Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

19
Nov

Hair Is Beautiful

You may have heard of folks who donate ponytails to charity organizations that help people who’ve lost their hair to radiation, chemotherapy, or alopecia. I admire these people, and kudos to you if you’re one of them. But this story, well, it earned my tears. It’s about a cancer survivor, a wonderful friend of mine, blessed both in beating the disease and having her hair grow back, who then donated her lush locks to charity. The whole story can be found on her blog, “Hope. Love, Run.“, but I’ve included a copy here of the letter she wrote to the charity that accompanied her donation. Mazel Tov to Juliana!

09
Nov

Ears ringing, face smiling

I went to sleep last night with my ears ringing and a smile on my face. The ringing ears came from listening to a musician I just met rock out at The Bell House in Brooklyn with his amazing wife and—to my great surprise—my buddy Jon Quinn, the Brooklyn fitness guru who runs Captain Quinn’s Boot Camp. The smile was a consequence of serendipity, wonderful news about Jonah’s battle with melanoma, and the band’s impassioned performance. And there were tears, not at bedtime but earlier in the evening, when a perceived wrong was set right. Before I jump into that, however, I’ve got to tell you about the serendipitous happenings that brought me to the performance.

05
Nov

New York Times: CT scans cut lung cancer rates. Ciao, Cancer: who pays?

The New York Times reported today that a massive, government-funded study has revealed that annual lung CT scans for current and former heavy smokers can result in a 20% reduction in mortality. That’s great news, since there hasn’t been any effective tool for early detection of lung cancer. But there’s something we need to know–or figure out–and that’s who’s going to pay for it?

14
Oct

Re your health, social networking giveth—and taketh away

I didn’t get much sleep last night. After throwing my back out the night before, and things worsening throughout the day, I couldn’t find a position that would make the pain go away.

At six this morning, I decided to throw in the towel. I’ll get out of bed and make some coffee, I thought. But as I tried to sit up, an excruciating surge of pain went through my back. I knew right away I’d need to see a professional. But where to find one? I didn’t know. That’s when Facebook came to mind.

13
Oct

Becoming–or simply being–a survivor

Survivorship is on my mind after staying up late last night to watch the first Chilean miner emerge from what he and his 32 coworkers described simply as hell. It had been 70 days since a rock collapse first trapped them in a 600 square foot room more than half-a-mile underground. Many did not expect them to make it—at the time of writing, there are 22 to go, along with four rescuers—but if everything continues to go well, they will all soon be safe on top and see themselves as survivors. What strikes me is that those facing cancer start at the same place—the emergency begins with the disaster of a diagnosis—but you never get the crystal clear answer you’re looking for. That you’re a survivor.

08
Oct

The Boobs Controversy

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and you’d think that people would be focused on, well, raising awareness–and money to support research. Instead, some controversial campaigns to advance the cause may have had the opposite effect. Welcome to The Boobs Controversy.

06
Oct

Teach your doc how to talk

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I received a clean bill of health after my brain MRI last week. What I left out is that the way in which I received the news almost killed me.

05
Oct

Back in the saddle, with epilepsy

Before jumping into writing a new post, let me apologize for the dry period. We had a family emergency a few weeks back, and just when I was getting back on my feet from that, I had a personal scare. Both stories have happy endings, but I’m only now getting back into the swing of things. Onward, ho!

One of the things that brought me back into the cancer world, at first with great resistance, was the onset of mystifying cerebral episodes shortly after beginning grad school in 1999. From the start of my human rights studies, I was inundated with things to read. One morning, thirty pages into a tome on international human rights law, I had one of these episodes. For a moment, I couldn’t understand a word in a sentence I was reading. I could see the letters that formed it—my vision was unaffected—but I couldn’t make out which ones they were. For ten or fifteen seconds, the “e” in international could have been a “q” for all I knew, the “l” a “g”, and so on. And then it was over. I could read once again, but I was shaking. Maybe, after 13 years of being cancer free, my brain tumor had returned.

31
Aug

Want better treatment? Be a good patient!

Last week I learned from my cardiologist that there are two ways elevated cholesterol levels can kill me. The first is by increasing the likelihood of a heart attack. The second is at the hands of my doctor, should I continue to refuse to follow his advice. In his two-year battle to put me on a statin drug, the heart attack argument never worked, but his demonstrated aggravation in our Wednesday morning appointment went the distance toward securing his victory. As I walked to the pharmacy to drop off my prescription, I asked myself why this doctor is so doggedly committed to ensuring my good health—especially given my resistance to following his advice—and pondered over whether we as patients can actually affect the quality of care we receive. After cogitating on this over the weekend, I came to a conclusion—an emphatic yes—and identified things we can do to ensure first-class treatment.

24
Aug

Making babies

I spent last week on the Cape with some great friends from Italy, their three sons, and Netsai, whom some of you know about from earlier posts one and two on dating post-cancer. While the kids—aged 3, 5, and 7—drove me crazy on more than one occasion, I did think about how much I’d like to have children of my own. The question for me, after more than a year-and-a-half of chemo, is whether it’s even possible.