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Archive for May, 2007

Yesterday was an interesting mix of cancer experiences. Late morning I had my gynecological oncologist check up. He was a tad less brusque than usual, actually taking the time to sit down and talk for a few minutes both before and after the exam, but mostly to just go over where I was at that point. So he says something about how I had seen the medical oncologists and they said to wait for “when” it (the cancer) comes back to do chemo. He repeats this a couple times. Now both med oncologists I saw said “when and if” it comes back and one of them at least described the recurrence as being local. A. says he remembers the nurse at Fox Chase reading my chart and saying that the rad onc’s notes described the treatment as being curative. Anyway, I let it go.

Then after the exam he starts going over the treatment I have had (from the beginning, the surgery, rad, chemo and the latest rad) and is writing notes and mentions the “when it comes back” thing again. So I pipe up and say something about how I prefer to think positively and that I have faced tough situations before (referring to my 1st cancer 9 years ago from which I had a 5 to 15% chance of surviving 5 years and which has never come back) and he says, while looking down at his papers, “we can be hopeful”. Gee thanks, you’re just exuding hopefulness aren’t you! Honestly, it has no bearing on my feelings, I am living with the “when and if” scenario, not the “when” and in a state I call blissful ignorance (since I don’t know for sure at this point whether or not I have active cancer since I haven’t had a scan yet). His attitude doesn’t negate that, it’s more of a head shaker thing for me. So anyway, he says get a PET/CT scan (assuming the insurance company will pay for it) at least 4 months from the end of treatment. I’m due to see the rad onc around that time sometime so he said to let the rac onc write the script. I’m not sure when I’ll see the rad onc actually since I just got a letter that my end of July appt. has to be rescheduled but I have decided that I am not going to have the scan until after our August trip to NM. After getting my bad PET/CT results while in the middle of our Disney trip last December I am not going to put ourselves in that position again. The scan and the results can wait till we get back.

So after I leave there I drove out to the burbs to have high tea with Lynn Redgrave. She is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in December 2002 and was getting an honor at the Wellness Community’s big fundraiser that evening. That afternoon there was a really lovely event for the support group participants of the Wellness Community (most of whom would not be attending the $500 per ticket gala event that night). It was at a great old movie theater where we first saw her film Georgy Girl and then went upstairs to have high tea and meet her. It took me about an hour to drive out there so I came in about a half hour or so after the movie started. I walked into the theater and it was pitch black and I couldn’t see the seats. I stood there for a few minutes hoping my eyes would adjust so I could see something, anything, but they didn’t much. Finally I got brave enough to walk towards the screen and when I got closer I was able to finally see the seats well enough to plop myself down in one.

The movie was so much fun, I don’t think I had ever seen it before but I did remember the song pretty well from when I was a kid (it came out when I was about Z.’s age). James Mason, Alan Bates and Charlotte Rampling were all in it also. When Lynn Redgrave addressed us as a group at the tea she told us how at the time the movie was made (it came out in 1966) it was considered extremely immoral and that the shot of Alan Bates’ bare behind (which unfortunately I missed by being late) was enough for it to be originally rated X in the UK. Then there was a lot of brouhaha about how the Catholics were going to ban the movie, which the movie people were all excited about as it meant more people would actually go see the movie. Then it ended up that it won some type of Catholic prize (something to do with the fact that Georgy does what’s best for the baby).

Later on she came over and spent a fair amount of time informally speaking to some of us at our end of our table (there were three women from one support group and 5 of us from our support group sitting at our end) while the rest of the people there were getting their food. We lucked out because we were the first table to be asked to get up and get our food so we were all sitting down when she wandered over. She was very nice, answered questions and talked more about the movie, the actors, etc. and also about being a cancer survivor, asking each of us what type of cancer we had. She had us hysterical with stories of her grandchildren being silly and playing with her prosthesis.

When we left we were given a copy of her book Journal: A Mother and Daughter’s Recovery from Breast Cancer (you can view many of the pages and photos from the book at this link). Her daughter Annabel Clark photographed her from diagnosis through that first year while Lynn wrote the text (journal entries) that accompany the photographs. It is a beautiful and powerful book (from what I have seen, I have looked through the whole book but haven’t read all of the entries yet) with nothing held back, at least in terms of the photographs which I think are pretty gutsy, even for an actress (who while they might be used to being in front of the camera are not usually exposing their real selves quite so intimately). As a photographer, I think the images are wonderful. As a fellow cancer survivor the book talks to me in that, yes I’ve been there too, sort of way. As a mother (and a daughter) it touches me to see the closeness of their relationship, that each of them was able to allow that level of intimacy during her illness and treatment.

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I got a letter today that my Integrative MD is leaving the practice. I have no idea where he’ll be going/what he’ll be doing and will have to do some asking around to find out. It seems that my drs. are all constantly leaving town (I hope this one isn’t). One good thing about being in this major metropolitan area with a lot of hospitals (with many of them teaching hospitals) is that there are a lot of drs. to chose from compared to people I know in more remote places who have little choice and have to travel far to see specialists. The bad thing is that the drs. are constantly leaving, sometimes they just switch hospitals, but often they leave the area. Since my first cancer in 1998 I’m on my third gyn onc, since my 2nd cancer in 2004 I’m on my 2nd rad onc and now will probably be on my 2nd Integrative MD. I’ve only had one med onc so far though (since 2004) and have had the same internist for years (only I don’t ever go see her -I say sheepishly-) and I’ve been seeing the same dentist since the early 1980’s. Before I needed gyn onc’s and before I started fertility treatments to get pregnant with Z. I think I had a new gynecologist every year or two (and the one I had when pg with Z. left town less than a year after she was born). The other day A. was reading something about there being less maternity beds in our area than there were 10 years ago although the demand has stayed the same (with a local hospital considering closing it’s OB unit soon) and that nearly a third of the area’s OB/GYN’s have left the area or stopped practicing. There are various reasons for all this, many of which involve money and insurance. As a patient it’s very disconcerting when you have to continually readjust to new physicians, not because you made a choice to change drs. but because this change has been thrust upon you.

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A Taste of Yellow

Barbara, a fellow blogger over at the winosandfoodies blog (who is also a fellow cancer survivor) is hosting a Lance Armstrong LiveStrong Day event on May 16th, 2007. She’s calling it A Taste of Yellow and has asked bloggers to post a recipe for yellow food on their own blogs and she will post a listing of all the entries on her blog on May 16th (btw, her deadline for notifying her has been extended to May 9th).

My entry is corn muffins. I love corn muffins and so do Z. and A. I first started making this recipe in college, it’s from a Nitty Gritty Productions book called Quick Breads. It was one of my first cookbooks, before my collection swelled to fill 6 tall bookcases (plus I have over 35,000 recipes on my computer recipe program- maybe I need a 12 step program?).

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Corn Muffins

SERVINGS: 12
SOURCE: Adapted from Quick Breads by Barbara Kanerva Kyte and Katherine Hayes Greenberg

INGREDIENTS:

– 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour unbleached
– 1 cup yellow cornmeal
– 1 tablespoon baking powder
– 3/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 1 cup milk
– 1 egg well beaten
– 1/4 cup oil

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix milk, egg, and oil together well. Add this mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened. Let batter rest for five minutes. Fill greased or paper lined muffin pans 2/3 full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until done. Makes 10 to 12 muffins.

NOTES:

My notes: I use canola oil and I like to use stoneground whole wheat flour and stoneground cornmeal. I always use half whole wheat flour & half white flour but it can be made using all white flour instead (use 1 cup). I also like to use organic evaporated cane juice instead of regular sugar but regular is fine. Don’t overbake or they will be dry, a slight browning around edges is fine, tops don’t need to brown.

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A job!!

Not for me silly, but for A.! He was laid off last July after 22+ years at his company and a couple of days ago they rehired him. It’s a different job, which is a good thing, working with different people, but he’ll be going to the same office building as before. We’re both happy of course, but a little sad too as it’s been really nice having him home all these months (he would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if he hadn’t had to look for a job the whole time though). I am totally spoiled now with A. picking up Z. from school many days so I could go to my Open Studio class and support group without having to leave early. Also having him home through the bathroom renovations and my radiation treatments was really helpful. The timing on this is good. There’s a lot of stuff still left to do around here so until he goes back (we don’t know when he’ll be starting yet) he’s got a long honey-do list to chip away at 🙂

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