Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Interesting Exercise

Today, I decided that it might be interesting to see just how many medical appointments I've had this past year. I created a spreadsheet. I had appointments on 125 different days. Some days I had multiple appointments - I think on about 15 of them. Estimated total time spent at said appointments - 161 hours. Travel time to each appointment - about 30 minutes each time. 30 minutes over 125 days is another 60 hours. So, a total of about 220-some hours of my waking days in 2008 were spent either in medical appointments or in transit to one.

That's about 5 or more weeks of a full-time job.

No wonder it takes me longer to get work projects done.

Puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cat News . . . and a Phone Call From My Oncologist

I took my cat, Elizabeth, to an orthopedic surgeon vet, today. He couldn't see a tear in the muscle on the x-rays and he felt her leg and definitely found the area that hurts her - it was still swollen. It wasn't the achilles, but another muscle that corresponds to the area of our calf muscle - forgot the name, it was "gastro" something or other. He said that he'd never seen an injury like this before, but it was his opinion that we should wait and see if the injury heals itself. If it isn't better in a couple of weeks, then we might talk about surgery. He based part of his opinion on the fact that she does appear to be better. She's not dragging her foot (the foot would actually bend so that the top of the foot was dragging on the ground) like she was and she is now able to gingerly put some weight on it. I just saw her hop on top of the chair - technically, I'm supposed to keep her from jumping so that she doesn't reinjure that muscle. But I couldn't get to her in time. So, it does seem to be resolving itself and she really wants to go outside.

Whew. It saves me some money.

In other news, after dinner, I got a phone call from Dr. K, my oncologist. He said that he's been getting updates from Dr. H, my plastic surgeon, about my upcoming surgery. Dr. K just wanted to go on record as saying that he thinks it's a bad idea and that it might take a few months for the tissue to heal (since it's been irradiated) and that it'd be better to leave well enough alone. However, as Dr. K said, he is not a surgeon. My understanding from Dr. H is that this kind of reconstruction is actually going to be a good thing because he's bringing in good tissue with its own blood supply - and it's also tissue that's never been radiated - and so I don't think that the wound would take as long to heal.

So, now Dr. K has me questioning the whole thing to some extent. I will proceed with the surgery but will make sure that I broach the whole topic with Dr. H first to make sure my understanding is correct. I asked Dr. K if his concern was with whether or not I'd have a relapse and he said that it wasn't. He was more concerned about having a wound that would take months to heal, especially since I've been dealing with an open skin wound for 9 months already. Granted, it has been almost five months since the tissue expander came out and it's not quite healed yet ... in the end, I don't really think that any one really knows what will happen. My case is somewhat unique. Honestly, I'm more concerned with the potential of a relapse - I know I can deal with an open wound. But it wouldn't be an open wound - it'd have sutures. Sigh . . .

It's always something.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Tree Is by the Curb

Scott and I took the decorations off the tree last night and then this morning, he took the tree outside.

We were both a little sad to see it go. It was a good tree. I think I got some pictures and will have to post them when I remember. We had to take it down,though, because Eddie and I head up to Portland on Wednesday afternoon, and I have a busy couple of days before then.

I just spent the morning putting away the decorations, except for the stockings and the tablecloth, which I will get after we get back from Vegas.

I'm going to try to work on one of the syllabi for my winter term classes today, then my family is having a belated Christmas Day dinner (my sis had to work that night, so rather than try to fit everything in, we waited) later this afternoon.

Tomorrow, I take Elizabeth to see an orthopedic surgeon in Springfield in the morning, meet another job candidate in the afternoon and then hear his talk. On Tuesday, we will discuss the candidates in the morning, then I have my zoladex and zometa appointment, then the appraiser is going to stop by to continue the work for the refinance.

Wednesday morning or Tuesday night, I need to pack. I also need to pay bills, and finish the other syllabi.

Whew. I'm glad I'm getting over my cold - still a bit of nose congestion and a bit of a cough, but I almost don't notice it.

Does someone want to do my work for me? LOL

Friday, December 26, 2008

Forgot to Post This Cartoon

Monica sent me this cartoon a few days ago. I meant to post it before Christmas, but I forgot. I think this classifies as a "boob joke"!!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve doin's

My whole family came over for Christmas Eve. We usually have a bunch of snack foods set out and then we do our family gift exchange. Eddie received two things he really wanted - a Tabletop Price is Right game from my sister and the movie "Who Bob What Pants" from my brother. He also received a book, a sweatshirt, a reindeer with gloves, and then Santa brought him a tabletop air hockey game, an OSU shirt, a handheld UNO game, and a Deal or No Deal calendar which has weekly games.

I received a sweater, a coral necklace made by a man from Santo Domingo Pueblo (from Scott), hand-made speakers from my brother Scotty (he's going to try to make this his new business venture), a nice soft throw from my sister, new flannel pj's and a black turtleneck from my folks.

Scott received two new throws, a new pair of slippers, and a pair of pants.

We had a nice evening. Kenna (my niece) helped me make rice krispie treats and she helped me wrap some gifts for Uncle Kevy.

The kids also had a lottery ticket treasure hunt. They only won $7 all together, though, which they have to share with each other.

Well, Merry Christmas again! I need to take a shower!

Gimpy Elizabeth

Yesterday, the roads north to Clackamas were really bad, so rather than chance a really long drive (it took Scott three hours to come home, partly because he spent 40 minutes behind snow plows), I canceled the appointment for her surgery. The vet surgery center gave me a couple more numbers and I found another orthopedic vet surgeon in Springfield - a little bit closer than Clackamas - and it's in the south Willamette Valley which has had very little snow. We seem to be in a bit of a banana belt here. Anyway, she has an appointment in Springfield on Monday and if he decides on surgery, it'd be Tuesday. That's cutting it a bit close in terms of my vacation . . .

In the meantime, she is wandering around the house. She really wants to go outside but I don't want to let her outside for now. She doesn't seem to want to use her kitty litter box. But she is eating and drinking water. She is on pain meds and one of them had an anti-inflammatory, so I presume that that is what's helping her get around. She still wants to hop up on top of things.

The poor thing. She has been wanting more petting, though, and who can blame her?

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Can't Put Her Down

After a busy afternoon, my son and I picked up my niece and nephew so that they could come over and spend the night with my son. I took them out to dinner at a restaurant called Pastini's, which just opened. They're a local chain that operates in Portland - really good pasta. Afterwards, we came to my house and pulled into the garage. And, there was poor Elizabeth, our cat that we've had for 18 months, limping toward the kitchen door dragging her right hind leg. Her paw was hanging limply as if broken.

Luckily, my folks came right over to watch the kids while I took her to the vet. After an hour and x-rays, the diagnosis was a torn achilles tendon. She didn't have any signs that she'd been in a fight or hit by a car, so as near as the vet could tell, she apparently tried to jump up or off of something and got caught, tore her achilles and apparently hit her head or jaw hard enough to break off part of her tooth. One of her claws was torn off.

Treatment choices are 1) amputate her leg; 2) surgery; or 3) euthanize her. (Actually, the vet didn't give me the third choice, but I gathered that that is always an option.) I chose surgery. I'm hoping OSU's vet surgery is open tomorrow, otherwise, I need to drive her up to Clackamas to take her to a vet orthopedic surgeon. I have an appointment at Clackamas at 12 in case I need it.

The cost? $2500.

Criminy. I do have pet insurance which will cover up to $1000. That means $1500 out of pocket.

Can't really afford it. But I also cannot bear the thought of putting her down. While waiting for them to bring Elizabeth back into the room, I thought about the option of putting her to sleep and started to cry. I just can't do it.

The thought occurred to me that this could be me . . . what if insurance or my doctors decided to go the cheaper route of either euthanizing or amputating an appendage? My own battle with cancer can be characterized as doing whatever it takes to maintain a relatively high quality of life. How can I not do the same for this animal that trusts me and who has given me comfort? I have to do what I can to give her a good quality of life.

She is also Eddie's first pet. He's bonded with her and I couldn't bear the thought of taking her away from him.

I know that many people out there believe that animals are just animals, below humans. But in the Inupiaq belief system, animals have spirits, too, and even more, they also have intelligence and free will. Animals are people with a different skin.

Maybe a year ago, maybe less, Scott said that he had a dream while staying at my house in which he saw a cat come out of my bedroom closet and make its way to my bed. Either the week before or the week after, as I was going to sleep, I felt a cat jump onto my bed, but I knew that I'd let Elizabeth out, so she wasn't in my room. My conclusion was that Ptery (short for Pteradactyl - when she was a kitten, she jumped on my shoulders like a bird roosting there - tried a bunch of bird name, but didn't like them) had come to visit. Ptery died in Dec 2006. I got her initially in 1989 and she was my cat for a few years, until I moved to DC to do some work. Then, my brothers and then my folks inherited her. Ptery became their cat. But she still remembered me. It reminded me of one of Richard Bach's books, I think the one called "A Bridge Across Forever" in which he and his then-wife, Leslie, were trying to learn how to have their spirits travel outside of their body while they slept. When they finally remembered doing so, Leslie said that she saw the ghost or spirit of a cat she had owned still hanging out with her.

So, I can't put her to sleep. The good news is that I refinanced the house, with cash out, a little over a week ago - my interest rate is a full percentage point lower than my current mortgage and I also save almost $300 a month in mortgage payments. So, I guess some of my cash will go to the surgery instead of doing something in the house. The house can wait.

Okay, road gods, please be clear if I have to go to Clackamas! The roads north of here have been really really bad . . . but hopefully they clear up.

It's always something, huh?

Not much new

The big news here has been the weather - we've had snow off and on for about 9-10 days now. It took Scott three hours to get home on Sunday, Eddie didn't have school for three days last week, and Scott's daughter Ashlee had her flight to San Diego canceled yesterday (and he has been standing in line since 2am this morning to try to get her on a stand-by flight today). We haven't had it as bad as Portland and I'm happy about that.

The week-end was fairly busy - since Ashlee was supposed to be away over Christmas, we let her and Eddie unwrap a couple of gifts on Friday and Saturday nights. We went to visit some old friends of mine on Saturday afternoon - my brother is getting into speaker design and my friend Greg has been doing that for years, so it was an opportunity for the two of them to chat. On Sunday night, one of my friends had a surprise birthday party for her husband, also an old friend of mine. Rick turned 50 and the party was at the Senior Center!

Now, I'm just trying to get caught up with some work - final edits to a revise/resubmit, class syllabi for winter, and cleaning up my office. I need to clean out my in-box and my sent-mail box - over 2500 messages in the in-box and over 3000 in the sent-mail. YIKES!

My whole family will be here on Christmas Eve, so I need to do some clean-up here at home, too. I did some on Sunday. Scott will also be here depending on the roads. Ashlee may join us, too, if she can't get out of Portland.

Z-day next Monday. We'll see how the tumor markers are doing. My wound still seems to be healing. I do have a slight cold that is more a pain in the neck than anything. Just a bit of chest congestion and a slight stuffy nose.

Can you tell I'm reaching for news to tell? LOL I'm doing fine, overall. No complaints here. It's going to be a good Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Good Week

I had a massage on Wednesday, acupuncture on Thurs, and saw my oncologist's nurse practitioner yesterday. I saw my plastic surgeon on Monday. Basically, the surgeon saw some good pink tissue where that gaping 2cm hole was and yesterday, when showing it to H, the nurse practitioner, I was astounded.

There's pink tissue going right down the middle of that open wound.

I've been on Vitamin E since mid-November (maybe earlier) and it really seems to have kick-started the healing process. It seems to be going much quicker than it was. I've also been practicing qi gong fairly regularly - trying to do deep breathing and take in lots of oxygen, which helps with healing, too.

People tell me I look great.

I feel great. I still get tired and my sleep is often interrupted, but in general, I have decent energy. I do need to learn how to relax better. Even as I type, I feel tension in my shoulders. Got work to do, but my son's off school again today. It's because I know I have work to do, but I'm blogging instead. Time to let go of the tension. The work will get done, eh? My son wants me to play "Price is Right" with him. That seems more important at the moment.

Have a great week-end! And, for those of you dealing with cold snowy weather and bad roads - be safe, okay? I'm looking out my window and just saw some snow tumbling off the branches of the pine tree in my neighbor's yard. the snow covering the fences and the sun shining in my window makes for a serene view.

Bah humbug, work. It can wait!

Yippee Skippy! Woo hoo! Congrats, Liz!

I just caught up on some of my fellow bloggers and one of them, Literally Liz, just reported that her CA15-3 numbers have fallen from a high of 218 to 92! She found out in the late summer that the cancer had spread to the bones in her brain and also a new spot on her liver, I think (shoot - I've forgotten again and she specifically wrote a comment to remind me. Sorry, Liz!). She's been on Ixempra - has had three treatments, I think, and just got your blood work results.

So cool to hear that! Love those kinds of stories. They are the kinds of stories that must be celebrated and congratulated! Go, Liz! Kick cancer's butt, will ya?

Monday, December 15, 2008


I've always liked the idea of luminaries - not sure when I heard about them. But in recent years, during the Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society puts luminaries around the track and people will write the name of someone that they want to remember or commemorate during the Relay. So, when my nephew's school fundraiser had Christmas luminaries for sale in their catalog, I bought some - but I still need to figure out how to do lawn lights for them. I found another set of luminaries the other day that were made to go out on the lawn and my dad helped me set them up. Here is the picture at night - forgive my camera as it doesn't have a strong flash.

In keeping with the ACS's practice and after reading Doug's blog, I decided that I'd dedicate the luminaries to those individuals that I know who have died from cancer. So, the five lights seen in the picture are for my uncle Gabriel Muktoyuk, who died in February 2006 from pancreatic cancer; my auntie Margaret Penatac, who died in May 2008 from lung cancer; my grandmother, Gladys Kingston, who died when I was 19 from kidney cancer; my grandmother's mother, Clara Shellenberger, who died of colon cancer; and Jane Easton, who died in June 2008 of colon cancer. My uncle Gabe was a great supporter of my research and I'm very close to his kids; my auntie Margaret was always cheerful even though there was a lot that happened to her - she served fresh baked bread to Teddy Kennedy; I was close to Grandma Kingston - she lived near us most of my life; I don't remember great-grandma very much, but I think I met her when I was small; and I think I remember seeing Jane around town and started reading her blog near the end of her life in May. The blog address was on a fundraiser flier so I started reading it and have continued to read Jane's husband's blog afterwards. With the luminaries, their lights are still shining. I will be remembering them this holiday season.

Rest in peace, everyone.

Pump Up the Jam

I saw my plastic surgeon today. He thought the wound was healing nicely - he even saw some good skin tissue in the area that he was concerned about last month. I told him that I'd pretty much decided on a TRAM flap and he was fine with that. I also asked about whether or not the left tissue expander needed "pumped up" and he had time today, so he put another 50 cc in that side. So, I'm even more lopsided. I think I can see the difference and I can feel a bit of a difference, too. I said that I wanted to get to about a "B" cup. He didn't seem to know how much total saline that would take. I think I have about 400 cc's in that side now. I guess I need to measure it . . .

He's gone for the next couple of weeks, but after New Year's, I have two more "pump-ups" scheduled.

This is certainly a strange process, eh?

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

We finally got snow yesterday evening and last night - maybe about an inch and a half all together. There's no school today! It would've been nice to sleep in, but Eddie's dad called at 6:19am and woke me out of a sound sleep to tell me that school's been canceled. That woke Eddie up. I tried to have the two of us go back to sleep, but no luck. We got up at 7:10am and I admit to being cranky.

In the meantime, it's partly sunny, windy, and about 21 degrees out. I heard that it might get up to the mid- to high-30s today. I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon at 10:45; I was supposed to have lunch with another mom from Eddie's class and then meet with my grad student this afternoon, but the latter two may be canceled. Luckily, I do have work here that I can do - drafting my winter term syllabi and writing an abstract for the Norway conference.

So, it's back to my "week" mode - the one where I expect to be alone, but busy, and am therefore feeling okay about life again. Even thankful. That's what I need to remember - Scott tried to remind me of that the other day when we did get to see each other for a bit. He said, "At least we got to hang out together for a couple of hours!". I should've focused on that. It's a matter of making a conscious choice to be happy with what you do have not focus on what you don't. It is a choice that you can make each day you wake up. Hard to remember to do, I know. I think the more you do it, though, the easier it gets.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Weather Messed Up My Weekend

I was supposed to go up to Portland yesterday and hang out for aday and night with Scott, but a winter storm was forecast so we decided that neither of us should really travel. Instead, we met in Salem for a couple of hours.

I just talked to Scott and he said that it's blustery, snowy weather up there with about an inch or two. We didn't get snow here until about 5am and it has since mostly melted. When I saw it had melted, I thought that I'd been too cautious, but when Scott described the conditions up there, it seems that we made the right decision.

I'm bummed. Eddie was with his dad this week-end and I've felt lonely. I'm just tired of living alone - it'd be nice to have the companionship through the holidays. It's just hard going to get-togethers with friends, family, and colleagues without a partner.

I had things to do, though, and that helps - volleyball and then a beer with teammates on Friday night, then a holiday get-together and white elephant exchange at my chair's house midday yesterday.

Got all my presents wrapped. Working on Christmas cards today. A baby shower later, although we'll have to see how the roads are - the shower is in Philomath, but up in the hills a bit. Don't want to get caught driving on ice.

Well, hope you all are doing well!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Feet Are Ready for Vegas!

This evening, I got a hair cut and I also received a pedicure. Last March, when the local paper profiled my fight with cancer and my collection of boob jokes, one of the moms at Eddie's school told her hairdresser that she knew (or had at least seen) me at school. So, her hair dresser, Lisa Mattson, the proprietor of the beauty salon, "Hair, Body, and Sole" gave the mom a gift certificate for a free pedicure to give to me. Since then, I've had the ladies there give me hair cuts and pedicures and since I am still in active treatment, my pedicures are free.

The last few times, Michelle has cut my hair and given me a haircut. I feel a certain kinship with Michelle. I saw her up at the cancer center when she was taking her mom up there for radiation treatments last summer. It was her mom who asked me once, "Why are you so cheerful?" and my reply was "Because I work at it." I tried to lighten her mom's day by telling jokes - the cancer that was in her liver had metastasized to her brain. Unfortunately, Michelle's mom died shortly after I finished my radiation treatments. Michelle's son also has Asperger's-like symptoms. Since late summer, Michelle has been my hair dresser and has given me pedicures.

Michelle gave me a haircut and pedicure tonight. When choosing the nail color for my toes, I wanted to find something festive and a color I haven't worn before. We settled on gold, so we found one that was dark enough to contrast with my skin and it has sparkles. Fortunately, Michelle didn't have another appointment, so she took her time massaging my feet and my calves and trying to soften up the callous on the balls of my feet. I drank a glass of reisling. We chatted. It was fun!

My toes look great! Perfect for Vegas - we (Eddie, Scott and Ashlee) will be there from Jan 1 to 4. My feet and legs also feel relaxed! And, to top it off, the pedicure is still free.

So, thank you, Lisa! Thank you, Michelle! And, thank you, "Hair, Body, and Sole!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Good Stuff Maynard

I wasn't sure what to name this post, so I decided to use a saying my friends and I used in high school - "Good stuff Maynard". It seemed appropriate for the day.

I ran errands this morning, then got to work in time to go to lunch with my colleague, Loren. We chatted at length about my article on placename density and he had some good ideas about things to explore to perhaps make it more palatable to the hard science folks at Polar Geography. They finally got back to me last week and said that they are potentially interested in the article and that it is something that they'd publish. Loren seems to have a knack as to how to approach researching questions you might have of your data. I like talking to him about this stuff - it really helps to clarify my thinking.

I hung out in the department a bit, then went to the college holiday party, then picked up Eddie, proofed the Christmas card, dropped Eddie off at my folks, then went to a department meeting. Have been doing email and blogging this evening. Eddie is now singing a few Christmas carols as he gets ready for bed - one of the Christmas decorations has a series of songs that one can play.

Last night, I wrapped some presents and put them under the tree. Eddie's trying to guess what's in them, of course. He's asking me things like, "Do you think this is something I will like? Or is it something that I asked for?" That's part of the fun of Christmas, isn't it? The anticipation?

Tomorrow morning, I see the wound care nurse, then participate in a teleconference planning meeting for a conference next fall, then off to take Eddie and other classmates on a fieldtrip to the Christmas Storybookland. I have a haircut/pedicure appointment tomorrow evening.

So, a little of this, a little of that today. Another good day. Another busy day. Another generally happy day. What more can one ask for? I need to keep that in mind instead of wishing for what I don't have. So, thank you again to everyone for being a friend and for reading this blog and giving me support!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Work in Eugene

Yesterday, I spent the morning at the Archives at the University of Oregon. They have the papers from two senators from Oregon who worked on Alaska statehood. So, I went through some of their legislative papers. As far as I can tell, no one involved in Alaska statehood (and perhaps even Hawaiian statehood) really consulted with Alaska Natives to get their opinion. That's a thread that I see running through the interviews I've conducted so far.

Then, I met with a former OSU student who got her bachelor's in anthropology several years ago. She inquired about our Ph.D. program and we got a chance to get caught up.

Then, I went to David Lewis's dissertation defense. David is a Grand Ronde tribal member and he wrote his dissertation about the events that led up to termination for the Grand Ronde tribe. He did an exhaustive job researching the project. Almost all of the tribal council members from Grand Ronde as well as several other tribal members were in attendance. Another woman, Deana Dartt, finished her Ph.D. last week - she'd worked on the Horner Collection several years ago, so it was nice to see her finished as well.

All in all, a good day in Eugene. I'm heading back there this morning to finish looking at the papers, then back to campus for a meeting.

It's cool that I have energy for this sort of thing!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Doin's

A good week-end, so far. Got the tree up and decorate on Friday night. Went to a massage workshop with Scott yesterday morning - we learned great techniques for head/neck, neck/shoulders/back, arm/hand, and foot massage. Aaahhh . . .

Then, we made Christmas cutout cookies - should've taken a picture of the mess! We made the dough Friday night, then Saturday afternoon, we had 4-6 people rolling out dough, cutting it out. The girls - my niece Kenna and her friend Ashleigh - experimented with coloring the dough and made candy canes. Mom made some green Christmas trees. Then, once we cleaned off the table of the dough and flour, it was on to frosting - again, all the girls, including Scott's daughter, Ashlee, experimented with color and design.

Of course, there was some eating of cookies after they got out of the oven. We ended up frosting about 141 cookies, so my guess is that we had at least a dozen dozen cookies! (Wasn't that how many guests that Bilbo Baggins had for his 100th birthday party? The one when he gave Frodo the Ring?)

Sent a couple of dozen home with Rena, with mom, and with Ashleigh. Still have lots sitting on my counter - will send some home to Scott. May bring in more to work. Although I may freeze some, too, for Christmas day!

Today - shopping for the three gift tags that I picked up at Eddie's school - from their giving tree. I also need to get a gift for Eddie's teacher. We also need to put up some more decorations - only got the tree done, but there's a bit more to do. I also want to figure out a way to put luminarias up on my lawn, but using Christmas lights instead of candles. I want to dedicate one of them to Jane Easton, Doug's wife who died from metastatic colon cancer six months ago.

Otherwise, I think I'm finished with shopping.

I really enjoy this time of year - I love seeing the holiday lights on the houses.

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Two Book Memes

Laurie at Not Just About Cancer posted two memes about books.

Here are the rules:

Part 1: Nearest Book Meme

"The rules are as follows:

Open the nearest book to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences. The CLOSEST BOOK, NOT YOUR FAVORITE, OR MOST INTELLECTUAL!'

Here's mine:

"Kwaw caught it in his hands and it rested there. Ma'kat'da thought that Kwaw could not possibly know what to do with Mist, so he grabbed for it. There was a struggle. In the conflict, Kwaw dropped the mist. Ma'kat'da and Kwaw wrestled over the possession of Mist for eons."

These sentences were from page 60 of the book "Surviving Through the Days: A California Indian Reader. Translations of Native California Stories. Page 56 was blank as it occurred between two sections of the book. Page 54 only had three sentences (they were footnotes) and page 58 was blank. This book was honestly the closest book as I had it on the table waiting to bring it to work. I bought it at the OSU bookstore sale the other night - it was on sale for only $4 and I got an additional 30% off of that. I have a library of books related to Native Americans and especially Native American folklore. It seemed a good deal.

Part 2: Seven Weird Book Facts About Me

Here are my seven weird book facts:

1. A couple of months ago, I wrote object descriptions for two ivory carvings that are in the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian. They are for an exhibit that is set to open in 2010. The weird fact is that in doing the background research for the carvings, I opened a book (A Legacy of Arctic Art) for the first time since I bought it - in 1998!! I have a lot of books like that in my office and at home.

2. When I worked as an intern at the Arctic Studies Center at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian) in 1992, I decided to browse through the gift store during my lunch break with a coworker. As I perused the shelves in the Arctic section, I decided to pull of a book on birch bark canoes and kayaks because I knew that King Island kayaks had been researched. I looked at the back for book content and, sure enough, there was an article on King Island kayaks. I then flipped open the book, read the caption under a photo of an Eskimo man on the left-hand page, and exclaimed to my friend, "Look! There's a picture of my grandfather, Stanislaus Muktoyuk!" She didn't believe me, but it really was my maternal grandfather.

3. Just yesterday, I flipped through the pages of another book I got at the bookstore sale the other day. It was called Spirit Capture and it has articles and prints of the photos in the collection at the National Museum of the American Indian. On the page opposite the title page, there was a print of three Eskimo women from the Bering Strait region - and one looked just like our tribal coordinator! I swear it was her twin.

4. I think I have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least 11 or 12 times. The last time was when I underwent intravenous chemo 6 years ago.

5. Not only do I have bookshelves both at home and in my office, my tables and desks have piles of books on them and generally each pile (which may have 5 or 6 books) relate to different writing or research projects I'd like to work on.

6. I love bookstores - and I'm fortunate that I live near one of the largest new and used bookstores in the nation - Powell's Books in Portland. There are several levels over a city block.

7. It's been a few months since I read a book cover to cover; I've read bits and pieces of quite a few books, mostly related to articles that I've been writing.

Have fun! I won't tag anyone this time ...

More Good News

I forgot to mention - my volleyball team won our match on Tuesday night! 21-11 and 21-3.

We're now 4 and 1 for the preseason. This may mean that we get bumped up a league. But, it's fun winning, nonetheless!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Good News and More Good News

First, this month's tumor markers were

19.5 for the CA15-3 and

1.2 for the CEA!

Great! That's five months of low numbers - I mean, numbers below 20 for the CA 15-3! Remember that anything below 31 for the CA 15-3 is "normal" and anything 3.8 or under is "normal" for the CEA.

Here's the CA 15-3 history:
Sept 2007 - 23 U/mL
Jan 2008 - 31 U/mL
Mar 2008 - 36 U/mL
June 2008 - 23 U/mL (started radiation that month)
Aug 2008 - 18 U/mL
Sept 2008 - 14.5 U/mL YAAAAAAY!!!
Oct 2008 - 19.6 U/mL
Oct 31 2008 - 15.3 U/mL
Nov 28 2008 - 19.5 U/mL

Here's the history for the CEA:

1/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
3/2008 - 0.9 ng/mL
6/2008 - 1.0 ng/mL
8/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL (need to double check this number, but it was in that 0.9 to 1.2 range)
9/2008 - 0.5 ng/mL
10/2008 - 0.9 ng/mL
10/31/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
11/28/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL

And, in other news, I changed the dressing on the open wound last night. I swear it has really improved in the last week. It's hard for me to measure, but it seems that the half of the wound nearest my breast bone has completely healed. All good tissue there. And, it seems like good tissue is forming in that area where there was a 2cm gaping hole. Very cool! I see L., my wound care nurse, next week. We'll see what she has to say!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

2 Days With No Mention of Cancer

It just occurred to me . . . over at least the past two days, I have not brought up cancer into any conversations and no one has brought it into any conversation with me, either. My office manager just mentioned yesterday that "you look good". I knew what she meant, but we didn't have to say anything.

The great thing is that at work, I've talked about work. At home, I've chatted to Eddie about his day and schoolwork. With family and friends, it's all about daily life stuff.

How cool is that?

I love it when cancer doesn't take center stage.

(Of course, it doesn't mean that I'm neglecting any of my treatments - to the contrary, I take my meds and do my qi gong on a daily basis. But it's "habit" now, like brushing my teeth, and doesn't take much extra time. I've been expending my mental energy to living life. I love that that is the case. Until I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, I didn't realize that using my mental energy to just live a normal life would be such a luxury. I'll never take that for granted again, that's for sure!!)

Have a great day!

Monday, December 1, 2008


I think I mentioned that Z-Day was last Friday. I stayed fairly busy that whole day, but was tired from having got up early. On Saturday, I was still tired. I didn't sleep real well Friday night. But I also think that the zometa might've made me fatigued. I tend to have side effects from Zometa the day after the treatment and it didn't occur to me until Sunday that zometa might've contributed to the fatigue I felt on Saturday. I didn't get a fever - a good thing - but I do seem to get fatigued.

I had decent energy on Sunday and today, though, along with good night's sleep Saturday and Sunday. Well, good for me. I slept 7-8 hours, but woke up every 1.5 to 2 hours, which were usually associated with hot flashes.

Also, I didn't practice qi-gong Thurs and Fri night. I completed the 8 Treasures form Sat and Sun and slept better. Soooo . . . whaddya think I'm going to do? Keep practicing qi gong before bed. I believe it really helps!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Posting New Blog Links

I posted some more blog links - three are from former students, one is from a colleague, one is from my former nephew, and one from someone who lost his wife to cancer.

The three from former students are The Osborne-Goweys, The Hedges in Tucson, and the Lewis Twins. Cat O-G, Jamie H, and Robin L., were all former grad students of mine - they now are out in the world with children of their own. Cute kids!

Mary at Set 'Em Up, Me Darlin', is blogging about her upcoming nuptials and her humorous take on the wedding industry.

Jason is my son's first cousin on his dad's side - he and his wife Erica just had a baby in September. Jason's mom and I stay in touch and sent me their blog.

Doug's wife, Jane, lost her battle to cancer last June and while I've never met him, I like to keep up and see how he's doing.

They are all part of my world . . . just wanted to brag about them!

Busy Holiday Week-end

I had a busy but mostly fun holiday week-end! We had Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's house - Eddie and I got there about noon and my sister's old friend, Debbie, was there with her boyfriend and daughter. My sis, Rena, and Debbie met when they were just 8 years old - over 30 years ago! Whew! It was fun seeing her after all these years. All totaled, we had 15 people - my folks, my two brothers, my sister and her husband and 2 kids, Debbie, Chuck and Tessa, Eddie, Scott and his daughter Ashlee and me. Dinner was delicious - and I was so happy to have an appetite.

Then, it was home to relax for a bit and then we went over to Cat and Gooey's about 7:30 or so and we all played Spoons with them. It was fun. I think I was the champion taunter - I was put out fairly early in the game and managed to get a couple of people to talk to me which sped up their exit from the game! Hee hee. Cat's dad said that he didn't know I talked so much - normally I'm quiet, but I really tried to keep talking during the game! I told him that I was competitive! : )

Then, I got up at 3am and my friends picked me up at 3:30am to go shopping on Black Friday. It was fun - there were certainly crowds but I didn't really see much rudeness or shoving or wild crowds. I would never go by myself, but because my friends go for the deals, it's a good excuse to hang with them and see this phenomenon. I think I got good deals on most of the items - some things were 50-70% off the retail price - and I think I got most of my Christmas shopping done and even some birthday presents (I have four birthdays and one anniversary coming up in January and February).

Friday afternoon was Z-Day - my appointment for the Zometa IV and Zoladex pellet in my belly. Scott went with me and met the nurse, J, who has given me 4 of my past 5 treatments. Scott got an idea of what it is I have to do.

Friday night, my son Eddie was in the Christmas parade - his dad works for the city and Eddie gets to ride in the holiday trolley. Bennett Hall, a reporter for the local paper, interviewed me and Ashlee about the parade. Here is a link to the article. My friends, John and Gina, rode in the hummer for a Pepsi float (John works at Pepsi). Some other friends were sitting down the street from me. Ashlee thought it was kinda cool that I knew people all around me. The joys of a small town!

On Saturday, I took Eddie to the local Train Show - but now he says that it's "boring" so we didn't stay long. I then took Ashlee to a few holiday craft fairs and we found a stocking that she can use at my house - complete with a leopard print. We found a few more stocking stuffers and I finally found a new book bag as the one that I'd been using for five years was falling apart finally. I wanted to get to bed early - I was really tired. I got clingy with Scott when he went home yesterday - I felt pretty lonely. I think that in addition to not sleeping well and then getting up early for Black Friday, the Z-day treatments had me dragging energy-wise.

Bless Scott's heart - he came back down this morning to spend the day with me - Ash stayed at home and Eddie was with his dad. I was really happy he did. We had breakfast, then ran some errands, he helped clean out my vacuum cleaner and rearrange my front room a bit (I sold the wood stove last week and now have more room). My folks came over and dad and Scotty (my brother) strung up my Christmas lights - yay! we even got lawn decorations up, too! -and Scotty helped install more software for the new iMac - mom helped me do some kitchen clean-up and then Scott (the boyfriend) went home.

All in all - a great week-end spent with friends and family - lots of shopping and we got some of my home chores accomplished!

I hope you all had a great week-end, too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

A year ago, I was still recovering from the surgery - still feeling nauseous from the anesthesia and the morphine. This year, I have baked the pumpkin pies for tomorrow, and I have the appetizers and the pies (my part in the potluck) all ready to go. I'm looking forward to having a good meal. I really didn't eat much last year because my tummy still felt funny.

So, I have a lot to be thankful for, including you out there who are thinking about me, sending good energy, thoughts, and prayers. Thank you so much for that.

I've also been thinking about those who are less fortunate, of which there are many, but particularly of those women that I've gotten to know through their blogs. I know of three who have had relapses or recurrences of their disease. They are;

Liz at Literally Liz - she's going through what she calls "Round Seven of the GCB (Great Cancer Battle)". After undergoing radiation early this fall to her brain stem, she found out that there was a new spot on her liver and a couple of spots in her brain. (I think it was liver - it might've been lung.) She seems to be doing fairly well, but I can't image having fought 7 recurrences of breast cancer.

Jeanne, at The Assertive Cancer Patient, has also had a recurrence in her bones and maybe a new spot in her lungs. She and I had a falling out last summer and while we no longer correspond, I have been following her blog and feel very badly at this news. I still need to email her, but have been afraid to do so. The time is now, though, so I will email her and let her know how sorry I was to hear her news.

And, finally, Debbie, at www.debutaunt.com, is back in the hospital for a relapse of her leukemia. Two years ago, she had a bone marrow transplant, courtesy of her brother. Since the winter/spring, really for months, Debbie has been dealing with really bad pain, probably a form of graft vs. host disease. She went to her doctors repeatedly because of the pain, the feeling bad, the fatigue, etc., but no one really found anything. She has to undergo really aggressive chemo and has to stay in the hospital - I don't really know all the ins and outs of it, but it sounds awful. She is doing her best to stay positive, but it's hard because she's not allowed to see her daughter, Zoe. And, to top it off, her COBRA coverage ran out and because of some technicality, her Medicare (or Medicaid? coverage) has not yet kicked in. She's been avoiding going to the doctor this past month because she was uninsured. She does have what she calls the "debu-fund" and if at all possible, please remember her if you have a little bit extra. Send her strength, good energy, and prayers.

If you are healthy and comfortable, please remember all of those who aren't. And, give thanks for what you do have. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Laurie's news article about early breast cancer detection

Laurie, at Not Just About Cancer, found a story in which some researchers found that using MRI's can lead to overdiagnosis of breast cancers and then to treatments that women don't need. Here is the link to Laurie's blog entry on the subject.

Laurie said, and I agree, that the study results made her feel uneasy and she wasn't sure why until she found a rebuttal by a doctor. This other doctor's point was that with the results of the MRI screening and with mammograms, doctors will not be able to tell which women will have cancers that resolve on their own and which will die because of their cancer. You just don't know. So, it's better to err on the side of caution, I think.

It got me thinking about what would've happened to me had I not been vigilant about my annual mammogram screenings post-breast cancer diagnosis six years ago and had I not insisted that the doctor check into this rash that wouldn't go away. Here's what I said in a comment to Laurie's blog:

I'm so glad that you found that rebuttal to the study because the findings of that study bothered me, too, but I couldn't articulate why.

I'm all for early screening. About five years after my first diagnosis of breast cancer, my annual mammogram found calcifications. The biopsy found a small (3mm) tumor. After the bilateral mastectomy last year, it was discovered that there was cancer throughout the whole breast - not a tumor, per se, but "tendrils" of cancer through the lymph channels and ducts. Then, about 6-8 weeks after surgery, I had a rash in that right breast area of skin that wouldn't go away. A biopsy found that there was breast cancer cells in the skin. A CT scan found small, bb-sized tumors in my bone marrow in my spine, ribs, iliac, sacrum, etc. That's when I started oral chemotherapy. I asked my onc how long those little bb-sized tumors had been there and his reply was "months".

IF I hadn't had the mammogram that showed calcifications and IF the biopsy hadn't found the little 3mm tumor, and IF I hadn't been vigilant about the skin rash, the cancer would've grown and spread to other organs. I think that I'm doing really well, with low tumor markers and stable disease, precisely because of early screening. The cancer hasn't had a chance to get into my bones - it's only in my bone marrow. We caught it fairly early, in other words, and it was aggressive. I think I've been spared really more aggressive treatments with worse side effects because of early detection.

A year later, I'm doing well - I'm happy, back at work, and starting to prepare myself for reconstruction surgery in February.

I agree - that study is meaningless, for now, and will be until they can say which cancers will go away and which will kill someone.

I say "bah humbug" to that study. Well, I could use stronger words . . . but you get the picture, right?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Bazaar and Other News

As you may or may not know, my dad and mom and I spent our day at the holiday bazaar on Saturday. No one bought our beaded stuff, but my mom was able to sell some of her crocheted items. So, it was a success and it was fun. I figured if I didn't sell what I made, I could give it away as Christmas gifts. So . . . not a wasted effort.

I see Dr. K, my oncologist, tomorrow, my acupuncturist on Wednesday, and then Z-Day is on Friday (when I get Zometa and Zoladex). Last year, my bilateral mastectomy was on Nov 16 and I think I found out on Nov 21 that the pathologist found cancer cells throughout the tissue on the cancerous right side. I was still recovering from surgery on Turkey Day - I was still nauseous from the anesthesia and the morphine. I'm looking forward to a better one this year!

I continue to have decent energy and last night, I slept really well, too. Things are going well with Scott - we've been able to work through some issues fairly well, I think. My family's okay. We'll have 15 people - maybe 17 - at my sister's house on Thursday. Should be fun!

This week at work I hope to finish making changes to the placenames spreadsheet and to make revisions to a paper. Next week, I want to tackle submitting the article I just wrote to a journal. I contacted Polar Geography, but they haven't responded. Time to go to Plan C. It's week 8 for Fall Term - two more weeks of classes and then Finals Week.

Life is good! I really have no complaints.

I'm happy. Can you tell? ; )

A Thanksgiving Boob Joke

Monica sent me this cartoon! In terms of boob jokes and Thanksgiving, it fits, huh? : 0

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Wound Continues to Heal

I saw the wound care nurse yesterday. The wound is continuing to heal. I asked her, based on her experience, if the wound was healing faster or slower than she expected. She said that she's quite pleased because, while she doesn't have much experience with cancer/radiation wounds, she thought that the wound might not heal at all.

So, I must be doing something right, huh?


Oh Shoot! We lost our match last night - 21-17, 18-21, 19-21. Pickles. Bummer.

You get the picture.

However, as Rick said, it's okay if we lose one here or there. If we won all our games, we'd get bumped up to the next league, where the teams there would probably beat us all the time.

And, it's all in fun anyway, right?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tit for Tat

On Tuesday, my colleague, Bryan, was in search of a video that talked about contemporary anthropological fieldwork - basically, what is the "field" and do anthropologists still study the "other"? Well, we didn't have a video and it turns out that my fieldwork is multi-sited (there are King Islanders in several areas, not in their homeland) and I'm also this kind of insider-outsider with this community since I'm a descendent who grew up outside the community. So, I volunteered to talk in his class at the last minute. Worked out well and had some good questions.

But right before the class, I told Bryan that I would ask him to do a guest lecture or two during Winter Term when I'm recovering from my surgery. His response? "Sure, tit for tat!" Then, with a laugh, "No pun intended!"

Yeah right. I think that means he's the "tat"? LOL

In other news, my wound care nurse said that the wound has continued to improve over the last three weeks. Cool.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Besides, I get a tummy tuck . . .

I just did a bit of reading online about the TRAM versus the lat flaps. An added benefit of the TRAM is a tummy tuck. Don't think I need a shoulder blade tuck. And, I do like to play v-ball and tennis and the lat flap might interfere with those activities.

Can you tell? Still leaning toward the TRAM.

For pictures of a TRAM flap, you can go here - see Figures 12, 13, and 14. Not for the squeamish, though. I was a bit uncomfortable looking at it!

A Date for New Boobs!!

Met with my plastic surgeon, Dr. H, today. The result? I will get my Christmas wish for reconstruction, just not in time for Christmas.

Turns out that Dr. H is already booked up into February. He's going away for two weeks over the holidays for family time. Can't begrudge him that.

So, while disappointed, I'm really okay with waiting. It allows me time to do my homework and then make appropriate arrangements for a wide variety of things, including work, child care, house stuff, coordinating doctors, etc.

And, oh yeah. You all might want the date, huh? It's February 6th. I still need to talk to my chair, but I think it'll be okay since I chatted with him about it briefly last week.

February 6, 2009, is about 80 days away.

It's still up in the air as to what kind of flap procedure I will have. To reiterate, I will have an implant on the left side, but a flap procedure on the right since that side has now been radiated twice and the tissue is too damaged for an implant.

The two flap procedures we could do are a TRAM flap and a Lat flap. The TRAM takes tummy fat and uses some of your abdominal muscles. They cut away this tissue and then bring it up, under the skin, to the breast area. This way, they keep all the blood supply intact. (I could go to New Orleans for a free flap procedure, but I really don't want to be that far away from my support system. With a free flap, they cut the tissue completely away from your body, reattach it and the surgeons spend hours reattaching the blood vessels.)

The Lat flap takes muscle from around your shoulder blade area - the latisimus dorsi muscle - and they bring it around under your arm, under the skin and other tissue to the breast area. However, since there isn't a lot of tissue to use, it means that I would also have to have a smallish implant there in order to even things out.

Other considerations:

Both procedures have the net effect of weakening those muscles - whether they be in your abdomen or in your shoulder blade area. The Lat flap would make it difficult for things like swimming or cross country skiing. I think with the abdomen, there's just long-term issues regarding lifting and back issues, but I need to check into that.

Pros and Cons:
With the TRAM flap, there would probably be no need for an additional surgery other than adding nipples and tattooing. There's always a chance, but probably not. In the long term, I could probably much continue with all my activities eventually. Also, since there will be no implant, there is less risk of infection stemming from a foreign object. The wound more than likely has bacteria and an implant would exacerbate risks of infection.

Cons with a TRAM flap are that the recovery time after surgery is longer - probably at least three weeks. There's more discomfort. Fat also has less blood flow than muscle.

With the Lat flap, there is more blood flow to the area, which is generally seen as a good thing but now I can't remember why. There is less recovery time after surgery (2 weeks) and less discomfort.

Cons with a Lat flap is that we'd have to put in a tissue expander - again - and then do another surgery to put in the permanent implant. Then, there's the nipples and tattooing. The tissue expander/implant increases the risk of infection to that area.

I think I'm leaning toward the TRAM flap. Get it all over and done with as it is unlikely that I'd need another surgery. I'd rather have more discomfort at once then have to potentially go under the knife again at some future date - and also go through the whole tissue expander thing again which is uncomfortable.

I'd also be able to do an oophorectomy at the same time.

Decisions decisions. But I've got 80 days beforehand to think about things. The wound, and whether it continues to heal or whatever, may dictate the course of action, too.

80 days and counting!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Verizon Rebate Visa Cash Cards - A BAD IDEA

I recently added several phones to my cell phone plan - my folks were getting tired of all the telemarketers and other people calling them and it was cheaper to add them to my plan than to get their own cell phone plan. I bought four new cell phones and each had a $50 rebate. Well, instead of cutting me a rebate check for the phones, Verizon sent me prepaid Visa cards - four of them worth $50 each. The company (a subsidiary of Verizon) claimed that you could obtain your cash in a variety of ways - or just use the card in place of a credit or debit card. One way was, in theory, to do a bank transfer that you could do online. I spent about 45 minutes (the night I played with the web cam) trying to get it to work but after inputting my data to register the cards, it kept saying I didn't enter any data at all! I finally got frustrated and called and in the end, it was easier to go in person to my bank and get cash advances.

That was an hour of my time I won't ever get back! What a pain in the neck! The companies tend to think that people won't go through the trouble of getting their rebates and, then, if you do, I think they think that someone will use the Visa card to purchase something but only end up with a purchase less than what the card is worth - and if there is only $1 or whatever left, then consumers will throw it away. Verizon - and whoever else -gets to keep the money you don't use.

That kind of thing pisses me off. So, I just wanted to go on record as saying that I think it's a bad idea.

Shepherd of the Valley Holiday Bazaar

As I mentioned last week, my parents and I will have a table at a local holiday bazaar. It's at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, on the corner of Walnut and Highland. The bazaar will be open from 10am to 2pm this coming Saturday, November 22. Please come find us!!

Like a lot of people in this economy, my parents are struggling financially. My brother, who was in grad school at Western Oregon, is having trouble finding work. My siblings and I try to help as much as possible, but it's limited. So, we're hoping to bring in some extra cash.

My mom will have some crocheted items - blankets, baby blankets, and potholders and maybe a few smaller items. My dad has been making mostly necklaces but I think he might have some earrings, too. He likes to make jewelry with bigger beads. I like to work with smaller beads and will have some necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. The bracelets are made out of elastic thread. Here's a picture of what I've got so far - my plan is to try to make another 6 or more items this week!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

playing with iMac webcam

My laptop (a mac ibook) started to act up a couple of weeks ago and after my brother looked at it and after talking about it with another computer person, I decided that it wasn't worth repairing it and bought an iMac. It has a webcam already attached. While I'm waiting on hold with Verizon Rebates (I may blog about this when I get this flippin' issue dealt with), I wanted to figure out how to use it. I can take pictures using certain visual effects. Here's a couple of examples:

This is the popart effect:

This is the sepia effect:

Cool, huh? My son is going to love this!


Last night, I was fortunate to attend the Gala for the Native American Youth Association in Portland. It was a fundraiser and the Office of Community and Diversity at OSU paid for a table of ten - each plate was $125. Kinda rich for my blood. But I decided to go. The director of NAYA, Nicole Maher, is an OSU alumnus and she was in one or two of my classes, so I hoped to see her as I haven't seen her in several years. I really can't say that I had much influence on her career path; she's accomplished this on her own. But I'm still proud of her.

I have to say, I'm really proud of her and what she's been able to accomplish at that organization. It's grown tremendously in the last year or two - they were successful at getting a Gates Foundation grant to help Native American kids with academic help. The grant was pretty successful, so much so that NAYA was featured in the Gates Foundation Annual Report for 2007.

I saw at a table with the President of OSU and his wife and the director of Community and Diversity. There were also several students from OSU at the table. I had a really nice time. I was able to say hi to Nicole and then the Sustainability Officer at NAYA is a woman, Chris Dupres, I worked with on another grant project a few years ago. All in all, a good evening.

I really do love my job. I sometimes get problem students and I dislike the administrative stuff. But watching Nicole reminded me of what my work is all about. Congratulations on a successful event, Nicole!

Cool, huh?

Toilet Troubles

I know I know . . . reading about "potties" is probably not what everyone wants to read about. But it just struck me as something to blog about so I am.

What am I talking about?

Well, first, every time I am at Scott's place and I go to use the bathroom, the d*#*n toilet paper is out. EVERY TIME. Without fail. When we got home last night after having a glass of wine, I went to use the bathroom, I saw it was out. I changed the toilet paper and then walked out to the living room. I told Scott, "I just want to go on record to report the fact that the toilet paper is out. Again." He just started giggling (he was brushing his teeth) and that made me giggle and we proceeded to laugh about this for a couple of minutes. Criminy.

And, after having several years of an almost perfect record of putting the toilet seat and lid back down, in the past week or so, my son has consistently forgotten to put it down. I walk in and it's up. Grrr! I've been reminding him, but he keeps forgetting.


Friday, November 14, 2008

On A Roll!

Oh Shoot! (my volleyball team - we're named after the exclamation we tend to use after hitting a ball) won it's second match of the season! Woo hoo! We are now 2 and 0! I think the score was 21-17 and then 21-12 or 13.

Woo hoo!

No other big news . . . attended some morning sessions yesterday at the annual conference for the American Society for Ethnohistory. I listened to papers given on the history of Oregon Native Americans, most were given by Oregon tribal members, some of whom I know. It was really nice to see them all.

I think I strained some pectoral muscles near the open wound. It tends to hurt some when I try to close the rear hatch on my car or the glove compartment. I felt it, too, when I did my underhand serve or when I use my right arm to push myself up to sitting from laying down. The only thing I can think of is that I've been stretching those muscles a lot with this qi gong form, 8 Treasures. Maybe I'm overdoing it because they are really tight. So, I will take it easy a bit.

Other than that, Woo Hoo! It's sunny today - nice because we have a lot of rain this past week or so. When the sun poked out yesterday, I started to squint because I wasn't used to it! Welcome to Fall/Winter in the Willamette Valley!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Appointment Schedule with Dr. H

An appointment with Dr. H has been scheduled for Nov 18, 8:45am. More news about reconstruction surgery should be forthcoming after that appointment.

Now that I've been given the green light to go ahead, I just want to get it done. I'm tired of having this tissue expander in my chest. I want to look normal again .. .

I'm both excited and apprehensive. I don't particularly like surgery. On the other hand, surgery is inevitable since I have this expander and I also need the oophorectomy (ovary removal), so I might as well go forward with it.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


My folks and I rented a booth for a local holiday bazaar which will be on Nov 22. My mom has some crocheted blankets and potholders and my dad has already made some necklaces and earrings with larger beads. I started beading on Sunday - I made one necklace Sunday night and a bracelet with elastic thread last night. I've started work on another bracelet and will finish it tomorrow. I'm hoping to have about 10-12 beaded necklaces or bracelets for the bazaar. Once I have a collection, I'll post a couple of photos. I really just feel like beading. It's literally been years since I've taken the time - tried to a couple of times when Eddie was about 2, but he kept wanting to play with the string and/or the beads. Otherwise, it'd been before he was born.

It's fun - I find it relaxing, like coloring mandalas. We'll see if we actually make any money, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying play with all the beads and the colors!

All I want for Christmas is My Two Front . . .


What does this mean, you ask? Well, good news from my oncologist, Dr. K.: there is nothing going on with the rib bone. He said the radiologist said that the bone looked okay. Cool.

I then asked if he'd talked to Dr. H, the plastic surgeon, about the timing for reconstruction. He said they had talked and Dr. H was inclined to wait until spring break in March in order to give the wound more time to heal. But then I told Dr. K that the International Arctic Science Committee asked me to co-chair a session related to Indigenous Cultures - Past to Future for the Arctic Science Summit Week in Bergen, Norway over spring break. I'd like to go to that so March would be out and my chair would prefer that I try to schedule a surgery around winter term teaching, which means scheduling it for maybe the second week of December. Dr. K was fine with that and he said I'd just have to convince Dr. H that that was okay.

So, yep, it looks like I might be getting what I want for Christmas!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Oh yeah . . . and here's Eddie the Whammy!

I forgot to mention that my ejection fraction for my heart was 60 - good news as Tykerb can affect the heart. Normal is 50 to 70. I'm out of shape, though. The Anthro Club at OSU had a potluck and folkdancing last night - and with a couple of dances, I was breathing hard and my heart was beating. A couple of my colleagues lasted longer than me. I think that means that I need to do some more cardiac training.

I've been practicing this qi gong form called Eight Treasures which helps connect energy to your different energy meridians and, also, apparently, helps with joint health. I find it an easy form to remember and it only takes about 15 minutes. I did it last night before bed . .. and had a good 3 1/2 hour stint of sleep without waking up - the first time in about two weeks. Yay! Think I better do it as often as possible.

The CT scan is scheduled for Monday morning. It's a simpler one, apparently, I won't need to fast. And, it'll only be of the ribs on the right side. Cool.

Did I mention that I got my article submitted for review at one of the major anthro journals on Wednesday night? I'm pretty happy with it, overall. We'll see what they have to say - probably not for several months.

In terms of work - it'll be a matter of tying up loose ends from the Alaska trip and then trying to perhaps get in some interviews and hopefully get to the archives at UO to find some archival info on one project. Work is proceeding on the interactive web map. My grad student is working on biographies for the Alaska Native corporation leaders. Met with my colleague Tom in Portland last Sunday - just to check in with each other on that project.

Gradually getting housework done at home. I need to do some filing - will get to that this afternoon. Otherwise, here's a picture of Eddie for Halloween - he was a Whammy! from the game show "Press Your Luck". Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What's Next for the Wound

First, Dr. K (my main oncologist) and Dr. M (the rad onc) looked at the wound. Overall, they thought it looked fairly well - they were both expecting something a lot worse, but they thought it looked a lot better than when the tissue expander first came out. Dr. M thinks it is highly unlikely that there's anything going on with the bone. Dr. K is inclined to stay the course - that is, just continue monitoring the wound and making sure that it continues to heal. He is going to order a CT scan of just that bone just to make sure nothing is going on. If the healing of the wound plateaus, then we may consider the hyberbaric oxygen treatment or surgery.

Regarding surgery, Dr. K believes that it would be okay for me to have it. He's going to look into whether or not I'd have to go off of Xeloda and Tykerb and if so, then it might only be for a couple of weeks prior to surgery. He doesn't think the risk of recurrence would be too much.

I mentioned that I still have a tissue expander on the left side, which has a metal-backed port, and that I'd like to get it out of my chest. So, that means surgery at some point and if I have to do surgery, then I might as well do reconstruction on the right side. Dr. K agreed - when he said that I couldn't have reconstruction "in your lifetime", he was referring to an implant, but has no qualms about the flap procedure. So, reconstruction is back on the table. And, if I do reconstruction, then they might bring in tissue to protect the bone, if it's needed.

As I understand it, here's the plan of action:

1) In order to encourage the wound to heal more quickly, I start taking Vitamin E and also something called Trental. Trental causes the blood to become less viscous - i.e., it allows red blood cells to go through restricted blood vessels better so that they can bring more oxygen to the wound. Possible side effects include dizziness and nausea. But most tolerate it fairly well. And, I continue with the dressing changes and periodic visits with the wound care nurse, L.

2) I will have another CT scan just to see if anything is going on with the rib bone. If there is something, then perhaps we consider hyperbaric oxygen treatment or surgery.

3) We put reconstruction back on the table. Dr. K will talk with Dr. H (the plastic surgeon) about the timing of this surgery. It may be as early as December or not until March, to work around my teaching schedule.

Continued Great Tumor Marker News

First, the tumor marker update:

CA 15-3 was 15.3!!! Here's the history:

Anything below 31 is considered "normal"
Sept 2007 - 23 U/mL
Jan 2008 - 31 U/mL
Mar 2008 - 36 U/mL
June 2008 - 23 U/mL (started radiation that month)
Aug 2008 - 18 U/mL
Sept 2008 - 14.5 U/mL YAAAAAAY!!!
Oct 2008 - 19.6 U/mL
Oct 31 2008 - 15.3 U/mL

The CEA was 1.2 - still well below suspect levels. 3.8 and under is normal. Here's the history:

1/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
3/2008 - 0.9 ng/mL
6/2008 - 1.0 ng/mL
8/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL (need to double check this number, but it was in that 0.9 to 1.2 range)
9/2008 - 0.5 ng/mL
10/2008 - 0.9 ng/mL
10/31/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL

Cool, huh?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This is a Good Day Indeed!

Why? Do you ask? Well, of course, because

OH SHOOT! won our first volleyball match tonight, it was 21-14, 17-21, and 21-19. Yay! It's nice to start the season 1-0.

Hey, I bet you all thought I'd be talking about the fact that Obama will be our next President!!

I got to admit, that is exciting, too. But as I said in my earlier post this evening, I haven't really invested too much energy into this election; I am just not that interested in the daily shenanigans of American politics. I pay attention to those issues that matter most to me, which are issues like Native American rights, environmental health, education, social justice, and health care, but for the most part, I prefer to spend my time doing work that I love and taking care of my family and enjoying the company of my friends.

But as I sit here watching Obama's acceptance speech, I admit the fact that we've elected the first African American President sends chills down my spine. And, I was alive to witness this historic moment. I just need to end by repeating something in his speech:

Yes, we can.

Auspicious Dates

One of my blogger friends, Jeanne in NYC at "Rock the Bald", said something about auspiciious days on her blog. It seems an apt description for me as well.

1) It just hit me today that I've been blogging for over a year - I started this blog on October 15, 2007. Boy, those early entries of mine are interesting to read - it was when I thought that my cancer was only 2-3mm in size. What a difference a year makes!

2) Yesterday - November 3 -marked the one year anniversary of my Boob Ball. In honor of that anniversary, here is another picture of that event that I don't think I posted before:

Karen's entry for the "boob food" contest -

Heather Kenagy with her stepdaughter, Kiana - (This is Heather from "My Xeloda" fame.)

I think I should have another party sometime soon, huh?

3) Yesterday, I worked on my placename density article all day and got an almost final draft! I think I need to fix some typos and make a couple of other small changes, but I think that I will be able to send it out tomorrow! Yay! Interesting that I finished it on the first anniversary of the Boob Ball.

4) Today, as everyone knows, is Election Day. Two of my fellow bloggers (NYC Jeanne and Carver) said that they went to their polling stations when they first opened today. Laurie, at Not Just About Cancer, lives in Canada, but she posted a Doonesbury cartoon about the election. I'd more or less tuned out most of the campaigning - I'd made up my mind long ago and the stuff I found out about Palin when in Alaska only solidified my vote (i.e., for Obama) - and today felt like a normal kind of day to me -nothing special. Part of that is because Oregon has mail-in balloting, so there's no going to the polls and standing in line to cast your vote. On the one hand, as an anthropologist who appreciates rituals and how they highlight special events in life, not going to a polling station does diminish that sense of camaraderie that can come with seeing evidence that you're doing your part in a democracy. In other words, we Oregonians do lose out, to some extent, on the excitement that comes with bumping into fellow voters at the voting booth. On the other hand, I do think that the mail-in balloting does increase voter turnout. Bill Bradbury, Oregon's Secretary of State, said that after the 2004 election, Oregon had an 87% voter turnout rate in a Washington Post article. However, there are some critics that state that perhaps Vote By Mail isn't a good idea because it seems to favor affluent voters, because they state that there is a higher chance for fraud, because it could be manipulated by election officials and because it relies on the reliability of the U.S. Postal Service.

I want to note that one study they cite shows that Vote by Mail increased voter turnout in Oregon by 4% (another study said 10%), but that it only tended to increase the numbers of people who were more inclined to vote anyway. At first blush, my response is that any increase in the numbers of voters is a good thing, right? In terms of fraud, the only studies that the authors cite are from local elections in Georgia and Florida - there doesn't seem to have been any cases of voter fraud in Oregon. In fact, during last spring's primary election, on my mail-in ballot, I forgot to sign the envelope (they put a secrecy envelope over your ballot and then you stick this into another envelope that you sign, stating that you're registered and that you are the person listed on the ballot) and the election officials tried to contact me at work to let me know, but it was toolate in the afternoon and by the time I got the message, it was too late, so they didn't count my ballot. (I think I need to give them my cell number.) In terms of being manipulated by election officials - the authors state that Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and California do distinguish between active and in-active voters, with the implication being that in-active voters might not be sent a ballot. But other than citing an example from Colorado, it does not state that this kind of thing happens in Oregon. As far as I know, Oregon sends ballots out to all registered voters. Oregon even makes sure when you get your driver's license that you can register to vote and/or change your address as a registered voter. And, the comment about the U.S. postal service - I think it's fairly reliable. And, I think that if voters did not get their ballot here in Oregon, they could go to their county elections office to get a replacement one.

I, for one, like the convenience of vote-by-mail. It works for me. I've lived in three other states - Alaska, Virginia, and Connecticut - and I only really remember voting in Connecticut as the years in Virginia and Alaska were non-presidential election years, so I didn't even bother to register. I notice that I vote in the smaller elections, too, because of this vote-by-mail system. The ballot comes in the mail and it sits on my table, reminding me that I need to vote, as it is my duty as a citizen.

I'm currently watching CNN and based on their projections - as of 7:41pm PDT, Obama has 207 electoral votes and McCain has 135.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Zometa Side Effects - Minimal

I had my third zometa treatment on Friday. My temperature was slightly elevated Friday evening - and I felt a bit tired. I also had a slightly elevated temperature Saturday afternoon and a bit of a headache. But, overall, it didn't keep me from doing anything. I'm glad I took it easy on Friday. The nurses at the infusion center also said I should drink lots of water to help flush out what my body didn't use. Maybe that helped? Anyway, glad it wasn't worse!

Have a good Monday tomorrow, everyone!

P.S. A big thank you to my folks, who put plastic on my windows - to try to help with heating costs this year. Not sure where I'd be if it weren't for my folks. I try to help them out as much as possible, too, but in different ways. I love you both!

A good, busy week-end

This past week-end was pretty full. On Friday, after my appointment and after the lecture in my department, I took Eddie trick or treating downtown (will post a photo in the next couple of days), then his dad took him to the public library for the city's Halloween Party for kids. I went back to my office, visited with my office manager and then put in a couple of hours working on my article on placename density. Came home and didn't really work - just watched a movie entitled Feast of Love which I enjoyed. I did read some stuff in preparation for the article.

Saturday, after putzing around the house and then running errands around town, I went in to my office and put in another couple of hours on the article, then picked up Eddie at his dad's and took him to a birthday party of a boy of a friend of mine, then dropped Eddie back as his dad's and then came home and worked on the article for another hour and a half, met Scott and his daughter for dinner, and then he and I went out for another drink at Strega (one of the newest restaurants in town).

Got up Sunday, had breakfast, then went to Portland to pick up my colleague Tom at the airport. We had lunch and discussed the Alaska Native corporation project. We had a good visit. He's been in England for almost three months -his wife got a position at Oxford. I think I know what my next steps should be. Then, I picked my son up at my sister's house - his dad let him go over there to play for a bit.

Now, I'm home. I'm going to pay bills and just relax this evening. I'm tired!

It's a good tired, you know. I'm tired from all the activity - not all the treatment. Yay!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Z-Day Today

Today is "Z-Day", in which I get the Zoladex injected into my abdomen (shuts down my ovaries) and Zometa is given to me intravenously (strengthens my bones to make it harder for cancer to attach to the bone). I started Zometa two months ago - and have had two Zometa IV's. Each time, I ended up with a slight fever on Day 2 and general feeling of fatigue. Not bad in terms of side effects. It just means I take it easy that day. Good thing as today, I wanted to take Eddie trick-or-treating at the downtown merchants. He is going as a "Whammy", which is that little red Tasmanian devil cartoon creature that takes prizes away from contestants on the show "Press Your Luck". I'll take a picture and post it!

Update - An Appointment with Dr. K.

Dr. K's office called me yesterday - he asked that I come in and talk to him about what to do about the rib bone and we made an appointment for next Wednesday. Options, as I understand them based on the talks with Dr. H, Dr. M., and my wound care nurse, are:

1) Do a CT scan or a chest x-ray to see what, if anything, is going on with the bone. Is it infected? Or is there some necrosis?

2) In the meantime, continue monitoring the open wound for healing.

3) If the healing plateaus and/or the bone is infected, then surgery is indicated in order to either take out the bone and/or to cover the bone with some soft tissue from my lat.

4) Another option is to undergo hyperbaric oxygen treatments. Apparently, you sit in a chamber that is 100% oxygen for about 20-30 minutes, daily, for four weeks. It apparently does wonders in terms of healing wounds and my rad onc, Dr. M, said that people come out of the chamber feeling really refreshed.

5) Or, we may opt for surgery anyway in order to get some soft tissue over the bone to protect it. If I do surgery, I may have to go off of Xeloda and perhaps Tykerb and then I run the risk of the cancer growing again. Which then argues for what is the lesser of two evils, right?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

And the wound continues to heal!!!

I saw the wound care nurse today and she felt that the wound has certainly improved over the last three weeks. I had a "peninsula" of good tissue on the upper left portion of the wound (i.e., left from my perspective) that's grown bigger. The area where there was a big hole through which the tissue expander went through has gotten smaller, in terms of diameter and it appears that there's more good tissue growing in from the right side. All in all, an improvement. I thought so, but it's hard to tell when you live with it all the time.

L., the nurse, has been taking pictures of the wound - there were two that were taken when I was undergoing radiation - and then she took pictures the day the expander came out and another two days later, before I got the wound pump. I got the heebie jeebies looking at those pictures! OMG - the hole that was there. I tried to describe it to someone last week while in Anchorage and said that I'd ended up with a 2cm hole in my chest. I thought I might've been exaggerating, but I wasn't! L., the nurse, said that she said it looked scary, although she didn't say so at the time, to her credit. I guess I knew it was serious, but not really how serious it really was. But that was then and this is now and it's definitely much better and is steadily improving.

Whew! Thanks to everyone who continues to send me good healing energy! It's working, apparently!

"Almost Every Place, Every Rock, Had a Name."

This is a quote from Marie Saclamana, an elder in my community. I would like to use that for the title of the article I'm working on about the density of King Island placenames. I went through and counted the names on Monday night, but realized that I'd ended up counting some names twice. So, last night, I double-checked the list. Drum roll, please!

There are 158 names for 164 places. In general, there are some instances where there are two places for one name. There's one instance in which there were three names (I think, but I need to call and double-check) for one place. But taking that all into account, there are 158 names for an island that's 3.5 square miles. That's a relatively dense place for names.

And, of the 164 places, 83 are rocks and another 17 are cliffs. Granted, King Island is a basalt rock that juts up out of the ocean and so there's just a lot of rocks on the landscape. But I think the fact that half of the named places are rocks is significant.

Marie was right, wasn't she?, when she said that almost "every rock" had a name! Thanks, Aakauraq!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I haven't had the "pleasure" . . . yet!

My sis just sent this to me today, who just received it from an old friend of hers. I've been feeling tired all day and a little bit stressed about life stuff - bills, family, work - but this laugh was just what the doctor ordered! You'll understand my reference about "I haven't had the pleasure yet" when you see what it's about! Anyway . . . apparently, this was from Dave Barry's column:

This is from newshound Dave Barry's colonoscopy journal:

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis . Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!'

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep,' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America 's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the moviPrep.
You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel movement may result.' This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep. The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?' How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinaril y I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand. There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' had to be the least appropriate.

'You want me to turn it up?' said Andy, from somewhere behind me. 'Ha ha,' I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling 'Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,' and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. Andy was looking down at me an d asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.
ABOUT THE WRITER> Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald. On the subject of Colonoscopies... Colonoscopies are no joke, but these comments during the exam were quite humorous..... A physician claimed that the following are actual comments made by his patients (predominately male) while he was performing their colonoscopies:

1. 'Take it easy, Doc. You're boldly going where
no man has gone before!

2. 'Find Amelia Earhart yet?'

3. 'Can you hear me NOW?'

4. 'Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?'

5. 'You know, in Arkansas , we 're now legally married.'

6. 'Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?'

7. 'You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out...'

8. 'Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!'

9. 'If your hand doesn't fit, you must quit!

10. 'Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.'

11. 'You used to be an executive at Enron, didn't you?'

12. 'God, now I know why I am not gay.'

And the best one of all.

13. 'Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?'

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No News Yet And Some Good Work News

Still waiting to hear from Dr. H or Dr. K about the next step - so I still don't know if I'll have an x-ray or a scan. That's okay - I'm not any particular hurry.

In the meantime, I attended an interesting talk on cognitive anthropology and then went to dinner with the guest speaker, Eugene Hunn, who has worked a lot on ethnoecological kinds of issues. He published a comparative study on placename densities back in 1994 (or was it 1995?). I kinda told him about this article I'm working on and he said he's interested in reading about it. Even gave me some suggestions about where to submit it for publication. I'll meet him and my colleague, Bryan, for breakfast tomorrow and I hope to ask him a few more questions - I may even show him the placename lists we've toiled with this past week and get some of his input.

Hmm, guess I better go double-check those numbers, huh? : )

Also heard that an article that I cowrote with an anthro grad student at UAF has been accepted for publication at Human Organization (the main journal for the Society for Applied Anthropology) pending some revisions. The revisions don't seem very onerous and in fact, the reviews seemed rather positive and had some good suggestions. Woo hoo!

This is when I realize just how much time the placenames project took - there was a lot of administration and organization with that. I seem to have more time for writing now. But I must say, all the time was worth it. We've been working on this project for five years now and I'm still not tired of the general topic (I was, however, tired of doing all the administrative stuff). It's like my dissertation - I worked on the research and writing of it for about three years - and I'm not tired of that either.

I love my job.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sigh . . . Why can't I ever be a simple case?

I need to fix my son dinner, so I will try to make this short.

I met with my plastic surgeon today to talk about reconstruction options and also so he can look at the wound.

FACT: The deeper open wound where the tissue expander popped through in August is still healing (I think) but it is very shallow. There is no soft tissue, other than this white plaque/scab, over the rib bone there.

FACT: I am still on an oral chemotherapy (Xeloda) regimen as well as Tykerb, Zometa, and Zoldex.

FACT: I am no longer a candidate for an implant on the right side as that tissue is too damaged after being radiated twice.

FACT: Surgeons don't like to do surgery on people who are immunosuppressed, i.e., people who are on any form of chemotherapy.

FACT: I have attained a "stable" status in terms of my cancer.

UNKNOWN: Whether or not I can have reconstruction on the right side.

UNKNOWN: The possibility exists that there is an infection in that rib bone that only has this scab over it. If I understand Dr. H correctly, if there is some sort of infection there, then that might keep that whole area from really healing. However, I do not have a fever and I do not have any other symptoms of an infection. The wound looks good and clean.

NEXT STEPS: An x-ray and/or some kind of scan to determine whether or not there is an infection in that rib bone. If so, I may require surgery to take out that bone in order to allow the rest of the bone and the tissue to heal. If I do have surgery, then Dr. H would do a lat flap (latisimus dorsi) flap procedure in order to bring in some soft tissue to cover the bone so it can heal. I may then also be able to have some small breast reconstruction on that side. I may have to go off of chemotherapy prior to surgery, but my question is whether or not that means all four of those drugs (Xeloda, Tykerb, Zometa, Zoladex) or just Xeloda. Xeloda is the only true chemotherapy drug I take. Tykerb is a targeted therapy, Zometa strengthens my bone, and Zoladex shuts down my ovary production. Maybe, just maybe, I only have to go off of Xeloda.

NEXT STEPS, Part 2: Keep monitoring the open wound. About half of the wound is healing. The half that is slower to heal is where the tissue expander poked through. If the wound plateaus and doesn't heal, then we look at surgery so that it can heal otherwise I risk getting a bone infection and I have to go off of chemo. If it does heal and if Dr. K (my oncologist) says it's okay for me to go off of chemo, then I may be able to have reconstruction.

So, it's a wait and see game. It never occurred to me that I could get a bone infection! I don't have any symptoms, but more than likely, there is some bacteria in that wound. It's not infected (we don't think) because I don't have a fever or have any other symptoms. The dressings I use there have antimicrobial properties which help keep things from getting infected. But if no soft tissue ever grows there, I run the chance of getting an infection since there is only a really thin superficial scab-like thing over the bone.

Dr. H, the plastic surgeon, isn't quite sure what to do with me as he hasn't had a patient who is taking oral chemotherapy. He and Dr. K have to talk. Dr. K was of the opinion that I couldn't have reconstruction but the reason he gave me was because of the damaged tissue in that area due to radiation. But Dr. H thought that it may also be due to having to go off of chemo.

Confused? I was, but I think I have my story straight. It's complicated. Why can't I/my body take the easy/simple solution?

Sigh . . .

It was a beautiful day out there today - probably in the mid-70s. I am relatively rested from my trip. I'm generally in a good mood. There is much that I'm thankful for! Thanks for your continued support everyone!