Category Archives: cancer news

Long Time No See

Why, hello there….[*clears throat*]…..

um…[*shuffles feet*]…hi.

[*cough*]

As I told a new internet friend, I have been meaning to come back here. It’s just, it seems that my news gets communicated on FB statuses (the only thing about FB I really like, although I am strangely anti-twitter, considering it’s not far off the same thing). And once you fall out of the habit of writing it out regularly, and the further you go from where you left off…well. It’s hard to jump back in there and know what to say, cause there’s lots I haven’t kept up with here. But I promised to try, so here I am. Nice to see you.

I guess I’ll start by following up on a few bits-and-bobs that I was talking about when we last met. In case you didn’t catch it by the “bits-and-bobs” thing, I’m well settled in London and I really love it here. What a great city. In fact, comparing it to my old city of NYC, I must say the latter looks less and less impressive. But then again I’m still new here. Ask me again in two years and I might be just as judgmental about London. (Don’t think so, but maybe.)

In fact, I’m so well settled in that we’re moving house already. Yes, that is a bummer. We were hoping to have bought a place by now, but that hasn’t yet worked out. And then our landlord decided to move back to London. We lucked out in scoring an apartment in the very same building (Whuuut? Yeay!), but then when all the bureaucratic necessities were done, there was a 19 day gap between apartment availability dates (Get out! Boooo!). We were sure the landlord would let us stay for that period – as were her mutual apartment owners here – but no. So, short version: we’re now moving out into a storage space, going to be “homeless for a few weeks”, then have to move back in. To the same damn building. (I mean, I like it here, just…a lot of trouble for a double move!) And a fresh rental contract means probably another year renting. So there’s that.

On the cancer front, I am well, though have had another round of tests due to weird, lasting neck pains. I’m (currently) feeling pretty confident on that front, but learning to navigate the NHS – yet another medical system – carries its own sort of pains in the neck.

In other related news, we have lost another dear lady to breast cancer. That makes two awesome women off my blog role that are sadly no longer with us. (Punk Rock Mommy and Sprucehill, you are missed.) It always takes me by surprise. I’m always sure they’re going to be fine. I had been lightly, but regularly commenting with her on FB. Suddenly there was a note from her family about her death. Aside from the sadness and feelings of injustice, it just brings all the fear rushing back, I must admit. I also lost a high school friend to melanoma in January. She had turned 36 not a week before, and I was just gathering detailed information on her situation (as I hadn’t wanted to pry earlier). I got the confirmation of her cancer from am mutual friend, and went to leave her a fresh note on FB, only to see lots of “RIP” comments. It was such a physical blow. I mean, I find it “wrong” enough that, at my age, myself and several friends have already dealt with cancer. But for one of us not to have made it…I am speechless.

In better news, my friend “P” (read below) has moved home back across the world. Even has a stellar new job. Her mom is hanging in there and they see each other often. For that much I am grateful.

And I guess that seems like enough for today. Next on the editorial calendar – more cheerful updates! How about travel and writing? Yeah. Those sound like good topics.

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Filed under breast cancer, cancer news, life, London

Just…wow (Night work = breast cancer: becoming accepted knowledge?)

The Danish government will be making payouts to women who worked night shifts in state-sector jobs who developed breast cancer.

Read a short article about it here, a more detailed version on the BBC page here.

Note the specific mention in both articles of a Flight Attendant who received a payout. Contrary to the women in these articles, it has occurred to me that my work schedule may have some connection, owing to the research that has come out in the last few years about the effect of nighttime light on breast cancer. (Having an obvious connection with night shifts and circadian rhythm abnormalities…) This as a possible explanation for why breast cancer rates are crazy high compared to non-industrialized countries (not to mention lower rates among the blind) is especially interesting.

Unfortunately, I have no solution to my own work-related concerns. For now I will have to settle for renewing my resolution to unplug hotel clocks and other sources of articifial light when I take my post-arrival nap in layover cities. And should I ever lose my job involuntarily, remind me of this upside.

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Filed under breast cancer, cancer news, work

My Files

My “family doctor” called me the other day and said that certain parties from the US had contacted her for my medical records (for some bureaucratic stuff). Regardless of who it was, she is not allowed to release them to anyone. Therefore, she made a copy of all my records and arranged for me to pick them up to mail them out myself.

It was a manila envelope with about 50 pages in it. Although of course I know what’s in there in general, I was indeed curious. The files are in the from of letters to my GP from my various specialists, giving her the latest details on my treatment and progress. All the files are in Dutch, and complicated medical terms are certainly not one of my strong suits in the language, but it didn’t stop me from browsing.

I found it weird to read the files. As if they could have been talking about someone else. But they weren’t. I was particularly struck by the first letter. It was the letter written from the mammographist to my GP from my original examination in ’05. And just as I had always suspected, there is was in black and white: “Patient has some calcifications in the left breast. These appear not to be malignant, but the patient is to be examined again in 6 months for monitoring this.” You will remember that I found my own lump, 8 months later, having never had a word mentioned about these spots or another mammo. You all know that part, but there was something about seeing it in black and white that made me a little angry. And mesmerized – I read through the rest of the pages standing in the middle of the room. Del kept suggesting that I have a seat, but I stood there on the spot, absorbed in the story they presented as if the last page would tell the ultimate end of the (my) story.

I don’t have a tidy conclusion for the sharing of these feelings. It was just…strange. Personal enough to make my heart thud, and impersonally distant at the same time. Strange to see that I’ve done all that. Difficult to imagine all the women that are having those very things written about them today as they go through it. Eager to imagine them also being finished, seeing it only over their shoulder.

I have something fun to tell you later this week, but I might not have time to put together a decent post for a few days. For now, before I go, you might be interested in an article I read today, about a (seeming) cancer breakthrough. “Scientists discover how our bodies can keep cancer dormant for years” is pretty exciting stuff.

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Filed under breast cancer, cancer news, this time THIS year