Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hormones or the lack there of...

I just read an interesting article about Hormone Therapy on The article is geared towards helping women figure out if hormone therapy is right for them. There are many misconceptions about hormone therapy, so it never hurts to brush up on it. The article also states that any woman with a history of or a high risk to Ovarian, Breast, or Uterine cancer should not take Hormones. Since I fall into the "history of" category and I'm seven months into my journey with "instant menopause" I thought I'd update you as to where things stand.

Hot flashes invade my personal space on average about 3-4 times a day. Since the weather's been on the cool side(sixty degrees is cool for Florida) they seem to have decreased a bit. I usually handle the flashes by stripping where ever I am, how much I strip obviously depends on my location:) I've gotten a handle on the flash itself. I know when it's coming and how long it will last. It usually starts with a weird feeling in my legs. Followed by a strange feeling of not wanting anything on me or next to me and then a feeling of not wanting to be inside my own skin. The crazy part is that once the flash is over, it's as if nothing ever happened and within an instant I'm freezing to death, pulling the comforter back up or re-layering with sweatshirts or sweaters.

Dan(my hubby) is a real trooper. He's subjected to around the clock air conditioning and the constant on and off clicking of ceiling fans. I'm sure he never imagined in a million years that he would be dealing with a wife who's going through menopause at the age of 35. I try hard not to match my old lady diagnosis with old lady behavior. That combo would likely send him running for the hills!

I don't think I've exhibited traits of bitchiness, out of control emotions, or a short temper...but who am I to judge. The one glitch in the system is not being able to control who I get hot flashes in front of. I can be in the middle of a conversation with one or many people. I then feel like I owe it to them to explain why it is that in a room as cold as the north pole, I'm forced to pull out a napkin to wipe away the cluster of sweat beads that have within seconds formed around my temple.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Living in the moment...

I'm going to make my husband proud with this entry. Dan's the type of person who wants you to love everything that he loves. He's spent years trying to get me to watch one of his favorite shows (Battlestar Gallatica). Today I proudly announce that his dreams may soon become a reality. I am finally on the verge of submitting...

What brought about this sudden change? Cancer of course. One of the main characters of the show is a cancer survivor who's currently going through a recurrence. In addition to being a cancer survivor she happens to be president of the planet or universe...I'm not sure what she's president of...I just know she's president...

Because she's going through a recurrence, she's forced to hold a press conference to announce her status. Here's the gist...

President: I can confirm that my cancer has returned....

Reporter: Do you know how long you have?

President: Do You?

Reporter: (Blank Stare, mouth wide open)

What a great response! Do any of us really know what the future holds? It's true, some of us have come closer to our own mortality than we would have ever liked to...but nothing in this life is guaranteed...not even for someone who "appears" to be in the best of health. Our power lies with hoping and praying for the best. Taking care of our mind, body, and spirit to the best of our ability and enjoying each day that life has to offer. No matter what your journey is, we all owe it to ourselves to enjoy what's right in front of us. Wandering about what awaits us down the road can make you crazy.

It can immobilize you...

The ability to keep moving and pushing forward during your darkest days takes a lot of work. It's just as much of a mental battle as it is physical, but it's a battle that can be won. Everyday won't be easy, every moment won't be easy. Just yesterday I had a moment where I felt like I just couldn't win. There are so many things that I want to do, yet I can't find an easy road to any of them(I'm starting to think I'm not suppose to) I'm trying to get on with my life post cancer in the midst of the worst economic time our country has ever faced. I almost let my frustration with a couple of situations ruin my whole day. But instead, I decided to take back all of the energy I invested in everything that was going wrong and in turn focus it on everything that was going right. The rest I figure will fall into place.

A philosophy that I'm applying to the many facets of my life.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Adoption after cancer?

Adoption after cancer. Is it possible?

Is it a dream that I can safely hold onto?

I'm not sure.

I always assumed I would be a mother. It never really occurred to me that I wouldn't. Even before I was married, with no prospects of a husband in my immediate or distant future I knew that I would have children, even if I had to tap into other resources to make it happen:)

I knew that if I never had children, it would be by choice. My choice. And as most of you know the word "choice" in my book has been redefined forever.

When I think about our future, a part of me still sees us with a house full of kids, although I question where these kids will come from. After a diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer I don't know how many adoption agencies are rushing to place a child in your care...

If I'm having a really good day, I can convince myself that I don't want children, thereby avoiding another one of life's disappointments and heartache. This way I can't be let down when things don't work out, no harm no foul!

We have no shortage of children in our lives so that void has been filled. The nagging, lingering thought for me is, how much we can enrich the life of a child and truly make a difference in their future.

If anyone has any success stories please share, I would love to hear from someone who has traveled this road before me.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kudo's to Kathy Bates and her Ovarian Cancer Mission...

It's hard to announce to your friends and family that you have cancer. I know for me it's still a hard thing to do. Every time I say it out loud it's confirmation that this is my life and that this is my journey. So I can only imagine how hard it would be if my life were in the spotlight.

Kathy Bates, while on a press junket for her new movie Revolutionary Road, has also been sharing her own personal journey with Ovarian Cancer. I am so happy that she has decided to share her story. We all try and do our part in spreading awareness, but unfortunately we're not celebrities. I'm confident that my outreach and story will eventually touch thousands of women, but that will take time. Kathy Bates will be able to reach the masses and reach them quickly.

We need star power, we need people to wake up and listen, we need people to know that Ovarian Cancer does not discriminate.

I'm attaching the link for an interview that Kathy Bates did on the Today Show, where she shares a little bit about her mission.

Kudos to Ms. Bates!!

P.S-Revolutionary Road looks awesome!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ovarian Cancer and Obesity...

An interesting article came across my computer today...have I mentioned just how much I love google alerts?

They(not really sure who they are) have just added a new "risk factor" that can increase your chances of getting Ovarian Cancer. Ladies who are over 50 and overweight are now at an elevated risk.

"Obese women may face an elevated risk because their fat cells turn normal hormones into estrogen and estrogen plays a role in the development of ovarian cancer. But doctors are quick to note that being thin is no guarantee of preventing ovarian cancer."

So now we have it, just one more reason(among the many) that maintaining a healthy weight is essential for healthy living. I, like a growing number of women are not only battling the disease but also the battle of the bulge...the bulge brought on by the oh so lovely chemotherapy. In addition to blaming cancer and chemo, I'm also realizing that the lack of hormones(brought on by sudden menopause) must also claim it's role in providing us with the extra pounds as well, particularly around your middle section.

I was in the grocery store the other day and it suddenly dawned on me. Yes, I'm dealing with some unwanted, lingering, pounds. But the choice to reverse the situation is mine. There I was shopping, picking out what ever I wanted...fruits and veggies included. There are far too many people who don't have that luxury. They have no choice but to eat and feed their family off of fast food, dollar menus, or meals that you can stretch into two or three days, like pasta.

I choose what foods to bring into my house, I choose what foods to put in my mouth, and ultimately I choose whether or not I put these extra pounds away for good.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The state of our healthcare...Obama Biden Project

I just found out that the wife of a good family friend recently lost her battle with breast cancer. My mom slipped and told me, she didn't mean to...she was planning on keeping that secret for as long as she could. I think she died around the time of my 3 month check-up and she didn't want to stress me out. I know her intention's were good. For many it's hard to hear that someone on the same journey as you didn't make. It can send your mind reeling and turn your world upside down. To be honest, I don't know how I would have reacted, it all depends on the day, minute, or hour that you talk to me. What I do know is that this woman would have lived a lot longer if she had treatment in a timely manner. I don't remember all of the details of her situation but I know that she waited an unusually long time before anything was started and I believe the reason behind that was lack of insurance or adequate insurance. In other words the difference between life and death.

Last week I had the pleasure and honor of attending a community forum about the state of health care in America. It was a community forum held at the request of The Obama-Biden Transition team. They've reached out to community groups all across the country, asking us to address and uncover key issues that will ultimately help them when they take on the huge task of re-vamping our current health care system.

It was a two hour meeting that could have went on for weeks...

It would be wonderful is President elect Obama could fix everything that's wrong with our system with the snap of a finger, unfortunately he's not superman and that's not humanly possible. Just like his campaign, it's going to take some grass roots efforts. Our health care system didn't get this way overnight and neither will the solution. The grass roots approach can be hard and often frustrating at times as it seems like you spend more time spinning your wheels than doing anything productive.

I hope that they hear "us". I hope they recognize that people are dying unnecessarily. Children are sick and are remaining sick because their parents don't know where to turn. People are penalized for having a pre-existing conditions, through no fault of their own. People are losing their homes because of mounting hospital bills and insurance premiums. Quality , affordable health care is a right. The freedom of choice is a right.

Without the freedom of choice I don't know where I'd be right now. I never once worried about whether my insurance was going to cover my medical expenses. My main concern was find the right team of doctor's to save my life. From my initial meeting with the gyn who found the mass on my ovary to my first chemotherapy treatment it might have been 4 weeks. That includes a meeting with a specialist, diagnosis, surgery and follow up care. I had top notch first rate care from start to finish, the difference between life and death. Can I say that about my neighbor?

Friday, January 2, 2009

I'm mentally and physically ready for 2009!!

Happy New Year!! The holiday's were great, we spent Christmas in North Carolina with my parents. Dan and I spent New Year's Eve at a local hotel, they had a dinner/dancing package that we couldn't resist. We were able to stay close to home and still have an amazing time. I'm so happy we went out, I really feel like we started the new year in the right way! The not so good news is that I'm old. I've been so caught up in being a "young ovarian cancer survivor" that I forget that I'm really not that young. Dancing in the interim has become quite the chore and after eating I'm usually headed for a nap. So going out and staying out(at least until the ball dropped) was quite impressive to say the least.

On Wednesday I went to get my port flushed at the hospital. Surprisingly my blood pressure was perfect. Usually just seeing the sign for the hospital, sends my pressure sky high. So although that may seem like a minor detail, it's actually a pretty major milestone. Could it be that I've finally gotten use to the white coats? I hope so, because a few more out of whack blood pressure readings might prompt someone to give me a pill to fix the problem and a pill is the last thing I need.

The one great thing about going to the doctor is that I'm always happy to see the wonderful staff of people who take such great care of all of us. You spend so much time with them, they kind of become your extended family or your home away from home. It's kind of weird when you don't see them every week.

Wednesday's visit was also really good for my soul. There was a women there going through a recurrence, after three years the cancer has metastasized to her lungs. She was so upset and frustrated with everything, my heart just ached for her. I also saw a few women come in who appeared to be having a not so great day, I'm assuming they just had chemo and my heart ached for them as well. Chemo can take such a toll on your body and I found myself sitting there praying that they would find some comfort. I wanted to reach out to them and tell them that things are better on the other side and that one day chemo will become more of a distant memory than they would have ever thought.

I left the doctor's office with proof of how far I've come and how much I've grown. No one knows what the future holds for them and I think I'm finally coming to a point where I believe that to be true. A few months ago, I would have left that office feeling sorry for myself hand in hand with new and added worries about when my other shoe was going drop. When I left this time, my thoughts remained with those I came in contact with. I'm working hard to live by the rule...why worry about something that is not in your control or that hasn't happened yet?

This is a step forward for me. I may have moments where things aren't as clear, but according to my rule...I'm not to worry about that yet!