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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Life Stinks


My cousin, Jim, shared the following with me today.

The battle against body odour stinks for the planet (Globe&Mail)
by Nathan Shedroff - Friday, September 28 2007, 10:36 PM

HEIDI SOPINKA

We absorb just under five pounds of chemicals through our skin each year in
the form of creams, lotions, sprays, deodorants and antiperspirants. And
though the alleged link between aluminum-containing antiperspirants and
Alzheimer's has long been in the public consciousness, many of the so-called
"natural" (supposedly chemical-free) deodorants are startlingly far from
non-toxic. Terra Naturals' Zemea, a corn-based aluminum- and petroleum-free
deodorant launched this week, begs the question: Is it possible to
obliterate body odour and be good to the planet?

50

Percentage of natural deodorants that contain petroleum-based propylene
glycol - also known as antifreeze in 100-per-cent concentrations. It is
extremely toxic to aquatic life.

57

Percentage of U.S. streams surveyed that contained triclosan, an
antibacterial found in deodorants and soaps, which washes down the drains
and into waterways when we shower. This has scientists worried because of
triclosan's ability to kill the "good" bacteria that fight germs, resulting
in concerns over rising antibacterial resistance.

90

Percentage of breast tumours in a 2004 British study found to contain
parabens, a common deodorant and antiperspirant ingredient. While the study
remains controversial (no control group was tested), researchers state that
parabens have been known to mimic the effects of estrogen, which can promote
cancerous tumour growth in the breasts.

3,000

Estimated number of tigers in India, down from 20,000, because of the
illegal mining of talc, which has threatened their habitat in the Jamwa
Ramgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and the neighbouring Sariska Tiger Reserve. Talc,
though a natural ingredient, is common to drugstore deodorants (and is also
a key ingredient in baby powder). Talc is closely related to the potent
carcinogen asbestos and can be carcinogenic if contaminated with arsenic.
Talc particles have been shown to cause cancerous tumours in the ovaries and
lungs.

BOTTOM LINE

It's hard not to glaze over when considering the sea of scent-prevention
products. But a position on the health-food store shelf doesn't necessarily
equal chemical-free - some natural crystal deodorants actually contain
potassium alum, a form of aluminum. Deodorants, considered cosmetics by
Health Canada, have "no regulations specifying good manufacturing
processes," but have recently been legislated to list ingredients, so it's
imperative to check labelling. Avoid antiperspirants entirely, and if after
reading the label you find no mention of parabens, talc or propylene glycol,
you're on the right track. You might have to arrange for emergency
reapplications throughout the day, but it beats the environmental price of
coming clean.


Sources: The Environmental Investigation Agency, Journal of Applied
Toxicology, Health Canada, National Research Center for Women & Families
September 28, 2007
© Copyright 2007 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070928.wlfootprint28/BN
Story/lifeMain/home


TO WHICH I REPLIED:

Thanks, Jimmy.
I have heard of the connection and literally, the day I got "my news", I went out and bought some Tom's of Maine deo and my friend had bought me the crystal. The Tom's does squat. Goes on wet even tho a stick and for a few minutes the verbena smelled good. The crystal alone did nothing too much on its own. I combined the two and thought I had it made. I was clear of smelling and toxins. I made my friend--ok, this is the weird side of me--sniff my pit to prove me right. He nearly keeled over. (SEE PICTURE) He said, nope, you still stink. But I just COULDN'T go back to putting chemicals back there could I? So I compromised and just litely dabbed it on swearing that once summer's over I'll go back to my allegedly non-toxic combo. Well, I'm back to using the deo full strength on the left and ever so litely on the rite for fear of it trickling on to my wound (although pretty closed up). As they say, beauty is painful. Or at least requires some common scents.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Today's quote...

"Pain and suffering are inevitable. Misery is optional."

I don't know who originally said it, but I believe it!

Dr. appt's with Radiologist + Oncologist have been scheduled for the AM of October 3rd.

L.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Toast to Good Health



Today I got some fantastic news. My lymphnodes are clear, my margins are clear, I tested negative for Her2 protein and my hormone receptors were high which means I'll probably qualify to take the Tamoxaphin (for information on this drug, click below)

http://cms.komen.org/komen/AboutBreastCancer/Treatment/s_002836?ssSourceNodeId=298&ssSourceSiteId=Komen

The tumor was smaller than what had been reported, 1.8cm vs. 2.5cm, and the cancer is stage 1! (I would've thought 2!)

Appointments are being set up with the oncologist and radiologist to discuss the radiation, which hormone treatment will be used (e.g. Tamoxaphin) and the POSSIBILITY of chemotherapy. The latter is TBD. As I've previously reported there is a rule of thumb that if the tumor is greater than 1cm, offer chemo. I've no idea what kind, strength, etc. so I am unable to make any decisions until I meet with the doctor. Since my reports have come back looking so great, I think that the suggestion to use it would be as Dr. Montgomery had originally put it, an "insurance policy" that there are no cancer cells floating around in me anywhere. I will of course update everyone after I meet w/these doctors OCTOBER 3rd. (With all this dr. talk, I think I've earned an honorary rite of passage to move into a gated community in FL).

Mom was w/me when Dr. O gave me the news and needless to say she got all varchlempt. Even Dr. O did! She couldn't believe how calm I was. I said, Because I knew. With the exception of the stage 1 vs 2, I was right on as to what would be suggested. If only I dreamt of lotto #s.

Please, please, please, everyone take good care of yourselves. Do what you can to remain in good health. I've become so sickened by watching people smoke cigarettes. Why volunteer to get what I am so excited to get rid of? I'm not suggesting I'm perfect and will start eating vegan (ugh) but I will try to make more and more healthy decisions to at least lower my risks of this coming back and to avoid the onset of any other ugliness.

On my way back to the office, I stopped at my favorite accessory store on Columbus Ave, VERVE. I bought (well, Dad did without his knowing...I know, of all the verve...) a beautiful necklace w/a purple amethyst. It's my own version of a purple heart and a reminder that everything is OK, but that I never want to have to worry about if it will or will not be. Or at least, don't just expect it to be without making any effort.

Below was taken from an email that was sent to me. Some more words of wisdom from Maya Angelou. I hope I can learn something from her now and not wait til I'm 70 to find out. And if you are 70, remember, it's never too late.

Love, healthy hugs and champagne to everyone,
Liz


In April, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday.

Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older.

And, there on television, she said it was "exciting." Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every day, like her breasts.

They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist, first.

The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such a simple and honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words!

Maya Angelou said this:

"I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow."

"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights."

"I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life."

"I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as 'making a life'."

"I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance."

"I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back."

"I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision."

"I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one."

"I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.

People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back."

"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn."

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Phenomenal WomEn

Part of an email sent to me by yet another phenomenal woman. I wanted to share it with all you gals b/c it applies to all of you. Let this be your mantra.
Thanks for sharing, ML. You're tops.

a brave, phenomenal woman...that's you.



Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Midnite Buffet

It's just after midnite and I closed my eyes thinking I can sleep after an hour of reading in bed. I find the last thing I want to do is sleep. I'm once again overwhelmed by so much emotion I don't know where to stuff it. Not to be a martyr or be a superheroine, but I can literally count on one hand the # of times I've cried as a direct result of dealing w "my news." I'll spare you the details. It seems what brings me to tears more than anything is the outpouring of love and friendship I've received from friends and family the past few weeks, especially the last. So about a minute or two ago I started creating a list of all the little things that got me through the past week since surgery + for which I'll be forever grateful. In no particular order:

1) Flowers, flowers, flowers. Despite my hopless rotting green thumb, they're all still thriving in my now cancer-free apt. Hopefully I'll be able to maintain the one green plant I got but I'll make no promises.
2) My beautiful pink orchid candle that I'll lite when I get my good news this Thursday. I know it'll be good. It just has to be!
3) Dani hauling her ass to BI in an access-a-ride van at 8:00 am to see me off to my surgery. Dana picking mom + me up in her very own access-a-ride Dodge for what could've been an awful cabride home w/me dry heaving in the backseat. Thanks guys, you were like bookends holding me up.
4) Seeing mom actually sleep(!) on my couch after mental exhaustion. I knew she was getting a well-deserved, much needed rest.
5) The coffee delivered the next day at 6am.
6) My entire family. Their phonecalls, questioning, "being there," delight in any good reports I shared, wishing they could relieve me of "this burden", and so much more.
7) The doctors+ nurses, as well as my bosses for paying for my health insurance.
8) Laughing at goonie googoo (if you don't know, don't ask)
9) Chocolate brown miniature poodles.
10) Books, fancy soaps and chocolate.
11) Visitors and more visitors.
12) The perfect weather we had all week.
13) Demorol.
14) Sports bras.
15) Phone and email messages.
16) Kleenex which is saving my computer from being waterlogged as I write this.
17) Karen walking for the cure and raising more and more dollars. Thanks for all the donations, people!
18) Pink ribbons.
19) The internet.
20) Tumor Humor.
21) The comfort of my apt.
22) You all indulging me by reading this blog.

There's so much to be happy about I don't know what to pile on my plate first.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Heel!



The best medicine...yesterday I had the great pleasure of having Sadie for the day. She's my friend's dog and I knew at some point I was going to want to see her b/c she makes me so happy when I do. So excited, jumping in and out of her bag, wagging her tail, she offers you unconditional love (if unconditional means you pick her up and give her water when she wants). Chances are I'll never have a pet any time soon, but just after one day, I think I healed enough for one week.

Today was back on my feet for more pampering--that is a bright red pedi--after having friends and family over for bagels and hugs.

The weather couldn't have been nicer. A clear blue sky and warm sun with that slight feeling of fall in the air.

Here's to new beginnings.

Friday, September 14, 2007

All is Cool...



Well, I'm comfy at home surrounded by flowers, cards, friends and family. Sure beats being in a sterile hospital room. September 12th was certainly a different day.

Ken + I took the subway to BI (or as Ward calls it, ElizaBETH Israel) and was met in registration by my mom + Dani. Although I wasn't the least bit nervous about the day ahead, I have to say that having your loved ones there to laugh with before you leave is great medicine. Got changed into my "uniform" and waited in a room with others waiting to be called in for their surgery (of all kinds, not just breast). Eventually was called in to have an ultrasound which guides the dr. as to where to insert a needle into which a very fine wire will be inserted. A radioactive dye was injected. This with the wire highlights the area that needs to be removed. For a while I walked around with the wire sticking out a la the John Hancock building (fortuntately though w/only one wire, not two). Had my fourth mammo in a month, this time just of right side. Then waited for over an hour for the dye to take affect. The wait was tedious. Felt tired, hungry, staring at others dreading surgery and no one feels like conversing. I was wrapped in a woobie (blanket) that I carried around w/me b/c the rooms are cold and my feet were freezing.

Eventually I was called in to meet the anesthesiologist who had a great Irish brogue. I came "this close" to saying "I didn't know they had med schools in Ireland" when I realized what an idiot I'd sound like. I guess it's all the books I read about dying from the consumpion and eating rotten potatoes. When I asked if I'll be able to have alcohol later he said that he actually encourages it. My kind of man! But of course this is assuming I'm not flying on Vicoden. Needless to say, I didn't have any. Soon after, my hero, Dr. Osoborne, came in to greet me and we chatted for a few minutes. Then Nurse Julie did the same. Everyone was so nice and comforting. I then walked into the OR when I couldn't help but ask the team, You've all done this before, RIGHT?! I lied down on a flat, thin bed that's warm and toasty. And just as the IV is going into me to knock me out, I think my last words were, Remember, it's the RIGHT side... Then buh bye. Surgery took about 2-2.5 hrs.

I woke up in the OR shivering and in great pain. Nothing two Demerol can't do to help. Aaaahhh. I drifted off again. I woke and saw my mom and brother, Jeff, the nurse and Dr. O. We chatted a bit and although in some discomfort, I knew I'd be fine. Then I tried to stand, moved to another chair, drank some ginger ale, and well, suffice it to say the affects of the anestesia were not fun. I apparently had general vs local --I haven't found out why yet.

I was thrilled when Dana picked my mom + me up b/c there was a lot of traffic due to the holiday. The thought of being thrown around in a cab w/ incense and a guy eating an egg sandwich for a half hour was revolting.

I got home sweet home around 6pm. One Vicodan and chicken soup cocktail later and I was drifting off to sleep by 10pm.

Yesterday Mom and I got up at 6am and had breakfast delivered. Took a (semi) bath--I can't get the dressings wet--and took a walk outside which was good for the head. Home for another nap and then more visitors.

I have to say, I'm not really in great pain. The areas are rather tender and stiff and I can't raise my arm very high--no pulling, lifting, pushing. So, my real princess qualities will surface this week. Today I will get my hair washed and blown, prob take yet another nap and have more visitors. The room is filled with beautiful flowers which makes me happy.

Everyone's phonecalls, emails, and messages have been so appreciated. I'd hate to think anyone should go through this alone. But with all the fabulous resources out there, no one ever should be. Really though, thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers.


My follow up appointment is next Thursday. We'll get the full pathology report (Dr. O said based on what he can see w/the naked eye, things look good but the reports tell all) as well as next steps for treatment. Until then, I'll just take it easy in my new sexy velcro bra (gag) and pink ribbon.

Life really is good.

Love to you all,

Elizabeth

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

WHO Will Not Wear The Ribbon!?

I couldn't help but crack up extra hard at tonight's Seinfeld ... which of course I've seen 100x but this time it tickled me pink. Click above + enjoy.

Take THAT, left side!


The previously identified 6x6mm mass posterior to the dominant mass is no longer identified. There is a 2mm focus of enhancement seen anteriorly that is new since prior MR. Transient nature of these two findings supports BENIGN etiology.

Tomorrow's schedule:
No more donuts after 12 midnite.

I've got to be there 8:30am tomorrow for registration. (paper work, blah blah).

By 10:00am I will go to radiology to start on sentinel node procedure (prob injection of the dye).

I should leave the hospital tumorless b/w 2-3pm.

There is a waiting room outside of 4M:

Beth Israel
Phillips Ambulatory
10 Union Square East @14th Street
Suite 4M.
When u get off elevators, go left of the wigs (aaaahhhHHHH!!!) then bear rite and walk to end of hall.

Ken and I will take the subway there in the AM. Ma, whatever time works for you and the train schedule.


Love,

Elizabeth

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hanging In There

Today the little bandages from biop came off and I'm pleased to say, No bruising!! This is since the dr. knew exactly where to get it w/the assistance of the MRI vs the last time when the doc had to go at it like a pinata (not b/c he wanted to!).

Last nite there was a very good segment on ch. 2 about breast cancer and the Susan G Komen foundation; today is the race in the park. Strange how all that was said seemed so familiar to me. If I were listening to the show last year, I may've retained just one or two points. This time, they were talking about me. The show gave me the confidence, which really I already had, that everything will be fine. There are sooo many strong survivors sharing their stories.

Seems my friend, Karen, is doing the 5K walk today IN ADDITION to the 39 mile Avon walk in October. She is kicking some serious butt!! Thank you Karen for getting out there and raising all this money.

So now "we're" just "hanging in there" and waiting for Tuesday's final results on the left and for Wednesday's surgery to be over with.

I think I'll go take a walk for myself. :0)

Friday, September 7, 2007

EB Phone Home!

The MRI guided biop today was somewhat extraterrestrial to me. The good thing was that I a lot more mentally prepared for the MRI than last time. I knew what to expect and how to keep my mind relaxed while in the the tube. Just like the first time, you're lying face down with two cut outs for the boobs. My right arm--b/c the biop was on the left, was hooked up to an IV which has a dye and then some saline running through it. When this happens it feels very warm and kind of peculiar. You of course can't move for the whole 30 min or so. This time there were less images taken b/c we're only concentrating on one area.

At first I was sent in and out of the tube a couple of times to take images. This time stuck to the inside left of the cutout, there was a grid which will help find the coordinates of the area needing biopsying (as seen in the 1st MRI). The radiologist, Dr. Handler (sure did handle me!), and his tech spread bendadine all over the area (remember, I'm lying down with my head the opposite direction so do not see any of this) and eventually the biop is done with--for lack of a better desrciption--a motorized syringe. When the biop is done there is a clip put in there. This is tiny and will remain in there forever. It will not set me off at the airport. I asked.

Then got bandaged up and sent in for a new mammo on the left side. The purpose is to show on film exactly where the clip is so they don't rebiopsy the same exact location should the need ever come up. BTW, the area biopsied was one of the two masses seen on the first MRI. Seems that the dr. who did the first core biop reached what was one of the closest areas to those two spots that he can get to; this was based on what he saw on his ultrasound. So really today we got the first of the two orginally seen. Confusing, I know. But the two are so close together that it's highly likely that if it comes back neg, the other one will be. If pos (malignant) then they prob do a lumpectomy b/c the one next to it would be poz too. But since the THIRD (from the core) came back benign, it's "assumed" this will too. The proof'll be in the pudding. Results come in Tues.

While not in tube doing my mental relaxation, and when I was out getting "probed", the (very friendly) staff kept asking if I was OK. I was but all I could think was, Who invented this stuff? How? This is all saving my life and/or making this a more tolerable experience. You may ask how that is so. But just 15 years or so ago, everyone was sent to OR for a biopsy. These machines didn't exist. So people went for a more elaborate biopsy and many times were benign. I think these radical (although at the time radical as compared to what?) procedures including many unnecessary mastectomies, were what made this so frightening for the patient and her support system. Granted this hasn't exactly been a walk in the park, but I've been spared some serious stuff.

Following this procedure, I headed down for the pre-op stuff. Do not believe anyone who says this will take 15 minutes. You're a walk-in so the nurse has to be found. Then you get your EKG and bloodwork. Go over paperwork to be filled out and instructions prior and post Wed's procedure. Then finally, off to another floor to get a chest X-ray.

While waiting in the reception area one couldn't help but notice the two latino transexuals chatting up a storm. I'm thinking, is "she" (whose name by the way is Daisy) getting a chest X-ray too? To her fake boobs? Are they fake? While Daisy's struttin' her stuff, her friend is chatting up others and handing out their business cards. Don't ask. I've no idea....

After a long wait, I got called and two X-rays were taken, all of which took just a couple of minutes. I did find out that Daisy was getting some sort of other X-ray b/c I overheard her phone call, "Cheee-caaa, I'm heya at Beth Is-ra-el getting my....... OK, sis-tah, Daisy looooves yoooou...."

What can I say.... IIIII loove Neewww Yooorkkkk....

Thanks for all your well wishes and a shout out to all of mom's friends who call to check in. It means a lot to her.

Oh, I learned two more things today. Radiation doesn't begin until about one month after surgery. I kind of thought you get the procedure done and then you start getting zapped one -two wks later. But apparently they want you thoroughly healed. There is a post-op appt done a week later during which the dr will ck the location and go over pathology report. Then you begin meeting w/the radiologist to go over questions, expectations, etc. Second, if you have something done on one side, if you need to ever take blood or blood pressure, you do it on the opposite side. And if you've had both sides done, then your legs are used. Who knew?

Thanks again for checking in!

EB.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Who Says Ignorance Is Bliss?

In just the past two days I learned three sisters of an acquaintance of mine has had breast cancer; the receptionist at a dr's office I go to has been out due to ovarian cancer; someone else had some test on her uterus which led to a discovery of something on her liver; the same woman's mother is being treated for liver/pancreatic cancer (believe it or not has been living w/it for ten years--I don't know the details); a friend's friend needs something checked. Again, this was just w/in two days.

We're clearly all touched by this cancer thing--either a friend, relative, relative of a friend and so on has it.

PLEASE, let this be a reminder to pay attention to listen to your body as well as do any recommended screening. And if you've been meaning to quit smoking, quit now. Ran out of sunscreen? Buy more. Eat an unhealthy diet? Eat a piece of fruit a day. Do SOMETHING. Read. Talk to your doctor. Find out what preventative measures you can take. You don't need to become a health nut or obsessed with exercise. Just become informed. It's really scarey getting all of this news and trust me, you don't want it to apply to you.

OK, I'll stop the lecturing and just post an update.

Finally go the auth. # required for the MRI/MRI led biopsy and this will take place on Friday. Seeing as the results take 2-3 biz days to get, it doesn't seem feasible that I'll have the "L" next Wed. We will stick with the original date of the 19th. I should be ready to go back to work the following Monday. At this point I'm not nervious. Rather I'm more anxious to just get this out of me and begin treatment and get on with my normal, healthy life.

Thanks for continued support. Speaking of which, keep the donations coming in (see Avon Walk on the left). The cost of a tall Starbucks coffee will make a difference. Or in October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you'll be able to make all kinds of purchases, part of which proceeds go to many foundations.

Be good,
Liz

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Stop Sign

Although not a huge fan of morning tv, I do occasionally watch and have had a particular interest in Robin Roberts' (GMA) recent dx of BC. She's young, intelligent, healthy, and in the public eye. I heard the announcement about a day or two after I got my diagnosis. I followed a bit of her news on both the tv on the ABC website. Seems that she caught this early and will recover well (as much as they can know now).

I was crossing the street, heading east on W. 72nd Street when I noticed Robin --all 6' or so of her-- chatting on her cell. She looked very engaged in the call and as if she just came back from a walk in the park. I really wanted to stop and chat with her but how rude would it be to interrupt her while on phone? Instead I waited while the light was still red, stared and thought maybe I can will her to hang up. Any more waiting and following and I'd cross the line of stalking.

So instead, I texted my friend about my "sighting" to which she replied, I think that's another good sign.

Click on the heading "Stop Sign" to read a good article about Robin's early detection, how technology can help us and the need to get all women proper screening. Please read and share with others. BC no longer is/has to be the nightmare it was once thought to be.