Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Demise of "WHATEVER"

I was just thinkin' that because a headline this morning identified the word "whatever" as the most irritating word in the English language for the second year in a row, that maybe it was time to follow the implied advice of a friend and change the name of my blog. (Thanks, Hank.)

So I have. I'm not sure if 'Just Thinkin' will work out but it's worth a try. Also, Blogger has some new templates so I have changed the look of the blog as well.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Playing CAT and Mouse

As some of you may know, about a year ago, I was diagnosed with stage 3 duodenal cancer. Surgery with that type of cancer is often not an option because of the location near numerous blood vessels. I did have surgery by a gifted surgeon, followed by time to recover from the surgery and then six months of chemotherapy.

Upon the completion of chemo, I had the follow-up tests. The CAT scan showed "spots on my lungs" but all was clear at the site of the original tumor. My oncologist sent me for a PET scan (see image at the right) to find out what the spots were.

I met with him last week. The PET scan revealed one small spot on each lung. However, they were too small to diagnose as benign or malignant. So I'll have another CAT scan in three months to monitor changes in these pesky spots. If it turns out to be more cancer, my feeling is that it's early and treatable.

I can't resist saying that I am now in a CAT and mouse game.

"Merry" Christmas Origin

Each time I'm wished a Merry Christmas, in the back of my mind is the feeling that Merry did not fit with Christmas back in the days when Christmas first became an event. My perception is that the first Christmases were somber events. I finally took the time to check it out.

I was reminded that Christmas was first celebrated in the 4th century AD but the expression "Merry Christmas" was first used in 1699.

Here's the rest of the story:

The term Merry Christmas is not only used by the Christians to greet each other during the festival of Christmas but by all, irrespective of class as well as religion at the time of the Christmas Festival. In the term Merry Christmas, 'Merry' stands for happiness while 'Christmas' meant Christ's Mass in old English.

To learn more, just Google "origin of 'Merry' Christmas" or go here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just Call Me Doc

I unwittingly stumbled across an interesting topic today. I had been curious about an acquaintance who had earned his Ph.D from Canterbury University. I was unfamiliar with that school so I googled it.

That's when things got interesting. First of all," Canterbury University" didn't show up but all these vague links appeared. Some of them wanted you to register with personal information. I finally located a "Comments" page where Canterbury was identified as a diploma mill by several people and one even provided the address of its web site. Of course, I've read of diploma mills but knowing someone with one of the degrees is a first..... I think.

Wow. If I want to have a Ph.D, all I have to do is invest $180 and wait a few days for all the documentation to arrive in the mail. You can call me Doc.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I'm home again after spending a few days in the hospital. It feels so good.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Captivating Chemo

Until today, I found that others having chemo at the same time I do did not discuss their cancers during treatment sessions. Today was very different. There were five of us (treatment room holds six) and we were all women. Suddenly, we were all involved in a cancer discussion.

The five of us all had different cancers---lung, liver, pancreatic, breast (spread to lungs) and duodenal. Most of the conversation was about our reactions to chemo. Side effects varied greatly from individual to individual.

We all agreed that we were survivors or we wouldn't have been having the discussion.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Handshake or Fist Bump

I don't deliberately keep a blind over my eyes regarding changes in my world but I must confess that many changes slip by me easily. For example, I have recently become aware of fist bumps as a replacement for handshakes.

I regard this as highly symbolic of the times in which we live. In this age of discord and discontent, a clenched fist encounter replaces the handshake. After all, a handshake pulls you closer to another person, kind of like a mini-hug with the hands. As far as I can tell, today's society regards that at a weakness and the fist bump as a stronger, more aggressive reaction when dealing with another person.

I don't buy it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Common Courtesy vs Individual Rights

Here's another one of those topics that keep me awake at night---common courtesy. I define common courtesy simply as a behavior that shows respect to another person. You know, like holding a door open for someone, saying please and thank you, not interrupting when they are speaking, listening to another point of view---ah, there's the rub.

There's not much listening to another view point these days. It's not a disease carried only by our leaders but right down the line to the demonstrators who wave signs and demonize elected officials as their right to free speech. I will fight for any one's right to free speech but ask that they use common courtesy to express it.

Would the Founders have been able to write the Constitution in the volatile climate of America today? I'm guessing that (back then) many individuals expressed their beliefs and opinions that were the opposite of what others were thinking. Without common courtesy, would the Founders have been able to compromise and come up with the amazing documents we call the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

I am turned off by the negativism and discord preached today. When did we, the civilians who proclaim the Constitution and Bill of Rights as the guidelines for ourselves and our government, lose our civility and common sense? And more important, why?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Time Passes

I just checked my blog and was shocked to realize so much time had passed since my last post. I've been very busy:
  • watching for spring
  • getting started on chemo
  • watching for spring
  • counting robins
  • arranging for lawn care
  • watching for spring

Monday, March 22, 2010

Who Decides?

Did you ever wonder who makes the big decisions regarding things that go on to become common wisdom accepted by all? For example, gold. Who decided that gold was the most precious commodity on earth? Why did gold win over, say, soy beans?

Gold's reputation has been consistent over time, societies and geography. What makes it so special? Is it the color? Surely sunflowers are as striking. Is it the space? An ounce of gold is more compact than an ounce of feathers.

And how did gold become so popular? Did its reputation spread by word of mouth or some other method? Did Mr Neanderthal stub his toe on a gold nugget, pick it up, and show it to the rest of the clan? Everybody oohed and ahhed and fell in love with gold. Is that how it started?

These things keep me awake at night.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Realities of Rare Cancers

By now I thought I would be involved in chemo and radiation. And I should be. However, the reality is that a treatment protocol for duodenal cancer does not exist because of the rarity of this form of cancer. So I'm waiting for an appointment and assessment at a much larger cancer center. They are supposed to design a treatment program that will be given to the regional cancer center so I can be treated locally.

Imagine my shock when I kept my first appointment at the cancer center only to be told "We don't know what to do with you because your form of cancer is so rare." One source I found on the internet said that fewer than 7000 cases of duodenal cancer were reported in 2007. I can't imagine that anyone is doing research on a cancer affecting so few patients. My best hope will be to become a participant in a clinical trial.

In the meantime, I sit here waiting. Anyone know any bald jokes?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chimps and More Bad Press

Reuters has a story today about a Russian chimp with an interesting life. First, the chimp was thrown out of circus for his aggressive behavior. From there, he was sent to a zoo where he picked up some more bad habits. He learned to draw with markers, drink and smoke. Now he has been transferred again for rehab treatment to overcome his cigarette and beer habits. I don't know what they've planned to do about his drawings.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Blonde Joke

My sister, who was a blonde until recent years, has had to bear her share of blonde jokes. In self-defence, she tries to find the best blonde jokes before anyone else can locate them. Here's one she shared when I was in the hospital.

A company decided to conduct a password audit. They discovered that a blonde receptionist had an unusually long one. It was MickeyMinniePlutoHueyLouieDeweyDonaldGoofy. So someone went to her and asked her why she had such a long password.

She indignantly replied, "Well, you were the ones who told me I had to have a password that was eight characters long!"

Good News, Bad News

Now that I'm getting stronger, I am recalling some of the more interesting incidents that occurred when I was in the hospital.

The night before my surgery, my room suddenly was filled with six doctors. Five of them were the surgical team to discuss the operation and what to expect following it. Then they left and the remaining doctor, the hospitalist, who coordinated all my treatment, pulled up a chair by my bed.

My first thought was "Oh, oh! This doesn't look good." It wasn't. He told me that he had to inform me of my options and that my decisions should take into account that the end result would most likely remain the same. I remember asking how long and how he danced around the question while I pressed for an honest answer.

Then I had what I call my Rodney Dangerfield moment. I kept thinking "Today I had good news and bad news. The good news is I won't get dementia. The bad news is I won't live long enough." I think you would call that sick humor.

In looking back, I wonder if the hospitalist had another motive; one that would make me mad enough to say "Oh, yeah? I'll prove you wrong, Mister!" Because that is the attitude I've had since his visit that night. Thanks, Dr. Kovachev.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Correction: Duodenal Cancer

While I was writing about my cancer, I made a big error in the name of the type. It is duodenal cancer.

Duodural Cancer

Even though I admit to being a learning junkie, there are occasions when I learn more about a subject than I wanted to know. Duodural cancer is one of those subjects. I can tell you more about it than you'll want to know and I've learned all this because I have duodural cancer.

Duodural cancer is located in the duodenum, just below the stomach in the upper intestines. It is in a very difficult place to operate on because there are so many blood vessels there. I was a lucky one. The surgeon was able to remove the cancer. I still have chemo/radiation ahead when I am stronger.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

This has been the strangest New Year I have ever spent. How I writing this now demonstrates how strange. I'm propped up in a hospital bed using a computer signed out from the hospital library but, believe it or not, this is the most normal thing I've done for several days.

I've had some physical problems lately that led to a couple of visits to ER. The second visit, on Wednesday, December whatever, led to more tests and the discovery of a blockage in the upper intestines. When my surgeon got out of surgery, he reviewed the info and decided that he was not qualified to treat me and transferred me to Rochester General in Rochester, NY. More tests and a scope. The surgeon doing the scope located the tumor and did biopsies. Now I'm waiting for a more specialized surgeon. With the holiday weekend, who knows when that will be.

In a couple of days, I will have my own netbook here but who know whether I'll be in any shape to use it.

The way I see it, this will be my third surgery in five months and the third one is a charm.