Thursday, March 26, 2009

One size fits most

One irritating aspect of the whole breast cancer experience is that it is assumed that all tumors are equal, except for size, grade and hormone receptors, and are treated as such when in truth they aren't. A recent publication shows there is hope for predicting which of our tumors will turn deadly ( Now it is assumed that if your tumor is high grade, esp. if it's TNBC, it is much more likely to metastasize so you need heavy duty chemo when 40-50% of the time it really won't. Conversely it is assumed that your low grade, ER+ tumor probably won't so you are spared the chemo but sometimes it spreads anyway. In this paper they show 3 factors that need to be present in order for the cancer to turn deadly and they seem independent of tumor size, grade and hormone receptors. They are working on a blood test now to sort this all out. Hope is on the way.

Some of my puffiness e.g. water retention is disappearing. Still I look pretty much like the Michelin Woman-pale, puffy and bald. Each day I check myself for signs of stubble but no-nothing. I did run yesterday-if one could possibly characterize that slow, spastic motion as such. I promised myself I would just have to do half of a mile-ha! I lied and went almost 2 miles (lots of stops). Still I felt better when it was done and I hope it will be easier each day.

Another fun aspect of cancer is dealing with insurance companies and billing agents. Alot of my case is complicated by having 3 different insurance plans while in treatment. We tell them the dates of effective service repeatedly and repeatedly, these are ignored. Also secondary providers like to take their sweet time in billing so we get bills 5 months later. In my mother's case, I received bills up to 18 months after the treatment. In my dad's case, any bill I got more than 4 months after he died, I took particular pleasure in writing them, As you should know, he died while under your questionable care and probate is now closed, so you are SOL, or words to that effect. They had already been paid by Medicare and his insurance so they wouldn't be starving.

Tonight there is a Happy Hour for my ex-colleagues still in the area. Most of these folks don't know my sad story. I did go back in Oct. and didn't say anything. I can drink now. I had a huge gin and tonic in Seattle compliments of my BIL Steve that tasted pretty good. I am cutting back on wine, which I've lost my taste for. Alcohol has been shown to be a big risk factor in BC in general, not so much for TNBC. It seems to cause estrogen blood levels to spike, particularly those who are on HR as it interferes with the liver's metabolism of estrogens. Even though I have (had-hopefully) TNBC, I still am at risk for the estrogen kind and I don't want to tempt fate any more.

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