One of the Alaska Native villages in Alaska lost power due to what they are calling a "line snap" - their power lines snapped together in high winds and freezing precipitation.
Anyway, an Alaska Native blogger I know, Rainey, posted the following:
They could use some help. I still have a roof over my head with nice comfy temperatures and there's lots of food in my cupboard. These poor folks are low on food and their houses are frozen and they can't live in them, so they're living in the school gym. I don't think they have power yet.
I also know that a King Island man, John Koezuna, is lost and may have been caught in a bad storm between Woolley Lagoon and Nome. Please pray for his safe return.
I have much to be thankful for. I'm going to send out a small donation tomorrow, I think. It feels good to help others, especially when I've been the recipient of help.
Speaking of being a recipient, I have received a few boxes in the mail in the last week or so. First, before Christmas, my friend in Hawaii sent me a hand-dyed scarf from Hawaii with some earrings made with a shell from New Zealand - they're beautiful! And, today, I had TWO boxes from Phyllis, who was the mom of a former boyfriend in the mid-1980s. Phyllis and I stayed in touch over the years - she was like a second mom to me when I was at UP. She sent me a handmade scarf and a hat, with an angel pin that she put there to look over me. I also received a box from the mom of someone I went to high school with - Linda and Billy hosted me and Eddie this past summer on Camano Island, during one of my trips to UW to participate in the clinical trial. She sent me four hats, a shawl, a lap robe, and three hats for Eddie.
So, even though my own news wasn't great today, I still have much to be thankful for. Thank you, Renee, Phyllis, and Linda & Billy for the wonderful and thoughtful gifts! Wow. I have a great variety to choose from now! Thank you! Love you all very much!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
One of the Alaska Native villages in Alaska lost power due to what they are calling a "line snap" - their power lines snapped together in high winds and freezing precipitation.
I've had Verizon as a cell phone provider for something like six years. But I found out that they have supported candidates and causes that I don't believe in. So, by using their service, I'm operating at cross-purposes with my own efforts. Here's one example:
And, in the 1999/2000 election, they donated about $2 million to the Republican Party. Here's the link:
This Huffington Post site shows that various Verizon franchises (I guess?) donated over $8,000 to Republicans, but some also donated $7,000 to Democrats. So, maybe CREDO left out an important fact in their website - that these major companies donate to both parties.
On the other hand, I do know that CREDO donates solely to causes I believe in. In fact, earlier today, I had a certain amount of votes that I could use to choose which organizations I wanted CREDO to support. I like having that kind of choice.
So, I made the switch. I can't control who or what Verizon gives their money to. But I do have a voice in the donations that CREDO makes.
I wrote this post because I'm trying to make sure that I support or pay into companies that support causes I believe in. It's like not buying products that actively cause cancer. I want to make sure that my money is used in a way that is in line with my values. I wanted to share that with my readers.
I didn't write it in order to get money - that wasn't my motive. However, there is a perk for me if someone I know switches to CREDO. So, if one of my readers decides to switch to CREDO, I would appreciate it if you mentioned my name. I think you also need to give them my CREDO member number - if you do, I'll get a $50 check. So, yes, I guess in the end, it is a shameless plug. But there's no pressure.
Mainly, my point is to ask you to try to make sure that you support companies that support causes you believe in, whether you're a liberal or a conservative. I think it's good to be aware of things like that.
As you all know, I had these new satellite tumors growing in and around the wound. I counted as many as 17 or 18 today. So, I knew my CEA tumor marker would go up. I thought it would by a few points, but instead it went up to 17.1.
Crap. Lost a lot of ground in the last month. My theory again is that Abraxane worked as long as I had a bunch of Herminator-2 cells running around. However, Abraxane is a non-discriminating chemotherapy - it kills bad as well as good cells. So, my lovely Herminator-2 cells have been knocked down by Abraxane - a couple of weeks ago, it was about 1/3 of what it was at the beginning of October. Today, my white blood cell count went back up - it doubled from two weeks ago - but it's still not the strength that's needed.
So, it was necessary to bring in something new - I'm glad we added Herceptin today with the new CEA number. I'm not out of the woods yet. I need to recommit to not eating sugar or processed foods and to practicing qigong and meditation more. I need to do whatever I can to help my body knock out the cancer. I think the high CEA today was a message to tell me to not rest on my laurels . . . or to rely too much on just one thing, like the Abraxane.
It also means starting to say no again to things at work, including any kind of long distance travel. The farthest I want to go is Hawaii or Alaska. I need to stay close to home and rest. I need to keep my life as unstressful as possible. A couple of new things cropped up at work today and it made me feel overwhelmed. So, it's time to retreat.
I expect that I won't sleep well tonight. I might use the time to write and get a bit ahead with work projects. So, I got a plan.
Here's the CEA history:
Anyway, here is 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
11/28/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
12/30/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL
3/2/2009 - 1.4 ng/mL
4/8/2009 - 1.6 ng/mL
5/5/2009 - 1.9 ng/mL
6/4/2009 - 3.0 ng/mL
7/2/2009 - 3.7 ng/mL
8/3/2009 - 4.2 ng/mL
8/31/2009 - 5.1 ng/mL
10/2/2009 - 5.7 ng/mL (or was it 5.8?)
11/2/2009 - 7.6 ng/mL
11/30/2009 - 10.5 ng/mL
12/28/2009 - 13.2 ng/mL
3/8/2010 - 22.9 ng/mL
4/22/2010 - 28.9 ng/mL
6/7/2010 - 46.3 ng/mL
7/19/2010 - 44.3 ng/mL
8/19/2010 - 50.9 ng/mL
10/05/2010 - 41.6 ng/mL
11/04/2010 - 7.1 ng/mL
12/03/2010 - 3.4 ng/mL
12/30/2010 - 17.1 ng/mL
Sigh. No rest for the wicked, huh?
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I talked to Dr. K today about what our next course of action is. He tried to get hold of Dr. D at UW all day today, to no avail. I also saw Dr. F, the surgeon, today, as well as the wound care nurse.
The wound care nurse saw the tissue forming in the wound and said that it did look cancerous - it's bumpy and doesn't look healthy at all.
I showed Dr. F the new nodule I felt yesterday - it's growing behind my armpit/shoulder, so it appears as if the cancer is trying to move to my back. He felt it was new since two weeks ago.
Dr. K definitely feels that we should add something to the mix - and with the new nodule, I agree (I think I have a total of 15-16 nodules in and around the wound). I asked if it should be Herceptin and he said that that would make sense.
So, tomorrow, when I go in for treatment, I will have Abraxane, Zometa, and Herceptin. Herceptin makes sense - if Abraxane is knocking out those lovely Herminator-2 cells (which attack the Her-2 positive cancer), then my arsenal doesn't have the tools to fight the Her-2 positive cancer. Herceptin can do that. Maybe that's the ingredient that will knock out the nodules for good.
In other words, it's an A to Z day tomorrow - or maybe now I should call it an "AHZ" Day or a "ZAH" Day or a "HAZ" day. Hey, I like "HAZ", short for "hazard". This combo will be a hazard to the chemo cells. Yeeeaaaahhh, I like that. Okay, HAZ, time to do your stuff! Let's knock our these nodules once and for all!
Monday, December 27, 2010
Yesterday, Eddie and I drove to Seattle. We stopped by the Old Spaghetti Factory in Portland for lunch and then played in their mini-arcade.
Then, we drove the rest of the way to Seattle. We got here about 4:45 and promptly relaxed. I even had pizza delivered. My sis and her family arrived by about 8:46. Eddie was glad to see them as was I. I guess they ran into traffic.
This morning, we went to the Pacific Science Center so Eddie could see Mindbender Mansion. He loved this exhibit, by the way. Kenna (my niece), Eddie, and I did all the puzzles on the clue card and were inducted into the Mindbender Mansion Wall of Fame. Eddie also loved the Spelling Fever. We watched the IMAX film, Legends of Flight in 3D. It was a cool show, even if it was a big cheerleading show by Boeing, who probably sponsored the film. Very cool graphics.
Rena and Henk wanted to watch the Blazer game and I managed to find a sports bar across the street from the Space Needle and near our hotel -gotta live smartphones!- and then after dinner, I took the kiddos to the Space Needle and we went to the top. It was chilly and rainy, but very cool to see the lights. Someone had a huge peace sign on Queen Anne hill. I also lived the big snow globe white lights at the valet entrance to the Space Needle. Very pretty. I even took the kids to the gift shop and we all found souvenirs. And the Blazers won the game. Then the kids even went to the hot tub.
My legs are tired and achey, my lower back is achey, and maybe I should've stayed home and saved the money (even though I budgeted for it). But you know, it was worth it. I enjoyed doing something fun with Eddie -I mean, Eddie and Kenna and I tested our wits at Mibdbender Mansion which I enjoy - and with my family. I guess I just think that I go through so much crap that I deserve to do something fun. And I want to make fun memories with Eddie because, well, you never know.
BTW, Eddie tied the top score at the Spelling Fever. That was worth it right there.
Life is still good, even with satellite tumors. Life is good. And since it was my off week from Abraxane, I had enough energy to enjoy my time here. Yay!
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Christmas was fun - dad did a tremendous job getting all the food and the house ready beforehand. I "slaved" over more silly rhymes as Eddie and his cousins do a little treasure hunt.
My own Christmas was a "warm" one: I received a hat, a fleece jacket, a couple of scarves, and a comforter for the bed, plus some jewelry. Fun stuff!
Eddie's big gift from Santa was a Nintendo DSi XL. He loves it; plus he got some gift certificates, games, a book called "The Day My Butt Went Psycho", plus some puzzles/brain teasers books. In other words, he was spoiled!
We are leaving later today to go to Seattle for a couple of days. My sister and her family are joining us. We'll be staying near the Space Needle because Eddie wants to go to the Pacific Science Center, to see an exhibit called Mindbender's Mansion. Harry Potter is also showing. We'll go there tomorrow.
It's rainy and blustery here today. I will be driving solo, but I plan to take my time. My niece will ride with us as we may leave earlier than my sister (she's sleeping, having just worked the night shift). We'll stop and have lunch in Portland and maybe stop at Great Wolf Lodge so the kiddos can play in the Arcade there.
Yep, it's definitely a kid trip. But maybe Henk will hang out with the kiddos while we go shopping . . . or maybe find a casino? Ha!
Friday, December 24, 2010
Eddie is with his dad for a while today, but he'll be home around mid-afternoon. My family will be here by about 5pm and we'll have snacks set up (one of the favorite ways my family likes to eat) and probably around 6 or 7pm, we'll exchange our gifts.
Eddie gets to stay with me so that Santa can visit our house. He'll stay here until mid-morning and then he'll be with his dad until 6pm. That's when we'll eat dinner. I think we're doing a non-traditional dinner this year. For some reason, turkey and ham just doesn't sound very good.
I have a few things yet to do today - making a necklace, a few more rhymes, and then transferring the photos and contacts to our new phone. (I switched to CREDO Mobile - I found out that both Verizon and AT&T donated money to Tea Party candidates and other politicians that don't support a woman's right to choose or who don't support climate change legislation - plus, in the end, it'll cost about the same, but I will get $100 per phone back in a couple of months. CREDO supports progressive causes.)
I didn't sleep long enough last night - between the caffeine keeping me up too late last night and a cat wanting out of my room early this morning - so I hope at some point to be able to rest.
As I start my day, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Love to you from me and my family!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
A couple of years ago, I bought a little house for Eddie that has 25 little doors in it, for the 25 Days of Christmas. Usually, for the first few days, I will put pieces of gum or candy, or coins or dollar bills in the little doors.
But then the gifts get a little bigger. I got the bright idea this year to go to the Dollar Tree and I found a few things that I thought he would like. But I can't hide the bigger things in the little doors, so then I make up a silly rhyme that tells Eddie what the thing is and where to find it in the house, so it's a treasure hunt of sorts. It's the first thing he does when he gets up in the morning and the last thing he reminds me to do before bed. Trust me, I need the reminder because I have forgotten to do it once or twice and wake up in the middle of the night to write the rhyme and hide the gift!
Anyway, I share with you some of the silly rhymes:
Already this Christmas, we're on Day #9
And, if you are lucky, we'll all be just fine
I've put the two gifts in the room where we dine
The first is a fun and quite festive candy
The second you scratch if a quarter is handy
Look by the snowmen, quite jolly and dandy!
For Day #10, you get a few jokes
I'm just thankful they don't take egg yolks
You can find them in something you put your cold foots
It's in your room in a pair of snow boots
The boots are next to your toy box
Not in the drawer with all your socks
It's too bad Day 11 was full of bad luck
When you scatch it, I hope we get more than a buck
The more you scratch, the less our troubles
It's a favorite of ours, the one with the bubbles
You'll find it way up on top of a shelf
It's near the houses and lights that are friendly to elves
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells is a song that everyone sings
Gift #12 is for you, a magical set of rings
Please look inside the refrigerator door
For a very fun gift I found at the store
So, your present today is not a fable
But I dare you to solve it if you're able
Don't look for this gift on the TV cable
And, I wouldn't suggest that you ask Mable
Find the clue to your search is on this label
Look for your gift below the coffee table
It's Day 14 and I want to say Yoi!
Because I'm a weirdo and you're a boy!
Your gift today is a fun combo toy
It's sure to bring you lots of joy
Go into the room with lots of flushes
It's under the sink, not with the plushes!
And now for your hunting pleasure
A way for you to find buried treasure
Hmm, but maybe it's all a big trick
So make sure it's a fun person you pick
The person should have a sense of humor
Because this gift is hidden, according to rumor,
Up in one of the Christmas stockings,
So, hurry up, the clock is tick tockings.
Wow, can you believe it's Day 16?
Your gift can be something hard to clean
I must be weird, you know what I mean?
For giving you slime, not a jelly bean
The slime can be found inside my shoe
I guess I like to spoil my boogaloo
Today, here's a way to prepare for up north
A book of puzzles and quizzes for you to go forth
To Mindbender's Mansion at Pacific Science Center
(Let's hope we don't get into a fender bender!)
The book can be found under the tree
Now hurry and find it before you have to go pee.
Now there are only 6 more days
I hope you like the way it plays
It's one of those things that has a spinner
It's in the room where we cook dinner
It's hanging out with a clementine
I hope you find it, son of mine
Today's gift is a magic deck
To find it, you need to stretch your neck
Pretend that you are a tall giraffe
I promise that none of us will laugh
I hid the deck above a curtain
It's in my room, of this I"m certain
For you, a bath is nothing but troubles
But I think you'll like finding these bubbles
This gift you'll find beneath my hats
I had to hide them from our kitty cats!
Hooray! For today is Day 21!
Let's hope the day brings all kinds of fun
Don't worry, I didn't get you a hen
For you, it's a black and orange Pen-Guin
It's in honor of Awesome 46792
Tucked inside the sleeping bag blue
Now you know rhyming clues is hard
As well as deciding where to place the cards
Some players and the champion fight
Yes, you guessed it, it's Poker Night!
On the bottom of my bedside table
Find the tissue, if you're able
The Days of Christmas are nearing their end
LIke your fingers, this present can bend
Amazingly, they also stretch
But if you want them, you'll have to fetch
If you haven't guess by now, they're silly bands
Inside my jacket you should put your hands
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Happy Christmas Week!
I have been trying to take it easy. Yesterday, I didn't have any appointments and only ran an errand or two with Eddie. We wanted to go to Wacky Bounce, but they were closed because of a private party.
Eddie helped me make up some silly rhymes for a Christmas treasure hunt for my niece and nephew. I also worked on a couple of necklaces and relaxed in my room.
Today, I see the wound care nurse - I've been using turmeric mixed with aloe vera gel on the wound and I think that it has stopped draining as much as it was. It'll be interesting to see what she says.
I do need to go into the office to fax a couple of things and talk about a grant index for a few minutes. Also, I want to pick up a couple of references . . .
BTW, still dealing with that difficult person. I'm having trouble letting go of the whole situation because that person is being unreasonable. It seems the option is to either not say anything and be professional or stand up to him. However, I think there will be some resolution soon . . .
Then, after lunch, I will pick up my niece and nephew and then I will take them and Eddie to Eugene to play laser tag. I'll bring a book to read.
All in all, a good day planned.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
A few weeks ago, I went to a local craft fair and found what the creator calls "Neckies". They are made of fleece and button around your neck. She makes her own buttons, too.
I wanted to share the website for them because I bought one and find it to be nice and warm on your neck, an important consideration if you're bald and not wearing a wig. It's comfortable, too!
Anyway, the creator is Gail Krenecki and her website is:
Monday, December 20, 2010
I saw my oncologist earlier today and showed him the wound with the satellite lesions. He was a bit disappointed because he had heard that my tumor markers had really gone down dramatically. But he agreed that I had plateaued - or rather that these satellite tumors are apparently resistant to the Abraxane. So, we will change it up again.
I told him my theory about not having t-cells to fight the cancer along with Abraxane. He will talk to Dr. D at UW about this, I think, to make sure I'm telling the story correctly. I wondered if maybe I go off Abraxane and allow my lovely Herminator-2 cells to regenerate. He didn't really think that that was advisable. I don't blame him.
He will also talk to Dr. D in Seattle about using Imiquomod with Abraxane, although it's his understanding that Imiquomod (an ointment) usually works only on superficial lesions whereas my lesions are deeper in the skin tissue.
We also brought up other options. One is to add Herceptin back into the mix with Abraxane. Another is to just do Herceptin. And, the fourth option is to do surgery.
So, a variety of potential courses of action. I'm okay because I know we'll do something. I do have faith that by the time we knock out those satellite lesions, by whatever method, I'll be in some kind of remission. So, just a few more months . . .
I'm feeling tired and icky today - diarrhea to be perfectly frank - which is probably mostly due to the fact that I had an Abraxane treatment three days ago.
The lack of sleep, though, is catching up to me, too. Friday night, after the treatment, I may have only had about 5 hours sleep. On Saturday, it was about 7 - stayed up too late (after 11pm) and then couldn't get back to sleep. Last night, I went to bed at 10:30pm and woke up at 3am (a good stretch for me), went back to sleep and then woke up again at 5:30am and couldn't get back to sleep.
You see, I've been dealing with some professional poliics from afar. I don't think I can divulge too many details because if I do, people might be able to figure out who I'm referring to. Suffice it to say that this person's (a man, if you must know, who is part of that old boys' network) personal opinions about a situation (including root case of the problem and the solution) is coloring whether or not he can give me and my colleague an objective opinion. He seems to be missing the point and he wants my colleague and I to focus on issues that detract from our main point. I personally feel like he's a bully. But no one seems to want to call him on his s*#t. So, he continues to get away with it. Pisses me off.
This is about the third or fourth academic I've known who have tended to make trouble (whether intentionally or not, but mostly intentionally) for their colleagues. But since the trouble or issue usually happens in one-on-one situations, the other non-difficult colleagues assume that it is just a personality difference between them and the difficult person so they don't say anything to anyone. The end result is that the difficult person goes to the next colleague and makes life difficult for them. It wasn't until after the difficult person made life difficult for me that I found out from others how that same difficult person made life hard for others.
But, you see, in the name of professionalism and collegiality, we don't talk about these individuals. The end result that they continue to do things in a way that is unprofessional and often unethical. They get away with this behavior, all because the non-difficult people think that it is just a result of a personality conflict they have with the difficult person.
I, for one, believe in telling it like it is because I don't want to cause anyone else to have to deal with the difficult person's BS. But unfortunately, that's not professional.
In my current situation, I feel like my hands are tied. I can't do anything about it (like forcing this guy out of his position of power), so I did the only thing I could which was to respond, calmly, and tell him that he is missing the point - I responded to his BS by telling him that I am not going to include his issues in my revisions because his issues are irrelevant. It's apparent that no one else will do anything about it. My colleague can't because her own position is tenuous. I can because I am in a secure position.
This is why I can't be an administrator or involved in politics. I don't have the patience for these kinds of games.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
As expected, I didn't sleep well Friday night - that was due to the Abraxane. So, I spent most of Saturday at home. It took me a few hours to wrap presents, in-between watching movies, of course. Mom and dad had wrapped their presents a few days ago, so now our living room is even more festive with presents under the tree!
I also brought a meal over to a colleague and visited with her and her husband.
In the evening, I changed my toenail color and put a nail strengthener on my fingernails, which continue to chip and split. I found a dark green color at Freddies the other day that I'm using on my toes. Dad thinks it looks more like teal, which it does in some lights. It has sparkles. I like it!
I also put a ribbon inside the wool felt hat I bought for myself a couple of weeks ago. The wool made my head itch. Now, I hope that it won't. It's not a professional stitching job, but it will do the trick.
Today, I have to run a few errands, but otherwise, I plan to play with beads and jewelry. Also, make a couple of final preparations for heading to Seattle next week for a couple of days. Eddie wants to go to the Mindbender's Mansion exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. They also, coincidentally, have a Harry Potter exhibit as well. I think we're heading up with my sister's family.
I think I'm having coffee later with a friend.
In other words, a relaxing day. I didn't get as much sleep as I wanted . . . the only thing marring a good restful weekend is an academic bully. But we won't talk about it here. I'm putting that aside until after New Year's.
Since I wrote my last post, I have had both acupuncture and an Abraxane treatment.
I told my acupuncturist that the satellite tumors aren't going away and I have more of them, plus the whole shoulder joint feels heavy and swollen. So, the acupuncture treatment was designed, in part, to get the energy flowing better. She also gave me an herb that helps with lymph swelling and tumors. I already have greater range of motion in that shoulder and it feels less heavy and less painful. Yay! Plus, I'm doing qigong. The herb also seems to have helped the acne flare-up because it helps remove toxic heat. My face is clearing up!
In addition, I mixed turmeric with aloe vera gel and have been applying that to the wound; I also applied a little bit to the satellite tumors that I see. We'll see what happens with those . . .
As for Abraxane, my total neutrophils count was below the threshold, so I only got half a dose. I hope this means that I'll have a better chance of growing Herminator-2 cells in the next couple of weeks.
So, I'm feeling better. Have a good Sunday!
Friday, December 17, 2010
In order to save time, and also in an effort to save trees, I opted not to enclose a letter in my Christmas cards this year. Instead, I referred people to my blog for the Christmas letter. So, what's been going on in my life this year?
First, my parents and my youngest brother moved in with me for financial reasons. It's been very nice to have them around because now they take care of all the food shopping and cooking and they clean the main parts of the house and Dad does the yard work. Scotty is our tech-guy who manages our electronics. Of course, adding three adults, one yippy dog, and a cat to our household has its moments: we've had to learn how to live as a community again. We are still trying to downsize our stuff - to me, it feels cluttered. I admit to owning a lot of this "stuff", too. A lot of stuff can accumulate over 46 years. We're still learning, but for the most part, it's good. Eddie, I think, enjoys having all these people around.
Second, I found out about and participated in a clinical trial at the University of Washington, with the Tumor Vaccine Group. It was a form of immunotherapy; they gave me a vaccine, which caused my body to create t-cells (Herminator-2 cells), which were then extracted, grown in a lab, and returned to me. I made nine trips to Seattle from April to September. I did get donations for these trips (thanks to those who donated) and also hotel stays and gas from the American Cancer Society, or I couldn't have afforded it. But my cancer progressed - satellite lesions around the main tumor in my left armpit - so I started Abraxane in October. I've had amazing results, with the tumor dying in the armpit and presumably everyone else. My tumor marker (the CEA) went from about 50 in September to 3.4 in early December. I'm bald and I have some fatigue and digestive issues, but for the most part, it's doable. Unfortunately, I think I've plateaued and I have satellite lesions still, which I think is due to the fact that my white blood cell count, which was 6.9 (whatever the measure was) in October is down to 2.4 today. According to Dr. D from UW, the Abraxane works by signaling my body that the cancer is there and giving it a chemical signature so that the cancer looks like a foreign object. My body will then send the t-cells in to the cancer cells to kill it. If I have roughly 1/3 of the white blood cells running around, it makes sense that I've plateaued - not as many soldiers around to kill the cancer. I think I've complicated the process by working hard at work and not resting as much so my body can rejuvenate . . . but the next two weeks, I plan to rest rest rest. I'm more or less caught up at work.
Third, Eddie is doing well in school. For his 10th birthday, we had a "Wipe Out Kids Edition" birthday party which he thoroughly enjoyed. Several of his classmates, the neighbor girls, and his cousins joined us for the obstacle course. He's mostly a delight, although trying to get him to do artwork for school projects is like pulling teeth!
I've found air travel to be a little challenging this year - it just tires me out so when I start out tired, I feel more fatigued. I went to Victoria in January for work, Alaska in July for research, and September to Seattle for the clinical trial. We were fortunate to take little trips to southern Oregon in February, Bend in March, Seattle for the clinical trials, Lincoln City in the summer, Bend again in October for just a night, and a couple more short trips to the coast. My family has joined us on several of these trips. The local trips have been enjoyable!
So, in the end, in terms of the cancer, I'm doing much better than I started the year at. My tumor marker is lower than it has been in 18 months. The house is full of people. I still have lots of support. Eddie is doing well. Let's hope 2011 is even better!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. And, a very big thank you to all who have helped us out with donations in the last year and also a big thank you to everyone who send us blessings, positive energy, and prayers! Happy Holidays!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The last couple of days have been kinda tough. I'm worried about the satellite lesions as well as my finances.
As I said in one of my posts yesterday, both the wound care nurse and the surgeon felt that I've plateaued and/or the cancer in the skin in the wound is growing again and that Abraxane may not be as effective as it had been. That's not the kind of news one wants. But it confirmed what I've been feeling for the last week or so. I also feel as if my body is not able to clear the toxins from the chemo as well as it had been - my kidneys were achey as were my leg muscles. So, my acupuncture treatment today was partly geared toward removing the toxins, partly toward giving me energy and partly toward supporting my immune system to fight the tumors. Afterwards, I feel as if a big weight was lifted off my shoulders and I felt happy. I actually felt quite chipper. I finished a lot of paperwork at work today - the final report at NSF, the IRB close out, a change of grade for a student whose final paper got lost in email, and I updated my CV. Yay!
I also realized, as I lay on the acupuncture table, why I have been feeling conflicted about talking about my finances. A couple of friends have asked if there was any way they could help. I was not sure how to answer.
On the one hand, my medical expenses have been well over $5,000 this year. This month, for instance, I've spent about $400 in acupuncture treatments. I'll get reimbursed, eventually, about $200 from insurance (they pay 70% of the actual treatment, but not the herbs). But there have been about $60 in unreimbursed acupuncture treatments and $140 in herbs. The five-mushroom blend that I take is about $65 - and three of the mushrooms have anti-cancer properties. There are herbs that help me sleep, help with digestion, boost my immunity, and for energy. I also had my out-of-pocket expenses, plus travel to Seattle (and a couple of trips to Portland for my son), plus I've had to get 2 crowns replaced ($800 out of pocket) because cancer treatment affect the level of saliva in my mouth, which means that bacteria can thrive and so I ended up with cavities under the existing crowns. While I had help with some of my expenses to Seattle, which covered about 2/3 of the expenses, I still had about $750 or more in out-of-pocket expenses. That represents about 12% of my total take-home pay this year. (I just realized one reason why I'm not paying down my HELOC as fast as I might like - a lot of my discretionary money is going toward medical bills.)
On the other hand, I have splurged on myself - buying hats and scarves, taking little trips to the Coast or to Central Oregon, buying myself a Mother's Day gift, etc., stuff for the house. So, obviously I can afford to do those kinds of things which some people might consider to be luxuries, I obviously do not need to ask readers for any donations. In other words, if I scrimped and saved and didn't spend money on things like I have, then maybe I wouldn't be as stressed out about my finances like I am. It's my fault so therefore I should just tighten my belt.
So, when people offer to help me financially, I don't feel like I can ethically accept money from them because if I can afford to buy myself a hat or a pair of pants, then I don't need the money after all. That's why I feel conflicted. Plus, in our society, unless things are really bad, it's not right to ask for money. I am much better off than a lot of people.
This is why I love acupuncture. I feel lighter and happier today. In fact, after my treatment, my left shoulder and upper arm (which had been feeling heavy) felt lighter and healthier. I plan to start putting a turmeric/aloe vera gel paste on the wound since turmeric has anticancer properties. I also realized why I felt conflicted about the finances. I'd like to ask for money, but I don't feel like I should ask for money because I have splurged on myself. Just realizing why I am conflicted makes me feel better! I want to thank my acupuncturist for helping me today! Thanks, Brodie!
Man, having cancer is complicated! Isn't it?
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
In other news, my son's school (the upper grades) is having a Christmas Program. We'll be leaving the house in about 20 minutes or so. It should be fun. He's the first narrator.
Eddie and I worked on his Social Studies chart this evening - talk about pulling teeth! I'm glad that the worst part of it is completed. He now needs to finish filling in thee parts of the chart. But he can do that at school.
I had lunch with Heather, today, of My Xeloda fame. She also paid for lunch which was very sweet of her. Thank you, Heather! Local Boyz was our choice! Yum! I ran errands to Michaels and Border Books this afternoon. Chatted with a colleague about indigenous cultures and reviving them. So, an enjoyable afternoon.
Tomorrow, I have acupuncture first thing in the morning. Then, I will write my final report to NSF and do the IRB close out.
Then, I'm done until January 3. I think I need a break. Relax. Enjoy the holiday. Have fun and put off any treatment decisions until next week.
I'll finish my Christmas cards this evening. Yay!
I saw both the wound care nurse and the surgeon today. They both agree with me that they feel that the whole area under my armpit is not improving with this cycle of Abraxane.
My wound care nurse tried to remove what looked like it might be slough, or dead tissue, from the deep part of the wound. However, when she tried, it would start bleeding. If it was dead tissue, it wouldn't bleed. It looks unusual, too, so she suspects that it's cancer.
The surgeon looks at the wound and he felt that the whole area - particularly in the back of the arm where most of the satellite lesions are - felt hard again, meaning that there is probably cancer throughout the area.
Not the greatest news one wants to hear. On the other hand, I'm glad that we're all monitoring the situation like we are so we can do something about sooner rather than later.
At the moment, here's my plan: first, talk to Dr. K and ask him to talk to Dr. D at UW about maybe prescribing Imiquomod for the skin mets. I see Dr. K next Monday and will broach the topic with him.
If he'd rather go another route, then it looks like surgery will be the next consideration.
I tend to think that since Abraxane has knocked out those lovely Herminator-2 cells, I no longer have both working together to knock out the cancer. So, it makes me wonder again if I should, perhaps, go off Abraxane for a few weeks and allow my body to regenerate Herminator-2 cells and then go back on it.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
In the last week or so, I began to think that I've reached a treatment plateau. I say this because in the last couple of weeks I have had some new satellite lesions that have cropped up around the wound and they don't seem to be shrinking or disappearing. In fact, a couple seem bigger, but that may be due to inflammation (which can be a good thing - a sign that my immune system is sending Herminator-2 cells there to do battle). I think it is inflammation because my whole shoulder joint is feeling tight and swollen and is becoming more achey. But maybe the satellite lesions are bigger because they are growing - we just don't know for sure. In the end, the dramatic changes and reductions in the tumors that I had in October and into November seem to be slowing down. Darnit!
I think I'm reaching a plateau with Abraxane because I don't have as many white blood cells - the total numbers of white blood cells is about 1/3 (or a bit more) than what they were before I started Abraxane. So there are less Herminator-2 cells running around killing the cancer cells. I had one idea which I brought to my doc's office, which was to let me go off Abraxane for a few weeks and allow the Herminator-2 cells to grow again. But as my oncologist's nurse practitioner staed, we don't know that that would work, so I risk tumor progression whereas we do know Abraxane is working at some level.
Then, to top it off, my side effects, which were relatively minor to begin with (digestive issues, acne) seem to be getting worse. The fatigue is about the same and of course I'm still bald. But the constipation seems to be lasting longer, and over the last week, my kidneys were achey, which tells me that my body is finding harder to flush the toxic chemicals out of my body. The herbs are helping - my acupuncturist put me on a new one last week, but it took me a couple of days to figure out the best way to take it. She said not to take it in capsule form, but to either swallow the powder with warm water or to steep it as a tea over night. By the time I got into a new habit with steeping it overnight, I was constipated. My face has also been breaking out quite consistently in the last week.
So, I'm already thinking of what to do next or one option is to add something to my treatment regimen in addition to the Abraxane. The UW Tumor Vaccine Group has another clinical trial for skin mets, which combines Abraxane with Imiquomod, which is an ointment that has been used with melanoma (I think). I don't want to travel to Seattle, however. I would have to be in Seattle for the first treatment for at least a week. I can't afford that right now.
Dr. D. from UW did say that Dr. K would be able to administer Imiquomod here as it is an FDA approved drug. I see Dr. K next week, so my plan is to have him call Dr. D and see if maybe I could add this to my regimen. That is, of course, if he agrees that the satellite lesions are not disappearing.
I also see the surgeon and the wound care nurse tomorrow. I will say that the overall wound is healing, slowly but surely, it's just the satellite tumors that are worrying me. Maybe the surgeon or the nurse have some ideas . . .
It could be that I'm already becoming tired of Abraxane. I am starting to get tired of being bald and the acne and the digestive issues are annoying This Friday, I will have finished three cycles of Abraxane. I will be halfway done. I think the weekly schlep to get an infusion is getting to me - even though the nurses are great. But I get tired, both literally and figuratively, of not sleeping. I think that as long as I had such an impressive response, the side effects seemed minimal, but as they get a little bit worse and I'm not responding like I was, it's getting old.
I also admit that the work stress has been greater lately - trying to put in an application for release time, a grant proposal, and changes to an article, not to mention teaching the class, grading papers, and now recommendation letters, etc. - it's been a really busy few weeks. Productive, but stressful because of deadlines. I wanted to get another grant proposal out this week, but it's not working out that way. I think it's time to lower my expectations and take a break for a couple of weeks. The point is that the work stress may be contributing to my decreased response with Abraxane.
And, there's financial stress. I keep getting statements from Samaritan Health Services - even though I've met my out-of-pocket maximum, their billing office has consistently forgotten to post an insurance adjustment on my account, so each month, I get bills for $100 or $200 or $300. This means I have to call them, tell them they are missing an adjustment, and verify that I don't owe them money. To top it off, I had my teeth cleaned a few weeks ago; usually insurance pays for this, but it turns out that my dental insurance will only pay a maximum amount each year. I reached that maximum after my crown this summer, so after the fact, I found out that I owed $200 for a teeth cleaning. So, I paid that bill, which meant less for Christmas spending. I also admit to spending more than intended for Christmas . . . so money is tight. I haven't been extravagant. I bought some presents for the Giving Tree tags. I also went to the coast for the night last weekend. I didn't spend much there, but I guess it all adds up. A couple of months ago, I think I figured out that I've spent about $5,000 in medical expenses this year. My $1,000 out of pocket, plus the trips to Seattle (even though I got about $1500 in donations, I probably spent maybe an additional $750 or so), plus over $1,000 in dental, plus acupuncture, wound care dressings, herbs and supplements and mileage. It all adds up.
Okay, enough whining. Time to live in the moment and enjoy the holiday. Let go of stress. I need my immune system to be working at an optimal level. Stress doesn't help!
Friday, December 10, 2010
This week continues to be busy - both at work and holiday happenings. I had two appointments on Wednesday morning and then did a bit of work in the afternoon. I picked up Eddie from school and rested, and then I went to a holiday gathering at the Center for the Humanities and then to the OSU Bookstore sale for faculty and staff. I am done with my holiday shopping; well, except for Eddie's Secret Santa gift at school.
The holiday party at the Center for the Humanities was fun - good food and wine - because I was able to chat with colleagues I didn't know. It's always good to get to know other people.
The books at the bookstore sale were 30% off as was the clothing. I found a couple of Giving Tree gifts and then found a pasta cookbook which was on sale for $5 and with the 30% discount, it was $3.50! I love that kind of sale! Dad says he wants to start cooking more pastas . . .
Yesterday, I had a free morning, so I finished up a course proposal and graded all but the last assignment for my class. All that's left now is grading the last assignment, which I hope to do today and get my grades in.
I had lunch with this man I met through match.com yesterday - we had lunch last Saturday and it went pretty well. It was a fun conversation on Saturday, discussing everything from astronomy to reincarnation to meditation to diet to my work. Yesterday, we talked more about his work and autism. I'm not sure when we might get together again . . . at the very least, our conversations are interesting!
The Dean's office had a holiday party so I visited with a few people there and then some of my female colleagues and I got together for Happy Hour. Really interesting conversation about politics on campus. I stayed out too late - didn't get home until about 7:45pm. So, I'm tired today.
Just got my labs back and my blood counts are all good, so I'll be getting Abraxane today. After grading some papers and making travel plans for Hawaii in February, I plan to pack for an overnight trip to the Coast. It's my friend's birthday. My friend, her dog Shika, Eddie, and I are driving over after school today. We're going to Florence and the plan is to go to Lincoln City tomorrow to take Eddie to the children's arcade at Chinook Winds, but we're supposed to get another visit from the Pineapple Express - i.e., lots of rain that is apparently from Hawaii due to La Nina - so we'll see if the weather cooperates. The coast is supposed to get 3-5 inches of rain in the next day or two. It may cause landslides or washouts on the road. I'll monitor the situation and see what happens . . .
Well, I guess I better do some work. I want to avoid grading papers . . . but the sooner I finish them, the freer I'll feel!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I've had a busy few days.
I couldn't sleep well on Friday night - thanks to the steroids - so I was tired on Saturday. I relaxed a bit on Sat., then had a date for lunch, then it was home again to rest. Even though I was tired, though, I had some work to do. I had som edits to do for a co-authored article, then I drafted an application for research release time and wrote up a blurb for the King Island website for a newsletter. I even typed up everything.
Got a decent night's sleep on Saturday night. I decided since I had worked all afternoon and evening on Saturday that Sunday was a day of no work. So, mom and I picked out some gifts for two tags I got from Eddie's school's Giving Tree. I also had to return a pair of pants I bought for Eddie that were too big. Then, Eddie's dad dropped him off at Kohl's and then we went home. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening beading and we also watched movies. Harry Potter movies were on one of the satellite channels and then dad got the Sorceror's Apprentice. That was fun.
On Monday, I edited the release time application and got the necessary signatures and submitted it to the Research Office, then I typed up a letter of support for a colleague, and then edited various pieces of the grant proposal - and then that got submitted! Yay!
I also had a faculty meeting on Monday afternoon. We were trying to figure out what the new chain of command was - and who was responsible for what - but in the end, I don't think much got settled. As far as I'm concerned, it's out of my control. If there is anything I need to do, I just ask before I do it. That way, I'm covered. I figure I'll wait for the dust to settle and not get too stressed out about things. Keep a low profile, in other words.
Didn't sleep as much as I wanted last night and we got up early to go to Shriner's Hospital - Eddie had an appointment. In the end, we're not going to do anything although we may, in the future, do surgery to stabilize his right foot. We finished earlier than expected, then looked around downtown, had lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings (where Eddie played a trivia game), and then spent three hours at OMSI. We all enjoyed our time there! We didn't get home until 5:45pm - so a really long day. Poor Eddie had some homework - he's been at it ever since. He's coming down with a cold.
Tomorrow, acupuncture and wound care. Then, a meeting on the new Native American Cultural Center, then grading papers. In the evening, a holiday get-together at the Center for the Humanities and then the OSU bookstore sale. I still need to finish my beading project.
So, I continue to be busy. I am trying to give myself a chance to rest . . . kinda hard with so much going on at work and for the holidays. But it seems that I have the energy to do all the work . . .
A big thanks to my folks for cooking dinner and grocery shopping and cleaning. I wouldn't be able to do all that work if it weren't for your help!
Friday, December 3, 2010
What in the heck is that title mean? Think dancing, maybe even line dancing. Oh, yeah! It's the beat to the Conga line! (I think!) Where the last syllable is kinda loud, like it pops.
Why am I dancing?
Well, I just got my CEA tumor marker today. Guess what? It was even lower today than last month. It was 3.4 ng/mL. That's less than half of what it was in November. Anything 3.8 or less is considered normal. So, yes, I guess I can be considered normal! (Well, I'll think of myself as more normal when that wound heals and the satellite nodules disappear.)
I had both zometa and Abraxane. Maybe I should say, it's an "A to Z" Day. I also had good blood counts - my hemoglobin was 10.8. My white blood cells counts are about half what they were before starting Abraxane, but still decent.
Anyway, here is 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
11/28/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
12/30/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL
3/2/2009 - 1.4 ng/mL
4/8/2009 - 1.6 ng/mL
5/5/2009 - 1.9 ng/mL
6/4/2009 - 3.0 ng/mL
7/2/2009 - 3.7 ng/mL
8/3/2009 - 4.2 ng/mL
8/31/2009 - 5.1 ng/mL
10/2/2009 - 5.7 ng/mL (or was it 5.8?)
11/2/2009 - 7.6 ng/mL
11/30/2009 - 10.5 ng/mL
12/28/2009 - 13.2 ng/mL
3/8/2010 - 22.9 ng/mL
4/22/2010 - 28.9 ng/mL
6/7/2010 - 46.3 ng/mL
7/19/2010 - 44.3 ng/mL
8/19/2010 - 50.9 ng/mL
10/05/2010 - 41.6 ng/mL
11/04/2010 - 7.1 ng/mL
12/03/2010 - 3.4 ng/mL
It hasn't been this low since before July 2009 - almost 18 months! Wanna join me for a Conga line? Da da Da da Daaa da . . . Da da Da da Daaa da!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Hello. Just a quick note to give some more publicity to the Web Launch party I put together on Monday, Nov 29. The link to the Terra Magazine blog post is at:
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I woke up this morning still feeling tired from yesterday. I also had four appointments: 10:00 to see my therapist, 11:15 to see my surgeon, 1:30 to see my oncologist's nurse practitioner, and 4:00 to see my wound care nurse.
I went to my office first, with the good intention of working on edits for the grant proposal, but I checked in with my office manager - had to talk about my graduate student workers and to thank her for attending the Launch Party yesterday. Then, I visited with my friend, B. Then, I wrote some emails and then it was off to my first appointment.
I realized I had forgotten dressings for my wound - so on my way to see the surgeon, I stopped at my house to pick them up. Luckily, my house was on the way.
I got to the hospital and parking was awful. I circled the lot for 15 minutes - I stopped for a few minutes because a truck owned by the Culver Glass Company had taken two spots. So, I wrote him a note, "Parking is limited. You selfishly took two spots." Then, because the company number was on the truck, I called and told them that one of their employees took two parking spots and that other people trying to find parking in a limited area was upset.
Finally saw the surgeon after I followed a man to his car so I could snag his spot. The surgeon's still impressed with how well the wound is healing - I showed him the few nodules that have cropped up behind the wound in the upper quadrant. But he felt I should continue with Abraxane since it seems to be working and the wound healing.
Then, because I had to get something I needed from my Humanities Center office, I stopped by downtown for lunch (salads from New Morning Bakery), picked up what I needed, then back to the hospital to see my oncology nurse practitioner. They were running late - I think I was there just over an hour - but it was a good visit. She hadn't seen the wound since late September/early October and was impressed with how well it has healed. She also thought I should stay on Abraxane for now. I have this theory that the new nodules have cropped up because Abraxane has caused my white blood cell count to go down - it was 8.0 (whatever the measure is) when I first started Abraxane. Last time it was measured (the week before Thanksgiving), it was 3.7. That means that there aren't as many Herminator-2 cells running around to kill the cancer. As H. said, no one really knows why the nodules have cropped up and whether or not it would be better to stay off Abraxane and let the t-cells regenerate. What they do know is that Abraxane is working, so for now, we stay the course. I'm fine with that. I can handle the side effects.
Then, it was time to pick up Eddie, but I stopped at home to get his after school snack. After picking up Eddie, we ran an errand and I had about 15-20 min at home before having to go back up to see the wound care nurse. She has seen improvement over a week ago. The cavity is now only 0.8 cm deep; last week, it was 1.5 cm deep. Part of the reason why it's improved so much is that the top flap has collapsed down a little bit. Last week, the big area was 5cm x 2.5 cm and now it's 4.0 x 2.5 cm. Even the smaller open area has decreased in size from 1cm x 1cm to 0.8cm x 0.5cm. So, everything looks better - it's the new nodules that have cropped up that is a bit worrisome.
By the time I got home, I was tired. So, I listened to my body (the subject of my discussion with my therapist today was about cultivating my yin energy, my rest) and didn't do anything but watch TV. I thought that I could work on the edits for the grant proposal . . . but I decided rest was more important.
Well, good night. I hope you all sleep well!
Monday, November 29, 2010
We had a launch party for the King Island Place Names Launch Party. It was late this afternoon. But before it happened, there were last minute details to attend to. I didn't have the brunt of the work, though. That was Alex and Rebecka.
The website is: http://www.kingislandplacename.com/.
In addition, I had to grade papers and prepare for class.
Then prepare a quick powerpoint for the launch party. Then, go to the room for the party. A few logistics details for my uncle and my son and my family. Then, I did my presentation.
Boy, it was a long day.
I have a lot of people to thank. But I'm too tired to list them here. Instead, check out the Contributors page from our photo gallery. The website address is:
I had an interesting observation about this project: it has been funded by the National Science Foundation and we first received that funding in 2003. It's been 7 years.
That's a long time in the world of scientific research. A long time to produce deliverables for a $600,000 project.
In the end, we have a great website that has the King Island placenames in our dialect of the language; we have uploaded 11,000 photographs that the community can use; and we have two plant and bird guides for the island. There is also a lot of audio and video that the community can access if they have a login ID. Plus, two articles that I've written as a result of the project.
I made an interesting observation: the project has been book-ended by my baldness due to cancer treatments. I am bald today. I was bald in February 2003 after chemotherapy treatments from my first diagnosis of breast cancer. That was when I submitted the grant proposal to NSF. The project has had about as many ups and downs as my cancer treatment has.
The project has been difficult for a lot of reasons including cross cultural differences, interdisciplinary differences, personality differences, and community politics.
But it has also been the second most rewarding thing I have done in my life - the first being the raising of my son. It was so thrilling to give King Islanders the chance to return to their homeland; many had not been there in 20, 30, or 40 years. I feel very privileged to have been part of this process.
So, in the end, as of today, both the project and my cancer end on a happy note: the deliverables are in a finished enough form to give to the community. And, the treatment is working - so good news on the cancer front. I'll find out later this week what my tumor markers are.
Again, thank you to everyone who was ever involved in the King Island place names project. It was worth the wait. It was worth all the work. I am so happy I was able to help.
So, the holiday weekend was quite productive. As I mentioned, I went shopping on Black Friday; I enjoyed spending time with a friend of mine, B., that day. That night, I went to the Holiday Parade downtown and I got to see my son in the Corvallis Trolley and another friend was driving one of the Pepsi floats.
On Saturday, I just putzed around the house. I ran errands with Eddie, then consulted on holiday decorations, decluttered Eddie's room, filed and shredded papers in my own room and did laundry. My niece and nephew came over for the day and were research subjects for Eddie's Science Fair project. It's called "Game On" and is basically an experiment to try to figure out what the best position a gamer needs to take to get the fastest times in Marion Kart Double Dash. He's comparing standing with sitting on a ball with sitting on a stool with laying down. I also helped my niece create her beaded necklace and started one of my own.
On Sunday, I ran errands with Eddie and then worked on the King Island Place Names website, then on this grant proposal. I spent most of the day at the kitchen table on the computer and writing.
So, all in all, a good weekend. Normal activities. Some house work, some work work, some fun.
Kinda nice to hear, isn't it? Not too shabby for a person with metastatic cancer! : ) I love my life!
Friday, November 26, 2010
Ever since I joined my friends for Black Friday, I must admit that I find it kinda fun. The last three years, I got up early, around 3 or 4am, and went to Albany to go to Doorbuster's Sales at Sears, Kohl's, Target, and Fred Meyer.
This year, several stores advertised pre-Black Friday sales, so I went to K-Mart in Corvallis yesterday (my mom works there) and I wanted to go to Kohl's (but they weren't open). I ended up doing a bit of shopping at Fred Meyers.
First, before I went to my sister's, I also got some groceries at Freddies for pre-Thanksgiving snacks. Then, I went back with my sister and niece and purchased a few presents, and then we hung out at my sister's. My sister and my dad cooked most of the meal. Then, we played Guesstures, which is an old game, like charades on speed. It was fun, especially watching Eddie and my niece and nephew act out clues. Eddie did quite well! All in all, yesterday was a good day.
This morning, I almost got up early to go to the sales. But I decided to sleep in until 6:30am. I just need to get dressed and then I'll go to a few stores in Albany. My friend is going to pick me up at 10am here in Corvallis and we'll go to a couple of places here.
My afternoon will be spent on the grant proposal. Then we'll go to the holiday parade in Corvallis - my son will be in the Trolley with his dad - and then I'll bring Eddie home.
So, holiday happenings. Good time with family. Are you braving the crowds for Black Friday?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Yesterday, we had a snow day in the Willamette Valley. We started with rain and then had snow on Monday evening and off and on all day on Tuesday. It had rained a lot on Monday, so the roads were wet and then when the cold Arctic air came south, the roads were icy on Tuesday. I was supposed to take him to Shriner's in Portland for an appointment yesterday, but I canceled the appointment due to the roads. And, then Eddie's school closed because of the roads. So, we both stayed home and hung out.
I worked on the grant proposal off and on all afternoon yesterday, in between watching news about the weather or talking to the family. Mostly, I needed to look up some info on the internet to fill in some details. I was happy to be able to hang out at home and not do too much. I was still dealing with some fatigue.
Today, though, I had four appointments and meetings. I saw the wound care nurse, met with my grad research assistant, with one of my graduate student advisees, and then an Advisory Board meeting at the Longhouse. The good news is that the wound seems to be healing. The nurse felt that the cavity wasn't as deep and also said that one open area was small - instead of 2.5 by 1.5cm, it was 1.5 by 1cm.
The meeting with the grad research assistant went well as did the meeting with the grad student. But interestingly enough, the university closed at noon today due to an electrical fire in the steam tunnels. It also destroyed some of the fiber optic system so our internet was down, as was Blackboard, and, apparently, a lot of our fire alarms. It was because of the latter that they closed the university down because of the safety issue. So the Longhouse meeting was canceled.
I stayed in my office, though, for a couple more hours and worked on the grant proposal. This time, I had to look up info in the books I have in my office and then I had to jot down details so that I could add them to our References Cited list.
I'm relaxing tonight. I got home about 2:30pm. Talked to Eddie about his day at school (half a day, my parents were hanging out with him for Grandparents Day), then checked my email (since internet was down at work), then ran a couple of errands with Eddie and by 4pm, I was pretty tired again.
So, I'm continuing to plug away on the grant. That feels good to be accomplishing what I need to on that proposal. I still need to write up about two pages worth of material and then make changes to the proposal. I'll try to write up the two pages tomorrow. On Friday, I'll do the tedious editing on the proposal and finalize the References Cited. If we're successful, it'll buy me out of one class a year for two years and give me some extra summer salary. Buying me out of one class a year (or even two) is important; between my many medical appointments and fatigue from treatment, I just can't imagine teaching more than one full-time class at a time.
Tomorrow, I might do a little bit of work in the am, but then maybe some early bird Black Thursday shopping, then dinner at my sister's house. It should be a good relaxing day! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Monday, November 22, 2010
Resting. I need to do more of it while I'm on Abraxane. I had a treatment on Friday, I rested that night, but couldn't get to sleep until about midnight. I slept until about 7:30am on Saturday and then participated in the Psycho-Emotional Repatterning workshop all day.
The workshop was really informative and I enjoyed meeting the other participants. I learned more about Chinese medicine and the philosophy behind it. It was also brought together a lot of things that I have been learning. So, it was cool.
I took it easy Saturday evening and night. Mom and dad rented a movie called "My Name is Khan", which was interesting because the main character had Asperger's Syndrome. It was also a movie about intolerance towards Muslims in post 9/11 America. I enjoyed it.
I slept in until about 8am on Sunday, then relaxed and worked on the grant proposal for awhile, then ran errands, picked up Eddie, found some material for a new jacket kuspuk for me, and had coffee with a friend. Then, after dinner, I had to work on the grant proposal. We already had an extension and it was due today. So, I was up until after 11pm. I didn't finish the grant proposal, so I decided to ask my program officer for yet another extension.
I had to get up about 6:30am. Went to work. Left a message for my program officer and emailed her. But in the meantime, I had so much to do - I needed to grade papers (put that off until later this week), I needed to upload grades into Blackboard, I need to do IRB paperwork, I needed to prepare for class, I got an email about having to make minor changes to a supplemental request, and then I agreed to be interviewed by a student via skype. I quickly became overwhelmed today.
I also felt really fatigued and it occurred to me sometime this morning that I was feeling so tired, not just because I was up late, because my fatigue was more than just not enough sleep. I'm feeling this fatigued because of the chemo. Abraxane causes anemia.
I finally managed to prioritize what I could get done this morning and I decided to ask a couple of people to help out on some of the tasks I needed to do. And, then, an angel in the form of my program officer emailed me and told me that we could have a little more time before I needed to submit the proposal.
A lot of weight lifted off my shoulders.
So, even though I feel fairly good under this chemotherapy regimen, I was reminded today that I do get fatigued.
I had been operating like the Abraxane was no big deal since my mood is good and I'm getting such good results.
But it does affect my blood counts. I need to remember that and to take time to rest.
Which is all to say that I am still not able to do as much as work as I might want to.
Rest. It does a body good.
Friday, November 19, 2010
I had an Abraxane treatment this morning and it went off without a hitch. I didn't get much work done, though. But that's okay. My blood counts were on the low end, but were high enough for treatment.
I then went to lunch with a friend - I had chicken noodle soup and because I had a cough (maybe from my bagel, which was plain white - I wanted multigrain as it's better for me), the soup was a great choice as it stopped my cough.
I just want to get over this cold.
I was supposed to make an appearance for dinner at the Longhouse this evening, but luckily, the guest (Tom Arviso, publisher of Navajo Times) had to cancel his trip, so now I get to stay home and rest. I feel guilty as I haven't been able to get to the Longhouse all term.
But then I remember that I've had at least 60 if not closer to 70 appointments since the term started in mid-September.
So, the rest of tonight, I'm resting.
Tomorrow, I am attending a workshop entitled "Psycho-Emotional Transformation" which will be taught by my acupuncturist. We'll be talking about Chinese medicine theory and will get some qigong moves and acupressure points to help patients unstick stagnant energy. I'm sure that I'll gain some energy from this session.
And, Sunday, more work on the grant proposal . . . it's due on Monday.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I think that my class is going well. I introduced the students to a couple of new concepts like syncretism and folklore performance theory. For the latter, I was able to bring in both My Xeloda by Heather Kenagy and the Mammogram video that Heather did as "Lady Tata" as examples of what it takes to be a good performer. While neither had anything to do with circumpolar peoples and climate change, my students enjoyed it. I think they got the main point and I was able to bring it all back to the chapters they were supposed to read (but none of them did). Anyway, it was fun.
I also met yesterday with my grad student and I think we have some movement forward on what she will do for her master's research.
I also worked on a grant proposal, that I'm working on with my friend and colleague who lives in Bend. She's done a lot of fieldwork on the Seward Peninsula. I have a lot of work to do on it today, though. Lots of NSF/OSU paperwork.
I only have a lunch at the Center for the Humanities today - they do a couple of these each term and pay for a lunch for their current fellows. I can't wait to get down to my office there so I can focus on writing. It's been tough this term - too many appointments - but next term, life should settle down.
I had dinner last night at Big River Restaurant with some of the other models from Puttin' on the Pink. What a great bunch of ladies! We talked a lot about environmental pollutants that can lead to cancer and shared other resources.
In other words, I am, for the most part, getting back to normal. I'm still tired in the evenings. But it's nice to have life settling down.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I just totaled up the number of appointments I have had this year - and included the ones that are scheduled through the end of the month. I also included Eddie's appointments that he has had for one reason or another.
Drum roll please . . . .
Total appointments through Nov. 30 - 159!!
That's 159 total appointments out of 334 days. That's about one every two days.
Here's a breakdown for each month:
January - 9
February - 5
March - 11
April - 15
May - 12
June - 16
July - 14
August - 12
September - 23
October - 21
November - 21
You can see it peaked in September and that's when I ended up with a wound and then it got infected. Also, remember that 9 of those appointments were up in Seattle, so that meant at least a two day trip each time.
Incredible. Thank goodness I had enough sick leave hours! I don't know what I would've done otherwise.
I saw both the wound care nurse and the surgeon today and the consensus is that the armpit looks great and appears to be healing as the cancer is dying. So much so that the surgeon wants to wait and see what Dr. K (my oncologist) says when I see him in two weeks.
Last week, after my visit with the wound care nurse, I began to suspect that I might not need plastic surgery at all. I ended up going back to my blog to see what Dr. D from UW said. In my blog post (), she said that once the chemo has killed the cancer in the area, it would probably heal within about six weeks.
So, we're waiting to see what happens. Which means, for now, no surgery in December because if it were going to happen, we'd need to start planning it now rather than later. This delays surgery until after the New Year . . . and at this point, because I'm heading to Hawaii for a workshop for work in early February, I'd probably even wait until after that to do anything.
And, you know, that's fine with me. Because if I do have surgery again, I'd rather it be to fix my lopsidedness and to trim the "dog ears" at my waist. And, I'm happy to allow the t-cells (Herminator cells) and Abraxane to keep doing their thing. : )
Monday, November 15, 2010
I am not sure if I've mentioned it or not, but about a week and a half ago, I caught a cold. It's been mostly a head cold with a stuffy/runny nose and then, a post nasal drip cough. I thought that I would get over it in a week or so. I didn't necessarily rest more, but kept doing my normal activities.
I had the second infusion of Abraxane for this cycle on Thursday. The steroids kept me awake until about midnight and I decided not to fight the sleeplessness. That night I only got about 6+ hours of sleep. On Friday, I stayed up until about 11 or midnight and woke up about 7:30 but didn't get up until 8. I putzed around, but then my folks and I spent the afternoon shopping in Albany and again stayed up until about 11 or midnight. On Sunday, I couldn't sleep in past 6:45 or so . . . then I was up late working on a proposal on Sunday and again, only got about 6 hours of sleep last night.
So, three out of the last four nights, I was only able to sleep about 6 hours. So, I'm worn out and that isn't a good situation to get over a cold. It was worse today - I had a headache and sore throat all day, in addition to the stuffy/runny nose and cough.
Silly me. I overdid it. I think I'm so happy that my tumors are shrinking and the treatment is working that I am beginning to operate "normally", i.e., that is staying busy, getting out of the house, doing work at all hours, running around, etc. Time to slow down again . . . so this week, that's my plan. To take it easy in the evenings. I have a social event Wednesday evening and on Friday, but the other evenings, I'm just gonna rest in my room . . .
Um, yeah, right. I'll let you know if I have been successful!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
My son, Eddie, has Marfan's Syndrome, which is a genetic mutation that causes the connective tissues to stretch. This includes the bones and muscles. So, he ends up being very tall and thin for his age.
In practical terms, it means that when I buy him pants, if they are long enough, they are too big at the waist. If I buy to fit the waist, he has high waters. So, whenever I go to a department store, or even places like K-Mart or Target, I search for pants that could fit him.
He also doesn't seem to like jeans. I am not sure yet, but I suspect it's because the texture is too rough. When he was a baby and toddler, with regard to his Asperger's Syndrome, he didn't like me to wash his feet with a washcloth or his body and hates cleaning his ears with Q-tips and trimming his finger and toe nails. So, he has a mild touch sensitivity. This means that now he only likes to wear athletic-type sweat pants. I've tried the twill cotton pants, but they are too "fancy" for him. I have even recently resorted to going to the men's section and getting XS or S track pants, but they are still big at the waist, so I finally attempted to use my little sewing machine (bought new two years ago, but finally took it out of the box). I tried to tighten up the waist on one pair of pants; I got it done, but it's not pretty!
So, yesterday, instead of working in my office (a madhouse on campus - it was Dad's weekend and a home football game), my folks and I ran over to Albany to go to a holiday craft bazaar. Then, we went to the mall and looked around at Old Navy and Target as he needed some brown pants and a green shirt for his Christmas program at school. Then, we went to Kohl's.
I found a forest green shirt for him at Old Navy and then, as luck would have it, saw that Kohl's was carrying skinny Levi's 511's. Hardly anyone sells skinny pants for boys anymore - hmm, wondering if that's a result of the "obesity epidemic" in our country - so I was excited. And, then, as luck would have it, they had the skinny jeans in a chestnut brown color! Yay!
The big test will be later, when I ask Eddie to try his new pants on. If he likes them, I will probably get at least another pair. But they were expensive (at least compared to what I usually spend).
If not . . . the search continues . . .
Friday, November 12, 2010
I am not sure if I've mentioned this or not, but my scalp decided that it needed to go through puberty. In the last week, it really started to break out. So, I asked the nurses about it and it turns out that this is a common side effect from Abraxane treatments. The nurses and some websites I found stated to just clean and moisturize your scalp the same way you clean and moisturize your face. My current facial regimen is to wash it twice daily with a facial cleanser made of tea tree oil and awapuhi. I then use Aloe Vera gel, since it has antibacterial properties. Two days ago, I started washing my scalp, back to my neck, using the same regimen and this morning, I noted some improvement in the break outs. I also try hard not to touch my scalp very much - just like they say not to touch your face to help prevent break-outs.
I know that I mentioned the weird cramping that I have been getting in my stomach and I think I mentioned that my colleague said that Abraxane can destroy the inner lining of your stomach. The cramping started on Sunday evening and it was pretty constant through yesterday, starting after I ate anything. (Luckily, it hasn't affected my appetite.) Yesterday, when I needed to get some info from my acupuncturist, I asked her if there was some herb that I could take, so based upon my symptoms (including my head cold), she mixed some powdered herbs together. Yesterday, I put the herbs into veggie capsules and started taking it last night with dinner. I've only felt the cramping once today - otherwise, I've been taking the herbs whenever I do have a meal and it seems to be working! Yay! I could tell, but I won't be explicit, that not all my food was being digested. And, that means that I'm not getting all the nutrients I need to help my body keep up the production of red and white blood cells. In the end, the herbs she gave me seem to be helping so far.
I'm pleased. It's nice to minimize side effects of treatment!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Today, as I received my Abraxane infusion, the nurse and I chatted about my low CEA numbers. It eventually came out that they usually do not see (or maybe have never seen) anyone respond as well to the Abraxane treatment as I have. They haven't seen the CEA drop so quickly in just one month. We talked about how my incredible response is more than likely related to the UW immunotherapy and that the two therapies are working really well together.
Shall I saw it is unprecedented? Maybe not. Maybe in the context of my town, but the UW doctors did say that patients in the same trial as me tended to have results like mine - that after immunotherapy, the standard treatments all of a sudden start working really really well.
And, then again, maybe not. A good friend of mine told me today that he put my name into a reiki prayer pool this past month. I know a lot of people in my community and all over Alaska are praying for me. Other people are sending me prayers, blessings, good energy. My family takes care of the housework so that I have more energy to devote to healing or resting. My medical care team, including my acupuncturist and my therapist and the wound nurse and the infusion nurses, give me great care. My colleagues at work support me. My friends give me good advice. Other cancer bloggers are great role models for how to live life and how to handle side effects and also for their sheer perseverance to live.
I have also made changes. I have limited if not almost completely eliminated dairy and white flour from my diet. I am still trying to eliminate sugar. I don't drink alcohol as often. I try to practice qigong. I wake up each morning and try to decide that it will be a good day, even if that's not how I'm feeling, but by reminding myself of what I am grateful for, it gets easier to make that choice. I try ask myself every morning, "Would I rather spend my day pissy? Or sad? Or silly and happy?" I have repriortized work duties and how I choose to spend my time. I endeavor to be as stress-free as possible and part of that means not taking things personally or acting defensively with difficult people and reacting in a more mature, calm, deliberate way, rather than reacting rashly. I accept help when it's offered and then I try to "pay it forward".
I think that all of these things have culminated in my current, happy state of affairs: dropping tumor markers, shrinking and disappearing tumors. And, the realization that I have a wonderful, beautiful support system. There have been reports by other doctors and practitioners of Chinese medicine of people who were able to turn their cancer prognoses around. There are reports of cancer spontaneously disappearing. I have tried to learn as much about what these patients do and what kind of medical care they seek because the people who came before me have set these precedents. So, no, it's not unprecedented. I have role models to follow. I have great friends who give great advice. But even if it isn't unprecedented, it's still great news!
Thank you everyone! Every little bit helps!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I think I mentioned in a blog post a couple of days ago that one of the side effects I am experiencing is stomach cramping. When you read the list of potential side effects, they say "stomach upset" or "stomach pain", but in truth, it isn't painful. It just feels like a tightening or spasming of the tummy muscles. It's not even uncomfortable. Just weird. [WARNING: don't read the next sentence if you're squeamish.] And, I have some diarrhea and/or soft stools.
I should also say that I think I've lost a few pounds since starting Abraxane - maybe 4-6 pounds or so. My appetite is about the same, so either my body is using a lot more energy to whisk away the dead cancer cells or my body isn't absorbing the food I eat as well as it should. It's the latter, probably. I haven't minded the weight loss because I felt at least 15 pounds or more over my ideal weight. I'm about 11 or 12 pounds less than I was in June. Partly because of the recent weight loss due to Abraxane, but also because I think I've lost some fluids from the skin wound - I have less lymphedema than I did in the summer. Dietary changes have also contributed, like cutting out white flour recently and dairy products and I'm really trying to decrease my sugar input. I also haven't been drinking as much beer since summer. If I lose more than 5 pounds, I'll get worried. But losing another 5 puts me at the ideal weight for my height and bone frame.
So, I told my colleague, S., about my stomach cramping symptoms and wondered why. S. knows how to get into the medical literature that reports actual studies.
He told me this morning that it turns out that Abraxane can destroy the inner lining of your stomach. He suggested that I take Probiotics to help with digestion and to increase the good bacteria in the stomach. And, maybe occasionally take Mylanta or something like it.
I then mentioned it to a friend and colleague (K.) at lunch today and she suggested a supplement called "GI-Encap", which repairs the lining of the stomach. She also mentioned something called HMF-Intensive, which is a probiotic.
So, I will be adding those two to my supplement repertoire. At the moment, I take 1) CoQ-10 (helps your cells work more efficiently for more energy; may also have anticancer effects), 2) Vitamin D-3 (I had low Vitamin D levels and it also has anticancer properties), 3) turmeric (anticancer properties), 4) Chinese herbs (a five-mushroom blend (anticancer), Ji Xue for building blood, Rehmannia and Scrophularia also for building blood (I think), Shen Ling Bai Zhu Pian (to help my body digest the Rehmannia and for digestion issues generally)), 5) melatonin (anticancer properties), plus a 6) Chinese herb for sleep. I also picked up 7) Zong Gan LIng at the co-opera yesterday for "advanced colds". The latter helps with symptoms and also helps to get over your cold more quickly. I started taking it yesterday and I have to report that it really does help relieve cold symptoms, but without leaving my mouth dry from the antihistamines in western cold medicines or making me feel zonked out or tired. I feel normal and there's less stuffy/runny nose and post-nasal drip to worry about. I also think that my cold is already a lot better.
Having cancer isn't cheap. That's where a lot of any "disposable" income I might have goes to. I'm not complaining, mind you, because in general, I have been feeling fairly well lately, with good energy, no pain, etc. But thank goodness for good health insurance and for a full time job.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I saw the plastic surgeon today and ultimately, he said that he would do the lat-flap surgery (use the latissimus muscle under my armpit) and that ultimately the timing of the surgery would be up to Dr. F, my surgeon. So, I'll wait a couple of days and then call Dr. F's office to schedule an appointment and talk about timing.
There's a part of me that wonders if the whole area would eventually heal itself. However, I remembered that the wound probably wouldn't heal as long as I'm on Abraxane. Dr. K would like for me to be on Abraxane for six months, which means that I'd end up with an open wound for at least that long. And, with an open wound comes the risk of infection, like I had last month. I also have a surface infection, too, which looks like a green discoloration on my dressings. It's "pseudomonisis" which is the bacteria that grows in your vases when you have flowers. I've been trying to get rid of it for almost a week now. It got a little bit better after I saw the wound care nurse - as she cleaned the area really well - and even though I've cleaned it with iodine once and have been trying to flush the area with saline, it's hard for me to do this without getting saline everywhere . . . Anyway, I guess I think that that armpit area seems to get infected easier than the other wound I had, so I might as well get the whole thing repaired to decrease that infection risk.
I told Dr. H (the plastic surgeon) that Dr. K (my oncologist) would be willing for me to take about a 6-week break from Abraxane in order to have the surgery, and probably even more so now that my tumor marker dropped so much in just one month, so that there will probably be very low levels of cancer cells running around in my system. Then, after I am recovered from surgery, I would go back on Abraxane to knock the rest of those cancer cells out.
I also asked Dr. H if he could trim the "dog ear" that was left at my beltline from the reconstruction surgery. He said that he would. I also asked if he could drop the implant down to match with the TRAM flap and he said that he'd rather not mess with it, since I have such a major wound on the armpit and he didn't want to open anything else up. If, however, cancer or bacteria got onto the implant, he said that it would have to come out. So, in the end, he said that he might bring in a spare implant and would try to drop it farther down into the pocket, so he might be able to make me more lopsided. That is, if the implant had cancer or otherwise had a risk of infection.
So, in terms of other side effects, I wanted to report that my scalp is now breaking out in zits. It's also pretty tender in some places. Now, I have to figure out how to take care of the scalp - one website said to treat it as you do your face, with milder moisturizers and cleansers.
In addition - and forgive me if this is too much information (Daria at LIving With Cancer also wondered about reporting these side effects the other day in her blog; in the interest of passing on my experiences to other cancer survivors, I'm telling my readers what's going on) - I have had some constipation (from the anti-nausea meds). I have some Chinese herbs from my acupuncturist that seemed to help me become regular again sooner than I did previously. But, last night, my stomach muscles starting cramping again. I think I reported that it seemed to do that the evening of my treatment. But this time, it happened three days later. It's been acting up all day, too. It seems to cramp up a couple of hours after I eat. And, I have had some mild diarrhea off and on all day and the cramps seem to get a little bit better afterwards. So, I started wondering if the cramping was happening in my intestines rather than in my stomach - and that they are cramping trying to get the food processed through my digestive system. So, I'm trying to drink lots of water. And, it's all complicated this time by having a head cold and taking some nasal decongestant medicines. (I am going to do my best to avoid crowds and public places while I'm on Abraxane - I don't need to deal with colds on top of my other health issues!)
So, a talk with Dr. F is in order sometime this week. I see the wound care nurse tomorrow and will also see what she says.
Even though I caught a head cold over the weekend, I was still about to celebrate.
First, on Friday, my family and I went to Riverview Mongolian Grill. My whole immediate family (parents, siblings, Eddie) and my sister's family attended. It was great to see everyone - and we started planning Thanksgiving dinner. Eddie had a friend over for a sleepover, so he had fun afterwards, too.
Second, my parents, Scotty (my younger brother), and Eddie and I went to the coast on Saturday. We stopped in Depoe Bay, first, to go somewhere different to eat for lunch (we went to the Chowder Bowl, which was about like Mo's, where the piece of bread they served with the meal was huge!) and also because it was high tide and there were a couple of spots where the waves were crashing up higher than street level. That's always so cool to see! We watched the spouting horns for a bit and then looked in some of the shops. Then, it was on to Lincoln City, where Eddie played at the Children's Arcade (thanks, dad, for taking him) and mom, Scotty, and I played the slots. Then, on our drive back south, we stopped at a used bookstore and then at Wal-Mart for cheap snacks (also looking for cheap pants for Eddie and for Scotty). Then, we got home about 6:30 or so in the evening. So, a long day, but a fun one! Sorry to report, though, that I didn't win at the casino . . .
Sunday was a lazy day, for the most part, but I did go to K-Mart's Friends and FAmily Day for discounts on clothing and other things. Found a Christmas present or two. We also bought plastic to put on the windows in an effort to keep out the cold and keep in the warmth. It was nice, though, just to hang about home. Got boring things done like paying bills.
If it wasn't for the damn head cold, I'd be dancing in the streets! That is, when Eddie wasn't around as he doesn't like to see me dance! LOL
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I finally had a chance to upload photos from Puttin' on the Pink. This time, the photos are by Randy (Randall) Milstein, a professional photographer. Enjoy!
|Randy had me pose by the canoes at Peak Sports.|
|Now, I'm posting with the sunflowers at Peak Sports.|
|This is the head shot for the Fashion Show.|
|I'm at Sibling Revelry with Roseanne and Jeannie - all of us survivors.|
|Roseanne and me . . . I attended the support group a few years ago with Roseanne.|
|Looking for earrings to go with the outfit at Sibling Revelry.|
|Getting last minute make-up touch-ups before the show.|
|Yikes! My lips are soooo red.|
|I'm doing the shimmy thing on the runway.|
|Trying to be dramatic on the runway.|
|Another pose on the runway.|
|Model Parade after the show.|
|All of models posing for a final picture.|