Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Blog Entry Is On It’s Way… But First, The News

As you might assume from the way I cranked out this blog entry after a week of not writing, I am feeling pretty good today. The “new year” feels somewhat meaningless to me. I can’t stay awake past 9:30, so I slept through the midnight hour, not even disturbed by my drunken neighbors, who Steve tells me partied until 3 am. The calendar seems so arbitrary to me, I can’t get sentimental about auld lang syne.

The surgery to remove my ovaries, although only 3 weeks ago seems like it was minor. I’m completely healed from that ordeal. I've been on the estrogen-blocking medication Arimidex for 2 weeks and I'm having no noticeable menopausal symptoms. How great is that?!

My main complaint is still the pain in my sternum and ribs, mid-back and neck. The pain is constant and still fairly limits my ability to move my torso and arms, but it is so much less intense than it was a month or 2 ago. I haven't taken any pain medication in 2 1/2 weeks. I have a hard time believing that Vicodin or Percocet have abusive potential. They may take the edge off the pain, but I hate the way they make me feel. At the beginning of this situation, I would take one to allow me to get to sleep, but the pain doesn't keep me up anymore. I can't handle ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatories anymore. They make my blood pressure go up and upset my stomach, so it's an occasional Tylenol (which doesn't do much) or nothing. I don’t have that horrible feeling that my bones could crumble with a wrong move anymore.

After 3 biopsies, it seems like I’m finally done with that ordeal. They got a good tissue sample from my last biopsy at Stanford. We didn’t learn anything new that will help us now. It doesn’t change my treatment or prognosis, but it might be necessary to have these details in the future. I’m happy to be done with the information gathering part of this process.

I’ve been trying to exercise more, with varying amounts of success on different days. I walk on the beach. On a good day, I can go 6 or 7 miles. Even after a short walk, I come home and pass out for an hour. I lightly bounce and move around on a big gym ball several times a day. I have an array of things I have adapted to my quirky body that blends Gyrokinesis, Pilates, yoga, Feldenkrais, stretching, doing wave motion, and Chi Gung. I would probably drive anyone who is a purist about any of these approaches crazy with my blend of movement, breath, and energetic consciousness, but it works for me. And of course, I do my usual “Continuum immersion” every day (and often in the night.)

I get exhausted by 10 or 11 am, and again by 3 or 4 pm. I nap at least 2-3 times in a day (when I don’t have to run to appointments or fill out forms.)

I have lost about 20 pounds voluntarily. Don’t worry, I’m not wasting away. I actually feel great a bit lighter, and women with breast cancer who have less body fat tend to do better. The body stores estrogen in fat cells, and in my case, I need to eliminate all of it. Eliminating animal fat from my diet feels so necessary right now. Although I dream about cheese and ice cream, I certainly don’t miss beef. I never ate it more than 2 or 3 times a year. I have the distinction of being able to claim that I have never had a McDonald’s hamburger. I hear that many of you have become self-conscious about your diets in response to my uncharacteristic rejection of animal fat; please relax about it. I am on what I consider temporary extreme “nutritional chemotherapy.” Make good choices and love your food, so that it loves you back. Less animal fat, and more fiber is good for everyone. Read Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan if you want a non-cancer-oriented guide to eating more plant-based, socially responsibly, and simply.

If you’re trying to eat less beef, and finding it difficult to do so, read this article and have one more good reason to avoid it:

For a more upbeat and comprehensive guide to preventing and treating cancer, this has continued to be my favorite resource:
Take a look at this website, or just buy the book, Life Over Cancer by Neil Block, MD for some inspiring and helpful ideas.

If you are engaging in new year’s resolutions, please consider making a resolution to take care of yourselves, simply because you yearn to feel cared for, and work on transforming excessive worry into grounded, action-oriented concern. And go have a good laugh to celebrate life.