Saturday, February 27, 2010

Visits, Visits, and More Visits - It's all good!

I forgot to report that I had a visit with my oncologist on Wednesday. He just noted the side effect I get from Herceptin (fatigue), mentioned my swollen lymph nodes, discussed whether or not I was in the trial (I didn't know when I saw him - I found out several hours later), and I requested a referral to see a physical therapist. I forgot to ask about the echocardiogram results - it's normal for the most part. We noted the slight decrease in the CA15-3 tumor marker.

In other words, there really wasn't much to report. Status quo. Which is a good thing.

I decided that I wanted to see a physical therapist because there's been some recent reports that lifting weights and/or exercise is good for lymphedema. I have lymphedema around my ribs on the right side (where the cancer was). I have also had some lymphedema on my upper left arm the past few days. I think the swollen lymph nodes are causing some back up in the arm.

I also have decreased strength in my arms and also it seems that my legs aren't as strong as they used to be - or maybe it isn't leg strength, it's core strength. I can't balance on one leg as easily as I used to. My decreased core strength is due to the TRAM flap, of course, where they released the left TRAM muscle that runs down on the side of the midline on the front of my torso. My right shoulder also curls forward, due to the right side getting radiated twice and after two major surgeries. I want to try to strengthen my arms, my chest and torso, and my legs possibly. I figure I should work with a professional to make sure I don't overdo any exercises and get advice on the best exercises I can do.

So, back to my visits. On Wednesday, there were some tribal reps on campus hammering out an agreement for a repatriation - and since the Army Corps of Engineers has ownership (we are only holding it physically), their rep was there, too. Turns out it was an archaeologist that was in my classes when I worked on my master's degree here at OSU. It was nice to see him again - hadn't seen him in a long time. We had a chance to get caught up.

On Friday morning, I chatted via Skype with a colleague in Oxford, England. I went to Oxford last August to attend a workshop and to meet with him - we're collaborating on a project. We needed to assess where we're at in terms of data collection and to get a sense of what we wanted to do with the data in terms of analysis after we're done with data collection.

I went to a noon lecture on Friday, then we met with our Ph.D. students to discuss some advanced theory. This group had discussed just prior to our meeting that they wanted to grab a beer with a couple of other folks - so in the end, about nine of us met at a local place to have a mid-afternoon beer and visit. It was fun! Then most of them left and my Ph.D. student and I had a chat about her dissertation research - another good conversation. Because of her changed direction, I invited her to go to dinner with me at my colleague's house - my colleague's guest works for CAFE (Center for ?? Faculty Excellence) at University of Alaska Anchorage. I thought it might be good for J to meet her.

Dinner at my colleague's house was fun - there were several people from Alaska there - heard a grizzly bear attack story! - got to chat with lots of people and get caught up.

Then, my volleyball teammates were having a beer after the game - so I stopped by to visit with them a bit, too.

Basically, other than the noon lecture, I talked to people from about 10:15am to about 9:30pm. I was bushed when I came home last night. But a good tired.

Today, my folks and I went to the Friends of the Library sale ($10 for 8 books), then over to Albany to do some shopping (Eddie needed new shoes and I wanted a new shirt that was spring-like) and to exchange a couple of things, then dad and I with some help from my brother started to straighten out the garage. We loaded up my car and after dinner, took it to Goodwill.

All in all, a good couple of days. Good friends, good colleagues, good conversations, good errands. Good days. Thanks!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

In Gratitude - UW Clinical Trial

Someone has given to me (already) a gift certificate to Alaska Airlines, which will allow me to fly from Eugene to Seattle for one of the treatments for the UW immunotherapy trial.

I'm incredibly grateful - it'll save me some time on one of the trips - and completely unexpected as I intended to see what kind of funding I could find from other sources first.

I still plan to seek other funds as the trial calls for a total of 7 trips to Seattle. I scheduled the first four of those trips this afternoon: April 5, 12, 19, and May 3.

During the first three trips, I will receive a vaccine that is designed (as I understand it) to make my cancer cells look more like a foreign body - and will stimulate an immune response. I will also get a tetanus shot.

The last trip, I will undergo "leukophoresis", a process in which they extract my blood from one vein and then it goes through a machine that extracts white blood cells and then the rest of my blood is given back to me through a needle in another vein.

Then, they grow my t-cells until they have "millions" of them, which may take 2-4 weeks, and then I go back to Seattle for three infusions of my own T-cells, each infusion a week to 10 days apart. Those haven't been scheduled yet.

A day or two before the first infusion of T-cells, I will have to get a cytoxan treatment (cyclophosphamide). I had this before, when I had chemo the first time I had cancer in 2002. I had it in combination with adriamyacin and both of them made me nauseous - I think I only threw up once - and I lost my hair. Adriamyacin is more powerful - I think that my hair may only thin a bit with cytoxan. I hope that I don't get too nauseous. We'll see, though.

I am hopeful, though, as I really like the idea of this therapy. It seems much more humane than traditional chemo. If I can help contribute to the advancement of therapies like this, that are easier on patients, I'm willing to do it.

Thank you again, you anonymous person you. You're wonderful!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I have great friends

I posted the news on Facebook that I was eligible for the UW trial and said that I would be seeking travel funds.

One friend offered to drive me if she can find childcare, one friend said that if the American Cancer Society or the local cancer center do not have funds, then he said he thought a bunch of people would be willing to contribute, and another friend said they might be able to get me some Marriot Points donations. All within about an hour of posting my news on Facebook.

I also keep forgetting to post this: my former sister-in-law, Darlene, is going to do the Avon Walk for breast cancer - which is almost 40 miles - in the Washington DC area. I think she's expected to raise $1800, so if anyone wants to help sponsor Darlene, let me know!

Don't I have great friends? I think so! So, all my readers, please give them a round of applause and also take a bow yourself for your support!

Thank you, everyone!

I'm Eligible for the UW Trial!

I just got the email that I am eligible for the immunotherapy trial at the University of Washington. The clinical trial is with the Tumor Vaccine Group.

From what I've read, there doesn't seem to be many side effects in patients who receive this kind of therapy. I'll have to read the materials, but when I read them before, there didn't seem to be much risk, other than the possibility that this wouldn't work.

I also don't really like the idea of taking cytoxan, which I've had before. It's a traditional chemo drug, which means nausea is a possibility. On the other hand, if the rest of the therapy helps and the info they get from my participation helps further the advancement of creating a "vaccine" for cancer, so much the better!

The last thing is finding travel funds because it means 7 trips to Seattle. That means train trips or car drives, and hotel and food. I have numbers to call - the American Cancer Society and my local cancer center ...

More updates will be forthcoming .. .

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dilemmas Solved

After thinking long and hard about both opportunities (DC to do proposal reviews and the State of the Arctic conference in Miami), I decided against both.

For DC, I just decided that up-ending my life in one week just to do MORE work for a relatively small amount of compensation wasn't worth the stress, both from the fatigue and the incredible amount of extra work I'd have to do. It's best that I just concentrate on those projects that I'm supposed to be working on this term.

And, for the State of the Arctic, I found out that the registration fee was literally one-third to one-half of my available funding. I thought I should save it for something else.

And, after I made those decisions, I felt lighter. The other tasks all of a sudden seemed much more doable and I felt less scattered. That's a good reminder of something I'm learning: if I am spending that much time trying to justify doing something because I *should* do it, it must mean that it's not really something I should do. I am learning how to listen to my body and my mind more. In the end, they just weren't worth the stress. So, now it's back to my regularly scheduled life. Which is busy enough, BTW!

A Walk in the Sun and Living in the Moment

I played hookey this afternoon, by taking a nice long walk in the sunshine with Cat and her two kiddos, Finn and baby Jeremiah, aka Miss Finn and Baby Gooey, aka UGathluk and Aakagak. Finn is named after my Aunt Cecilia, who died of lung cancer in May 2006. Cecilia was married to my mom's brother, Uncle Ed. Baby Gooey is named after Uncle Gabe, another of my mom's brother, who died of pancreatic cancer in February 2006.

It was a fun walk - wide ranging conversations from more serious to kid-friendly. The sun was great, though. After I walked back to my office, I realized that it was one of those situations where you are living in the moment. I didn't hurry it. I didn't want to go back to my office and work. I just allowed myself to be present and to enjoy time with a friend and with the kiddos.

What a nice way to live. I wish we could all live that way more often, instead of living our lives by the clock. It reminded me of summer 2005, when we waited at camp at Woolley Lagoon to send community members to King Island. Just hang out, relax, and not be in a hurry. Remember that, Cat? That's heaven! Thanks, Cat, for the walk! It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon!

Interesting Read - One Year Later

Daria, over at Living with Cancer, recently had a post in which she looked at her posts from a year ago to see what her state of mind was. I've done that before with this blog. I just did it tonight.

It's interesting. A year ago, I was just returning to work, after taking two weeks off to recover from breast reconstruction surgery. I seemed like I was in good spirits and I wasn't in a lot of pain.

I should say that post-reconstruction, I still feel some tightness (not sure how else to describe it) in my abdomen from the TRAM flap (where they released the TRAM muscle and brought up my tummy fat to the breast area).

Also, parts of the skin around the TRAM does feel numb.

I have a corner of flesh (literally, a corner) on the left end of the scar where they took my tummy fat - someday, I'll ask my plastic surgeon Dr. H to take it off. However, there's a month recovery afterwards . . . and I just haven't been motivated enough to do it and wait for a month.

My boobs are lopsided - the left side has dropped a little bit, but I don't think it'll ever drop to the level of the right side.

I have a big scar around my belt line and also the whole way around the (now) right breast. Someday, I may at least get areolas tattooed and also design some kind of tattoo to cover the scar that would show with lower necklines.

So, am I glad I had reconstruction surgery? Absolutely. Especially on the right side, where I now have a boob made of tummy fat. It used to be an open skin wound - and I had to change the dressings, sometimes a couple of times a day and toward the end, about once every three days.

I am also glad that I have breasts now. I don't feel self-conscious, like I did when I was absolutely flat on one side. Well, I feel a little self-conscious because they're lopsided, but most days, it's not that noticeable. They are smaller than they were before. But that's partly due to the fact that I didn't have ENOUGH tummy fat. I do wish they looked more normal than they do. My right side looks just like a blob of flesh, not really breast-shaped. The left side (with the implant) has a little fold of skin under it, I think because the tissue expander on the left was expanded a little bigger than what I received for a permanent implant - necessary in order to try to match left and right side more.

But all in all, I'm glad I did it. I am so happy I don't have to worry about the open skin wound. I'm also happy that, with clothes, I have almost normal boobs. Better than the alternative!

So, what's happened in the last year? A lot of good things (travel to Norway - twice; England - once; trips with family; meeting new friends and keeping old ones; some spiritual growth; living in the moment). Some bad things (cancer spreading to the lungs; trying new treatments; more fatigue; physical limitations - swollen lymph nodes and occasionally rib pain). But I'm here. I'm happy. I'm still working, doing things I [mostly] like to do. Overall, I couldn't ask for a better support system: my family, my friends, my colleagues. Thank you all!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Soy, Green Tea, Blueberries, Red Wine, and Dark Chocolate

Here's an interesting article about diet and how these foods are effective against cancer cells (and even fat!) because they cut off the cell's blood supply. I am going to endeavor to eat these foods more - and even start incorporating them into my daily diet. I already eat soy a few times a week (usually soy milk) and green tea in the morning (will try to start drinking more cups each day). Now, I just need to bring in blueberries more often and dark chocolate - and maybe get some red wine. They say that they work better in combination. Thank you to Gooey and to Chris for posting variations of this article!

What I found interesting is that the researchers found that these foods are as effective (or maybe more effective) as traditional chemotherapy drugs at cutting off the cancer cells blood supply.

That strengthens my opinion that I should avoid chemo for as long as I can. I need to make my body healthier not break it down with toxic chemicals.

Now, if I can just cut out the sugars!

8pm diet update: I had wheat toast and green tea for breakfast; a blueberry muffin and a soy chai for a mid-morning snack; a mandarine orange; a granola bar; turkey sandwich with a few chips and a diet pepsi; red licorice and dark chocolate pieces (mom got a deal on them at the store today); roast beef, with roasted potatoes and carrots; tugayuk (a green from Alaska, preserved in misagaq - seal oil); a drum stick (ice cream cone with chocolate/nuts). I'm still feeling hungry; and a few red grapes. It must be because of the long walk in the sun today - about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Anticancer foods: green tea, blueberries, soy, dark chocolate, red grapes. Sugar: chai, red licorice, ice cream with chocolate. Hmm . . . I think that was an okay day!


At the end of the week, I was feeling overwhelmed at work - I received a lot of requests for things to do, which kept getting in the way of the things I planned for myself to do.

Among them was an invitation to participate in a panel review for NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship. The only thing is that I'd have to leave on March 1 for a three-day meeting and read 30+ proposals before then. Then, there's the travel fatigue, long working days (8amk to 5pm) with dinner afterwards. It's intense work. I'd get compensated but I'm not sure that it's worth the tax on my health. Plus, I'd have to cancel a couple of appointments. It's a chance for good net-working. Maybe I'll offer to help out . . . if I can do it by teleconference and may do a limited number? I don't know.

Also, I'd sent an abstract in for the State of the Arctic conference - a lot of papers on climate change and they're working on including human dimensions aspects - which is Miami in mid-March. I hadn't planned on going because I had limited travel funds and I thought I'd save that for Norway in September. But another opportunity for travel funds has come up, so maybe now I can go to it. The other day, I looked at the schedule and a lot of big names in Arctic research (both hard and social sciences) are presenting. Again, it's an intense few days of meetings, but good networking. But again, it would be long days and a long day traveling before and after - so fatigue is a factor. I'd also be gone for about 4 days. The good thing is that I don't have anything scheduled that week in terms of appointments.

As I said earlier, I was feeling quite overwhelmed on Friday - not quite knowing how I might get everything done. How did I cope? By relaxing on Friday night, taking Eddie and his classmate and mom to Lincoln City for the day yesterday (absolutely beautiful!), then a hike with Cat, Kai, their dogs, and Eddie this morning, and running errands with mom this afternoon (checked out the new Trader Joe's in town, grocery shopping, then the never-ending hunt for pants that are long enough for Spagedward, but which also fit him around the waist).

So, it's been a good weekend, lots of fresh air and sunshine that cleared the brain. I (almost) forgot about all that's expected of me at work and now that I look at it again, it's not that bad - it's doable. I'm still debating my two dilemmas. Hmmm, what to do? What to do?

I was feeling a little blue last week, after the Herceptin treatment, because of how fatigued I felt for a couple of days and also because of the swollen lymph nodes under my left arm. Both have limited my activities and made me wonder about how it will affect my future activities, so I was sad that I have to face those limitations. I tried to look at it from another perspective: most of my life, I've been really really active (I have a "yang" personality according to Chinese medicine), always on the go. So, maybe it's my time to slow down and my treatments are helping me (ahem, forcing me) to rest. Then, by Friday, I was feeling more or less normal and this week-end, I felt relatively normal. So, I think if I just plan to have a couple of days where I take it easy after the treatments, and remember that I can have a relatively normal life afterwards, it'll be easier next time.

I will note that by Friday, when I had energy, I was hungry all day. I ate a lot. That happened to me after the last Herceptin treatment - after the fatigue faded, I was all of a sudden really hungry all the time. I think my body, after it's knocked down a bit by the drug, is trying to replenish my stores. The trick, next time, is to try to replenish it with something other than sweets! But that's what I was craving - carbs, carbs, and more carbs.

Well, have a great evening! Happy Monday tomorrow.

Friday, February 19, 2010

National Geographic Flashback

A couple of months ago, a writer for National Geographic Magazine asked me for information on the Wolf Dance (the subject of my dissertation) for their regular feature called "Flashback". It appears in March's issue and includes a picture of the Kawerak Wolf Dancers from about 1914. I thought I'd share it with you all:

Wolf Dancers

Have a great Friday! The sun is shining and I can hear someone mowing the lawn on the baseball field outside my office! : )

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

And, last but not least, Boobs on the Beach

On our beach walk to California from our house in Brookings, we saw some very interesting pieces of driftwood. But none were as funny or interesting as this one.

I think I found my lost boobs from my mastectomy! LOL

My colleague yesterday told me that I'd probably see boobs on a Rorschach test!

Signs of Spring

Last week (or was it the week before?), I spotted these pretty purple crocuses on my walk to work from Eddie's school. The sun was shining and these blooms were so brilliant - and my phone took an excellent, nicely focused shot of them. I love spring here in the Willamette Valley. Plants start blooming in stages - first crocuses, then the daffodils, then . . . fun stuff!

Pretty, eh?

Pics from Brookings Trip

Here are some selected pictures from our trip to Brookings this past week-end. They aren't in chronological order . . . too lazy to do the cut and paste! Enjoy!

Here's a picture of Whaleshead Beach below - a few miles north of Brookings.

Here's another shot of Whaleshead.

And, this is a shot looking up at the tall redwoods in the Jedediah Smith Forest.

And, here's another shot of the tall redwoods from another perspective.

And, this is a shot of my brother, Kevin, and Eddie.

And, here's a shot of both of my brothers, Scotty and Kevin, and Eddie.

This tree had an interesting smaller tree growth coming out of its side.

I've been giving Gnomie (the "World Famous Traveling Gnome" who belongs to one of my friends) a tour - I took him to Victoria with me and then brought him to the Redwoods. We take pictures of him in a lot of places. He even has his own Facebook page! Anyway this is a shot of him near the Elephant Tree - if you see the branch that is coming out to the right of the tree, you can see it looks kinda like an elephant's trunk.

Here's a picture of my dad, my parents' dog Mimzi, and Eddie on the tram that flew us among the tree tops. Eddie was having fun!

Here's a picture of Eddie - we walked into California on the beach. : )

Here's another interesting tree - the trunk fell sideways and now three new trees are growing out of the trunk. They call it the Candelabra Tree.

Hope you enjoyed!

Holiday Pics of Me and Eddie

I finally downloaded some pics onto Eddie's computer (which is newer and faster) and wanted to share them with you.

Here's a picture of us right before Halloween.

Now, here's a picture from Christmas.

Aren't we cute? : )

Beautiful Sunny Day

I have not been blogging much lately - it's just been busy, between appointments, work, and going away for the week-end. I had a Herceptin treatment yesterday morning - was there for three hours - and am dealing with some fatigue and lower back pain (kidneys processing the drug). My legs felt shaky this morning, like they were weak, but I don't know why.

I'm feeling okay at the moment. It helps that it's sunny. I need to get out and enjoy it, but after I eat a good lunch with veggies.

I have a lot of work to do, little things like article and proposal reviews, plus two research projects, and a couple of my own proposals to work on. I'm feeling miffed because I need to get this work done, but my energy is kinda low. I'm also feeling miffed because I have a volleyball match tonight but I won't play because of the fatigue. I'm just miffed at the fatigue. I'm trying to be mindful and take care of myself and not overtax my energy. But it's a fine balance between taking care of business (i.e., I do have a full time job) and taking care of myself.

I'm also miffed because I don't like having lots of demands on my time. I just want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. But the world doesn't work like that. A few weeks ago, I talked about how I didn't quite have the focus at work and I think it relates to having the freedom to do what I want when I want to do it.

I just read this section at the end of Chopra's book "Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul" that relates to encouraging your own sense of timelessness. In our society, we always talk about how we don't have enough time. Chopra says that we need to remember that tasks get done when they get done and that they take as long as they have to take to complete it. There's no sense in stressing about making things happen faster. I've been gradually getting to this point where I try not to stress about all the different work projects or home projects that need to be done. They'll get done. It doesn't matter when. It's part of learning how to go with the flow. I like that freedom.

This past week-end, when we were in Brookings, I enjoyed going with the flow.

What bothers me about work is that I have to be in class at a certain time on a certain day. Or a meeting. That irritates me because I'd rather be able to say, "hey, this week isn't good for me for teaching a class - how about we all schedule it for next Tuesday at 2pm?" Wouldn't that be great?

Part of my dislike of being scheduled is that my medical appointments are so highly scheduled. Because of that, I want the rest of my life to be UNscheduled. That is why, to some extent, I haven't signed Eddie up for music lessons or sports or whatever. It's just too stressful - and there's some research that talks about how stressful it is for kids to be scheduled all the time - they need the free flow of play to help their creative/imaginative sides. I wish I could say to my medical team, "hey, I'm in the middle of writing right now - I have a good flow going - can we reschedule for tomorrow?"

Wouldn't it be great if we all had that sense of freedom and timelessness? : )

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Brookings, Oregon

My family (my folks, my two brothers, and Eddie) and I are in Brookings, Oregon, this weekend. Brookings is almost as far south as you can get on Hwy. 101, before you get to California.

We got here on Friday afternoon - and it was raining! We had sun, though, shining through the clouds from Reedsport to Gold Beach. Today, it was dry and we saw sun here and there. We are staying near the mouth of the Winchuk River. (I made a silly rhyme: How much chuck can a winchuk win if a winchuk could win chuck? LOL) We crossed the river and then walked south down the beach . . . and made it ALL the way to California! Hee hee. It's about 0.8 miles away. It was a nice walk and I picked up pieces of interesting driftwood, rocks, and shells. I love the beach - it makes me feel relaxed and calm and also it energizes me. It makes me happy!

This past week was busy - long (for me) days at work, Eddie's Valentine's Day party, and then preparing for this trip. I had a couple of appointments (as usual) and on Thursday, found out the results of my echocardiogram: normal heart function with an LVEF (left ventricular ejection fraction) of 55, in the normal range. So, now I just wait to hear if I'm eligible for the UW trial.

That left armpit with the swollen lymph nodes has been a little more painful again, which means it's swelling.

I'm realizing lately that I might not be able to play volleyball much - maybe not anymore, but at least for the foreseeable future. It's a combination of potentially getting rib fractures (they've been a little more tender since playing volleyball last week) and fatigue. I think the swollen lymph nodes won't always be a problem like they are now. That makes me a little sad, to realize that cancer has taken away this activity that used to be a lot of fun; I just need to replace that with more walks on the beach, I think! Maybe not playing volleyball is a little inevitable: I'm older now and not as limber and I might have been tired anyway in the evening.

Tomorrow, we're going to head down into California and go hiking among the redwoods. I also want to get another walk on the beach.

I have a fun picture to post - but I'll get it there tomorrow. I'm tired! The long drive yesterday, watching the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, and the walk into California has me tired! Oh, we went to a local gathering today - the Art and Chocolate Festival.

I'm glad I'm here - I just need to get to bed early tonight and relax! Have a great week-end everyone!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Boob joke

I found the following boob joke on "shuffle status" - an application on Facebook where you can choose funny status posts.

For the first time in 15 years, I'm now able to touch my toes... the only trouble is... I've done it with my boobs!


Long Day

I had a long day at work today - well a long one for me. I got to work by about 8:30am and left about 5:15pm. By the time I left, I crashed, big time. I was so tired. I've been dragging all evening. I didn't help with dishes and then I sent my brother to 7-11 for an ice cream treat. Man, I'm tired tired tired.

But, in good spirits. I was able to get a couple of things done at work today.

My other brother, Kevin, is going to join us in Brookings this week-end. Yay! The more the merrier . ..

Anyway, have a great week!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lazy Saturday

Today, we didn't really have any plans ... and we couldn't come up with any that really sounded interesting. Dad had a head-ache. Scotty went to the Alice in Chains concert in Salem. Mom and I ran a few errands. Then, after lunch, I took Eddie to Wacky Bounce. We came home and ate dinner - mom made hamburgers.

This evening, I made Eddie's Valentine's Day box for his Valentine's party next week. He "helped" me by decorating it. I thought that because he enjoys his wii so much, we'd make a "kart", as in Mario Kart. I tried to find stickers of racing, but in the end, what I found was stickers of roller coasters. So, I made "Eddie's Coaster Kart", complete with a roller coast made of pipe cleaners on the lid. In the end, I enjoyed the creative process to make the kart - from the roller coaster, to seat belts for Mario and Luigi, to the wheels. Mom and dad even got into helping me figure out how to do things.

Here's one side . . .

And, here's the other!

I had fun. A good way to spend an evening!

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Glorious Day

We had a beautiful day here in the Willamette Valley. It was partly cloudy, but warm! I saw some crocuses blooming today on my way to the office. I'll try to remember to post the picture.

I had my echocardiogram today. The technician had trouble getting a decent angle to get good pictures of my heart. He finally got one, though, although it was a little "off-axis". I watched the monitor sometimes and could see my mitral valve moving as well as the color-enhanced picture that showed blood moving away and blood moving toward the transducer.

This afternoon, we had a meeting with some of the Ph.D. students on advanced anthro theory. I didn't read all the readings - but I did read a few more that were interesting. It was fun to discuss them. Well, not sure if "fun" is the right word, but it was intellectually stimulating.

I paid bills this afternoon and worked on my budget. My taxes were accepted by both the feds and the state. Between the items we've sold on Craigslist, a little more money I'm getting from taxes, more of a reimbursement from insurance for acupuncture, and the honorarium from Victoria, we are able to afford a little vacation getaway next week-end (after paying off a couple of things, of course). Eddie has a five-day week-end, so we're going to Brookings, Oregon, on the southern Oregon Coast. Plus, with mom and dad moving in, we all have a little extra.

Happy week-end!


One of the blogs I read is written by Laurie at Not Just About Cancer. Today, she posted about creating her list of things to do, "lists are good", for the month of February, based upon a group called "List Lovers Unite" on BlogHer.

I use lists a lot, especially at work. This past fall, I went from using one notepad with a list of things to do - with sublists for each project - to five notepads with a list on it. This way, I could kinda keep track of what was going on with my various different projects. Anyway, here's my list:

1. Interview 3 or 4 more Yup'ik/Inupiaq elders for the Alaska Statehood project.
2. Do research on breast cancer blogs - I'm trying to compile a list of the major complaints or problems breast cancer patients face which can be passed on to care providers.
3. Submit a workshop proposal for an indigenous project I'm working on with some other indigenous scholars.
4. Find and draft a grant proposal to buy me out of classes next year.
5. Submit a conference proposal to bring students to the International Conference on Indigenous Place Names.
6. Finish my mosaic.
7. Shred old financial documents.
8. Organize storage closet.
9. Help Eddie create his Valentine's Day Box. I think we're shooting to make a Mario-kart look-alike.
10. Meditate and practice qigong 4-5 times per week.

The good news is that I finally feel as if I have better focus at work. Like I said a couple of weeks ago, it's not that I don't like my job. It's that there are other things I wish to spend my time on. I think I'm finally figuring out how I can incorporate my interests into my work . . . still working on some ideas, but I've had a couple of good conversations with friends this week that are fleshing it out.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

No News is Good News

I've been silent the past few days. Part of it is that I really don't have any new news to report. I'm having an echocardiogram tomorrow - mostly because we need to monitor my heart due to Herceptin and Tykerb and I haven't had one for over 18 months - and partly because this is the last step before they determine eligibility for the UW immunotherapy trial.

I've also been silent because I have been fatigued in the evenings. Part of that is certainly due to my treatment but part is because . . . I've stayed up past 11pm the past couple of nights, watching TV and working or playing on the computer. Bad habit. My goal is to get to sleep by 10:30 or 11pm so I can get that extra hour.

Trying to work on small projects at work - I have an interview later this morning and then a lunch meeting. We're going to grab some soup over at the library - it's a fundraiser for Linn Benton Food Share and the staff brought in homemade soups. Mmm mmm good.

I finished my taxes last night and submitted them - I'm getting a few hundred more than I expected, which will go toward paying off my car, but also a little mini-vacation to the southern Oregon Coast next week-end. Eddie has a 5-day week-end so we're taking advantage of it!

Plus, I got a bit more on my insurance reimbursement for acupuncture than I expected - they also paid for herbs. I called them to make sure it wasn't a mistake and the person who helped me said not to worry - I may not get the herbs reimbursed next time. It depends on how the person processing the claim codes it.

We've sold about $200 worth of things on Craigslist - we meaning me and my family. We're selling all the furniture we don't need. It's enough to allow Dad to buy wood to make raised beds for the garden. We still have a lot of stuff in the garage to sell . . . but gradually, we're getting more and more room in there.

My swollen lymph nodes are no longer shrinking. They seemed to shrink a little bit (maybe from 5cm to 4cm). I'm just happy with the thought that they did shrink and I hope that my next Herceptin treatment shrinks them further!

Otherwise, I'm doing well. Tired, but in good spirits. I can walk around and see things sprouting everywhere. We're having an El Nino year, which accounts for our warmer than normal winter. Things are sprouting and blooming several weeks early. No complaints!