2011

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2011

Got a good report from my oncologist yesterday

My Stage Four affected liver (can’t live without a liver) lesions are stable and all the blood test ‘numbers’ are in the right place. We stay with the monthly Octreotide shots and MAY be able to reduce some tests from every 3 months to something less frequent. 

Since there is no cure for carcinoid tumor cancer, this is REALLY good news. Be aware of the symptoms of neuroendocrine tumor cancer or NETS.The S is for syndrome. I don’t have that. Thankfully. I have enough to deal with.

I also lost a few pounds — due to my eating habits not due to the cancer. The main changes are NO processed foods, loads of fresh foods, high protein, and eating foods that fight all cancers. 

My gurus are Andew Wiel with his food as medicine approach, Dr. Oz, of course for his ‘stay informed’ approach, and Deepak Chopra for his meditative approach. Eating food and staying informed are much easier than meditating. I just cane seem to make the time to meditate. Shame on me. But this is my busy season so I’m focusing on making goat milk soaps for the upcoming festivals. Yes, I know meditation is good for me. I’ll work on finding time.

 

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2011

Altered eating habits this weekend …

… and uhhh can we tell a difference. Husband and I have been eating simply prepared foods: fresh veges, grilled or baked chicken or fish, and ton of salads and juices, and feeling great. I’m lucky that the husband is supportive and willing to eat salads.

But this weekend I needed a kitchen quickie so I bought some KFC. A BIG bucket. We pigged out Friday night on fried chicken, cole slaw and beans. Delicious that night.

The next morning we paid for this indulgence. Bob and I both felt bloated, fat, and full for hours. We didn’t care and had more chicken for lunch. What a treat.

Again, that night we paid the price. We could feel the grease in our systems sloshing around.

Soooooo, last night we finally got back on track and had whole wheat penne, grilled chicken dish with tons of tomato sauces. It is so easy to make our own spaghetti sauce we just can bring ourselves to buy prepared sauce any more.

Sometime I need a kitchen quickie but next time I won’t buy as much. My eyes are still bigger than my stomach. Yes, I’m working on this.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 2011

Started treatment with Octreotide

My first visit to the ‘back room’ of the cancer center was somewhat comforting. It was a large room with a centralized nursing station surrounded by large over-stuffed comfy-looking chairs. Each chair was encircled with a privacy curtain and plenty of magazines. Now I know where the good magazines are located.

My nurse made me feel comfortable by explaining everything I needed to know about the octreotide and what would be happening within the next few days. For the first three days I’ll get less than a milliliter of medicine just to make sure I have no allergies or obnoxious side effects. Then on the fourth day I’ll receive the 30-day version. Baby steps are always a good thing.

Well, so far so good. The shot is oil-based and requires a larger needle than I’d hoped but since I use a larger one for some of the medicines I give my goats I can’t complain too much.

Moving on. I felt a bit swimmy-headed walking to my car. Not wanting to drive away from the clinic too soon, I sat there for a few minutes. I was OK in a couple of minutes.

The really good news is that I can already tell a difference; I’ve only had one bowel movement since I’ve been home and it was decent. Before the octreotide I’d have movements of mostly diarrhea about over two hours.

Hummmm, maybe this shot will work after all. I’ve had diarrhea since 1998 when my gall bladder was removed. Relief, at last.

I go for tiny shot number two tomorrow. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Keep smiling

TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2011

 

Met with oncologist for my three-month followup

The news was good — all the tests indicate that my cancer is stable. No new growths, no changes. That’s good. If that’s good then why am I sad.

I’m sad and mad because nothing can be done to get this out of my body. I’m not a candidate for liver surgery because the tumors are scattered throughout my liver. The good news is that they haven’t grown since my last CAT scan. We’re in the ‘let’s check again in three months’. I can’t imagine how expensive this experience will be. I’m feeling somewhat fatalistic this morning. Based on what I’ve read, having a day like this is normal. CRAP.

The good news is that carcinoid tumor cancer is extremely slow growing but they do grow.

I start my octreotide shots today because I still have diarrhea. Diarrhea has been part of life ever since I lost my gall bladder in 1999. I wonder if a CAT scan back then would have changed today’s outcome.
Ahhhhhhhhhh the value in 20-20 hindsight.

The shots will start small. First I get less than a milliliter with a tiny needle. That’s good. The medicine will last for a couple of days and is a test to see if I have any reactions. I hope not … what’s my other choice?

See? Told you I was a fatalist. I’ll shape out of it in a minute. Bare with me.

My doctor answered all my web-found questions and even spoke kindly about the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation (CCF). I’m glad he’s heard of them. Now I can continue reading the materials with an increased confidence.

ALL of my medical professionals have told me to stay OFF the web. “Don’t believe what you read. Most of that information is WRONG. You’re chances are better then what you’ll read about.” My CHANCES? These words are aimed at me and if aimed at me then my family structure will change dramatically. THAT’s why I’m sad. Knew the reason would surface.



Guess I’d better start finding my animals good homes. Well, the goats at least. The dogs, cats, chickens, and horses are family. So are the goats, if the truth be known. I LOVE my goats … but they need better, longer lasting homes. They’re good goats.

That’s enough for now. I need to go adjust. 🙂

WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 2011

 

Meditation

The Universe has an incredible way of communicating. All we have to do is listen. But listening to the Universe can be tricky. The one way I’ve noticed that it talks to me is when things keep coming up. For instance, the value of meditation keeps repeating itself. Every where I look, I see some message about meditation.

I get it. I get it.

Meditation is an important part of life. It used to be a part of my life but I seem to get busy and forget or simply don’t take the time to slow down and meditate or reflect of the journey of the day.

Life has a way of telling you what is more important then other things. Life is telling me that meditation and growing within is important enough for me to take notice and focus inwardly.

As I learn more about it and identify resources, I’ll post them here.

Deepak Chopra has several books, CDs, and learning aids about meditation. Here is one of his websites:
http://www.chopra.com/dailyinspiration

TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2011

 

New link for carcinoid tumor cancer signs

http://www.fittodo.com/Fun-Healthy-Living/Health-And-Wellness/Medical-Conditions-A-Z/Carcinoid-Tumors.aspx

This link is the  most concise I’ve found on signs of carcinoid tumor cancers. As with all cancers, the earlier they’re found, the better chances of survival you have.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2011

 

Fighting Cancer Through Macrobiotic Cooking

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been researching cancer-fighting foods. I began in my cookbook library, which is quite extensive since I’m a closet foody. To my amazement, I found three outstanding resources. In this article I’ll discuss macrobiotic cooking.

Macrobiotic Cooking for Everyone by Edward & Wendy Esko; Japan Publications, Inc. Tokyo; January 1984.

Yes, I’ve been researching various nutritional modalities for years. Whether I follow them or not, I still like to know how other folks feel about their foods.

In this book, Part One discusses Macrobiotics: Way of life for everyone: the Harmony of Opposites, Anecdotes: East and West; and Food of the Past, for the Present, and Future.

It’s quite a comprehensive study of food’s relationship with our body in relationship to earth and the heavens. I find the modality to be relatively easy to use and follow as long as you have access to a grocery store or health food store for oriental ingredients. Back in the 80’s I had to shop at health food stores; but, today my local grocery store caries most of the ingredients mentioned in this book.

Macrobiotic cooking in a nutshell:

“Macrobiotic cooking is simply the art of balancing those universal forces as they appear on earth and in the biological world so as to achieve harmony with our immediate environment in nature and with the universe as a whole. Biologically, this condition of balance or equilibrium is referred to as health, while psychologically, we refer to it as happiness, (p. 7).”

Reading this book again after so many years reinforced my decision to build our own garden. Almost every day new information becomes available about hidden ingredients or processes in our nation’s mass production of food that isn’t healthy for us. Edgar Casey introduced me to the notion of eating local foods. He was right — again.

Part Two: Cooking for Health, Happiness, and Freedom goes into detail about each food-type then offers several recipes. Macrobiotic cooking mostly entails whole grains, soups, vegetables, beans, sea vegetables, and seafood with oriental condiments. Delicious. No fancy cooking processes, just simple, easy recipes but you will need a pressure cooker. Yummm … .

Over the years as we learn more about how our foods are being grown and processed, growing one’s own produce is becoming critically important to health. Perhaps my eating habits are what caused my carcinoid cancer. Who knows. But I do know it was triggered by a hormone imbalance but what caused that anomaly is hard to define. According to my doctors, there is noway of knowing for sure.

But I can tell you that living only eight to eleven more years is not enough time for me. My To Do list is longer than that. You’re too, probably. If altering my eating habits will thwart further carcinoid tumor development, then that’s a fix that I can do something about.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to lose weight for my overall health and to get off my high blood pressure and high cholesterol medicines. Being over weight isn’t good for cancers either. So far I’ve lost over 20 pounds. Only 70 more to go. Piece of cake.

SATURDAY, MAY 7, 2011

Fighting Carcinoid Cancer and Boosting My Immune System with Food

Since there is no medication nor chemotherapy treatment for carcinoid cancer, my best defense will be coming through the food I eat. Having forever been a believer is the adage of you are what you eat, I’ve decided to change who I am by altering my eating habits. I am, however, a relatively typical American; over the years I’ve convinced myself that I too busy to cook from scratch so I heat frozen meals, mostly family sized so we’ll have left-overs.

My wake-up call began in January 2011 when I was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer. February was filled with all types of tests, most of which required a needle in my vein. Don’t like those. Based on the test results, surgery was scheduled for March 7th.

All this time I was operating on faith because I felt fine. I showed up for the doctor’s appointment, the tests, and the surgery on blind faith that what everyone was telling me was true. I had nothing to go on but their expertise. I felt the same way I had been feeling for several years, months, and days — over weight but fine. It felt strange to go into surgery without any pain or aggravation. Just blind faith. I digress … .

Eating hospital food for seven days will change most appetites but I actually found it to be quite good. That is when I finally got to eat solid foods. For the first few days my diet progressed from crushed ice, to clear broths, pudding and jello, then to soft but solid foods like vegetables.

Hospitals don’t know how to make coffee so I passed on that beverage throughout my stay. To my chagrin that absence of coffee changed my taste buds so dramatically that I can no longer tolerate coffee or hot tea. Decades of coffee-drinking tradition had been changed in seven days. Pout

Now I drink gallons of juice instead. You know, I’m living quite well without coffee. Didn’t think that could happen. But since it did … I’m wondering just how challenging it would be to make better food choices all the time. But which foods fight cancer and boost my immune system?

My research began in my cookbook library, which is quite extensive because I’m a book hound. Upon first glance I found three books:

  • Macrobiotic Cooking for Everyone by Edward & Wendy Esko, Japan Publications, Inc., Tokyo; January 1980
  • Meals that Heal by Anne Egan and Regina Ragone, MS, RD; Rodale, Inc., 2001; and
  • The Healthy Kitchen by Andrew Weil, MD and Rosie Daley; Random House, NY, 2002

My oncologist gave me a cookbook that he hands out to his patients:

  • Eating Well Through Cancer by Holly Clegg & Gerald Miletello, MD 2011.

Amazon.com offered several choices but I chose the following:

  • The Anti-Cancer Cookbook by Julia B. Greer, MC, MPH; Sunrise River Press 2008; and
  • The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebeca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, 2009.

I’ve read most of them so far. But as I find interesting points in them, I’ll pass that on to you so you can make your own choices.

Keep smiling,
Pat

FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2011

I’ve been researching a variety of cancer related foods

So far most of the foods that have been recommended are foods that I like: fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and lean meat. However, I have found conflicting information on wine. One source says to stay away from any and all alcoholic beverages. Whereas my doctor and Dr. Oz say that one glass of red wine a day is a good thing. I’ll let you know.

Before going into the hospital I’d have way more than two glasses a night. I’m glad that cycle was broken. I don’t miss the wine but occasionally a glass might be good. Protecting my liver seems to be a more prudent choice. Hummm … I haven’t decided what to do yet.

Not drinking coffee wasn’t my idea. After being in the hospital for seven days and not having access to coffee, I found that I didn’t like the taste any more. Actually, I don’t want a hot drink in the mornings. Two large pint glasses of juice tastes wonderful. Any kind of juice will do but my favorite is V8 with about 8 gluggs of Worcestershire sauce in it. Yummmmm … . It’s my version of a Bloody Mary. That’s been the hubster’s favorite drink for years. Now he can’t leave his cup anywhere or it’ll turn up empty.

We have prioritized our garden. I started one last year but it got too hot before I could finish it so it just sat there accumulating more and more weeds. I’m definitely a fair weather gardener. It’s a 25 foot square garden with four 4×8 raised beds. I think. The weeds have taken over so I’m guessing.

Don and I put a mesh fence around it a couple of days ago so we can put several goats in the garden. They’ll have the weeds out of there in one or two days. AND, they’ll fertilize it while they’re in there. They’re my little edgers and lawn mowers.

Be on the lookout for pictures of this. It’ll be a site to see. More later … I’m finally getting sleepy so it’s back to bed for me.

Meeting My Oncologist for the First Time

My husband and I stood in line at the receptionist’s desk to let her know we were here for our appointment. I looked at Bob and said, “We’re not really here. This isn’t really happening, is it?”

“No,” he said as we both glanced at the ceiling. I’m OK with denial. It’s a comfortable place to be … most of the time. We sat and waited.

The sound of the nurse’s voice calling my name to come back to meet the doctor resonated throughout my body. What a reality check. No more denial allowed. I had to step up to the plate and face this cancer. Cancer is scary word.

We met the doctor in a conference room instead of an exam room; this was a first. Hummm … . He entered the room with my records in his hands then proceeded to introduce himself. He reviewed my medical records with us then started talking about treatment options.

Since the tumor had been removed, there would be no need for more surgeries. But the carcinoid cells had traveled to my liver where the other doctors found more then seven spots. Now we have to deal with those.

My oncologist took the time to describe the various options and which route would be best for me. Thankfully carcinoid cancer is an extremely slow growing cancer so we’re going to ‘watch it’ for now. I’ll go in for a CAT scan and other tests in three months before returning to his office. That way, we’ll have more information on how my little intruder is acting.

My plan of attack is to re-evaluate the foods we eat. Several foods have cancer-fighting properties, we’ll definitely be eating those. As well as eliminating as many processed foods as possible. Being typical Americans, I’ve fallen into the rut of preparing many packaged meals because we’re busy. Those must fall to the way side.

You know, all of a sudden, I’m NOT that busy because my longevity and the quality of my family’s life depends on it. It’s my job to slow down the growth of these carcinoid cells. Or, better yet, stop their growth all together.

As I discover food tips, I’ll include them here. So please check back from time to time to find out how you too could improve your health.

I’ll also ad the links where I find value. Like the one below.

Here’s the first link I visited:

http://www.thenetalliance.com/index.jsp

More later, Pat

 

I’m almost strong enough to attempt the steps down to the factory

I’ll be taking a few weeks off from making soaps and lotions to recover from a bit of surgery. A while back we found a tumor that was growing where it shouldn’t be. So we’re going in to in and get it out. So there … .

My team of folks are confident that everything will be fine. Good grief, after all the tests I’ve taken, there is absolutely no secret of what’s inside my body. The surgeon knows exactly where he needs to go and precisely what he needs to do. Piece of cake.

Our son Don is visiting with us so he’ll be taking care of the critters and the ranch, and Bob’s mother Essie will take care of him. So now I can relax knowing my loves are in capable hands. I can rest and recuperate without a concern. Whew!

I’ll be happy to respond to your comments upon my return to the office.

If you are inquiring about purchasing goats, please call 704-699-3531.

I’d appreciate your prayers.

Pat Allen.

I’ll be taking a medical break from March 7th to March 30th

I’ll be taking a few weeks off from making soaps and lotions to recover from a bit of surgery. A while back we found a tumor that was growing where it shouldn’t be. So we’re going in to in and get it out. So there … .

My team of folks are confident that everything will be fine. Good grief, after all the tests I’ve taken, there is absolutely no secret of what’s inside my body. The surgeon knows exactly where he needs to go and precisely what he needs to do. Piece of cake.

Our son Don is visiting with us so he’ll be taking care of the critters and the ranch, and Bob’s mother Essie will take care of him. So now I can relax knowing my loves are in capable hands. I can rest and recuperate without a concern. Whew!

I’ll be happy to respond to your comments upon my return to the office.

If you are inquiring about purchasing goats, please call 704-699-3531.

I’d appreciate your prayers.
Pat Allen.

 

Carcinoid Tumor Removed via Surgery

It’s taking time for all this cancer-stuff to soak in. Even though I was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer in early January, recent events still feel like a bad dream. Sigh … with that said, my research on carcinoid continues. Some discoveries are exciting while others are not likable at all. For instance, I’m not happy about there being no cure; nor am I happy with the expected life span of between eight and fifteen years. That’s not enough time for me to accomplish certain goals. (Sound familiar to you, too?)

Bob and I had a good meeting with my surgeon today. He answered all our questions to our satisfaction even though some discussions didn’t tell what us what we wanted to hear. Mainly that there really is no cure for carcinoid. Nope. No such luck.CRAP

My surgeon is super, though. He takes the time to talk with us about anything we bring up. Bob and I came away with a new understanding of carcinoid cancer and how we’ll be dealing with it. And he reinforced my oncologist’s mode of treatment, too. That’s always a good thing when doctors agree on YOUR treatment.

Right now we’re doing nothing with medication or surgery. But we will continue monitoring my liver with CAT or MRI scans. The carcinoid spread to my liver and caused several spots to show up on a previous MRI. Unfortunately, none of the spots could be removed during my previous surgery. CRAP

I return to both doctors in July following additional tests. So far, we’ve established a baseline of my health from earlier tests. The July tests will be measured against the original tests to see what’s happening with my liver. The differences between the two tests will help us determine our next course of action.

Since carcinoid is soooooooooo slow growing, we’ll probably do nothing but watch it for a long time. (That’s my hope.) However, since each carcinoid and person are vastly different, we’ll respond as needed to keep me healthy and honory.

In a way I’m OK with this modality but in another way, I’d like to pursue a more aggressive treatment for the spots in my liver seeing as my liver’s health is my challenge now. Taking the watch and see road is so passive. But then again, passive can be a good thing. Although it doesn’t help release my anger and frustration for all this cancer-stuff.

More later …

 

Hearing my Doctor’s Voice

And so it begins … .

Those were the first words that went through my head when my doctor told me that he found a tumor during a routine CAT scan.

“Crap” was the word that sums up my feelings about this matter. Crap.

Tumors are amazing creatures with minds of their own apparently. Not too long ago ‘they’ discovered a carcinoid tumor on my small intestine and said it had to come out. Imagine all of those life changing words in one sentence aimed at me. But we’re lucky; carcinoid tumors are exceedingly slow growing tumors. Apparently there are few if any symptoms for these tumors. Most are found incidentally while looking for something different. That’s what happened to me.

Several years ago I was diagnosed with gastrointestinal reflux disease (GURD). It  has been relatively easy to live with and didn’t require me to change my daily life much. I took my meds, cut down on acid foods like tomatoes, and didn’t eat right before going to bed. For the most part, GURD and I were getting along nicely.

Upon occasion, a strange feeling would travel through my intestinal track, though. Over the years I had learned to feel the different levels of discomfort. Most of the time the aches were routine. Nothing bizarre, nothing really painful. Just different.

That is until last September when a completely different pain struck my gut. My husband and I went to the ER where I drank a liquid that could be tracked via a CAT scan. Without any obvious blockage or fever, I was given the appropriate meds and told to follow up with our family doctor within 3 to 5 days.

Before I could get into the appointment, our family physician called with results of the CAT scan. He has been our family physician since 2000 so he knows us well. But he never calls. He’s busy, we respect that. He’s with us when he needs to be; he knows our lifestyle, likes, and work habits. Besides, over the years most every member of his staff has relayed his messages in terms that we can understand. I trust any and all of his staff, knowing they will convey accurate and timely information.

So, when I heard his voice, my heart sank. I zoned out. Crap.

I believe by the third time he repeated his message he finally got my attention. My mind shut down when I heard his voice. After all, I was expecting one of his staff members to call with the CAT scan results.

I remember hearing his worlds, “It’s my job to inform and educate you while settling your down.” I know he said much more but that’s when I heard. Hummm … . My first thought was to tell him to put his assistant on the phone but the words didn’t come out. I listened to him again.

As always he had done his homework before he calling. We had trusted him for twelve years, I knew I had to hang in there and hear what he was saying. He started talking about carcinoid tumors and how to deal with them. I’m not liking this but I’m listening.

I heard, ‘mumble mumble surgery mumble mumble surgery’. Then silence took over again. Guess I was processing the surgery word and couldn’t take in any more. Denial is defiantly a self preservation tactic.

Next I heard that his assistant would be calling me back with the appointment with the surgeon. And I thought a dentist was scary. A surgeon? Crap.

Advertisements