Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Heart disease vs Breast Cancer

When I had my first breast cancer scare 9 years ago, there was a graph on the wall in the waiting room of the breast care center showing the deaths at any age from heart disease vs that from breast cancer. The line for heart disease was much steeper than that of breast cancer. I was really annoyed at the time because I was just told I had a suspicious area highly suggestive of early cancer and I certainly worried about that more than heart disease. If you ask people what they are more afraid of, heart attacks or breast cancer, I am sure they would answer breast cancer. Many people 'feel' that they are safer in a car than an airplane even though statistically the plane is the safer by far. Still my heart rate goes up when we take off or we hit bumps in the air and it never does while driving unless ice is involved. As for worrying about death from other sources vs death by breast cancer, for the next 10 years it's 4% vs 20% according to the Ad***nt program the oncologist ran for me though the basis of those numbers is based on old data as treatments have changed considerably since then. No Herceptin for early cancer (the her2+ were lumped together with the her2-), no dose dense therapy as there was no Neulasta, no Taxol for node negatives, etc.I assume heart disease accounts for the lion's share of the 4%. Also the time for worry in TNBC is not the whole 10 years, it is highly concentrated in the first 3 years with it rearing its ugly head in some cases even before chemo is finished. I am to see some member of my team every 3 months for at least 2 years. They are mainly checking for local recurrences and only will do scans if I have symptoms.

In the past month, I have picked up 3 official Canadian followers and many unofficial ones. Welcome! It is interesting to compare treatments across the border. My step-grandmother is Canadian and not a fan of the Health System. She has a condition in which she is deficient in producing an enzyme converting what the thyroid produces to its active form so she needs the active form. This stuff (Cytomel) is much more expensive than the inactive form (Synthroid). Even though this is a recognized deficiency that some French Canadians have, the powers that be decided that she will just have to make do with Synthroid. For a while she had to take a bus down to Plattsburgh, NY to get the Cytomel. Fortunately she can now get it in Montreal.

A few years ago, our family was in Niagara Falls just a few miles away from the American border. Naomi wanted a cheeseburger but noted it came with cheddar which is too strong for her bland tastes. She asked the waitress if she could have "American" cheese instead. The waitress told her that she had no idea where the cheese came from but if it was that important to her, she could check where it came from. Apparently the processed cheese food there, if they indeed have it, isn't called "American".

Good thing it's an indoor exercise day as it is raining and cool.

Oliver, my 15 month grandson who I will see Sunday, recently had a check-up. He is tall and skinny (only 22 lbs) but healthy. While going over the appropriate milestones he should have reached, it was asked if he could walk backwards. He hadn't been observed doing this (if he was, I would suggest screening for a neurological disorder). They then tried to see if he could do it on the spot. He initially kept turning around and walking frontwards but finally took a few steps backwards when cornered.

Naomi had her driving privileges rescinded as she went way over her texting allotment. She claims she can't help it but she will now have to figure a way to cut down if she wants to drive again.

1 comment:

Daria said...

I'm from Canada ... yes it is interesting to compare treatments.

The reason I follow numerous cancer blogs whether US or Canada whether breast cancer or not ... is we learn from each other and we support each other with our stories.

All the best to you,


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