Friday, March 27, 2009

Funny moments in the Land of Cancer

When people like your wig better than your real hair:

Yesterday,I went to my ex-colleague Happy Hour. Of the 20 or so people there, only one knew about the cancer and she doesn't communicate with the others. Numerous people came up to me oohing and aahing about my new hair assuming I had just dyed it. Well it's plastic, but thanks.
Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn't be wishing so hard that my own hair comes back.

You were on chemo? But you look so healthy. Oh the wonders of make-up!

People mean well and I don't try to make them feel bad even when one woman who now runs clinical trials for a company that specializes in a relatively rare cancer that is especially deadly and strikes people younger than myself, told me how most of the patients aren't going to make it and it's especially sad as they are her age (as opposed to my older age). I smiled when she said that and she quickly backed up. Not that it isn't sad when older people don't make it too.

It is sad when younger people get cancer. I read the blog of Tracy, a 30 something woman who was diagnosed with TNBC while nursing her son and ultimately died of lung mets 8 years later. She initially went to support groups apparently filled with clones of myself, ladies who already had raised their babies and even had grandbabies. How could she relate to them? They already experienced a life that she might not get to live and she resented that fact and them to a certain extent. But then there would be 20 somethings that missed out on experiences she had and then teenagers who missed out on the experiences of the 20 somethings. Cancer ends up cheating some more than others. Cancer sucks!

But people there in general were supportive. One man was pretty sure it was me discussed in the AA News article about the bball's fundraiser for LiveStrong and apologized for not calling. I did have my one beer and felt fine. The economy has not been kind to some of my former colleagues. In one case, a man left Michigan to get a job in San Diego without being able to sell his house, lost that job, got another then lost that. He is the sole support of his family. He came back as he still has that unsold house but options here are slim.

Readers of this blog know I read everything about BC, TNBC in particular, I can get a hold of. Yesterday I came across an article on who survives BC. Oh this will be interesting, something I would like to know. Bottom line: it won't be those folks with the deadliest of all breast cancers-TNBC. The article throws statistics around comparing apples and oranges. Now I don't feel so bad about the Seattle P-I becoming only an internet newspapers publishing stuff like this.

Lighten up I guess. I will do the 2nd part of the 'chemobrain' study next week and look forward to the 1 hour stay in the MRI machine with its thump, thump, thump. I went to Cancer Yoga at the Wellness Community thinking I could handle now that I am drug and myalgia free. It is taught by a very nice woman from Brighton Beach (Steve's old Brooklyn neighborhood). I have several strikes against me though: no flexibility (can't blame this on chemo) no balance (this I can blame on chemo) and no body awareness. Maybe I will improve. A woman I met several months ago was there sporting about a quarter inch of hair. She has been off Taxol now 6 weeks and only 2 weeks ago did she get hair. She was told that chemo would only increase her chances of survival a few percentage points but felt she owed it to her young sons to live at any cost. She never did yoga before but was a pro with her flexibility and balance.

The director of the place, 38 weeks pregnant with twins, was still there but probably not for long.

I ran a little farther with a few less stops but it is hard, hard, hard. I would exercise anyway regardless of the cancer, as it usually makes me feel better. Exercise is linked to improved survival rates in part (this is mainly a theory) because it cuts down on insulin levels. Also avoiding foods that have high 'glycemic indices' cuts down on insulin levels-a hard one for me but something I must do. Insulin is thought to be a cancer promoter and growth factor for tumors. So much for the alleged benign nature of 'natural substances'. Of course we all know the evils of estrogen, bioindentical, from one's own ovaries, or otherwise. Still the role of estrogen is unclear in TNBC. I am avoiding it anyway.

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