April 2014
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Bummer…

Harvey has had this growth on his cheek. It was removed some years ago by his doctor–biopsy negative. The growth returned and he went back to his doctor–removed; biopsy negative. But it grew back quite fast this time and I insisted he go to a dermatologist. When they removed it, this time the biopsy is positive.

So Harvey has a spot of skin cancer. Bummer.

Fortunately, at least from what I’ve read, he should have a good outcome following some very careful surgery to ensure that all the malignant cells are removed. I sure hope so. I admit that I’m probably extra worried since that was what was supposed to happen with my oncological surgery almost a year ago.

At least with this kind of cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) there is almost no chance of invasion of the lymphatic system.

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The science of music

Here’s a great article from Smithsonian Magazine called Eight New Things We’ve Learned About Music. Another article I read recently on the NPR web site discussed research into why we like the new music that we do. Why? Because it sounds like something we already like. And thus: pop radio. Bleah.

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Blog theme

I think I need a new blog theme. Hmmmm, but I like the rotating header image. Except that every update the theme overrides my images and I have to put them back, LOL.

Updated: Oh my heck! They added a way to fix that in this update. Okay, I’m gonna play with the the theme options until I have a new look. Pardon any construction dust!

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I’m smiling again

Hey all! Still doing better and better. I just wish my numb feet and fingers would improve. Ah well…life goes on. I thought I’d get back to the original purpose of this blog, sharing things that made me smile. And the first one I’ll share is this Frazz comic. If you don’t follow Frazz, it’s full of witty observations and bits of wisdom. I like it because it’s not dumbed down like so much of the media seems to be today.

As the Daily Abyssinian lady says, click to embiggen:

Frazz for March 31, 2013

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My Cancer Journey: I’m Free, I’m Free!!!

Last week I got an important CT scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis. It went well, even placement of the IV, except I may never have a mocha again after drinking 2 large bottles of mocha flavored contrast.

Fast forward to my doctor visit this past Tuesday. First, Harvey and I got lost finding the office resulting in my longest walk in a while. Numbness in my feet from the peripheral neuropathy and lack of lung function from the pulmonary hypertension combine to make walking pretty darn hard for me.

When we got there (early) we found that the doctor was running late. We practically held our breaths until I was called back by Jennifer, Dr. Veljovic’s trusty nurse. Then they discovered they’d lost my CT scan results! Had to get a copy faxed from the hospital.

But finally we got the good news, there was nothing significant on the scan and my CA 125 blood test was in the normal range. Although I’ll have lots of followups in the next 5 years, the doctor called it a cure!

As a bonus, no radiation at this time. Woot!

The doctor also gave me a drug, gabapentin, which is working well on the peripheral neuropathy pain though not the tingling or the numbness. It’s quite a relief!

So, there you have it, the last big step in my journey. I’m cancer-free!!!

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Diversion: my favorite potluck recipe

It’s coming up on the season for potlucks and I thought I’d share the recipe that saved me from hiding from these parties. “Bianca’s Layered Mexican Dip” is fast, easy, and delicious. I’ve never had a bit of leftovers to take home.

There are lots of Layered Mexican Dip recipes out there but I created this one with only the layers I personally like best. Black olives? No thanks. Salsa? Drippy. Seasoned ground beef? Takes cooking.

Bianca’s Famous No-Leftovers, No-Cook Layered Mexican Dip

Spread the following in layers starting from the bottom of a flat baking dish:

1 can bean dip
1 can drained chopped green chilis
most of a small container of sour cream
as much of a package of pre-shredded cheddar cheese as you like
one pouch Calavo Guacamole (the special ingredient–no substitutions. Find it in grocery cold case)

Cover the dish with foil and take to the party. When I put it out at a potluck, I always start it off by taking a generous chip worth because I know it won’t be there when I get back.

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My cancer journey: side effects

If all goes according to plan, I’m half way through my chemotherapy! Treatment 4 is next week. I will be so glad when this is done; I’m terribly tired of being terribly tired. Fatigue, exhaustion, and just weakness are some of my daily challenges it seems.

Possibly my worst on-going side effect is “peripheral neuropathy”–tingling, numb fingers and toes. It isn’t debilitating (though the toes are affecting my balance a bit) but it’s ALL THE TIME. Especially when I want to sleep; sometimes then I just want to cut my feet off (well, not really). I hope this one will clear up after chemo stops. Sometimes it doesn’t which is a real fear.

During chemo cycle 2 I wound up in the hospital because of low platelets (transfusion) and white blood cells (given shots to stimulate production). The hospitalization had one interesting learning, which is that I felt fine despite having what the doctor described as “no immune system at all.” So I can’t just decide to go out if it’s the wrong time in the cycle–I could still be at risk for catching something. Starting with this past treatment, the doctor has reduced my chemo dosage slightly which seems to have made a positive difference.

After two battles with simply horrible constipation, I’ve made Miralax part of my typical day. Surprisingly tasteless so you can mix it in anything. Mostly I drink plain water now, just one of my changes in tastes since starting chemo. Every cycle I have a few days when just every kind of food and beverage sounds awful and I can barely bring myself to eat. I’ve lost about 40 pounds since the first of this year–which is good in its way.

My best side effects news is the ones I’m not having, though. Not having nausea (because I have no stomach, maybe?) and not having pain. Your prayers and good thoughts are certainly part of that!

Well, that’s it for now. Friday a blood draw, seeing my oncologist on Tuesday, chemo Wednesday, and pulmonary hypertension day on Thursday. Sigh.

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