Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for....

I am thankful for:

My husband, Nick, who has been my rock for 30 years,

My daughter ,Theresa, son, Matt and son-in-law, Andy - who from hundreds of miles away were my biggest cheerleaders,

My surgeon who put me back in a position where I can say there is no visible disease,

My gynecological oncologists who has guided my journey and will start my chemo after Christmas,

Everyone who visited me in the hospital,

Everyone who sent me beautiful flowers and food,

Everyone who sent me cards and e-mails,

Everyone who visited me when I got home,

Everyone who called to say they were thinking about me,

Everyone who prayed an extra prayer for me and a God who listened.

Continuing to LIVESTRONG, Dee

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

LAF video

I just wanted to share this LAF video with my family, friends and readers. The best line in it is
" We will kick cancer's sorry ass" - Yup that is me - doing some kickin' right now!


Every Day is a Blessing

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Missing Out On all The Fun Things

I have been busy resting in the hopes of getting my strength back quickly. Over the past few days I find that I can move around a bit better, have been able to find more comfortable positions to sleep in ( boy, it helps to get a full night's sleep) and have been able to eat a little bit more each day too. All the phone calls, e-mails, cards and gifts that family and friends have sent my way, as well as Nick's great cooking, have also made things easier.

I really shouldn't complain but there is a tough part of all this recovery time. Since finishing my chemo in 2006 I have gotten back into the routine of pretty much doing everything I like to do. Now I am back in the "missing out on all the fun things" time again.

Yesterday, I missed the Rutgers - Army game. Ok, it was cold and I might not have lasted the entire game in the 25 degree temperatures but I would have given it a shot. It seems that RU may be bowl eligible again this year. I missed the first bowl in Arizona in 2005 when I was in chemo and am pretty sure if I start my chemo before Christmas I won't make a bowl game this year if they are invited. The two bowls that I did go to - Texas Bowl in Houton and International Bowl in Toronto- were lots of fun. We have a terrific tailgating group and traveling with them makes these bowl games so much fun.

At 1 pm today our friend's granddaughter Emily was baptized. Nick went to the baptism at St Matthew's and then to the small party after. Since I am still moving slowly and don't last more than an hour or two before I need a nap, I decided it best to stay home. So here I am writing this post , listening to my doggy snore and staying warm.

Over the next few weeks I will have time to readjust to having my schedule controlled by my doctors but when I think about it , it is a small price to pay for my health.


Every Day is a Blessing!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Avastin Increases Blood Clot Risk- NCI Bulletin

From the Nov 18, NCI Bulletin - Cancer Research Highlights

Bevacizumab May Increase Blood Clot Risk

"Bevacizumab (Avastin), the first FDA-approved drug designed to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels to tumors, significantly increases the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in cancer patients, according to a meta-analysis in the November 19 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pooled results from nearly 8,000 patients with a variety of advanced solid tumors in 15 randomized trials published since 2003 showed that patients taking bevacizumab were
33 percent more likely to develop VTE than those who did not. Incidence among those taking bevacizumab was 11.9 percent for VTE of all grades, and 6.3 percent for high-grade VTE. Those taking the drug had a 38 percent greater risk of developing high-grade VTE.

A dosage as small as 2.5 mg/kg per week was enough to pose a risk, which the authors believe "suggests that the so-called low dose of bevacizumab may already be reaching the saturation level to induce thrombosis." Based on the greater risk found in patients with mesothelioma and aerodigestive malignancies such as non-small cell lung cancer, the authors advised that patients with these conditions receive concurrent prevention for VTE.

"It may be appropriate to add a black box warning [to the package insert currently required by the FDA]," noted the study authors, led by Dr. Shobha Rani Nalluri and colleagues at Stony Brook University. Other angiogenesis inhibitors such as thalidomide and lenalidomide have also been shown to increase risk of VTE, and the authors warned that combining them with bevacizumab could compound the increased risk."

Avastin is not yet approved by the FDA for OC, but it is in use in a number of clinical trials.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy To Be Home in Time for my 30th Wedding Anniversary

I was released from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital late yesterday afternoon. The surgery went well. Even if the scar is longer than I expected the fact that there is no visual evidence of disease is awesome. I know that Chemo lies ahead but I 've "been there done that" and will do it again. I just need to pick up some more neat scarves and hats. Any excuse to buy!

It is great to be home. I couldn't wait to see my old dog, Kona. I don't miss waking up for blood pressure checks and x-rays at 4 am either. I spent the day today resting, finding the best places to sit and sleep, taking short walks around the house and going through all the snail mail and e-mail I received after 5 days in the hospital. We have a "boil Water" restriction in place due to a water main break in Franklin so I put off the shower until tomorrow.

Today is my 30th Wedding Anniversary. Nick picked up our dinners from Main Street Trattoria in Metuchen. I didn't eat too much but boy did the food taste delicious. We have had a wonderful 30 years and look forward to many more.

I want to thank everyone for their prayers and kind thoughts.

Every Day is a Blessing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am Recovering Well from My Surgery

This will be a short note -It is tough typing with an IV needle in my hand.
Surgery went well. They took out all the diseased areas and there was no disease found other than what was on the CT's an PET. I am thrilled that everything came out so well and the disease was in localized spots.
I am am one happy survivor. I will write again tomorrow or when they release me from 6 north at Robert Wood Johnson Univedrfsity Hospital.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Am Ready for Tomorrow

I started the day by taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood and then spent the rest of the time preparing for my surgery tomorrow. I organized things around the house, wrote e-mails , packed my overnight bag , bought some songs on I-Tunes, loaded them on to my I-pod and of course did that wonderful phospho-soda prep. Note: Cranberry-apple juice does not make that phospho-soda taste any better. Having only a liquid diet is not my idea of fun but I must admit the vegetable broth was pretty tasty. I do not recommend this method for loosing weight.

I am ready to do the surgery mentally and physically. I had my support group at CINJ last night. Talking and laughing with the other wonderful women and Julie our social worker really gives me strength. So does all the snail mail cards, e-mail notes and phone calls I received today.
Tomorrow I will be in the very capable hands of Drs Gannon and Rodriguez and God will be by my ( and their) side.

I need to arrive at the hospital by 9:30 am for an 11:30 surgery time. As you can imagine, I will not be posting for the next few days. If a wireless room on 6 north in RWJUH is in my future staying in touch will be a lot easier.

I will LIVESTRONG. Thanks in advance for all your prayers and warm fuzzy thoughts.

Every Day is a Blessing and tomorrow I will be blessed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Fun 30th Anniversary Surprise Party

On the 19th of this month Nick and I will be celebrating our 30th anniversary. Yup hard to believe that it has been 30 years since we exchanged vows on a cool Sunday afternoon at a Catholic Church in Elizabeth, NJ.

We have raised two wonderful children. I am proud to say they turned into pretty incredible adults. They are smart, hardworking and compassionate. In May we welcomed a terrific young man into the family when Andy became our son-in-law.

Even though we've lived in NJ the entire time we've been married, we traveled to some interesting places from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii to the beaches of Bermuda, from the cable cars of San Francisco to the Vatican in Rome and the beautiful Alps in Switzerland. And how can I forget all those DisneyWorld trips. Our friends Ron and Elaine introduced us to the Magic Kingdom back in 1987.

To help us celebrate our 30th Anniversary, Ron and Elaine hosted a surprise brunch at their home for us. They invited our Rutgers tailgating friends ( including my niece and her husband) , friends from church, neighbors who became friends and friends of friends who have become our close friends. The food was delicious and the company on a crisp fall day was the best. I am so thankful for all of them . We are truly blessed to have them in our lives.

"Thanks Ron and Elaine" - just doesn't seem strong enough for how much we appreciate all they did to pull this off. Even my hesitation since I didn't know when my surgery would be scheduled ( it is the 13th) didn't stop them from putting together such a fun time.

May we all share many more fun times together.


Every Day is a Blessing.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Brooks Brothers, Town and Country Magazine, and The OCRF Holding Fundraiser 11/18

Brooks Brothers is holding a special in-store event to raise funds for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Time: 6:00-8:00 pm

Location: Brooks Brothers Women’s Store
7 East 44 Street
(between Madison and 5th Avenue)
New York, NY

RSVP: 212.830.2982
or email

Every Day is a Blessing

Friday, November 7, 2008

Studies Assessing the Burden on HPV in the US

I received this info from the NJ Office of Cancer Control and the CDC.

"A new series of studies released online today indicates that 25,000 cases of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers occurred in 38 states and the District of Columbia annually during 1998-2003.

Featuring 22 articles that primarily use cancer registry data from the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program from1998-2003, the supplement assesses the epidemiology of cancers that have been shown to be previously associated with HPV: cervical, vulvar, vaginal,penile, anal, and some head and neck cancers."

You can find the studies here.

For more info on HPV- associated cancers check out this CDC site.


Every Day is a Blessing.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ovarian Cancer is On Social Security Compassionate Care List

In the past everyone applying for Social Security Disability Benefits followed the same application process. Recently SS has modified the process for 50 diseases that fall in the Compassionate Allowance Conditions.

The SS website said:
"Compassionate allowances are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate allowances will allow Social Security to quickly target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that we can obtain quickly."

You can check to see if your disease is on the list. Ovarian Cancer is one of the diseases!


Stress and Ovarian Cancer - NCI Bulletin

This snippet is from the the November NCI Cancer Bulletin

Researchers have found that patients with ovarian cancer who experienced symptoms of depression and stress had elevated levels of an enzyme associated with the spread of cancer in macrophages, influential cells in the tumor microenvironment. The enzyme, MMP9, is a matrix metalloproteinase, which can induce cancer cells to invade and metastasize. The study included 56 women, and the findings appeared in the November 1 Clinical Cancer Research.

Dr. Susan K. Lutgendorf of the University of Iowa and her colleagues found that depressive symptoms, chronic stress, and low social support were strongly associated with increased levels of MMP9 in tumor-associated macrophages. Conversely, patients who had higher levels of social support had lower levels of MMP9 and VEGF, a growth factor that promotes the development of tumor blood vessels.

To look more closely at the mechanism by which these signals are elevated, the researchers exposed macrophages in vitro to hormones released during depression and stress, norepinephrine and cortisol, at concentrations similar to those found in vivo when a person is under stress. They found that this exposure increased production of MMP9 in the cells.

"These findings provide a new understanding of biobehavioral influences on the tumor microenvironment and may have implications for patient outcome and targeted pharmacologic and/or behavioral interventions for ovarian cancer patients," the researchers wrote.

Additional research on Stress in OC is being done by Dr Snood at MD Andersen.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rachel is "Woman of the Year"

Fellow blogger and cancer survivor Rachel Lozano has won Glamour Magazine's 2008 Woman of the Year contest.

From the Glamour website:

"In 2002 doctors told Lozano that she had a zero percent chance of surviving a recurrence of Askin’s tumor, an extremely rare form of cancer she’d been battling through her teens. But Lozano says what kept her going through surgery and chemo was the idea she’d be able to inspire other kids. She explains: “I realized I would become a brand-new statistic, a symbol of hope for every other person who will ever get cancer.” Now in remission, she’s studying to become an art therapist so she can work with sick children. And she’s become such an eloquent speaker about pediatric cancer that the Lance Armstrong Foundation asked her to meet with members of Congress about it. Says Lozano: “I still have many obstacles ahead of me—including the threat of a relapse. But I’m up for the challenge!” "

I am so happy for Rachel -


Every Day is a Blessing!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Integrate Cancer into the Tapestry of Who You Are"

That is a quote by Rhonda Johnson, PhD ( Southern Illinois University School of Medicine).

I heard it yesterday at the 2008 Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course sponsored by the Gynecological Cancer Foundation and supported by NYU Cancer Institute and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Dr Carmel Cohen spoke about the progress that has been made in treating Ovarian Cancer since the first surgery on Christmas Day 1809. MS Jane Todd Crawford was one brave,tough woman.

Dr Judith Wolk spoke of the relationship between stress and Ovarian cancer and the study on stress undertaken at M.D. Andersen.

Dr Ron Alvarez discussed novel approaches to treating cancer from new chemos like trabectedin to angiogenisis agents like Avastin to targeted therapies like PARP inhibitors to immunotherapy agents. He also spoke of more individualized treatments based on the cell structure of a women's cancer.

Dr Carol Brown spoke about CA-125 and its use in monitoring response to treatment.

Dr Linda Dyska gave a very informative talk about managing recurrent disease and I found it parallelled what my doctors had told me.

Dr Stephanie Blank gave us pointers about how to talk to our doctors.

I am hoping that GCF will post the slides from each talk on their website so that those who could not attend could still benefit from the information.

Thank you GCF, OCRF and NYU for supporting Ovarian Cancer survivors by having this course.

Every Day is a Blessing.