Patty's Mammie Grams

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jan 24 Femara for 5 years

My 'Firefox' part of the computer has been wonky and I couldn't get on to the computer, let alone (I thought) to any of my blog - hence the wait this time. Sara just showed me how to access it another way. (Type in and there it (add post) is on the top of the page where I never look! Who'da thunk it? My thorough and vast computer knowledge does not come to me easily. : )
The Dr. appointment with the surgeon on Monday was canceled and when they called to reschedule it, we had all forgotten that it was just a check up on my 'tushie'. It is fine, so we just completely skipped rescheduling it.
I have my next MRI scheduled for Monday, April 14th, and the next follow-up mammogram is Thursday the 17. THEN I go see Dr. Roeder (who will have all the films) on May 12 for the next checkup on the surgery and cancer site.
Tuesday I went in to see the Rad Onc Dr. Brooks, and only had to see the nurse practioner, Linda. She explained all the after-care medications, and the one we are beginning with is Femara, which is an Aromatase Inhibitor.
Here is what that means: the adrenal gland (and the fat and muscle) puts out androgen which in turn is turned into an aromatase enzyme which then is turned into estrogen through the kidneys.
This medication prevents the kidneys from changing the androgen to estrogen. "So, in essence, Femara helps to starve breast cancer cells by depriving them of estrogen".
The letrozole (Femara) has been given to postmenopausal women only, since 1977. They began testing it on estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. In 2004, an international clinical trial showed that Femara "significantly reduces the risk of recurrence in postmenopausal women with early stage breast cancer who are within three months of completion of five years of tamoxifen therapy".
They have since discovered that the patient doesn't need to have the tamoxifen treatment first. Compared to tamoxifen it has been found that Femara is 21% more effective at reducing the risk of recurrence than tamoxifen.
I like this next part: "For those women who had prior chemotherapy, Femara reduced the risk of cancer returning by 30%".
This all sounds great to me. I just trust the doctors and have done a little research on all this and this does sound like the best thing.
Here is the bad news. There may be MORE hot flashes and night sweats. No incidence of blood clots or endometrial cancer as there would be with tamoxifen. Joint pain is also a side effect - I'm really planning on skipping that one!
Tamoxifen improves bone density. Femara actually causes about 1% loss of bone density in years 1 and 2 then levels off. However, my last bone density (DEXA) scan showed 149% bone density (for what my age would be I guess), so I have a lot of leeway and not much to worry about.
There are other, more scary side effects for both treatments, but they are very small percentages, and I promise to not have any of those! ; )
If you want even more information than this - please look it up at . More information that you can shake a stick at!
I'm just healing, tender at the site, peeling like a mild sunburn on the radiation site, and beginning to think about starting my walking program again. I haven't been walking for about a year, since my foot began acting up. Then the surgery on the foot, then the next surgery, then the recovery from the chemo. I'm getting there.
I'm also growing hair. My cousin Bill was in town and met me for lunch and took a picture. He says he is going to post it on the family web site. Be careful if you don't want to see a head of very short and gray hair. I really really do like it short. It is beginning to stick out in different places (OK - not very much sticking out) and so I have to look in the mirror now, to see if the hair is looking funny. Well - funnier than usual.
I have put off tinting it back to the natural reddish brown color that the chemotherapy or the cancer changed to gray. ; ) I think if I do color it at this short stage, the balding very high temple spots will show up a lot. So, I'm waiting until the little short hairs begin to thicken and the other hairs are long enough to kind of cover those holes in my head. I mean in my hairline. ; )
OK - Enough already. Peace and love and goodwill to all mankind and may we all live happily ever after. Love to you all. Patty : )

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Jan 21 Another Eclectic Cafe Night on Thursday!!

Hey - the party was so much fun that we decided we could head out again and again and find more peeps to come. Or the same peeps. And we will continue on our Thursday Spinach and Artichoke Enchiladas night for as long as any one wants to call me and meet me. I'm game. y. ; )
Call me and I'll be there!
Love ya love ya love ya. Patty

Jan 20 Working Hard and Growing Hair

I have now come to the realization that I am not quite as strong as I thought I was. I worked from 9:00 a.m. Friday morning until about 8:30 p.m., then went back in Saturday morning at 8:30 and got home about 6:00 p.m. My doggies were barking! (feet - hurting) ; )
I still have more of the stinging, aching, whatever it is, in my thighs and calves. I thought it was almost gone, but it seems to not be gone yet! A client and survivor on Friday told me that it helps that symptom to walk. HMMMM. HMMMM!
I now have long enough hair that I can just catch a few strands between my fingers when I run them through the hair 'against the grain.' It is mostly about 1" long! And you just would not believe just how gray it is!
Very! Oh. My. Goodness.
Everyone keeps commenting on how thick it looks. Much thicker than before I lost it all. I didn't know that would happen - I'd have done this sooner if I had realized! NOT! ; )
I love it short - I know I keep saying that - but it is just so fun to not have to mess with it with the gel and the lotion and the blow dryer
and the paste and the hairspray and the color and the haircuts. I WILL be coloring it again, but it has been sort of freeing to not be having to check the regrowth to see if it needs color and then find time to tint. It is hard to find time, even though I work right in a salon.
I have been vacillating between being horrified at the gray, and wanting to color it, and wanting to wait until my best friend from college visits me in February, so she and her husband can see it (and never let me live it down, probably). ; )
I hit two hair milestones this week. The first one was that I forgot to smooth down the top of my head with the last forward swipe of the towel after my shower, and then later realized when I saw about 4 hairs sticking up that "I forgot to 'comb' my hair"!
The second milestone was that I saw someone who had not seen me or heard about me since this whole thing started and when she did see me this week, said, "What did you do to your hair?!" It is no longer a "Oh my gosh she is sick or has cancer" -- it has now become a 'haircut'! A VERY short haircut, but nonetheless, a style statement!
I'm feeling good, except for still having sleeping issues (it is 2:30 Sun morning), the weird achy stingy leg muscles and I seem to be more tired than I want to admit to.
My radiation tan is fading, except for the still bright pink of the last week of 'focused on the spot' spot. The skin is very slightly peeling, and I am still using the aloe vera on the 'sunburn'. I have a lifetime supply of the gel, as I bought 2 bottles so I could apply it at home and at work, if I needed to do so.
I go to the surgeon on Monday, then the Med Onc on Tuesday, and that is all I am waiting on at the moment. I do have the next MRI scheduled, but it is so far in the future I can't remember when it is. I think it is in about 3 more months. It had to be scheduled 6 months after something, but I can't remember what the something is! I remember it also had to be 3 months after the very last radiation, so the swelling will have a chance to go down and there won't be the extra blood vessel activity caused by the healing activity.
Bob's dad is not so good. Bob spent Saturday night up there, and his sister is here from San Diego. It is hard to watch. He has such a hard time breathing.
I love you all - don't you go and forget all about me, now. I'm still here, and needing moral support!
Much love and peaceful thoughts. Patty : )

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Jan 10 What a Great Party!!

I had so much fun tonight - we were kind of a big bunch of people in the middle of the restaurant and in the way a little and they kept saying it was OK, it is alright. We kept having to bring in or have them find more chairs, and they even brought one in from the patio.
How many people got to come? Patty, Cindy, Sharon, Bob, Paul, Helen, Laura, Matt, Joanne, Bev, Amber, Kaydie, Libby, Gary, Chris, Casey, Avery, Katie, Kecia, Regina, Charli, Leah, Donna, and I hope I didn't forget anyone. I should have had people sign a book - or my diploma!
I handed out pink ribbon bracelets, even to other diners. One cutie pie older man was just standing looking at all of us and smiling, and so I went over to apologize for being too noisy?? He and his wonderful wife said, "Oh, no, we are enjoying seeing you having such a great time. What is the occasion?" I told them I was celebrating my last Radiation Treatment, and they said "That's what we thought - that it was a cancer celebration, and those were your co-workers from the office. Congratulations" They had been sitting there trying to make a story out of all the clues! That really tickled me. I asked if they would like a bracelet, and they both said "Yes!"
Then every one was petting my head - the new hair is so soft and sleek. I heard someone make a sound right behind me, turned around and a man in another booth was 'purring'. I laughed and asked if they would like to pet it, too. I sat with them for a little while, they asked what was going on, who were these people, how did I know them, and then they wanted a bracelet. One of the two men took out his wallet and I said oh no, you don't have to pay for it. He said why not - I said they were free to me, and he said "Can't I make a donation?" "Of course!" He laid down $20 and then the other guy did the same thing! I thanked them profusely, and told them it would go the the Koman Foundation, and then told them about my experience getting free mammograms and sonograms and a biopsy through Koman, Avon and Tucson Medical Center. So many people don't know all the good that is out there in the world.
We had a great time - I had an awesome time! I was there a few minutes before 5 (yes - me - early) and no one else showed up till about 5:45. I was a little worried, chagrined, embarrassed, nervous - that's it - nervous! I was afraid not very many people would show up, and I had told the owners that there might be 30 or so, trickling in all night.
I said I'd stay till the last dog left and the last 5 of us had to be kicked out at 9:00. Thank goodness they closed or I would still be talking to someone out in the parking lot.
Thanks to everyone who came - you made it a great party. I got a couple of calls of people who couldn't come - and so I said - "Let's do it again next Thursday!" They are planning on it. Everyone loved the Spinach and Artichoke Enchiladas!!! I'll eat them every Thursday.
Happy happy to everyone. I still can't believe how excited I am for this to be over! I took a few little gifts into the Oncology Center this morning - I wish I had been able to give lots more, to each and every one of them!
You all deserve the same - you've been a great cheering team and I will still need you, and I'm not stopping this blog, because there will always be one more person out there who might read something here that might help them. And that is what this is all about. People helping people. Family helping family. Friends helping friends.
I am humbled by your love and caring and I thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.
(Which has only a little heart burn from some salsa I shouldn't have eaten!) ; )
Love to you all, and to all a peaceful night. Patty : )


Yes, I am finished with all the radiation treatments. That is all I know that is new since yesterday.
I Graduated and got a diploma which says:
This certifies that
has successfully completed a course of Radiation Treatment
and is now certified to share their knowledge with anyone who will listen.
JANUARY 10, 2008
A signature below says --- Marilyn Croghan
It's my Cancer Card - just too big to carry in my wallet!
Peace and love and goodness shall be in my heart! Patty : ) : )

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jan 9 Tomorrow Tomorrow Tomorrow Yay!!

Tomorrow is my last Radiation treatment - and now I guess I need something to do at 8:10 every morning! NOT!
I go see my surgeon on the 21st, then the Med Onc on the 22nd and then I begin my 5-year-plan. What ever that will be. More pills, but I hear they are small pills and only one a day. ; )
The Rad Onc told me this morning that I'll need to wait 3 months before I have the MRI they want, as there will be too much blood flow trying to heal everything and it would be too confusing to try to read. The MRI.
I'm anxious to see if life seems to get back to normal now - I'm a little
tired, but definitely not like some stories I've heard.
The docs told me I'd be tired but not as much as I was during chemo, and sure enough - it hasn't been anything like that. I only had two really bad days after each chemo, and each succeeding one tired me out more and for a longer period of time, but it all comes out even at the end.
I just realized last week that the aches and twinges and whatnot that hurt so much in my thighs had lessened a lot! It was very gradual, and I all of a sudden realized I wasn't groaning as loudly or as long when I got up into bed. That was always the worst time. I'm still having a hard time getting back up from down - I have to have an arm or a shelf or something to support me on the way back up. I think it's a little more than just old(er) age. But it certainly is help-I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up.
My joints are still sore, sore, sore, and they don't seem to be getting better very fast. The worst one is still my right shoulder with the rotator cuff tendinitis and it really didn't like all the window opening and closing during the house trim painting. The Rad Onc this morning said it is still the chemo working it's way out of my system. Still.
I think I will be back to work all my regular hours soon - Tues., Wed., and Friday till late and the 1st and 3rd Saturday mornings of the month. That's the plan and that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Please put your kind thoughts toward Bob's dad - he is not doing well in his cancer battle. The lungs are what are the worst, and he is having a very hard time breathing. We don't know what is next. It's hard. He has been so healthy and full of vim and vigor all his life. He just turned 77 on Dec. 20. That is too young to be struggling this hard to simply breathe.
On that note - A
Happy and Healthy New Year to All My Friends and Family and I wish you Peace and Prosperity. And yet again - and most of all - Health. Love to you all. Patty : )

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Jan 6 Only 4 More Radiation Treatments!

Everyone that wants to come celebrate The-End-of-the-Radiation, please meet us at The Eclectic Cafe at Sabino Canyon and Tanque Verde on Thursday Jan. 10th beginning at 5:00 p.m. The special that night (and every Thursday night) is Spinach and Artichoke Enchiladas with Tamatillo Sauce. YUM! I'll stay till the last one leaves. Or it is my bedtime.
I know there is still another long peroid of medication and Dr. appointments ahead of me, but I'll be really glad to not have to get up and go to radiation every morning at 8:10 a.m. That is something to celebrate.
I've been doing well with the radiation treatments - just the requisite 'sunburn-like' discoloration that is within the large area for which they tattooed. There is one other place with a small amount of irritation where the famous surgery-when-I-was-4-years-old-scar is located. We've (I've) been doctoring it, and they are satisfied that it will be OK with just my ministrations, so now I'm happy, too.
The area of the lumpectomy has scar tissue, and now that has become a large discrete lumpy feeling mass. I think of it like an overcooked and charred piece of meat from the microwave. That is how I cook in the microwave, anyway. So - no problems.
Now they are focusing (pun intended) on the scar area for the last week. It was taking about 15 seconds on each of 3 different alignments and didn't take long. Now it is one exposure on the scar area, for about 15 seconds, and I'm done. Easy peasy.
Did I mention I'll be glad to get the getting up and driving over there every day over with. I am spoiled with two days off every week, I guess. Most people do get up early and go to work every day of the week, don't they. Hmmmm. Oops. Thank you for letting me have two days off, world. I've put in enough extra hours over the years.
We've just been trying to stay on top of everything here. We just had the house trim painted - turquoise - and are still getting everything back together from that. Put the clock back out on the patio, put the thermometer back out, re-string the lights around the patio, etc. Bob has worked and worked on our front door after the guys painted it too soon, before all the smoothing work was done. He ended up washing off the turquoise paint they had put on, the deep maroon/burgandy? under that, and then the black under that. Then the cracks had to be filled in, every thing resanded, he painted it black, didn't like how it looked, started over again by sanding it off. It is finished now - I think. Black with turquoise and red on the carved sections. Come by and see the specialness.
I've also been busily hanging more and more sparkley 'things' from my mesquite tree out front. It has become my breast cancer tree. I have all sorts of pink things out there, and then my new shiny ornaments. I really believe I must be part crow - I love my shiny sparkles.
Be careful out there - I know you didn't drink and drive on New Year's Eve - Hope everyone's New Year is starting out great - I know mine is.
Love to all you good people. Patty : )