Gastro Update

I saw my gastrointerological oncologist today.  It was my annual appointment to review my file and determine whether or not I have to have a colonoscopy.

The appointment went well.  He is not concerned about the anemia in the least.  He said that people who have had RNY are more likely than not to be iron deficient anemic.  It is not indicative of a bleed, just indicative of people who have an inability to absorb all the nutrients from their food.  Oh hey yeah, that’s me.  He said I should take the iron supplement and take it with meat and vitamin C to help it absorb.

He does want me to have a colonoscopy, so it’s on the schedule for November.  Yay.  Except not.

In other news, Baltimore is still Baltimore.

Anemia Update

I went back to the endocrinologist yesterday for a follow-up and to get the results of the additional blood work.  My B12 levels are fine (hello, supplements) but I have an iron deficiency.  He again insisted I must be bleeding from somewhere, but I have no symptoms of an ulcer, no bleeding from anywhere that I can see, am a gastric bypass patient with malabsorbtion issues, and a cancer patient.  My level of worry about my iron deficiency is kind of low.  He put me on an iron supplement (oh yay, hello constipation) and told me to take it with MEAT.  I told him I don’t really eat much red meat and he told me to up my red meat intake as it is the only way my body will probably absorb that iron.

Okie dokie then.  We’re having red meat for dinner tonight.

He also gave me a script for the Iron pill.  It’s the same dosage you get from the OTC kind but at least with a script, I can use my healthcare account to purchase it.

I also promised I’d see my gastrointerological oncologist (I had my regular visit scheduled for Monday anyway).  I told him I’d take all the blood work with me.  I have already spoken to BOTH my oncologists on the phone, so they aren’t worried.  If they aren’t worried, I’m not.

Big thing about people who have had gastric bypass – um, we can be anemic.  We don’t absorb vitamins and minerals as easily as someone with normally constructed guts.  Our guts have been rearranged specifically to NOT absorb things.  So, yeah.  I told him that.  We’ll see what the iron supplement does.

In other news, thanks to my daily exercise plan, and eating right, I had lost five pounds from last week to this week.  And also, my glucose readings were spot on.  I’m pushing protein, veggies, good oils and fruits and eliminating all types of sugar (any fruit juices even squeezes of lemon/lime, all artificial sweeteners because Stevia is just fructose, etc).  I feel much better doing my clean eating (well, the muscles are all up in arms about working out), but I feel amazing.

So, we’ll see what the oncologist says next week.

In other news, tomorrow is my birthday.  Yay!  I’m working all day, and probably late at that.  Boo!

Three Words That Strike Terror Into a Cancer Patient

You are anemic.

I went to the endocrinologist yesterday for my checkup on my thyroid.  I had all my blood work done last week.  They took about 5 vials, so I knew he was doing a full workup.  When I saw him yesterday, the first thing he did was bitch because my glucose numbers were higher than what he wanted (mine are usually around 110 to 115 – excellent for someone who used to be in the 300s daily) but he wants them between 70 and 99.  For me, that’s too low – I get dizzy and hypo.  I told him that, but yeah.  So, now I have to prick my finger 4 times a day and write down everything I put in my mouth.  Now, I’ve been following the 21-day Fix eating plan for the past two weeks.  It’s really low carb, clean eating.  Nothing processed.  I do a daily protein shake because I’ve stepped up my work outs.  The protein shake is very low in sugars (less than 6g) – Shakeology.  I stick to low glycemic fruits.  No bread, rice, potatos, grains, etc.  I do, occasionally, have to eat some steel cut oats to get things moving once in a while, but that’s it.  Oh, and I do eat quinoa.  No nuts or nut butters because they interfere with my thyroid meds.  So, overall, eating incredibly healthy.  But he has told me absolutely no starches, nothing to drink but water or black coffee (not an issue – I do this already).  No dairy.  Three meals a day, no snacks (I was doing 6 small because I felt better, but ok – I can do anything for 7 days) and go back and see him in a week to see if it makes a difference.  We’ll see.

Then he was looking at my other numbers.  Vit D is good.  LDL is 136.  HDL is 72. Tryglicerides are in the 50s.    Thyroid numbers indicate my meds are a bit high, so he cut that back.  But…

He looks at me and says, “You’re anemic.”

Yes, I knew it because I’ve felt a bit tired and was craving raw rice.  I do that when I’m anemic.

“Well, you are bleeding from somewhere – must be your periods.”

Nope, haven’t had one of those in 3 years.

“Then you must have a polyp in your colon.”

WHAT?

How do you even tell someone that when they are a cancer patient with a Lynch Syndrome diagnosis??

I told him I see my gastrointrological oncologist on the 21st, but my scan last year came back clean.  I’ve had no symptoms.  Exactly how anemic am I?  Could it be my B12?  My iron?  (A bariatric patient knows to ask these things – she was calm and level headed in my brain.  The cancer patient was freaking the eff out.)

So he drew more blood to test for my B12 levels (um, you didn’t do that in the 5 other vials you took last week??).  I go back in a week.  I was, of course, freaked out.

So I got in the car and called my oncologist.  Of course, he wasn’t available (I mean, he is a surgeon) so I left a message.

Dr. Rao called back last night around 6 and talked me off a wall.  He said that nearly everyone who undergoes what my body has gone through will experience some level of anemia.  It’s directly correlated to the chemo and the massive amounts of radiation I have gone through.  He asked me, “How anemic are you?”  I told him the doctor said only slightly.  Dr. Rao said, “Meh – I’m not worried about it.  You aren’t bleeding from anything.  Call me if your numbers come back showing severe anemia and we’ll talk, but otherwise, you are fine.  Enjoy your remission and I”ll see you next month.”

Big. Huge. Sigh. Of. Relief.

I do see my gastro oncologist on the 21st.  Am hoping this year for no colonoscopy – kind of over medical procedures.

Realized today that I started chemo 3 years ago on the 10th.  Time flies, and stands still all at the same time.

Oh, and September is Gynecological Cancer Awareness month.  Just a reminder to make sure you get your pap smears and GYN visits.  Annually. No excuses.  Fight for it.  And wear your peach and teal to honor the fighters.  We may not all be survivors, but we are ALL fighters.

I continue to Fight Like a Girl.

So Ready for a Vacation

Even though we just had one.

We leave Friday afternoon to spend a week at our campsite in VA.  I am so looking forward to spending a week at the beach, doing nothing if I don’t want to.  I have a bajillion books piling up on my Kindle.  I have sun screen screaming my name.  And I will get to spend the week with my sweet Sophie and hopefully a weekend with my Keegan.

I had a scare yesterday – I noticed some blood when I went to the bathroom.  I remembered it was the day I had used my estrogen cream, and deducted that I scratched myself when I was applying, because there was no actual active bleeding.  But I did have a minor panic attack.

I’m also scheduled for my annual mammogram next month.

My nephew is finally going to get his genetic testing done.  I was able to send him a copy of my testing so they could narrow down the gene malformation.  Hopefully he is negative.  Fingers crossed anyway.

Other than that, and my Jamberry stuff there isn’t much going on.  Hope everyone is getting ready for the 4th, and enjoying their summer!

16 Years

Seems like a lifetime, and seems like yesterday all in the same breath.

16 years ago, I lost my big sister to Ovarian Cancer.

16 years ago, I spent this day, in a chair, in her bedroom, watching her sleep.  I woke up that day, knowing that it was the day.  I called out from work and told them I just knew.  And I did.  I drove down with my mother, and I sat with her all day.  She didn’t wake the entire day – just laid there.  It was probably the most restful day she’d had in over a week – her sleep was peaceful, breathing wasn’t labored.  She just was.  And I was just there.  I said little, just watching my big sister sleep.  Wishing a thousand wishes that this wasn’t going to be the end, that she wake, and smile at me, and the nightmare of the past six month would be over.

My sister knew I was there.  She held on all day.  She refused to let go while I was there.

Mom and I told my brother-in-law around 4:30 or 5 that we were going home to get dinner.  We stopped and got some chinese take-out on the way home, and just as we sat down to eat, the phone rang.

She had passed while we were driving home.

My sister was beautiful.  Simply beautiful.  She had a laugh that to this very day I remember – high-pitched and glorious – full of joy and merriment.  She was a brilliant woman, and a great mom.  She was that typical sister – you know, the perfect one.  Beautiful and smart, and couldn’t do wrong.  She had a temper that could sting, and a look that could wither, but to her friends, she was a saint.  To her children, she was their world.

To me, she was my Sissy.

We didn’t know about Lynch Syndrome then – although we should have.  My dad had passed from colon cancer.  My other sister had also had colon cancer a few years before.  And then, Betsy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  We never put two and two together.

Then, in 1998 when she got her diagnosis, it was a death sentence.  People now, who are diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer have a better shot at remission, but then, no.  Betsy got her diagnosis in November 1998.  She had stem cell replacement, and was in remission by December (treated in the same hospital where I received my treatment).  In February, the cancer was back – and moved swiftly.  By February 14th, a blood clot presented in her leg.  By the 19th, it moved to her brain and caused a stroke.  By the 20th, she begun hemorrhaging as the cancer ate through her colon.  And by the 23rd, she was gone.

My sister left a legacy.  Three beautiful children who are now adults.  She never saw them graduate from highschool or college.  She never saw the way they blossomed into adulthood.  She missed her girls’ weddings, and the birth of her grandchild (I won’t say she never met him – she knows Keegan, and I hope, through us, he will know her).

I miss my sister.  Not a day goes by where I don’t think about her in some small way.  She’s in my dreams.  She’s on the tip of my tongue, at the back of my brain.  She is in her kids, and her grandchild.  She’s in my heart.

16 years.

I miss you.

World Cancer Day

So, today is World Cancer Day – where we take a moment to highlight what is being done to fight cancers; honor the survivors and fighters; and remember those who have passed.

So, as a survivor, fighter, etc., I’m really kind of meh about this day.

I know, shame on me.

BUT…

I kind of feel that everyday for me is cancer day.  It shouldn’t be a once a year thing.  We should, as cancer fighters, and survivors, and family and friends, ALWAYS be highlighting our fight.

And another thing – for those who have passed from cancer, the one thing that really burns my biscuits is when people refer to those folks as people who have lost the fight.

No – they fought until the end.  Even if they chose to stop fighting, they fought.  They didn’t LOSE that battle.  They won.  They beat cancer.  Maybe not on an earthly plain, but never, ever say, for a minute, that they gave up a fight.  It’s disrepectful.

My sister was a fighter.  Every day, every hour, every minute until her last.

My dad was the same.  He fought like hell – to see his little girl take her first steps, say her first word…he died shortly after I did both.  I was 17 months old.

I fight.  Every day.  Like a girl.  Kicking and screaming and scratching and clawing.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of cancer.  Not one single day.

Today, I woke up, got dressed, got to work, and found spotting in my underwear when I went to the bathroom.

I’m 24 months in remission this month.  And today, I’m spotting.

I’m freaking the fuck out people.

Pardon my french, but there is no other way to put it.

Freaking. The. Fuck. Out.

The bleeding has stopped, and in my mind, I’m trying to justify.  “Maybe I scratched myself when I was putting on my estrogen cream this morning”…yeah, that’s it.  I must have scratched myself.  Which is a perfectly logical explanation for the bright red blood.  Which has stopped.

I know I need to call my oncologist.  But I’m scared to.  One, I’m scared to call him if it is nothing.

And I’m scared that it might be…something.

And that something…well, it nearly killed me two years ago.

World Cancer Day is being thrown into my face all over Facebook today.  I won’t comment on the posts.  I won’t share them.  I am like a bird with her head in the sand.

I promised myself I will call my oncologist if there is more spotting tomorrow.

Today, my head is burried.

Send me some good mojo, my friends.

Done For Another Year and Cancer is a Bitch

I had two procedures last Friday – a balloon endoscopy to look into the section of my stomach that has been sectioned off as a result of gastric bypass, and the intestines that are attached to it and a colonoscopy.  This was all part of my annual screening as a result of my Lynch Syndrome diagnosis.  Both tests came back clear.  Pink and healthy and no evidence of polyps or anything else.  I have  text-book RNY pouch and I’ve been taking care of it – no stretching to my stomach, no indications of ulcers or anything else that can typically occur with bypass patients.  I have been religious about taking my acid reducer every day since surgery – very important for someone who has a pouch of stomach acid that has nothing else to do because it is no longer used to break down food.

I met with my endocrinologist yesterday who confirmed that my glucose levels are much more in line that they were after chemo, but he will still monitor me closely.  As a result of the Graves’ disease, he’s keeping me on a low dose of metformin to help counteract the hormones and aid the metabolism – for now.  He also indicated that since it has only been two weeks since my thyroid treatment, there has been no change.  I don’t go back for 6 weeks.  Until then, he has me on the thyroid diet – which is very similar to the bariatric diet I *should* have been following.  Protein, veggies, fruit, good fats (including cheese and olive oil), and only at meals.  No sauce on my meat, nothing that has added sugar (like fruit juice of any kind), only the items listed above.  I was subbing butternut squash and pumpkin for starches, but he said no to those.  Nothing to drink but water, club soda, black coffee or tea that I make myself (with nothing added – no herbal tea because it may have sugar on the leaves).  The reasoning is, when my thyroid bottoms out, my metabolism won’t work without added hormones and it can take up to year to get the dosing correct.  I will need to stick to this eating plan for life so my weight doesn’t swing back up and my glucose levels remain healthy.

He also indicated that more than likely, I’ll be able to come off the heart pills I have been taking every day since my heart attack in ’03.  I take a small dose of a beta blocker.  I think my cardiologist might disagree, but we’ll see.

The endocrinologist also said I will feel really shitty in a couple of weeks.

Bring it.

In other news, I have a friend who was one of my best friends in high school.  He has a son who is 13.  Over the summer, his son started to have some leg pain.  When they got it checked out, the found a cyst in his thigh bone that had nearly eaten its way through.  Osteoscarcoma.  The son (who I will call Jason to protect privacy) has been undergoing treatments at one of the top children’s’ hospitals on the East Coast – AI Dupont children’s’ Hospital.  (So good, Jen Arnold and Bill Klein – the Little Couple – have taken their children their for treatment).  He has had some chemo and it has been rough, not only on Jason, but on his dad Mike (name also changed).  Last month, Jason lost his hair because of the chemo, so I knitted him a chemo cap of soft purple yarn (his favorite color).  This past weekend, Mike and his ex-wife had to tell Jason that he was going to lose his leg at the hip.  How in the hell do you tell your 13-year-old that on top of everything he’s going through, he’s going to lose his leg as well?  I mean, you and I, as adults, can reason and say, “Hey, better my leg than my life,” but how do you reason that to a 13-year-old, a few weeks before his birthday?

My heart is aching.

I’m making Jason a purple blanket to take with him to the hospital.  Because I can’t fix the cancer.  I can just smother it in love.

Sigh.  Fuck you cancer.  You should pick on us adults, who can reason and fight you – leave the kids alone.

Prayers most graciously accepted for Jason and his family.