Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I am here not so eagerly awaiting our snowstorm though it will be only a fraction of what NYC and especially Boston will receive. Even Seattle will get snow. Some of the hills are so steep there, I would be afraid to go down them if there was any ice. I was able to run before the snow became too heavy.

Science news:
Lymphedema: Anyone who has had node removal, even if only one node was removed, is at risk for this painful condition. We are told never to have our blood pressure taken on the affected arm, have blood removed, take extended plane rides without a compression cuff, or do heavy lifting. Also we are to avoid injury to that arm because even a minor scratch can turn into an infection with our impaired lymphatic system. Anyway, recently a study was reported in which BC survivors who had node dissection were divided into 2 groups: weight lifters and non-weight-lifters. The weight lifters had less lymphedema than the non-weight-lifters. Of course there is no direct cause and effect here but at any rate, it seems that one can safely lift without worrying about lymphedema.

As for me, I just assumed that since I had only 3 nodes taken from a possible twenty or so, I should not be at risk. I have taken one round trip plane ride to Europe and 3 to the west coast trips since the node surgery without ill effects. Also my good veins are in my right arm so I have blood taken there. And I lift weights...
For about a year after surgery, I had limited mobility on the affected side and a lot of pain that seemed to be bone pain. It scared me as bone mets are always a possibility. But it seemed to be frozen shoulder caused by: radiation? nerve damage in the surgery? Taxol? Lymphedema? With careful stretching, the pain finally went away.

Blood test for cancer: There is now a test that can detect very small amount of circulating cancer cells in the blood. The test will not be commercially available for 5 years or so. Even a 1 cm tumor sheds 1 million cells a day but only an extremely small fraction of these cells develop into a tumor. A positive result would indicate you have cancer somewhere..but where? A scary investigation could result. It could be potentially more useful to those undergoing chemo against a known tumor. Still have circulating cancer cells? Better try a different chemo.

Steve is now working more hours so I am alone to amuse myself. I've been slowly decluttering. Naomi is taking a class at night so I sit Maya until Don'tae comes home from work. Poor baby has a cold right now.

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