Take every lump seriously

Five years ago today I felt a lump in my breast which turned out to be breast cancer. I used this blog to document everything I was going through in hope that it would help other people.

Here are some links to some of those posts:

Oncotype DX Test Results – Score of 20 & My decision on whether to do chemo

Lumpectomy Day

21 Days of Taxotere and Cytoxen Side Effects

Items to buy before starting chemo

Cancer Cure or Toxic Herb?

A friend of mine recently emailed me a report regarding a little known Chinese Herb called Artemisinin which promises to kill 98% of cancer cells in 16 hours. The report looked promising, and after reading it I was ready to go out and buy the herb. I was planning on giving it to my mother, whose breast cancer has returned for the third time. Artemisinin is easy enough to find. A simple google search produced many options of where I could purchase it. Although before buying it I decided to do some research on it, to find out the dosages that should be taken as well as any side effects it might have. What I found on the web has led me to have more questions than answers. It appears the report first came out in 2001. I think that if it were a miracle drug that kills cancer that it would be much more known by now. Further research found this herb being called “toxic” and that it should not be taken long term. But yet another website showed a forum where people were talking about the herb and how it prolonged the lives of their animals. A couple people said their cancer was cured just by taking this herb.

Ultimately, I decided against purchasing the herb for my mother. I do not want to be responsible for doing more harm than good to her. I am putting my trust in her doctors that they will do everything in their power to give her the drugs that will help fight her cancer and will give her a quality of life worth living.

Reserve A Free Spicy Chicken Biscuit at Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A® is giving a limited number of FREE Spicy Chicken Biscuits to customers who make a reservation. It will not be added to the menu until January 10, 2011.

Reserve a free spicy chicken biscuit by choosing a Chick-fil-A location and time between January 3 and January 8.

 

Research Shows Curry Kills Cancer Cells

The BBC has released an article claiming that an extract in the bright yellow curry spice turmeric can kill cancer cells. The yellow pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. Curcumin helps the body destroy mutated cancer cells, so they can’t spread through the body.

Studies have linked the frequent use of turmeric to lower rates of breast cancer. Research conducted at the University of Texas suggests that even when breast cancer is already present, curcumin can help to slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs in mice. In this study, published in ‘Biochemical Pharmacology’, human breast cancer cells were injected into mice. After the cells formed into tumors they were removed from the mice, to simulate a mastectomy.

The mice were then divided into four groups. One group received no treatment. Another group was given the cancer drug Taxol, the third group received curcumin and the last group was given both Taxol and curcumin.

After five weeks, 75% of the mice that received Taxol alone and 95% that received no treatment developed lung tumors. But just half of the mice in the curcumin-only group and only 22% of the mice in the curcumin and Taxol group had breast cancer that had spread to the lungs.

 

The last day of radiation

52 days ago I thought today would never get here. I had already been through so much, a cancer diagnoses, lumpectomy and chemotherapy. My next course of treatment was 38 sessions of radiation. I was scheduled to go Monday through Friday at 7:48am. My insurance is through Kaiser and the location of their treatment center was 45 minutes away. I was not looking forward to battling cancer AND Los Angeles traffic but knew I had no other choice.

Monday July 8, 2009 was my first day of radiation. I pretty much kept to myself the first few days. I noticed there was always a man waiting by the elevator doors. We would say ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ as I walked by him each time. By the end of the week he learned about my breast cancer and he told me about his fathers voicebox cancer. What a great son to be driving his parents to radiation treatment everyday. His name was Al and we parted with a hug on my tenth day of treatment. Although I was very happy about his dad finishing his radiation I was also sad that I wouldn’t see Al’s smiling face everyday.

During that second week of radiation I was walking toward my treatment room when I overheard a man talking about the burning he was having on his treatment area. I tried to find him on my way out but he was already gone. The next day I noticed him in the waiting room so I sat down next to him. I reached into my purse and brought out a small bottle of aloe vera gel. “Put this on everyday after your treatment and at night before you go to bed. That is what I have been doing and it seems to be helping me”,  I said. He smiled and thanked me. We had nice conversations every day for five weeks after that. He knew I was house hunting and one day he brought me a magazine of houses for sell. His name was Mr. Sanajelo and I said goodbye to him almost two weeks ago. He came back last week to say Hi to those of us still in treatment. He was as disappointed as I was that he couldn’t say goodbye to Ron.

Ron was a very nice man in his mid-seventies. He had lost all of his siblings to cancer when they were in their 50′s. He felt very priviledged and lucky to have dodged cancer until now. The doctors scheduled him to do chemo and radiation at the same time. After his first week of chemotherapy he was put into the hospital due to complications. He was in the hospital for a week. I met him when he returned for radiation. He would show up two hours early for his treatment in hopes that they would call him early one day. They never did. I smiled everyday as I was walking away and I heard him say “she’s such a nice young girl”. I’m sure the others in the waiting room got sick of hearing it, but I never did.

When Ron was on his second round of chemo he had some awful side effects. I was so proud of him for still making it to his radiation appointments every day. I clapped for him that Friday when I knew it was his last day of chemotherapy. I was so happy for him! He had gotten through it and only had two weeks of radiation left.  I told him to have a great weekend and that I would see him on Monday. I never saw him again. Every day I look at his parking spot and see another car parked there. I stare at the empty seat in the waiting room where he always sat and I wonder about him. I hope that where ever he is, he is in a better place. I only wish that I could have said goodbye.

Mrs. Martinelli is an older lady. She had a masectomy a year ago and thought cancer was all behind her. Then in April of this year she discovered another lump in the spot where her breast is suppose to be. Who know you could get breast cancer even after having a masectomy? Two days ago she asked me about my side effects from radiation. I told her that they really weren’t so bad. I itched for a week and my skin turned red and that was about it. She showed me a large lump on her arm and told me it hurt when she touched it. She was hoping that I would tell her that was normal. Instead, I told her that when she goes in for her treatment to ask to speak to a doctor. The doctor has scheduled a biopsy on it. I pray that the results will show it is nothing but a cyst.

Today is my last day of radiation. I know that as I have missed others, I will also be missed. Though we are all such different people, cancer has brought us together. In seven and a half weeks I have gotten to know and care about so many people who are going through the same battle as I am. I hope that Mrs. Martinelli bonds with someone else for her last three weeks of treatment. I hope that the other people I have met will finish their treatments without any problem. I hope that those who come after me will never have to look at an empty seat and wonder what happened to their new friend. And as much as I have come care about these people, I hope that we never meet again.

Side Effects From My Chemo Treatment of Taxotere and Cytoxan – My Personal Journal

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January, 2009. I have been tracking my side effects from chemo and posting them to help others that are in the same position as me. The unknown is very scary and so is cancer and chemo. Hopefully reading about my experience will make it less scary.

Treatment #1

Day 1: Full of Energy, Hiccups at night before bed, lasted about 45 minutes.

Day 2: Woke Up Full of Energy, Sleepy by 8 PM, but feel good otherwise.

Day 3: Feel good, head a little foggy

Day 4: Woke up feeling good, energetic, head a little foggy, feeling tired as day goes on.

Day 5: Very tired. Food doesn’t have much flavor.

Day 6: Tired. Achy Body, Food doesn’t have much flavor.

Day 7: Stomach pains after eating, itchy scalp, itchy back, stomach/back pain at night

Day 8: Stomach pain after eating – but not as bad as yesterday, itchy scalp, itchy back

Day 9: Feel Good 

Day 10: Feel Good, started getting sore on tongue. Feels like when you eat too much sugar.

Day 11: Feel Good, tongue still sore. Bought Dr. Katz TheraBreath Oral Rinse & started using 3 times a day

Day 12: Feel Good but woke up with mouth/jaw pain – like I’m wearing a retainer, hair starting to come out?�
Tongue feels better.

Day 13: Feel Good, Woke up with mouth/jaw pain again, I’m pretty sure I’m losing more hair than usual.�
Tongue sore gone. 

Day 14: Feel Good, Hair comes out when I brush it. 

Day 15: Feel Good, Hair comes out when I wash it. Received a Nuepogen shot today because of low white�
blood cell count 

Day 16: Feel OK, throat started hurting in the afternoon, possibly from the shot. Temp of 99.9, Hair is very thin now. 

Day 17: Very tired, sore throat, high temp of 101.9, low temp of 99.0 all day. Hair coming out a LOT. Cut it shoulder
length.

Day 18: Temperature back to normal but now have a cough. Looks like I got a minor cold. Hair even thinner today. 

Day 19: Still coughing but don’t feel too bad. Hair falling out without help of a hand or brush
.
Day 20: Coughing but feel OK. Hair is soooooo thin. I’m starting to feel self-conscious about it.

Day 21: Coughing but feel OK. The part in my hair is larger than normal. I have a bald spot in the top back of my head.

Treatment #2

Day 22: Full of Energy, have cough from last weeks cold, but feel very good. Shaved my head because
I had big bald spots.

Day 23: Feel Good

Day 24: Feel Good

Day 25: Woke up with a sore throat from acid reflux. Sleepy during the day. Soda tastes different.

Day 26: Tired. Acid reflux – started taking prilosec. Food doesn’t have much flavor.

Day 27: Tired, itchy skin & scalp.

Day 28: Feel good, itchy scalp.

Day 29: Insomnia, itchy scalp

Day 30: Feel Good, big appetite

Day 31: Feel Good, Big appetite.

Day 32: Feel Good, dry nose, dry mouth

Day 33: Feel Good, dry nose, dry mouth

Day 34: Feel good, runny nose off/on throughout the day.

Day 35: Feel Good. 

Day 36: Feel Good, acid reflux 

Day 37: Feel Good, I’ve noticed I’ve lost some of my eyelashes but still have all my eye brows.

Day 38: Feel Good

Day 39: Feel Good

Day 40: Feel Good
.
Day 41: Feel Good

Treatment #3

Day 42: Feel Good, had blood test & it came back great! Had 3rd chemo treatment

Day 43: Feel good after chemo, make spaghetti & meatballs for dinner.

Day 44: Feel good, full of energy.

Day 45: Woke up feeling good. Very tired by 6PM. Feel a little nauseous after eating but I haven’t gotten sick.�
Soda tastes funny. Took my first nausea pill since starting chemo.

Day 46: Woke up feeling good. Chest is red, scalp & arms are itchy. Tired later in day.

Day 47: Felt tired one hour after getting to work. Should have slept in. Heartburn at noon, felt better after eating. Drinking�
lemonade is better tasting than soda. Arms are still itchy – Don’t scratch! Makes it worse. 

Day 48: itchy skin & scalp. Hair hurts, like rubbing the wrong way. Feel full & bloated.

Day 49: Feel more like myself today. Could not sleep. Tossed and turned most the night.

Day 50: Feel good

Day 51: Feel good

Day 52: Feel good, runny nose at times during the day

Day 53: Feel good

Day 54: Feel good

Day 55: Feel good

Day 56: Feel good

Day 57: Feel good

Day 58: Feel good, 

Day 59: Feel good, hands are very dry.

Day 60: Feel good, hands are still very dry & cracking. Must put lotion on frequently.

Day 61: Feel good, hands are still dry but seem to be improving.
.
Day 62: Feel good, off & on runny nose through-out the day, hads are better.

Day 63: Feel Good, insomnia (I think from the steriods)

Treatment #4

Day 64: First day of my last round of chemo. I started getting stomach pains every 20 minutes. Lasted about 4 hours, until I had a bowel movement. Then the pain eased but did not go completely away. The few hairs I have on my head hurt when you touch them. Like when you rub hair the wrong way.

Day 65: Had stomach pains in the morning but it only lasted about an hour. The hair on my head still hurts to the touch. I feel a little bloated but it could be because I had a big lunch today.

Day 66: I slept in an extra hour today and it seemed to help. I woke up feeling good and was full of energy for about seven hours. After that I seemed to need a half hour nap. I do not have any more stomach pains and my hair feels better today. Today I am having a hard time quenching my thirst. I wish I would have taken my own advice and purchased some lemonade. I’ve been drinking gatorade and orange juice and they don’t seem to be doing the trick.

Day 67: I felt good today.

Day 68: I felt good, again. I notice my taste is starting to go. I have dry mouth and feel like I need to brush my teeth five minutes after I brush them.

Day 69: Woke up feeling good today, but got tired rather easily. My head felt very cloudy throughout the day. I often felt detached. I also feel very bloated after eating or drinking anything.

Day 70: Today I feel a lot better than yesterday. I am feeling more like myself and the cloudiness has gone away. I have a very big appetite and am eating everything on my plate (which is rare for me).

Day 71: Started having stomach pains about an hour after waking up. The pain lasted about an hour and then went away. It wasn’t terrible pain but more of a discomfort. I felt very good and full of energy during the rest of the day.

Day 72: Felt good all day

Day 73: Felt good all day

Day 74: Felt good all day

Day 75: Felt good all day.

Day 76: Felt good all day today but noticed that my nose has been running a lot.

Day 77: Feel good today

Day 78: Feel good today

Day 79: Feel good today

Day 80: Feel good today

Day 81: Feel good today

Day 82: Feel good today

Day 83: Feel good today

Day 84: Feel good today
I was so happy to make it to this day! The time actually went by pretty fast. I feel so lucky that I didn’t have any major side effects from the chemo. The next step in my journey is radiation. I will write again soon to let you know how that goes.

Coupon for a free Orange Julius Smoothie

June 19th is free light smoothie day at Orange Julius. Three flavors to choose from. Visit their website and download the coupon:

http://www.orangejulius.com/sec_freeSmoothie.html

Free Doughnut At Krispy Kreme Tomorrow

On Friday, June 5th, 2009 participating Krispy Kreme stores will give away a free doughnut to all its customers

Free Movies for the summer

During the summer Regal theatres have nine weeks of free movies for kids and parents. The theatres show selected G and PG movies. They start at 10AM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Tickets are exclusively available at select theatres box office on the day of the show.

Find out more at the Regal Theatres website: http://www.regmovies.com/nowshowing/familyfilmfestivalschedule.aspx

Free Nexcare Bandage Sample

Nexcare brand is giving away a limited number of bandages a day in honor of giving blood. If you are able, you should be a blood donor. Save a life! And be sure to request your free bandage here.