Sunday, November 30, 2008

Posting New Blog Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

Busy Holiday Week-end

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laurie's news article about early breast cancer detection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Bazaar and Other News

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

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

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

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

Life is good! I really have no complaints.

I'm happy. Can you tell? ; )

A Thanksgiving Boob Joke

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

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Wound Continues to Heal

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

So, I must be doing something right, huh?


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

You get the picture.

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

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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tit for Tat

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Besides, I get a tummy tuck . . .

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

Can you tell? Still leaning toward the TRAM.

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

A Date for New Boobs!!

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

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

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

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

February 6, 2009, is about 80 days away.

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

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

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

Other considerations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

80 days and counting!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Verizon Rebate Visa Cash Cards - A BAD IDEA

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

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

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

Shepherd of the Valley Holiday Bazaar

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

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

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

Saturday, November 15, 2008

playing with iMac webcam

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

This is the popart effect:

This is the sepia effect:

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


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

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

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

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

Cool, huh?

Toilet Troubles

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

What am I talking about?

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

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


Friday, November 14, 2008

On A Roll!

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

Woo hoo!

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Appointment Schedule with Dr. H

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

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

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


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


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

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

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


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

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

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

Saturday, November 8, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What's Next for the Wound

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued Great Tumor Marker News

First, the tumor marker update:

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

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

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

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

Cool, huh?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This is a Good Day Indeed!

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, we can.

Auspicious Dates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Zometa Side Effects - Minimal

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

Have a good Monday tomorrow, everyone!

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

A good, busy week-end

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

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

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

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

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