Archive for the ‘diagnosis’ Category

End of the Tunnel
October 10, 2012

I saw my endocrinologist this morning…this on the heels of an appointment with my primary care physician on Monday. Both went very well as did the visit to my oncologist a few weeks ago. In fact, it appears I didn’t need that thyroid gland anyway. ūüôā He says my synthetic thyroid levels are spot on perfect. My cancer markers are also within the normal range. And, my general health is excellent. I don’t have another medical appointment until January. Well, unless you count the mammogram in a couple of weeks.In just a few days, I will celebrate my 3 year cancerversary. It was shortly after that diagnosis, in 2009, that I began my first blog, Cathy’s Tunnel It was established for the purpose of sharing my journey through the dark and winding tunnel of breast cancer treatment. That, of course, evolved into this blog, Beyond Cathy’s Tunnel when I finally completed my year and a half of treatment. This one has helped me through the struggles of moving from cancer patient to cancer survivor. But, I’m finally there. I have finally reached the stage of cancer survivor – no longer a cancer patient.

I was just looking back through some of my early posts and I am blown away by some of the things I went through. I guess it’s kind of like labor – it erases itself from your memory once it ends. I was so naive going into this. I remember when a PET scan done when I was two treatments into the strongest phase of chemo showed possible thyroid cancer and I had to stop chemo to have my thyroid removed. My greatest concern was that I would have to go back and start chemo over and go through those two treatments over again. That isn’t how it works, thank goodness, but I didn’t know and I was devastated by the possibility. And, I was also concerned about whether or not they would let me wear my hat in surgery or if I was going to have to go in, bald headed. Oh, the memories.

You will never know how much I have appreciated the love, prayers and support of all of you during these difficult years. It has helped to carry me through. But, it’s time now to move on. I’m not dissolving my blogs, but I am ending my regular posts. It has long been my dream to write a book and, it is the pursuit of that dream that will now consume whatever free time I may find for writing. Should something come up that I feel deserves blog publication, I will still do so and those of you who have signed up as followers will receive an email alert notifying you of that post.

And, hopefully, if that book is ever published, it will find an audience just as these blogs have. My sister, Susan, shared this quote with me when I was writing my first blog. She thought it sounded like me. I hope that is true. “She not only saw a light at the end of the tunnel, but she became that light for everyone who knew her.” Anonymous I can’t imagine a greater compliment.

I thought I would share a final photo tribute to the journey through the tunnel. Hope you enjoy. And now, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” Henry David Thoreau


pre-cancer at the ocean

pre-cancer at the ocean

My Race For the Cure Team – First Year

crossing the finish line first year – just barely

40th anniversary dinner at Hunans

at the lake, sans hat

many, many hours clocked in these chairs

last treatment

met Ali from Biggest Loser

celebrating end of chemo at South Padre – back to the ocean

2nd Race for the Cure – Honorary Chair

on scissor lift to spray paint banner

Kelli and Brett’s wedding

enjoying a dance with Ken

dropping the puck at Pink in the Rink

riding the zamboni at Pink in the Rink

zamboni ride, Pink in the Rink, 2011





April 15, 2012

Just went out and checked on the plants we set out against all odds…the tomatoes, peppers and daisies in the garden. I wasn’t sure what I would find following several nights this past week where the temperatures dropped down into the mid 20s.¬†Amazingly enough, they not only are still alive, but they are about twice the size they were when this photo was taken. They’re thriving – sheer determination.

I got the results of my tests back this week as well. A few small abnormalities but, for the most part, everything looks good. In addition, I am managing to keep my weight from dropping. In just a few weeks, on May 11, I will see my oncologist. At that point, I will be released. I know it, because, like the life in these plants, I will it to be so. They are thriving in spite of what people thought…and so am I.

Looking forward to a great summer. A trip to Denver in May for graduation, a trip to Bodega Bay in June for my birthday, and a nice warm summer, unbroken by countless medical appointments.

Have a great week, everyone.


Yes, It’s True…Men DO Get Breast Cancer!
April 7, 2012

This is something you can’t afford to not read. It is a story that few have heard.


You Know You’ve Spent Too Much Time Hanging Around the Hospital When…
April 6, 2012

  • The Valet Parking guys know which car is yours without looking at the ticket.
  • The Admissions people can answer some of the questions for you without checking the computer.
  • The Radiology receptionist just takes your paperwork, smiles and says you know where to go.
  • The Tech comes to get you and acts like you’re old friends.
  • Another Tech you pass in the hall does the same thing and asks how you’ve been since she hasn’t seen you for awhile.

It’s nice…but, I’m just saying.

As you have probably surmised, I had my Dexa scan this morning at Mercy. Quick, easy, painless. Now just have to wait for the results.

On Wednesday I had a complete physical with my primary care physician. He’s running lots of labs which I also am anxiously awaiting the results of, but said he could find absolutely no problems other than the fact that I have some noticeable residual neuropathy from the chemo treatments. It went well and I don’t have to go back until October.

And now…just home from my Cancer Center appointment. I am feeling pretty positive. It was the shortest Cancer Center appointment on record. I met with my favorite nurse. Another nurse that I like stopped me on my way in to see how I was doing and then called me in to chat again on my way out. The big news…I was up almost a pound. Didn’t see the doctor so don’t know how he will feel about that but it certainly seems like a positive. BAM! Now, in a few weeks I meet with him and then I plan to be free for the summer. We’ll see how that works out.

Wine and teriyaki sirloin with my husband tonight. As Ken’s favorite coffee cup puts it…LIFE IS GOOD!

Have a blessed Easter week-end everyone.


April 1, 2012

Today I feel like introducing you to Ann. I have mentioned her on many occasions, but have never used her name or linked to her blog. She is the breast cancer sister whose blog I have been reading for nearly two years. She is the one whose journey has so closely resembled mine…until now. Her cancer has returned and she is now going through chemo again. I read her post today and it so brings back a rush of emotion that I wanted to share it.

She is not a patient at June E Nylen, but it doesn’t matter. It sounds like chemo is chemo, no matter where you are. I don’t know her, yet feel so bad that she is going through this. I hate that she is going through this. And, I recognize that I hate it, not only for her, but for all of us who have been there, done that, and just live each day hoping we won’t have to do it again.

And now, meet Ann.


February 25, 2012

OK. Here it is. My report on Cancer Center, 2/24. MAN…were they backed up. I got there at 11. When I FINALLY got called to the back it was nearly 2:00. The nurse told me that I was the last patient of the MORNING. When they finished with me they would start on the afternoon patients. Life at the Cancer Center.

Other than that, almost everything went well. For the first time ever, I had no low counts on my lab report. My xrays came back clear. The exam went well. Just one problem…

-3 pounds since my last visit. Dr. D. really, really feels that I should go to the Mayo Clinic. We talked for quite awhile and he asked me to go home and discuss it with Ken. I have to go back in 6 weeks to check my weight.

Darn Schleprock!


Prayers, Please!!
February 21, 2012

Nearly 1.5 million people annually are diagnosed with breast cancer. Today I am adding just a short post to ask you to join me in prayers for Pam, who today was diagnosed with the same type and aggressiveness of cancer that I was. I don’t know Pam well, but I like her a lot and she is an important person in the lives of some people who are important to me.

Pam – I want you to know that my thoughts and prayers are with you tonight as you begin the process of digesting all of this. The thoughts and prayers of MANY are with you tonight. And, I want you to comfort yourself with the knowledge that, as impossible as it seems, there is eventually going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.¬†In the meantime, get ready to Fight Like a Girl!! I’m here for you.

Good luck, Pam.


Since my music player doesn’t seem to want to work, here is a link to the song.¬† Great, great song. The inspiration for my original blog.

February 19, 2012


To carry heavy burdens. One who is said to be unlucky or extremely unfortunate. Also formerly a character on the popular cartoon “The Flintstones.”

Just sitting around in the quiet house this afternoon ( Ken is working on music with friends ) and thinking about the week ahead. I find myself doing this every week –¬†checking my upcoming calendar for medical appointments. If there are none, I can smile..otherwise, I sigh.¬†¬†Of late, I have been smiling a lot…no appointments for several weeks in a row. But, luck has run out. Friday, I have a full monty Cancer Center appointment…x-rays, labs, nursing eval, full exam with the doctor.

So, now I feel like I will be going through the week with this rain cloud following me…just like this Schleprock¬†guy. I guess his nickname is bad luck…I don’t really feel like I have bad luck, though it has been more than a year since I started hoping that every appointment would be my last on the cancer patient schedule and the first on the cancer survivor schedule which, I believe, starts out at every three months. A year is a long time to keep missing the mark on that so, in that regard, I guess I could consider myself a schleprock. But, I don’t really feel like one…except for that darn hovering rain cloud now.

I feel good, so fully expect things to go well. Yet…you never know. In the meantime I will work on dodging rain drops from now until Friday.


January 28, 2012

There was a movie out awhile back that I kind of wanted to see. It was called 50/50. But we missed it.

A couple of weeks ago, during the Golden Globes, I heard the movie mentioned and was reminded that I wanted to see it. So, last night, we downloaded it. I won’t say that it should win an award for Best Picture, but it’s pretty good. It is about a 27 year old guy who finds out he has cancer and about his life after diagnosis. It is a look at the emotions of cancer, not only the emotions of the patient but of those around him. I really enjoyed it…if that is a valid way to describe it.

I had to laugh at the scene of his first chemo treatment. It was the chairs. It was so deja vu…people sitting around in chairs, hooked up to infusion pumps. It brought back so many memories. Actually, those memories are invoked almost daily for me when I hear the afternoon train. My office is just shouting distance from the Cancer Center and I always hear that train. The track runs right by the Cancer Center, just outside of the chemo room. So the sound of that whistle transports me back to that place almost daily. But so did this movie. The young man met two older guys there having chemo and they befriended each other. They built a relationship around their common bond. It’s funny how differently people deal with things.

This may sound bad, but for whatever reason, I never wanted to build a relationship with others at the Cancer Center. I would go in, do labs, and then go back to the waiting area and look around for a seat. I had two criteria…the chair would preferably be in the sun, and there would be no one else around. I always tried to sit by myself if I was there without Ken or someone else. I just felt like curling up in a ball and pretending like there was no one else around. If it was too busy to do that, which it very often was, it worked to get my phone out and text or tweet to make sure I didn’t get pulled into any conversations. I know that may be difficult to understand, but sitting there you are a captive audience to all of¬†the conversations about nausea, metallic taste¬†of foods, drug side effects, etc, etc. I think maybe I just had all I could do to handle my own issues without heaping on anyone elses. And, I’m not a talker…probably a character flaw, but I’m just not.¬†In the movie, the young man’s girl friend took him to his first chemo session but when they got there, she told him she would just wait in the car. He reminded her that it would be about 4 hours. She still chose to wait in the car. She just felt that she needed to keep the life inside those walls separate from their other life. I guess I can relate to that.

In retrospect, the fact that I maintained a distance from the other patients was probably my loss. I did meet one friend there, just by accident…Sue. ¬†And, even then, we didn’t really become friends until later when we ended up in the same RX Health class at the Y. It was an exercise class for cancer patients. It was like our similar experiences created a common bond which has allowed us to become good friends. Today, we are working together on the Komen Symposium committee.

Interestingly, while the young man in the movie was able to open up to other patients, he held his parents at bay. His mother was dealing with the fact that his father had Alzheimer’s and also wanted to help her son. But, he wouldn’t let her in…until someone said to him, so your mother has two important people in her life…one who can’t talk to her and one who won’t. That was a turning point.

I don’t really want to give the movie away, though,¬†in case anyone else might still be planning on seeing it. I just woke up thinking about it this morning and wanted to share. Like I said, it is not the greatest movie ever, but it was – I started to say, a good read – no, not a book. It was a good peek into the emotional side of cancer. I think, for me, there were parts I could relate to and other parts that opened up feelings that I had never allowed myself to have. And, like I said, it reminded me that I am not a talker. I’m just not. So, how odd that, day after day I sit at this computer and open my heart to the world. Go figure.


Shame on Her
January 23, 2012

On occasion I have mentioned another blog that I read fairly regularly. It is written by a woman diagnosed with breast cancer just a few months before me and whose situation¬†has paralleled¬†mine very closly…up until now.¬†Awhile back, she found that her cancer had metastasized to the liver and in late fall, she had liver resection surgery. It was a very difficult surgery and she was struggling to recover when she developed c-diff…a serious infection of the colon. Like me, she had a weight loss problem, which, upon contracting c-diff became life threatening. As of her last post, she was down to 90 pounds.

She was recounting these problems on her blog and mentioned that her doctors and her nutritionist had her eating some things that most would not consider healthy options in order to gain some weight. Another member of the blogging community picked up on that and actually posted a comment on her blog, basically accusing her of causing her own cancer by eating processed foods instead of healthy organic options.

Think about that. There are two things that virtually everyone ever diagnosed with cancer immediately wonders…am I going to die?…what did I do to cause this? Seriously? To basically intrude on¬†this woman’s blog and blame her for her own situation is unthinkable. And, she didn’t stop there. She added an inflammatory post about this seriously ill woman on her own blog. She does not allow comments on her own blog so there is no way for anyone to even refute what she said. I am going to paraphrase it because I refuse to lend credence to it by quoting her and having to post a link to my source.

She suggested that, had the woman with cancer chosen a diet of fresh organic leafy green vegetable juices & fresh organic fruit juices as opposed to chemically processed crap and sugar she probably would not have developed cancer in the first place. She also went on to add, and, this part is nearly a direct quote but I copied it off of the cancer patients blog, not hers, so I don’t feel guilty not crediting her…I give up on stupidity & stupid people. If this chick thinks she can recover well from her recent surgery, the C-diff, & cancer in general by eating bon-bons, there’s nothing I can do or say to change her mind. If someone in this condition thinks that Fannie May & Progresso will make life all better, I wish her well.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but “well” is the last thing she’s going to be, eating shit like she’s eating. But why should I care? I dunno… I’m a sucker for stupid people, I guess.

Really? Stupid is as stupid does.

Point – According to anything that I have seen written by the woman with cancer, she thrives on a diet of fresh, healthy nutritious foods. She was unable to digest many of these things when her colon became dangerously inflamed and they had her eating whatever she was able to tolerate that would prevent her from losing any more weight.

Point 2 – While there are certainly theories on various foods, etc, that may possibly increase a person’s risk for developing cancer, there is currently no proven evidence that dietary factors of any kind contribute to the development of breast cancer.

Point 3 – Of course, doing your best to eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle is important. Who would disagree with that? But, if eating organic, green leafy vegetables was all that was required to prevent cancer, would cancer be as rampant in the world as it is today?

Point 4 – What business was it of that misguided blogger anyway? What right did she have to lay this guilt trip on a seriously ill woman and to perpetuate it by broadcasting the same to everyone in her own blogging community?

Cancer patients are all too familiar with the blame game. As I said, when diagnosed it is very common to search yourself and wonder what you might have done differently to prevent this from happening. I know I did. And, like it or not, those around you have a tendency to want to blame you as well, though, hopefully, not this openly. Why? Because if you can convince yourself that the person did this to themselves, you can lessen the fear you secretly harbor, that the same thing could happen to you.

Resist the urge, people. Thank goodness most people would never behave as this thoughtless blogger did. But, it is sometimes easy to make a thoughtless comment or to question someone’s lifestyle or habits without even thinking about how this might come across to them. Trust me when I say, you don’t want to go there.

Shame on you, thoughtless, un-named blogger, for the injustice that you heaped on this woman and indirectly, on those of us in a similar situation who were unfortunate enough to read your comments as well. Shame on you!