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.

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.

CSN Cancer Support Groups New Mexico

Cancer Support Now’s

PEER-FACILITATED SUPPORT GROUPS

 

For contact information and details on support groups,                                                                     please call the

Helpline Telephone: 505-255-0405, toll free 855-955-3500

New groups which have transitioned over from PLTC as of April 2016 are marked with an asterisk,*.

5/2016

Advanced Diagnosis Group *

1st and 3rd Tuesday at 1:00PM

NE Heights

Blood Cancer Group *

For those dealing with a blood or lymphatic cancer

2nd and 4th Tuesday, 1:00-2:30PM

North Valley

Breast Cancer Group *

Every Wednesday 6:00-7:30PM

NE Heights

Coloring & Creativity *

All cancers, survivors and caregivers

TBA

Friends and Family Writing Together

Journaling Support Group for Grief or Anticipatory Grief

Every Thursday, 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM

UNM Cancer Center

Isleta Cancer Education and Support

2nd Tuesday of the month, 10:30-Noon

Isleta Health Clinic

Late Afternoon Breast Cancer Group

Every other Wednesday, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM

Carlisle and Comanche

LGBT Group *

All diagnoses, cancer survivors

1st and 3rd Tuesday, 6:00-7:30PM

NE Heights

North Valley Women’s Group

Every other Thursday night, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

North Valley

One-on-One Cancer Caregiver Session

One time, 90-minute Session: Resources & Support for Cancer Caregivers

Scheduled individually to accommodate the needs of the caregiver

Call Patricia at 505-307-3414

One on One Peer Cancer Support

Survivors or caregivers

Call our Helpline at 505-255-0405 or Toll Free at 855-955-3500

Seven days a week, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM

One-on-one Peer matching 

Available through Helpline at 505-255-0405 or Toll Free at 855-955-3500

Matching with a phone buddy who has dealt with a similar diagnosis and/or challenges

Ovarian Open Arms

Third Saturday of the month, 10:30 AM

Covenant Presbyterian Church

NE Heights

Relaxation Support Classes

Open to cancer survivors and their loved ones

Call Jean Stouffer, certified hypnotherapist, 296-8423

For location, dates, time, and to register

Sandia Breast Cancer Group

1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month, 12:00 Noon to 1:00 PM

Sandia Base: Sandia Employees Only

Santa Fe Breast Cancer Group, “Surviving Sisters” *

2nd and 4th Tuesday, 4:00-5:30PM

Santa Fe

Survivors Writing Together

Journaling Support Group

Every Monday, 2:30-4:00 PM

UNM Cancer Center

Taos Support Groups *

Survivors (all cancers) Tuesdays, 5:00-6:30PM

Caregivers (all cancers) Mondays, 5:00-6:30PM

Sipapu St, Taos

Thyroid Cancer Group *

2nd Tuesday of the month, 6:30PM

North Valley

 

Prostate Cancer Support Association of New Mexico

It is an affiliated support group with CSN. Support group meetings are held 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month, meetings at Bear Canyon Senior Center.                                                  Office at 2533 Virginia St, NE Suite C Albuquerque, NM 87110
www.pcsanm.org                    (505)254-7784                   Email  pchelp@pcsanm.org

Laughter Yoga

Lightness in spirit by Eleanor
Lightness in spirit by Eleanor

Did you miss Laughter Yoga at the Conference? Or perhaps you would like to do it again?

 

Laughter Yoga led by Barbara Carroon, certified laughter yoga instructor, is offered at Cancer Support Now’s Fourth Saturday Support Group  April  23, 2016  11am Adelante  in Albuquerque. Call Patricia Torn at 307-3414 or email her at ptorn@comcast.net  to let her know you are attending. Open to all caregivers and survivors.

 

Directions to Adelante 3900 Osuna NE: Take San Mateo exit off I-25. Head west on Osuna. 3/10’s mile west of Jefferson (there is a McDonalds at the se corner of Jefferson and Osuna), on south side of Osuna, turn south on Gluton which runs the along west side of Adelante. First place you can turn left takes you into the west side parking lot of Adelante. Located on first floor. Do not go to the Big doors main entrance. To the right of those doors  enter through the first small door in the middle of the building on west side.

 

 

 

“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and be thankful for another day of loving.”  

KAHLIL GIBRAN  

www.cancersupportnow.org

Like us on facebook    www.facebook.com/cancersupportnow

Patricia Torn

Director of Programs

 

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

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.