Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm Still a Puzzle

I had an appointment with a radiation oncologist yesterday. She basically said that she doesn't know what to do in my case and also that her inclination is to treat me more aggressively. The bottom line is that, in my case, the risks and benefits appear to be roughly the same and that is because we ultimately do not know whether or not they got all the cancer when I had the mastectomy in November. If they did get all the cancer, then radiation would probably do me more harm than good, especially since the right side tissue and chest wall have already received the maximum dose of radiation.

If they didn't get all the cancer, there is a chance that that cancer will spread to other parts of my body and since I can't take Herceptin (due to heart problems, see my post "I'm a 'Medical Puzzle' from a couple of weeks ago) to fight the cancer systematically (i.e., throughout my body), she feels that the benefits (getting rid of the cancer) outweigh the risks (more damage to my lung, which already has some damage from the previous radiation; even less elasticity to that right side or other skin problems; problems with the implant; etc.).

I have more or less decided against the radiation. Part of my reason for doing so is that for the past two weeks, there has been a bit of a rash under the right tissue expander. It's kinda red and splotchy, a bit warm (although it's warm on the left side, too) and there's some wrinkling of the skin. My first thought, of course, is that it could be inflammatory breast cancer, although some of the symptoms include swelling (which my less elastic breast tissue can't do) and an inverted nipple (which I no longer have). It could also be a skin infection post-surgery or maybe even a fungal infection or just the skin reacting to the tissue expander or radiated tissue reacting to being expanded. We just didn't know. At any rate, luckily my oncologist, Dr. Kenyon, is now in the same building as the radiation oncologist because both of them looked at the red, splotchy area. Although they really don't know what it is, they took a skin biopsy to rule out inflammatory breast cancer. I should know in the next day or two what it is and how to treat it.

In the meantime, I've been playing volleyball for the past couple of weeks and I must say that it's been good for me because it's causing me to stretch my chest more than I would otherwise. I will see my acupuncturist for the third time today. She started me on a five-mushroom blend last week - I take it in pill form - and at least three of them have anti-cancer properties. I have also had some stomach upset, mostly in the morning, and it seems to have happened when I take my vitamins and calcium in the morning on an empty stomach. I decided to look at how much iron I was taking - turns out that I was taking about 250% of the RDA of iron everyday, between my multi-vitamin and an iron pill! I may have been giving myself "iron overload" and that may have given me some stomach upset. I'd been taking iron because I am anemic - I've always been slightly anemic. And, when I looked at my lab results from last week, I am still slightly anemic - my red blood cell count was 3.80 and normal is 3.9-5.1 x10 6/uL. My hematocrit was 34 and normal is 36-46%. My hemoglobin, however, was normal. On the other hand,my platelets were slightly elevated - 438 and normal is 130-400 x10 3/uL. A high platelet count could cause more bruising and Dr. Havard said that Ibuprofen could cause me to bruise more easily, so maybe since I've been taking Ibuprofen pretty regularly for awhile, it's causing my platelets to be high? Anyway, things to look into for my overall health and maybe something to talk about with my acupuncturist this morning.

Hope you all have a good day!

1 comment:

mynameischarlene said...

legal shrooms? ha ha - bad joke.