Tag Archive | cancer

The Skin I Live In

blur-body-care-161608Every so often I like to remind my readers to take care of their skin. Since I went for my annual full body scan this morning, today seemed like a good day for that reminder!

Several years ago, a group of women I worked with and I decided that we needed to go for a skin exam. We had seen an advertisement for free exams at a facility about 30 minutes or so from work and we all signed up. During that exam, an “atypical” mole was identified and it was suggested that I see a dermatologist for follow up. The suspect mole was ultimately removed without any issue, and thus began my commitment to annual full body scan. I never miss it.

Let’s face it, we’ve all done some stupid stuff — hot sun, no hat, no sunscreen, or worse yet, application of baby oil. I’ve had some super painful burns in my past and, given my cancer history, I think it’s prudent to get checked regularly. Even if you don’t have a history of cancer, it’s a smart move.

We all know that we should have our skin checked if we see a change in size, shape or color of a mole. But there are many parts we can’t see by ourselves! My problem mole was on the lower middle of my back; I would never have seen it on my own. And just because you may have burned your scalp, as an example, it doesn’t mean that’s where skin cancer would appear. It can show up anywhere. I have have peace of mind knowing that I was checked by a professional who knows what she’s looking for.

Today I learned that I should look at my toenails before reapplying polish. Not for the discoloration that may come from applying nail polish too often and without break, but to look for any spots that might show up under the nail! I would never have thought to look there. So next time you go for that pedi… take a look!

Another great suggestion I had heard previously (but have yet to implement…my bad…) is to have your spouse, best friend, significant other, mother… someone… take a picture of your back every six months and compare to the prior for any changes that might need a closer look.

If you don’t have insurance or don’t want to pay a co-payment, you can look for free screenings like my co-workers and I did all those years ago. Check out: https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer/programs/screenings/find-a-screening

In the meantime, take care of your skin! It’s the only one you have to live in.

IMDb: The Skin I Live In (2011)

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The Waiting Game

As some of you may remember, a few years ago my father was treated for a malignancy of his perotid gland (near his left ear) in 2013.  He also had treatment for skin cancer on his face in 2014. And now, as we enter 2016, we are facing another cancer diagnosis.

Later last year my dad had some scans done as part of his normal cancer follow up care. There was “something” on the chest CT, but it really didn’t look like much and the decision was made to repeat the test in a few months and see if there was any change. He repeated his CT scan at the end of January and it was determined that a PET scan was now necessary because that “something” had turned in to a little more.  My brain, of course, immediately went to cancer… why else would they request a PET scan?

So that test was done a two Fridays ago, and by that following Monday the doctor had called with results. It was definitely some sort of cancer, but it wasn’t clear from imaging what kind. We had to wait a few days for the doctor to meet with the weekly review board on next steps. It was determined that Dad should have a consultation with a thoracic surgeon to review the options for a biopsy.

We waited another week and finally got in to see the thoracic surgeon today.  She confirmed again that it is cancer and explained that the biopsy was necessary to confirm what type so we can make informed decisions on treatment. She explained that the cancer is in the lining of the rib cage ~ in the pleura. She described “lumps and bumps” in the lymph nodes and vessels in this lining.  Possible causes were identified as a spread from a prior cancer, a new cancer, or mesothelioma. (After some discussion, we came to agreement that Dad likely had contact with asbestos when working with insulation many years ago at a lumber company.)

The options presented to us were a) do nothing, b) do a needle biopsy, or c) do a surgical biopsy. Her recommendation was the needle biopsy as a starting point. We are trying to avoid surgery at all costs, given Dad’s age and health. As such, the needle biopsy has the least risk, but, unfortunately, the sample size is smaller than surgical, so there’s a chance they won’t get enough to actually confirm a diagnosis.  If that happens, we would have to decide on whether we should take the risk of the surgical biopsy.

Dad was comfortable with the decision and was very pragmatic about “doing what we need to do.”  We are back to wait-mode in terms of getting the biopsy scheduled, but it’s anticipated this will occur in the next 1-2 weeks. Then we’ll wait for results and see what our options and next steps are.

We appreciate your prayers and good thoughts as we wait.

(Please note that my father gave me permission to share these details.)

 

IMDb: The Waiting Game (1999)

Within the Whirlwind

I feel like it has been forever since I have blogged anything. In fact, it’s only been 9 days… although I do believe that’s the longest I have gone without blogging since this thing started. I didn’t go back and verify, but it does feel like forever.

Perhaps it’s because I have lost all sense of time. All of 2014 has been a blur and it’s hard for me to believe it’s May 10th already. I’ve talked to many people who agree that 2014 is flying at warp speed.  Is anyone else experiencing that?

I’m sure there are many reasons for this: busy at work, busy at home, birthdays, holidays, rehearsals, projects… the list goes on. While I don’t feel “stressed”, per se, I do feel harried and, at times, overwhelmed by the never ending list of things to do.  Add the grief over my mother’s death, and I worry about how the stress is affecting me, as it is a factor in cancer growth.

The frenetic pace this past month or so has especially gotten me a little out of my zone from a healthy eating perspective. Not that I have totally fallen off the band wagon, I’m just not as good as I should be or had been, say, prior to Easter. More sugar, coffee, alcohol, and eating out than I would like. I’m looking forward to the coming week as it looks fairly normal, whatever normal is, and I was able to actually menu plan for the whole week. Let’s hope we all stick with it.

That said, my schedule certainly doesn’t look like it’s settling down. I keep thinking “if I can get past ____, I will be able to breathe.” But then there is always something else, and something else, and something else. I’m not necessarily complaining, mind you, as a lot of it is good stuff. Reunions, travel plans, concerts… It’s all good. But at this rate, before you know it, it will be Christmas.

For now, I will do my best to just breathe when I can, ask for help from those around me, and allow myself time to grieve in between. Mother’s Day has been the most challenging event thus far, but I will try to both celebrate and remember.

For those of you experiencing the same whirlwind, I’d love to hear how you are all managing it.

whirlwind

*****

IMDb: Within the Whirlwind (2009)

The Omega Code

First, let me congratulate my dad on the end of his radiation treatments.  It was a tough road, but he (and mom) made it.  Both Mom and Dad lost 14 pounds each, since Mom didn’t want to make 2 meals and ate whatever Dad would eat.  Call it the “soup diet”!  So proud of them both getting through this!

So, I’m on to the next section of “Anticancer”where the author talks around omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  I have read so much on this subject over the past year and, while I cannot claim to be an expert at all, I can say, in the United States, we eat way too many things with omega-6 and not enough with omega-3.  Our ratios are way out of balance… 1:15 of omega 3s to 6s (and higher) when the ratio should ideally be 1:1.  The high intake of omega 6 fatty acids is a big contributor to disease, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

I was trying to find an article that gave some better clarity on this topic and decided to share a few because they approach it differently:

http://chriskresser.com/how-too-much-omega-6-and-not-enough-omega-3-is-making-us-sick

http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/7250/the-omega-vs-omega-controversy

Bottom line:  Eat less omega-6!  (And here’s a list to help you… don’t forget that omega-6 oils are in most of your processed foods.)

http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000141000000000000000-1w.html

So, speaking of omega 6 and bad oils…  As we were out and about today, enjoying a day off and some family time, we ended up at a diner where the menu was 99.9% meat products.  I ended up selecting some fried shrimp and totally regretted it.  By the time I got home, I needed a nap because I was so completely sluggish!  Eventually Ethan and I juiced to try to offset the negative effects of my lunch!  I don’t plan to make that mistake again any time soon.

Have a great long weekend, everyone!

The Omega Code (1999) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0203408/