can rest. They can start thinking about their end. They might start to plan. They are relieved they no longer have to fight. They were exhausted. Now they can relax.

As our cancer progresses, as we get another cancer, death becomes a topic for discussion. We want to know more. The event below is a well received discussion in Albuquerque. Join us.

COMPASSION & CHOICES

Having the Conversation:
Practical Tips for Effective Advance Care Planning

Revathi A-Davidson &  Jean Anderson

 

Sunday, July 12

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

American Lung Association offices

 5911 Jefferson St. NE.

Sponsored by

cancer support now logo

Cancer Support Now Conference time

cancer support now logoI was selling raffle tickets for our chocolate gift basket♥. Guests were choosing items from the breakfast table. Others were meeting old friends; starting new friendships registration packets in hand.  Sandy♥ was on the stage ready to welcome everyone. Dr Michael Linver♥ would be arriving soon for the keynote.

I stood there talking with a woman who has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She had the surgery a few weeks ago and would be having radiation next. Her experience had been such a whirlwind that she was still absorbing what had happened to her. She was looking for answers. And she wanted to feel that she was not the only one. She was tentative. But she was here. She was me one year ago.

One year ago I had completed breast cancer radiation three months before  and thyroid cancer radiation one month before. The conference was new to me. It was a port in the storm.  Kind faces not in scrubs. Welcoming. Informative. A chance to speak out. A chance to hear and be heard. I was heard.

I was welcomed into the group. This year I am on the board of Cancer Support Now♥  I was on the planning committee for the 4th Annual Long-Term Effects of Cancer Survivorship Conference. I am fortunate to be a part of something so valuable to the individual with cancer.

I feel the real value of our conference is to the individual. We are a port in the storm with open arms and friendship and information.

After Dr Linver’s excellent talk we moved to our breakout sessions. Mine was the Fatigue/Sleep Issues. Popular subject.  Catherine Offutt, a woman who radiates positive energy, and Patricia Torn, an excellent speaker,  led us with an interactive, fun and funny experience. The best formula for learning.

Jason’s Deli Box lunches and conversation were next. Upstairs the ABQ School of Massage Therapy and Health Sciences♥ were giving free chair massages. Not a bad way to spend the day.

A rehabilitation panel discussion was lively. George Fraser PT, co-owner of Fifty ‘n Fit♥ stole the show with information about osteoporosis, fractures and exercise post treatment.

My next breakout session was titled End of Life Planning and Support. It did not deliver as titled. I was disappointed as I needed help in this area. It was a philosophy based discussion. Interesting. However, I think most of us already had our philosophy pinned down but not our end of life plan.

What was memorable for me was the Closing. We gathered to discuss what we liked, what we would want next year. Everyone showed up. Last year there were some and this year there were many. Our attendees took ownership of the conference. It was the best thing that could have happened. They wanted to be heard. Led by the excellent Patricia Torn, they were heard.  We went home happy.

 

Notes♥

ChocGlitz&Cream is owned by Celeste Davis and is located not far from Rust Memorial on Unser. Excellent chocolate.

Sandy Ginsburg, president Cancer Support Now. Excellent role model for us in the cancer community.

Michael Linver, MD, FACR, F.S.B.I., international lecturer on mammography, excellent speaker. We are lucky to have Dr. Linver in our community.

Cancer Support Now is the sponsor of The 4th Annual Long-Term Effects of Cancer Survivorship Conference

ABQ School of Massage Therapy and Health Sciences is owned by Dawn Saunders. She is amazing. I have had my best massages at her school.

Fifty ‘n Fit is owned by George Fraser and his wife.