Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Soy, Estrogen, Hot Flashes

Finally heard from the oncology nurse regarding taking low dose Premarin for my heat waves. Even though my tumor was not fueled by estrogen (ER negative), the Oncologist does not recommend any type of systemic estrogen. The oncologist would approve Estring, stating that a little estrogen would pass into the system from the vagina.

I asked about using over the counter Estroven. The nurse couldn't find on the internet the mg of phytoestrogens that are in Estroven and suggested that I speak with the pharmacist. Nurse Leslie said it was okay to consume soy-based foods, such as tofu, a few times a week, but not to consume soy supplements. After doing a little research, I now read that flax seeds aren't the best. But earlier research indicated that women should drink green tea and sprinkle flax seed on yogurt or salads, etc.

After disconnecting the call with the nurse, I was immediately mad and sad. I wanted to sit down and just cry. My first thought was, "Damn this cancer! Why does it continue to wreck havoc!?" I'm not sure why the emotions have been high these past few weeks. I find myself crying when driviing home from work. Soon I hope to have the light bulb moment that will shine on what is bothering me.

It's over 100 degrees in the Seattle area and it is miserable. Thank goodness for Ambien! We are taking a cold shower before bed, putting a wrapped ice pack on our bodies, laying spread-eagle in bed with a fan blowing . . . . waiting for that Ambien to kick in.

At least with this heat, I can't blame the sweating on hot flashes!!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Miracle Baby

Please join me in prayer and well wishes for a successful pregnancy for Kim (Batty) and her husband Peter. Kim has been fighting Stage IV breast cancer since 2005.

Read her story here: Batty's blog

Saturday, July 25, 2009


You only make a decision once;
thereafter you just manage it daily.

Happy to report that the fractured left radial head is improving!

I had serious doubts on the orthopedist wisdom when he said that it was in my best interest to keep moving my arm and hand – increase the range of motion (ROM). It hurt! Stinking hurt, 24/7. Pain pills just took the edge off in order to go to sleep.

Another frustrating point with this whole thing is dealing with work and HR. Sorry to those peeps who may be in the HR field and reading this. Look at it from my eyes. I have an arm that is in a sling. I have a hand that can barely hold 2 pieces of paper. Yet you want me to have my very expensive orthopedist spell out what exactly is “light typing”. Let ME tell you what light typing means. Heck, I’m the expert in this area - been in the this field since 1972 - and it’s my frigging arm/hand that’s hurting! I’ll tell you what I can do.

There were meetings that needed minutes taken and transcribed. There were letters and other documents that needed to be keyboarded or formatted. Wouldn’t you think that someone other than me needed to have their hands on the keyboard? Bless my supervisors heart for being between a rock and a hard place having lost three of seven positions during the recent layoffs. She has been trying to take over the extra projects while doing her own. I realize this. I appreciate this. And I didn’t fall off my bike on purpose. It’s just been a frustrating two weeks for me. Once again, I am impaired because of something beyond my control, and it is impacting every facet of my life. Impacting Vic’s life again. You try putting on socks or underwear with one hand. :-)

I have to wait another 4 weeks to allow the arm/bone to heal. If the pain in the wrist and the numb fingers continue, the orthopedist will then do a nerve damage study. But I’m glad that I can keyboard without too much pain, hold things with my left hand and drive (almost) safely.

I truly didn’t mean for this post to be whiney and cranky. Just wanted to report on how life our life is improving after breast cancer treatment and fractured radials. Oh well.

I am continuing to take 2,000 units of Wisconsin Ginseng that I took as part of the medical research study. It is truly helping with the energy! I take 1,000 units with breakfast and another 1,000 units at lunch. I was told not to take it after 1 p.m. as it may give me too much energy and may impact my sleep. This hasn’t really been the case.

I had a very minute hair trim on Wednesday. Some sections of the hair were too long and cork-screwing . . .sort of like Princess Leia from Star Wars. The hairdresser wanted to have some fun trying to straighten out the curls into a “style”. I let her. Figured if I didn’t like it, I could always put a little water on the hair and watch it curl back into place. It was a cute style. While the hair wasn’t exactly straight, it wasn’t poodle dog-like. The hair measures about 2.5” now. It seems the growth has slowed down and I’m thinking it may be due to not using Nioxin every day and not taking the mega-doses of vitamins and supplements. I had stopped the supplements, believing they were the cause of increased facial hair. But they helped the eyebrows grow!!

Other chemo/radiation related issues that continue are funky toe nails and dry eyes. I’m blaming the dry skin and heat waves on menopause, though I thought I was post-menopausal when I started treatment, so really not sure what this is all about! I spoke with the oncology nurse on Friday about taking a low dose estrogen (my internist suggested it IF the oncologist approved). The nurse thought the Oncologist wouldn’t approve, but would get back with me on Monday. Since my cancer was not fueled by hormones, I thought it would be semi-safe. But again, it could increase my risk of having hormone-fueled cancer. Will let you know what the answer is.

Finger nails are doing great, no bone pain and cognitive/memory issues are almost back to normal. The radiated skin still looks “suntanned” – in my case sunburned since I don’t tan.

One thing I do need to let go is my disappointment and hurt that local people who knew about Vic and I didn’t come through with physical support for the things that we couldn’t do. My mother lives 5 hours away and has never visited us during this past year. She is able to travel, in fact, has made one or two trips to California.

It’s so easy to see the negatives and not the positives, isn’t it? The energy spent on the negatives is wasted energy.

I am so thankful for my mom's prayers, the physical support and love from our daughters (including adopted daughter Laura from Eastern Washington), the support and prayers from my California family and friends, co-workers support and donated hours, and those here in cyber land. So I’ll take that wasted energy and turn it into thankfulness for you that did support!

Despite the above crankiness, I’m pleased that things are going so well after chemo and radiation. It’s still hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since the surgeries for Vic and me.



Sunday, July 12, 2009

Splish Splash

Splish Splash I Was Taking a Bath

I used to love taking long scented bubble baths with scented candles all around the room. Me - in the tub with my cigarettes, iced cold Pepsi and a good book. Hours could be spent this way. Awww, can you hear the sigh of bliss?

I still like my baths, don't drink Pepsi or smoke any longer, but the lovely scented stuff has gone. I'm now allergic to everything. It's been 8 days since I've had a bath and was desperate to have one today . No, I didn't say bathe, bath. I've had showers, silly.

I decided that the pain in the arm was less and I needed to take a long, relaxing bath. Vic was out truck shopping, so it was a perfect time to have some peace and quiet to read Fern Michael's Final Justice.

Putting the hands on the side of the tub to lower myself in should have been the first clue that this wasn't a smart idea after all. I didn't gently lower myself into the water. Rather, kerplunked my big azz into the tub since the pain in the left wrist shot up my arm. Okay, breathe. Yes, breathe. I start laughing. Here I am in the tub, with no phone nearby and not really sure when Vic will be home! Oh well, might as well continue with the plan . . .read while soaking in warm, relaxing water.

An hour goes by, I've re-warmed the cold water in the tub a few times. Finally, Vic comes home. I don't really want to tell him the predicament I've placed myself in. Heaven knows how many of these "situations" this boy has had to get me out of this past year. Let's give him a break!

I grab the towel and strategically place it so the right arm/hand and feet do not slip on the slippery tub. Not working. I have to call for Vic's help. I won't go into all the detail, but let me say that I had visions of the bathroom's outside wall being removed and a fork lift maneuvering it's way to pick me up out of the tub. Ewww, it wasn't a pretty thought either.

Our life continues despite tumors, cancers and broken radial heads. But Vic still does that weird shaking of the head after these situations. Maybe he needs to see a neurologist for that.



Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Yep, it's broken. I was hoping it was just tendon damage.

It's a radial head fracture. They can't cast it. I am to use a sling when needed and to start range of motion exercises very soon, like now. Doc said it would take 2 weeks to get the ROM of just bending the elbow. About 4-6 weeks for the wrist.

I am cleared to go back to work with no restrictions. I'm testing my typing now on this blog entry; it hurts. It hurts big time. My fingers are swollen and the elbow area is very swollen. And I'm released to go to work to type 90% of the day?

Anyone have any experience with a radial head fracture? Is this standard procedure?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bumpy Road

Vic and I had a wonderful time at the ocean. Good food, great drinks, awesome weather and ocean view from the living room & bedroom. Need to figure out how to win $1 million so we can buy a condo on the beach.

July 4th weekend was great as well. Life is going extremely well. Found out that I was on the Wisconsin Ginseng. Explains why the fatigue lessened so quickly. Yeah!!

New adventures on Renee's Bump in the Road. Literally . . . a BUMP on the ROAD. I fell off my bike ala Artie Johnson style from Laugh In (1970s). Landed on my left arm/elbow. Broke the radial head. I have a partial cast, keeping my arm at a 90 degree angle, and a sling. I see the orthopedist tomorrow morning.

This is me going to work this morning. I only stayed an hour since I didn't have a medical release. Sigh. Here we go again on not enough leave hours to cover this and have any time for future vacation.

More tomorrow! I can type with one hand...and it isn't fun.