Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Number 5 is complete

Today was chemo # 5.
I saw Dr Gibbon this morning before my treatment. She did an exam and said things were fine. She was happy with my CA-125 at 10 and said I would probably have another CT or PET/CT after my next chemo.

Then I was off to the treatment area. My nurse was Tareai, one of the nurses during my clinical trial back in 2006. I was in seat 17, at the front of the building by the windows where it was bright and sunny. It took over 4 hours for the taxol infustion but it went smoothly. I slept through most of it.

I got to meet a very inspirational women in the next seat. M is a stage 4 breast cancer survivor. We chatted for a while. She noted how most people do not want to talk to other people in the treatment area. It was nice to meet another upbeat person. We laughed about things we heard on the "View" and Whoopi's comments on the latest salmonella scare. She shared with me a booklet on God's Power to Heal. I appreciate how comfortable she was talking with someone she just met about her faith. Maybe she saw the necklace that Alycia and Kevin gave me and she felt able to share her faith story with me. It is silver with a cross and "believe " . I thought about a Livestrong friend from SC who tries to talk to someone each time she goes to chemo- M was just like her.

I am back to CINJ for the next 3 days for Neupogen shots.


Every Day is a blessing ! Today my day was bless by M.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

GCF Gynecological Cancer Awareness Weekend- November 6-9 , 2009

Here is info I received from the Gynecological Cancer Foundation on what looks to be a wonderful weekend in Washington , DC. I am saving the date and look forward to attending.

"Join the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation for the inaugural half marathon and 5K race, and a weekend filled with other activities supporting gynecologic cancer awareness.

The weekend begins with a CME course for physicians and continues on Saturday with survivors courses for women, their families and friends.

For the first time, three free concurrent survivors courses will be held for survivors of cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancer. The courses are free, but registration is required. For more information about registering for one of these courses, visit the Women's Cancer Network.

Full race details, including a training guide, and registration are available at www.gcfrace.com."



Every Day is a Blessing!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Watching Trends

I've been watuching trends lately.
I watch stock market trends.
I watch housing trends.
I watch my CA-125 blood test results.

I really like that my CA-125 continues trending down. Since my CA-125 was still in the normal range(0-21) when I recurred, my doctors and I need to follow the trend and my CT results to see how well I am doing.

I had my blood work on Tuesday and thought I could make it to the 31st ( next scheduled chemo) without asking about the results. I can usually wait patiently until I see my doctor for my next treatment to hear the result. This week I made it a few days and then could not wait any longer. ( Learning a friend who also has OC was in the hospital made me sad and just added to my usual cancer survivor worries.)

I e-mailed my nurse and she reported that my value was 10. The number went promptly into my Excel spreadsheet so that I could chart the result. Since February I have been on a single chemo agent so I am especially happy with the continued downward trend.

Two more treatments to go - I might just make it to a single digit result yet!

Every day is a blessing !

Friday, March 27, 2009

21st Century Cancer ALERT (Access to Life-Saving Early detection, Research and Treatment) Act

From the OCNA e-mail I received:
"Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced the bipartisan 21st Century Cancer Access to Life-Saving Early Detection, Research, and Treatment (ALERT) Act today, which aims to expand and accelerate research to help find effective treatments and better preventive measures for cancer patients. The 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act is a wide-ranging cancer bill addressing issues from research to workforce shortages to coordination of care.

The 82-page bill offers solutions to many issues that are vital to the ovarian cancer community including the importance of early detection tests, development of biomarker tests, access to cancer care for underserved populations and expansion of access to clinical trials.

The 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act calls for the Department of Health and Human Services to promote funding opportunities and establish a separate review panel for grants related to high mortality cancers. The bill also addresses the need for government agencies to coordinate efforts to fight these cancers. Specifically, the bill requires reporting on cancers whose five year survival rate is less than 50 percent and cancers whose incidence is less than 40,000 people per year."

Click here for the complete press release.

The Bill's number is S-717 and has been
referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. If your Senator sits on this committee contact him/her about the importance of this bill. I hope they move this bill out of committee quickly to a full Senate vote. I will post a link to the complete text of the bill when it becomes available online.

Since OC does not have a screening test or reliable biomarker passage of this bill is crucial in helping us find a cure!


Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology- Ovarian Cancer Updated

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network and alliance of the world's best cancer centers recently issued the 2009 version of its Guidelines in Oncology - Ovarian Cancer ( including Fallopian Tube Cancer and Primary Peritoneal Cancer ). Please note that you might have to register to get to the document but there is not charge to register.

Although meant for physicians it includes flow charts and tables that are pretty easy to follow. The fourth page lists changes / additions to the previous document . Two changes include a section on allergic reaction to chemotherapy drugs and the use of PET scans. I read the section on allergic reaction and drugs for recurrence with interest.

Everyone's disease is different and it is meant only as a guide but it is good to have a document like this one to refer to when considering what path to take.


Today I saw a cardinal perched on a bare branch outside my kitchen window. Spring is in the air.
Every Day is a blessing!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ultrasound and CA-125 Does Not Discover OC at an Early Sage

US News and World Reports -Combo Screening Doesn't Spot Early Ovarian Cancer Article

The results of a recent US study of the use of transvaginal ultrasounds and the CA-125 blood test together to screen for ovarian cancer did not find the cancer at an early stage. The study involved over 34,000 women and is reported in the April issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology . Read the study here.

This study reported results opposite to the results of a British study reported earlier this month in Lancet. Links to the British study can be found on my March 11th entry.

These two studies just highlight how great the need is find an effective early detection test for ovarian cancer.



Every Day is a Blessing!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Local Woman "Conquering" Ovarian Cancer

I frequently read a columnist, Laurie Granier, in my local paper, The Home News and Tribune.

Yesterday she wrote a column about a woman from South Plainfield, Debbie Pryor, who is also an ovarian cancer survivor. It is a wonderful article that I hope you will all read.

Thank you Laurie for writing about Debbie.

Thank you Debbie for sharing your story and together we will conquer cancer.


Every Day is a Blessing!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Good Results!

This is me :o) smiling from ear to ear as I write this entry.
I was out this morning at CINJ for a meeting and when I got home there was a voice mail message from my oncologist. She said my CT scan looked fine. Hurrah!

Only two more treatments to go.


Every day is a blessing!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Loehmann’s Fashion Funds Hope Shopping Event

Once again Loehmann's Fashion will be supporting the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund through a special day of shopping.

Where: Loehmann's Stores ( check locations on their site. )
When: Thursday , March 26th
What: Make a $5 donation at the register to OCRF and receive a 15% discount on your purchases. The entire $5 plus 5% of the days proceeds will go directly to OCRF.

If you are available that day, OCRF is looking for volunteers to hand out information on Ovarian Cancer at various Loehmann's locations. You can learn more about volunteering here.

So shop with a purpose - bring a friend to Loehmann's and help find a cure!


PS- The closest Loehmanns to where I live in NJ is on Route 18 in East Brunswick. You might just run in to me there!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ask Your Congressman to Support the DOD's Ovarian Cancer Research Program

The DOD ( Department of Defense) supports a number of medical research programs. One in particular supports Ovarian Cancer Research. Congressmen De Lauro and Burton are asking their fellow Congressmen to provide support for the DOD's Ovarian Cancer Research Program. They are asking for $30 million dollars for fiscal year 2010.

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has made it easy for you to contact your representative and urge his or her support of this funding.

Click here , fill in your contact information and use the letter as written or better yet personalize it with how Ovarian Cancer has impacted your life.

I've sent my e-mail. Will you?


Every Day is a Blessing

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First CT of 2009

They delayed my CT scan because RWJUH was referring all their outside CT scan patients to a new URG office a block from the hospital. I have used URG before for ultrasounds and mammograms and their Radiologists read the films from the RWJUH CT and MRIs machines.

I got my port accessed at CINJ and then went to the new office. Of course I had prepped with E-Z Cat which was different from the drink (redi-cat ?) this new office uses but I was told it was acceptable. We also discussed how they could use my port with the contrast set to flow in slowly instead of starting an IV.

After filling out papers and having a bit more prep drink they led me into the machine room. Now since I have had more CTs in the past 3 + years than I care to think about I have learned and noticed some interesting things. I knew right away that this GE machine was not the one at RWJUH. So I asked how many slice machine it was. I was told 16. Now my past CT's have been on a 64 slice machine and actually one might have been on the 128 slice machine. When I asked wouldn't a 64 slice machine be more sensitive than a 16 slice machine, the technician came out and said 16 versus 64 only mattered if you had to closely examine a moving organ like the heart. I was thinking to myself- how about looking for those mischievous Ovarian Cancer Cells.

Anyway, I had the scan done but now I wonder if this 16 slice machine will miss something the 64 slice machine would have shown. Since my CA-125 was normal in Oct the only way the doctors and I knew I had recurred was the results of the CT scan .

When I was in engineering school I learned to only change one thing at a time in an experiment and that everything else should remain constant.This way you know exactly what is affecting the outcome of your experiment. Today, I wish the variable was not the lower slice CT machine.


Every Day is a Blessing !

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

OC is Different Diseases with 5 sub-types: Implications for Biomarkers

Vancouver scientists have studied 21 biomarkers from 500 tissue samples from women with ovarian Cancer from 1984-2000. Complete article can be found here.

Conclusion from the article
"The association of biomarker expression with survival varies substantially between subtypes, and can easily be overlooked in whole cohort analyses. To avoid this effect, each subtype within a cohort should be analyzed discretely. Ovarian carcinoma subtypes are different diseases, and these differences should be reflected in clinical research study design and ultimately in the management of ovarian carcinoma."


Every Day is a Blessing!

Screening Can Detect Early Ovarian Cancer - NY Times

As reported in the NY Times "postmenopausal women who are screened for ovarian cancer either by transvaginal ultrasound scan or by a blood test followed by a scan are more likely to have their cancers detected at early stages, with almost half the cancers picked up before they had spread beyond the pelvis."
For the complete NY Times article click here.

The results of the study were printed online at The Lancet Oncology.


Every Day is a blessing!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Four down two to go

Today I finished my fourth chemo treatment of my recurrence. It remains a single agent taxol only treatment since my serious carboplatin reaction in January.

I arrived at CINJ in the morning and Carla was once again was my treatment nurse. She was the wonderful nurse who calmly and quickly helped during my carbo reaction so I was pleased to be in her caring hands for this treatment. She accessed my double port but she was unable to get a blood flow return even after using heparin. So it was on the next step. I had Altiplase which is a tissue plasminograph activator. Now don't think I knew that already - I wrote it down after Carla explained what it did.It pretty much works like drain clean to dissolve the fibers that might be blocking the port line to my heart. They leave the labeled syringes attached to the lines so that no one inadvertently uses my port. After about 2 hours( which included my Dr visit) both lines worked fabulously and I could begin treatment.

I also got a chance to see Deanna my oncology nurse and Dr Rodriguez. Dr R did a physical exam and told me everything was normal. I also learned my CA-125 was now 12 down from 3 weeks ago. That result really made Nick and I very happy. Then we talked about the bad back pain pain I was feeling with the Neulasta shot. This week I will get Neupogen shots daily to see if the pain is less and if this drug keeps my white count normal like the Neulasta shot did.

I will be getting my CT Scan on Thursday and am praying that the results show no sign of disease again.



Every Day is a Blessing!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Another Loss

Over the past few months I have written about my cousin Charles , friends Erin and Sharon and the loss I felt.

Today with a heavy heart I write about our family's dear friend Roy. He and his wife and daughters have been part of our lives for over 15 years. We met through St Paul's church when I began working with MaryAnne, Roy's wife, on RCIA. This Wednesday, Mary Anne called to tell us that Roy had passed away from the pancreatic cancer he had been fighting for just over 2 months.
  • Roy was a jovial guy. His white hair and beard along with his great smile had little kids call him Santa.
  • He loved movies and TV . You name the movie, he most likely had it on beta, vhs or dvd. Just ask Matthew. When Matthew, my son, was in elementary school, he spent days in Roy's basement putting the media type , name of movie and location into a spreadsheet on Roy's computer. That was the same computer Nick and I took Mary Anne to buy for Roy and then put together. Now that was a funny night.
  • Off course lots of what we did with Roy and Mary Anne revolved around food. We would try different restaurants - most of which were BYOB- which meant we also got to try a different bottles of wine. We went to different Parish picnics and ate BBQ. They attended Theresa and Andrew's wedding. Then of course, there was Roy and Mary Anne's annual Christmas gathering. More food , good friends and Scotch.
  • Roy was also a die-hard NY Ranger fan. It didn't matter what the weather was like Roy would trek into to the City to cheer on his team.
  • The other thing Roy loved to do with MaryAnne was travel. They visited the Baltic states, Hong Kong, Italy, Turkey, Greece and loved going to Florida and California. The Day family vacations were the best. He took awesome photos that made you feel like you were there right along with them.
Thank you Roy for your friendship. You blessed our lives.

Every day is a blessing!

Monday, March 2, 2009

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in the UK

I learned that March is OC awareness month from Sandhy a fellow survivor and blogger who lives in England.

There is a fund in the UK called The Eve Appeal - Gynaecology Cancer Research Fund. They have raised over 5 million pounds for research since 2005. The research program is led by Medical Director Dr. Ian Jacobs. The focus of their reseach includes understanding the causes and biology of gynecological cancers, screening and risk factors, documenting the spread of cancer and quality of life issues and treatment.

They are also a part of a number of trials and studies including the United Kingdom Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS) , the world’s largest ever screening trial for ovarian cancer and the United Kingdom Familial Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (UKFOCSS), a collaborative study which aims to find out if screening is beneficial to women with an inherited risk or genetic risk of ovarian cancer.

There is a world wide need to find a screening test for early stage Ovarian Cancer and more effective treatments and a cure and these researchers in the UK are helping us find answers. Thanks!

Every Day is a Blessing.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ovarian Cancer Fundraiser in New Brunswick - April 17th

Team JLO 3rd Annual Teal Night For Life

April 17, 2009 7:00 pm
The Olive Branch Bar and Restaurant
37 Bartlett Street
New Brunswick, NJ

$10 cover - additional donations accepted.
If you are on Facebook check out the event here.
All funds raised for the event will go to the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation.If you can't make the event you can still donate to Team JLO by going to this webpage.

This event is run by the Lopez family and is special to me because JLO stands for friend and fellow survivor Janice Lopez. We were both diagnosed in 2005 and together with our families have hung teal ribbons for the past two Septembers in Edison Township as part of the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation's Turn The Town Teal campaign for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. We are the people you saw on Labor Day weekend hanging the ribbons on the road leading to the Edison municipal building and after the Fall Festival on Amboy Avenue.
BTW-the Olive Branch is a great place for food and drink close to the Rutgers College Ave campus.

I hope that some of you reading this can join us. I am certainly looking forward to it and hope my chemo schedule cooperates.

Every Day is a Blessing! Even if it brings SNOW to NJ.