I can’t start this blog without acknowledging former US Presidential candidate, John Edwarwds’ wife, Elizabeth’s, recent passing on December 7, 2010. Despite her courage and eloquence, what a tragic event. The fact that she was unable to live “another 8 years” as she wished, until her youngest (currently age 10) was older, is particularly painful. Her book, “Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities” (Broadway Books, 2009) gave me great courage when I read it in January as I was just beginning to deal with the diagnosis for metastasis. The book inspired the name of this blog. Ms. Edwards was a gifted writer and the book is more about her dealing with her internal battles (coping with the death of her son, Wade, age 16 and her breast and metastatic cancers) rather than a ”tell all” (which it most decidedly is not). She was an intelligent, emotionally grounded and classy lady and this is evidenced best by her own prose. She grew up in Japan as a military kid and her recollections are both thoughtful and beautifully remembered. It’s a good read for a multitude of reasons, but primarily because she brings equanimity to all the tragedy she faces. Quite an inspiration.
Now on to other things. Thank you, as always, for your feedback on the good news about the cancer disappearing. Amazing. I just hope it continues. In the meantime, I share some small on-going struggles for those who may be dealing with similar setbacks. They are comparatively minor issues but bothersome, nonetheless, and have found unexpected answers, which you may find just as interesting as I have.
Hearing Loss — The build-up of wax which can lead to pretty significant hearing loss is, apparently, a fairly common problem. The application of hydrogen peroxide, alternated with mineral oil every other day, has done amazing things. However, I find that it really requires daily action. I have been lax on a few evenings and the result is hearing loss within a day or two. The culprit is the change to movement in the ear. According to my Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, the ear canal is supposed to slowly but continually move in an outward direction, naturally ridding itself of wax. However, the radiation (and maybe age does too?) is impeding the process. It makes me wonder if this is why older people have a harder time hearing.
Back pain – I had assumed the pain I was feeling down my back was a direct result of the presence of active cancer. This, apparently, is not the case. Rather, as the cancer disappears, it can leave weak tissue that is still trying to heal. A recent article in the New York Times on November 29th, “Fuel Lines of Cancer are a New Target“, researchers found pretty clear links between sugar and cancer. I had already clued into this with my first PET scan in January which relied on the quick uptake of radioactive glucose in areas where there was cancer. Nonetheless, this finding captured my attention. While I have been trying to avoid anything with sugar or alcohol, Thanksgiving proved tough. The result was almost immediate pain in my back. Based on the article, I have succeeded in cutting the alcohol completely and am working on dramatically limiting cane sugar. Interestingly, it has made a pretty radical difference in the back pain…so much so, that I can’t feel any pain at all. Given the relationship between sugar and cancer (cancer thrives on sugar), why is anyone eating sugar? Why do we give sugar to our kids? Why are there candies in the chemo room at the oncologist?
There are some good alternatives to sugar. I’ve found blue agave syrup to be quite nice without being cloyingly sweet. Also, sweet fruits seem to be fine. I have eaten my fill of apples, persimmons and Asian pears this Fall.
Jaw Pain– Finally, I seem to have succumbed to some of the side effects of Zometa, which are affecting my jaw. It’s a rare but known side effect of this drug which is specifically intended to help with the leeching of calcium from the rest of the body due to the cancer calming Herceptin. Ironically, the Zometa works to stop calcium loss from all other parts of the body but can remove calcium from the jaw to the point of facial deformation in 1% of those studied. I’m still hopeful, but we’ll see once I am able to consult an oral surgeon in January to see if I need to be permanently taken off this drug (not sure what this would mean for the Herceptin).
I share all this with you, as I find it rather interesting and hope it might help with your health issues or those of people you know. Overall, I am doing well and feeling pretty good and energetic, which is really wonderful.
In closing, I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season and thank you again, for all your interest and support.