Mixed emotions

I had my last chemo session on Friday 22 July.  I was elated and as I was saying goodbye to one of the sisters, she said, ‘No but I’ll see you soon, your port will need to be flushed.’  I looked at the other sister and they both laughed.  I thought they were having me on.  I didn’t know that – no one mentioned it!  And they all know how I hate it when they connect that needle to the port, they have to anesthetise mine for at least 30 – 60 minutes beforehand and then it’s still sometimes sore.

mixed-emotionsSo now I have to look forward to going back every 8 weeks to have my port flushed.

The only alternative is to have it removed but I’m too scared I may need chemo in the future.  It is just an awful thing to have to live with as it protrudes from inside the skin plus there is a long scar. It’s located on my chest area.

It will be difficult to disguise in summer. I myself can’t even look at it and I don’t even go near it – “ek gril” – in other words I find it creepy and offputting.  Plus the thing moves in the night, or at least that’s what it feels like.  Sometimes I think ‘oops it’s tilted sideways.’

My scans are set for September when we’ll see the effect of the chemo.  Until then I may stay off the airwaves.  Friends who want more updates can send me a friend request on Facebook.  I appreciate your comments and thoughts!

Something to think about

There is another cancer theory, that for some people life becomes too busy, they’re so wrapped up in their own lives, with no time to spare, and if it carries on for too long and stops them from growing and learning the lessons they need to learn on earth, a higher power (or their own higher self) intervenes and brings cancer in their path, with the intention of bringing their lives to a standstill so that they can once again focus on their purpose, heal past relationships, spend time with family and to put them on a journey of self discovery.  So for all of us, we are the problem and the cure.  To heal ourselves is within our own hands.

My life was a treadmill and came to a dead stop.  I have changed from living in the future to living the NOW.

Unanswered questions

In my situation I’m always drawn to other people’s stories and how cancer panned out for them versus my own situation, so I was moved this morning to read about Riana van Niekerk, a top marathon athlete (e.g. three times gold medal Comrades winner), who passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 39 over the weekend. She completed 6 months of chemo which was unsuccessful and she was bound to start another course of chemo. She was diagnosed in May last year, I was diagnosed in June.  According to her husband, she suffered terribly these past months, up to the point where he says he’s glad her suffering is over (Netwerk24 article).  She must have eaten right because she’s an athlete and was MUCH fitter than me and she’s much younger. She had terminal cancer, so do I. Her husband says she had long term goals that she wanted to achieve – so do I.  I’m fortunate that my life continues as normal and that I feel fine but yet I battle to understand why?

We’re taking dietary advice from most obese nation in the world – Noakes

2016-02-12 13:39

“Something happened in 1977 to cause the increased obesity to occur. The Americans told people to consume more carbohydrates.”

Since the rise in obesity rates, cancer had also followed suit, he claimed.

Cropped2

Photo taken today 12/2/2016.  I haven’t been eating right since I went back on cortisone (too much sugar and carbs e.g. hot X buns) and after a while it catches up with me, like today I’ve been very wheezy and out of breath. Monday 15 February will be my last cortisone day and thereafter I must get my diet back on track – vegetables, salads, yoghurt. No carbs, no sugar.

I would be very interested to know if anyone has been cured of cancer / or is in remission without a change in diet?  Will ask the question next time I see my oncologist.

 

Stereotactic radiation

article

The article was in today’s The Burger.  I was one of the 720 patients and consulted with Dr Frohling who successfully treated the initial brain tumour with this nifty radiation machine.

More recently with the new tumours that appeared the doctors decided that stereotactic radiation won’t be as effective as full head radiation.

For those who cannot understand the Afrikaans article, here is a rundown on what stereotactic radiation is:

Stereotactic Radiosurgery – Radiation treatment of a tumour that is applied in a single session with a high dose of radiation.

The cutting edge technology comes in the form of the Novalis Tx ™ Stereotactic RadioSurgery unit launched at Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital two years ago and provides advanced radiation therapy to cancer patients with difficult to reach tumours. The Novalis Tx™ shapes the radiation beam precisely to patient’s tumours, ensuring that the best possible treatment dose is delivered while healthy tissue is protected. The radiation beam also adapts to the patient’s breathing and other body movements to continuously maintain safe, complete and accurate treatment. The unit rotates around the patient to deliver treatment beams anywhere in the body from virtually any angle. It offers fast treatment session and gives new hope to patients with tumours once considered untreatable.

Tackling cancer: a global response

Excerpts from an article by Franco Cavalli, Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the European School of Oncology.

World Cancer Day on Feb 4, 2016, offers an opportunity to draw public attention to the plight of millions of people across the globe who are suffering and dying from this disease, and to raise awareness about how much could be achieved if the global community took decisive steps to improve access to cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and care.

In the continuing absence of such action, however, World Cancer Day risks turning into the day when we wring our hands in frustration and mark yet another year along the catastrophic path that will see the global cancer death toll rise from its 2012 level of around 8 million to more than 13 million by 2030, with half of them being in people younger than 70 years.

Once largely confined to rich countries, cancer is becoming a leading health problem across developing countries.  In the next 15 years, three out of four cancer deaths are expected to occur in middle-income countries.

4 years have passed since the World Oncology Forum issued the Stop Cancer Now! appeal, which called on governments and the global community to work together to implement a 10-point strategy to turn the tide on cancer. 

Despite these steps, there has been little coordinated global action on cancer. With cancer alone draining about US$2 trillion from the world economy in terms of direct costs and lost output, this issue should be high up on the global political and economic agenda. 

The article goes on to talk about costings done by the World Bank which they feel should be affordable for low and middle income countries to tackle cancer holistically. They arrived at a figure of $20 billion per year or 3% of total public spending on health.  In my humble opinion with the healthcare challenges facing S.A. I don’t think it’s feasible.

On another note, according to the CANSA website (and recently in the news), South Africa’s central cancer database is out of date and is “receiving attention”.

The lack of an updated cancer registry for South Africa will be a thing of the past as soon as the Department of Health’s regulation, which will compel health care facilities and laboratories to provide the National Cancer Registry (NCR) with information, is published in the Government Gazette. 

I’ve often felt that cancer education had to take a back seat to HIV/Aids education and testing, although one could argue that both are lifestyle diseases.  Both leave children and families in their wake.  According to the CANSA website, 90% of cancers are caused by lifestyle choices e.g. smoking, diet, exercise; and they go on to say that more than 100 000 South Africans are diagnosed with cancer annually. But it doesn’t come near the Aids statistics (In 2015, Stats SA estimated 6.19 million South Africans live with HIV.) So I suppose that blows my argument for cancer out the water.

Be that as it may, I still feel cancer education is sorely lacking. The only message that reached me ad nauseam over the years was “smoking causes cancer” and pictures of black lungs and warnings on cigarette boxes but once you’ve seen it ten times you switch off – “yeah whatever”. And as a female to go have your boobs checked out. But I’ve never seen information about symptoms – “do you cough up blood?” – “do you have curved nails?” – “lung cancer spreads fastest to the brain” – etc. etc.  I wonder where CANSA does their education? Can’t say I ever seen anything in newspapers or magazines.  Provincial hospitals?  Events that I never attended?

Baldy

Well the hair loss was excessive, almost overnight I lost all my hair due to the full head radiation and I wear a wig or a headscarf, but I’ve been advised by Naomi to rather shave it all off and start with a clean slate, which I what I did yesterday.  Had it all shaved off by a hairdresser.

Well the photo isn’t going on the blog but the hairdresser said I’ve got a nicely shaped head (I heard that one before from another hairdresser, can’t believe that’s something people take note of!) and my family seem to think I can carry it off.  But no, I’m not into becoming a poster-girl for cancer, I feel more comfortable with a wig or headscarf.

Funny but it feels quite liberating not having to worry about hair, brushing it, needing a brush, shampoo or anything. Just to stand under the shower and let water run over your head.  It is cold not having hair, that’s one thing I noticed. I rub on coconut oil because I feel it might promote growth.  At least now it should all grow out at once and even. But colour and texture might change, that I also heard. That I may end up with a curly head as opposed to straight – that I’ll have to wait and see. Surprise surprise.

One weird thing, putting my head down on a pillow is quite sore with the stubble coming out, if they don’t get smoothed in the right direction, it can be quite painful. This is not something I anticipated or thought about at all.