Thursday, October 2, 2008

Facing the truth and the light

I lay on the bed crying as my oncologist bows his head and prays with me, holding my hand. That is when you know the news is bad.
He had just told me that the chemotherapy drugs that I have been taking, and mind you, they are the strongest ones available, have not been helping at all. My liver has grown, along with the number of tumors growing inside.
“Can any other drugs help?” I ask.
He said there are some non-chemotherapy drugs that will work like one of them, but the chances of it actually helping me are less than 20 per cent. Also the side effects are acne and rashes ranging from my lower face down to my chest.
“No thank you, it’s not worth it,” I said.
Basically, I’ve been given a couple months. My oncologist was actually surprised to find that my liver has lasted this long, with no signs of jaundice:
“(A) medical condition in which too much bilirubin - a compound produced by the breakdown of hemoglobin from red blood cells - is circulating in the blood. The excess bilirubin causes the skin, eyes, and the mucus membranes in the mouth to turn a yellowish color. If the cause is not treated, it can lead to liver failure,” according to
“So where do we go from here?” I ask.
He will give me the necessary drugs to make sure my last few months are comfortable. He also laughed when I asked if I can drink again. He nodded and said yes.
Just in case if you all were wondering, chemotherapy and alcohol does not mix well. Either I talk for hours and not realize it or I get sick as a dog. So it has been four months since my last drink, which was orange juice with a smidge of vodka. Thankfully, my fiancé loves Budweiser as a marinade for his steaks, so I am going to be one happy camper.
The other good news is that my hair will come back now. For months, I have been shedding like a Newfoundland in the spring. In the last month, after I shower, I have pulled out clumps the size of my hand.
Any woman will tell you, it is very hard emotionally to watch my naturally thick hair thin out to almost nothing. For this reason, I have not allowed any pictures of myself to be taken without a hat.
But I do not have to worry about it now. My hair is already starting to shed less and hopefully in a few months, my hair will be back to its natural state. Normally hair returns two to three months after chemotherapy, and depending on the person, it comes back thicker and either wavier or curlier. In my case, I will still have my mother’s wavy, thick hair.
So how is this going to change my future?
Well, my wedding plans are definitely going to have to be pushed up, so I can actually have energy to get through the ceremony. While my fiancé is happy to just go to the local justice of the peace, I want to get married in Nevada. Sorry, this is where my politics come out.
I am not and will not be a “Party B” according to my marriage license. Since homosexual marriages were approved this last June, to make the marriage licenses neutral for all wedded couples, the “Groom/Bride” portion has been replaced with “Party A/Party B.” I would rather fly to Las Vegas and officially be a “Bride” than to stay in California and be a “Party B.”
OK, that is the end of my rant.
And I do have to check with a lawyer to speak about a will and other financial questions, to prepare for the end.
I will still work as long as I can drive to the Citizen’s office. When I can no longer drive, I will work from home and just e-mail my stories to my editor.
Am I scared of the end?
No one really wants to die. I would rather give up my left arm or all of my hair to stay with my fiancé and grow old with him. I would even sacrifice my chances of having children if I can stay with him for 10 years or 50 years. I can live with just having puppies.
But I remember my grandmother’s last week on this world. She was talking with someone (whom I could not see) and she introduced me to this person. I knew then that her mother came to comfort her and my grandmother would not be going to the next world alone.
That gives me comfort. I know that my grandmother will be waiting for me on a very comfortable couch in front of a big screen Plasma TV with the NASCAR race on. And my dog Braveheart will be there, ready to jump up on me and give me puppy kisses. Also my fiancé’s grandmother will be waiting for me too, ready to give me a huge hug and kiss.
I will miss the people that I leave behind, but I know I will live in their hearts forever. And with the thousands of pictures that my friends and I have taken in our years at the Sacramento State Hornet newspaper, they will remember me full of life and healthy.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

In memory of Paul Newman

I've always been a fan of Paul Newman ... the ultimate masculine man in the late 1950s. Plus you have to love those blue eyes. No matter what, thanks to DVD, we will always have those blue eyes. He was a good man and will be sorely missed. Included is a clip from one of my favorite movies of all time.

Paul Newman, Hollywood's anti-hero, dies at 83

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press Writer 21 minutes ago

WESTPORT, Conn. - Paul Newman never much cared for what he once called the "rubbish" of Hollywood, choosing to live in a quiet community on the opposite corner of the U.S. map, staying with his wife of many years and — long after he became bored with acting — pursuing his dual passions of philanthropy and race cars.

And yet despite enormous success in both endeavors and a vile distaste for celebrity, the Oscar-winning actor never lost the aura of a towering Hollywood movie star, turning in roles later in life that carried all the blue-eyed, heartthrob cool of his anti-hero performances in "Hud," "Cool Hand Luke" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

The 10-time Academy Award nominee died Friday at age 83, surrounded by family and close friends at his Westport farmhouse following a long battle with cancer, publicist Jeff Sanderson said Saturday.

Click the title link to view the entire article.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just an update

I know I've posted a lot of national stories lately and haven't really put the focus on me. So since I have a little bit of free time, here we go.

Last week was not a good week. I received chemotherapy again and complained to my oncologist about a pain in my stomach. High on my stomach (near my diaphram) was a hard section of muscle or tissue. If I coughed, I doubled over in pain.
My doctor gave me Perkoset, which is a younger cousin of Vicatin (which makes me throw up). After one day, I was feeling no pain, but I was feeling major nausea. So I requested to go back to Tylenol with Codeine. The Tylenol mixed with a little Icy-Hot and I'm good.
But I did have a CT scan on Friday, so we'll see sometime this week of what's going on in my tummy.
But last week really affected my work. On Wednesday, I only worked one hour and I couldn't make it to work on Friday at all.
But today, I'm doing all right. There's a little pain in my back, but I'm doing good.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Baker Curb Racing joins cancer awareness fight

By SceneDaily Staff
Thursday, September 18, 2008

Jason Keller's No. 27 NASCAR Nationwide Series entry will carry a special paint scheme this weekend as part of a project to raise awareness of prostate cancer.

Keller's car will carry the slogan, “Driven to End Prostate Cancer,” during the Camping World RV Sales 200 at Dover International Speedway. That is part of an ongoing project between Kimberly-Clark, through its Depend brand, Rite Aid Pharmacy and ZERO - the project to end prostate cancer - to encourage NASCAR fans to pay attention to prostate health.

Under the program titled, “Do it for those who count on you,” the Depend brand will promote health awareness among male fans and their families.

Click the title link to view the entire article.

Colon X-ray seen as effective at spotting cancer

By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer 22 minutes ago

ATLANTA - A long-awaited federal study of an X-ray alternative to the dreaded colonoscopy confirms its effectiveness at spotting most cancers, although it was far from perfect.

Medicare is already considering paying for this cheaper, less intrusive option that could persuade more people to get screened for colon cancer. And some experts believe the new method may boost the 50 percent screening rate for a cancer that is the country's second biggest killer.

"We're talking about for the first time really screening the population," said Dr. Carl Jaffe, an imaging expert at the National Cancer Institute who was not involved in the research.

Click the title link to view the entire article.

Pink Floyd mourns Richard Wright

Pink Floyd mourn keyboardist Wright

3 hours ago

Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour paid tribute to his "musical partner and friend" Richard Wright.

Gilmour said the band's keyboardist, who died of cancer at 65, was "gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognised Pink Floyd sound.

"Like Rick, I don't find it easy to express my feelings in words, but I loved him and will miss him enormously. I have never played with anyone quite like him," he said.

Wright played the keyboard with the guitar group and wrote music for classic albums The Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here.

Click the title link to read the entire article.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New drug approved to help with nausea

Chemo Nausea Patch Approved

5-Day Sancuso Patch Fights Nausea From Cancer Chemotherapy
By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 15, 2008 -- The FDA has approved Sancuso, a five-day patch that fights nausea from cancer chemotherapy.

Sancuso continuously delivers a steady dose of a drug called granisetron, which blocks serotonin receptors and helps prevent nausea.

Nausea is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Not all chemotherapy patients experience this side effect, but it can be life- threatening. Some patients have to prematurely stop their cancer treatment because of severe nausea and vomiting.

Granisetron, delivered by injection or orally via tablets or solution, is sold under the brand name Kytril by Roche Pharmaceuticals. The Sancuso patch is from Scotland-based ProStrakan International.

Click the title link to read the entire article.