Sunday, October 24, 2010


So most people reading my blog probably realize that we are heavy into 'flyball' which is a relay sport for dogs. My team is called 'The Flying Squad' - we are the regional champions for the last four years running, and came second in the 'Worlds' in Phoenix in 2008.

Our dog, Molly, is the anchor dog on the Division 1 team - she is expert at running flyball and can run 102 feet in under 4 seconds.

Our team website is This is a website I designed (with some help from a kind young woman I found on Craigslist) to help us promote our sport. I realize it is very 'basic' - if any of you readers have an interest in website building and think you can get us something better / fancier / more professional - I will NOT be offended at the offer!!!

Anyway, our team is hosting its annual flyball tournament on November 6 & 7 at the Cloverdale Rodeo in the Showbarn. One of the ways we raise money to support our team is that we have a raffle table at our tournament.

We are in the process of gathering prizes to offer for raffle and I am asking any of you if you have anything to donate for this purpose. The items don't always have to be brand new - second hand but in good condition is acceptable. Personally, I assess my prize choices by asking myself if it is something that I wouldn't mind winning in a basket - even if it's 'second hand'.

New stuff is always preferable - but when you're asking for donations, you can't be picky!!! LOL

Anyway, if you have some items that aren't 'garbage' but that you wanted to get rid of and feel this is a 'good cause' to do it, please let me know and I will arrange to pick up!!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I think it's a good sign

Today I had a thyroid ultrasound. The ultrasound office is in the same building as my gyno so I popped by to book an appointment to review my uterine biopsy results.

The receptionist pulled my file to ensure the results were there - and they were and they were signed off by the doctor. She explained that when 'normal' test results come in, they get signed off by the doc and then filed - no specific appointment to discuss is required. So that tells me that the biopsy results were clean and there is nothing for me to worry about.

However, I am not planning on relying solely on that for comfort - I booked an appointment. I want to talk to him about those results. And hopefully report back to him on my other issue now that I have been on the thyroid meds for awhile. And have the opportunity to ask him why the hell he suggested the hormone IUD.

I guess now I'll just be hoping that I don't need to worry about the results of my thyroid ultrasound either....

I saw an oncologist last week (barely since I forgot the appointment and had to race in there almost after hours).... and he said that my last heart scan was good - and also that my mammogram results came back with nothing for me to worry about. So THAT'S good news. Especially since the radiation oncologist had warned me that after my breast reduction, they would probably freak out because everything had changed and call me in for tests etc.

My appointment isn't until November 9 - so I'll probably post to update you guys of the confirmed results then also. I wanted to leave enough time for my cycle to work its way around & have something to report back to the doc on.

Since all my physical ailments are an open book (or blog, I guess), I will report that the first couple of weeks on the thyroid meds had left me with terrible cramping & pooping problems. Excruciating pain daily and requiring an almost full-time hot water bottle for awhile there. But over the last few days that problem seems to have resolved itself. I am REALLY glad about that - because that is the worst pain ever. (that I've experienced).... well, I wasn't really very happy when I got cold in the hospital and started shivering just hours after surgery either - that was also very painful.....

But they say that labour & giving birth is the worst pain - obviously I'm no expert there - however, I'm guessing that severe 'poop cramps' are akin to labour pains. Especially since I had that wonderful experience of using that medication to open my cervix before the biopsy. And the insert on those pills said they were used for inducing labour. And the cramps I had then - and also resulting poop problems again - give me an idea of what labour must feel like. Maybe not full knowledge - but an inkling at least. Which, of course, makes me feel confident that I made the right choice not to have kids. HA HA.

You know, I have been having WAY too many conversations about poop the last couple of weeks. My poor friends. And nevermind my friends....while at chemo last week, I had to report all my issues to the nurse as they always ask if I've been having any problems. And since I walked into chemo with a hot water bottle on my stomach, I had to spill why. And of course, I then had to explain all those other gyno problems to explain the labour-inducing pills and resulting ongoing poop problems and that we're hoping the thyroid meds will solve everything etc. etc. etc. But this discussion was held in the 'pod' - which holds 2 - 3 chairs, which is open to the next pod holding 2 - 3 chairs - and all those chairs had asses in them. So after I gave the rundown, I felt I had to make a comment that the entire chemo room now knows all about my gynecelogical, poop & thyroid issues. What a treat for everyone. Then the lady across from me said 'I could write a BOOK on hypothyroidism'..... as if that was the problem I was most embarrassed about sharing..... ?!?

But then she also went on to say that I should just be thankful that I don't have Graves Disease which makes your eyes bulge out and point in different directions. UMMM - is that a weird thing to say in a chemo room? I think yes. So I said 'like Marty Feldman'? - I don't think she answered me - but of course I couldn't help but look at her eyes thinking she must have said it for a reason. And her eyes WERE a little bulgy - but nothing I would have noticed if she hadn't made the comment - and certainly they weren't pointing in different directions.

So I guess we obviously both had cancer since we were getting chemo, and we both have hypothyroidism since everyone heard everything I said and she could write a book about it (she actually said she was one of the rare cases that almost died and had lost some mental function.... hmmmmmmmmmm LOL) - and so she means thank goodness I don't have Graves Disease as well as the other two like she does.

Just like my own GP explaining hypothyroidism by saying 'put it this way, if I had to pick a disease, this would be the one I would pick'. To which I replied, 'yes, I wish I only had to worry about ONE disease. I would definitely pick that one too!!!!'

But now I can go around saying 'at least I don't have Graves Disease'. That's some comfort anyway.....

Never a dull moment!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Which came first - the chicken or the egg?

I have been taking iron supplements for well over a year. Since the addition of my thyroid medication, it has become a little more complicated because you can't take iron with thyroid med or it will affect the absorption of the thyroid med into my system.

So I was Googling how much iron supplement I should be taking at one time. When I was taking 3 pills per day, I would try for morning, supper and bedtime. I can't take it in the morning anymore and then I often forget the rest of the time - so wondered if I was allowed to take all three at once.... (no answer on that as yet - will save the question for my GP).

Anyway, in doing that research, I was learning about the difference between anemia and low iron and low ferritin (I won't bore you with it) - but found it VERY interesting reading low iron can be a result of CANCER cells 'stealing' the iron from your body.

I have always assumed my low iron was due to that heavy bleeding I described earlier. Now I wonder if the heavy bleeding was due to the thyroid and the low iron was because of the cancer.

It's mind-boggling since I have also wondered if the thyroid issue is caused by the cancer treatment, or did I have that before. And since a low thyroid causes more 'thyroid stimulating HORMONE' to be created by my pituitary gland, and since I had a cancer that was fed by hormones, is my thyroid issue the cause of my cancer? Or a contributing factor to the aggressive nature of it?


I never get straight answers from the doctors. I am very happy with all the treatment I have received but one thing that gets me is it is the same for all the doctors - no one will really commit to anything.

My radiation oncologist tells me that taking birth control pills probably did not contribute to my cancer since bcp regulate hormones and so probably kept them more constant than mass influxes of hormone. I told that theory to my GP who felt very skeptically about this theory and is pretty much convinced that the pills were a contributing factor.

I've got the gyno telling me that it's ok to use a hormone-iud, and both my GP and oncologist said NO. The onc tried to 'soft sell' it by saying that 'technically, they don't know for sure the effect of progestin on hormone positive cancers but it is best not to risk it'.

I was once diagnosed with an 'elevated sedimentation rate'. I'm not even sure what the hell that is - but when they retested me, I was told it was ok and don't worry. That was the original doc - the only one that pissed me off - and she was leaving on vacation so I am not convinced that it was NOT something to worry about - but she didn't want to deal with me.....

Perhaps the "ESR" was not an indicator on its own, but combined with my massive mood swings (hormonal????) plus low iron - someone might have thought to check for cancer before I found a big lump, don't you think?

I guess they assume the easy things first. But it is all a little disconcerting. Now I am left wondering that if I had low iron because cancer cells were using it up, when I am taking 900mg of iron supplements, am I potentially feeding/encouraging cancer again? Just like they don't want me taking hormones, maybe I shouldn't be on iron supplements. Then again, your body NEEDS iron.... so I don't know. I have a list started from my GP but I honestly am not expecting any enlightenment... even though I really like my GP.

I know I said in posts way early on to be careful of what you read on the Internet in relation to cancer, as it is extremely scary reading - and my actual experience was never as scary as what can be read online. However, when you finally DO get to the stage of wanting to know things, you can't really get anything from real doctors and so you are left resorting to Internet research and freaking yourself out. I feel like I have gone through all this treatment without really knowing anything much about cancer.

I guess I know a lot more than many other people - but I know more about the process and how things work as far as treatment goes. I don't really KNOW what has actually happened to me. I don't know why Herceptin is supposed to help me. I guess I get a little that Tamoxifen is an estrogen blocker - and if my cancer wants estrogen, blocking it seems like a good idea. But again, what if my cancer wants iron????

I need to get some answers. If I actually get anything useful, I'll let you guys know....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tissue Expander looking good!

The new expander definitely looks a lot more 'normal' than the previous one. The doc explained that the previous one wasn't put in the wrong place - but that with my kind of incision, the scars along the bottom tend to be less flexible and push up on the expander to move it out of place.

They make the mastectomy incisions look like the breast reduction ones so that when all is said and done, you look 'matched' as far as scars go - but ultimately, a 'regular' mastectomy incision is best for the tissue expander.

Anyway, he filled up the expander to 725 CCs. He is not sure if he's going to put any more in there because the largest implant they make is 775ccs and if he fills more into the expander to the maximum, it means that we are committed to using the largest implant. Which probably limits my options of shape & size....

I'm happy as a clam if he wants to use a smaller one. He plans on re-reducing my right breast and 'lifting' it too to match the new one.... Who would complain about that?

He'll have another look in a few weeks - and then assess when my next surgery will be - but he already said previously that it would be January or February and I'm not really expecting that to change.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Some doctor dissonance...

So I've been kind of euphamizing my 'female problems' on this blog - but in order to get people to understand what's really happening, I think I have to lay it out there - TMI or not. The bottom line is that I have 'menorraghia' - which means heavy menstrual bleeding.

It's what I was trying to get dealt with last year before I found the breast lump and it all got sidetracked. And, of course, when chemo put me into chemical menopause, it wasn't an issue. But since chemo is finished, and all has returned as before, it became clear that it needed to be addressed.

So that is why I went to see a gynecologist - and because this is an issue I had been dealing with long before I found cancer, I was very surprised & shocked that his first thought for my problem was uterine cancer. I realize it shouldn't have been that surprising - look for the obvious thing first since I have the history. And hopefully, rule it out (still waiting on biopsy results).

So last summer, I had an ultrasound and the radiologist (?) told me there were fibroids in there. That is a fairly common thing, and no one was too worried about it since the cancer was taking priority. This summer, I had another ultrasound and I was told it was pretty much the same as last year. So naturally, I assumed fibroids were in there causing my heavy bleeding, and looking to have that dealt with by having something called an 'ablation' - which is basically a way to cauterize the uterine lining.

Because the gyno jumped immediately to biopsy and cancer, it was distressing - and he didn't mention ablation, but he did say that if there was no cancer, he thinks a Mirena IUD might do the trick for me. I had done some research on those in the recent past for a friend and so did know a little something about them - this IUD has hormones which get delivered directly to the uterus from that device. Since I'm not meant to having hormones - can't take the pill, can't have Hormone Replacement Therapy when I go through menopause - and hell, I've even stopped eating pomegranates and edamame beans in great quantities because I read they have hormones.... the idea of putting in a device with hormones into my reproductive system seemed extremely WRONG to me. Although, this was only discussion anyway - it's not like the guy had it out of the package and ready to install....

So, I went home and did MORE research, and sure enough, the Mirena IUD does have documentation showing that it will help with menorraghia. However, it ALSO has listed in its 'contraindications' section that no woman who has had, currently has, or is suspected of having breast cancer should be using this product. Cam was with me at the appointment when the gyno told me that this IUD would have NO effect whatsoever on my breast cancer.

I was skeptical even from that second since I had never had a discussion with that doctor about my specific cancer - in that mine was Estrogen Positive and Progesterone Positive - meaning that my tumour had markers that showed that it 'fed' off those hormones. So that doc explained that there is no estrogen in the product, but there IS progestin (a synthetic version of progesterone). So WHY then would I possibly put a product in my body that would feed my kind of cancer? Also, WHY would this doctor think it was okay when the actual paperwork for the product advises against use for anyone with breast cancer?

I know a bunch of you will be reading this and be outraged and advise me to find a new doctor - but I'm not going to do that as yet.... and here's why.... at the same time as the biopsy, I had bloodwork done and that bloodwork is what showed up my hypothyroidism. When the results came back, my GP called me in to advise I needed Thyroid medication - and when I told him what the gyno said about the Mirena IUD, he said "I wouldn't - just tell him no". So obviously, I planned to decline the IUD if that was the actual offer - but it still concerned me that it was even mentioned to a breast cancer patient with the comment that it would be no problem for me.

OK, I'm rambling now.... the point is, when everyone saw that I had hypothyroidism, they had a kind of 'aha' moment, because one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism is menorraghia. So I didn't have to be outraged at the suggestion of the IUD anymore because that option was 'off the table' since now they think my problem will be solved with the thyroid meds.

And another thing is that the gyno looked at my ultrasound reports and said that I had practically no fibroids.... so all this time I thought I DID have some - and he said I don't..... and I guess he would know since not only did he look at the ultrasound results, he also had a first-hand look with a camera in my uterus!!

When I go back for my biopsy results, I believe I WILL put that gyno on the spot and ask him why he would have recommended a Mirena for me when the literature for the product doesn't recommend it for me - and my GP said "if you were my wife, I would not let you have one - in fact, as my patient, I don't recommend you get one".

So, to make a long story even longer, both of these docs were on the same page as far as the hypothyroidism goes. And more dissonance comes into play because my GP told me that this Hashimoto's Disease is unrelated to my breast cancer. Of course, there are lots of people who have it who have not had any issue with cancer whatsoever - however, the literature for Hashimoto's says that if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism and have had radioactive dye or radiation to the head, neck or upper chest, you should get checked out for Hashimoto's.

So while there IS a possibility that I was dealing with Hashimoto's before all this, I find it a little too coincidental that after having BOTH radiactive dye (every 3 months for my heart scan) AND radiation, that now I'm dealing with Hashimotos. Also, I do get Herceptin every 3 weeks - which is an antibody to help boost my immune system for fighting cancer. And Hashimoto's means my immune system is getting too enthusiastic and killing off my thyroid because it thinks it's a foreign body. So, to my medically untrained brain, this also could be something related.....

Anyway, the point is that I am extremely skeptical that the hypothyroidism is unrelated to my breast cancer.... however, there is no way to prove it and it doesn't really matter in the long run since the result is the same anyway - although I guess it could be something they could forewarn you about. Hell - maybe they did, but they forewarn you about a million different side effects from all the treatments and you can't keep track of them all.

I am REALLY hoping that this thyroid medication will help with my menorraghia - although, I have to say that the ablation didn't sound terrible since it basically stops all bleeding. No more periods!!! Although I do know someone who had one already and know that it is not a 'comfortable' process to say the least. But after what I've already been through, I figure I could take it.

I'm not really sure why I posted this - but I think I just wanted to get it out there that you really can't just take what an 'expert' tells you without doing some of your own research and getting other opinions. If I blindly trusted that gyno without checking, I could be having a product put in my body that could potentially feed cancer! Yike!

Monday, October 4, 2010

I have Hashimoto's Disease

Don't panic - it's apparently easily controlled with thyroid medication and very common.

Detailed info at

I picked up my prescription and will start my meds tomorrow. As per Suzy, I won't be getting TOO excited about potential weight loss.... ha ha Thanks for knocking my 'bright side' out of the park... LOL

I get monthly blood tests too until they figure out the exact right concoction of drug for me. More needles - yay.

I hope this drug will help dispel my laziness. yah right.