Monday, January 18, 2010

Winter Dreams of Maui

Here, a cold rain is falling, but 6,000 miles away, the air is fragrant and warm...

You look up and see the green slopes of Haleakala above you, rising to the cloudline...

Turn around, and the warm water and powdery beach sand are there for your relaxation; there is always an island in sight:

You are in paradise, and there is nowhere else that you would rather be...

Maui, you live in my heart...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pomegranates May Fight Breast Cancer in 2 Ways

A recent study found that a specific group of chemicals found in pomegranates successfully inhibited the cell growth of estrogen-positive breast cancer tumors; and, these compounds also suppressed aromatase from being used by the body to produce estrogen. So, these chemicals both prevent or slow the growth of actual cancer cells, and, they simultaneously create an environment detrimental to the creation of estrogen-positive tumor cells. Right now, one specific compound called urolithin B was found to have the greatest significant effect upon inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells.

Because pomegranates have a high antioxidant content, they have gotten attention in recent years. You can easily find pomegranate juice and juice drinks containing pomegranate in supermarkets these days. I myself have been drinking a cranberry-pomegranate juice combination for well over a year now, because it's not soda (!) and I enjoy the taste.

Being 2 years into a 5-year course of an aromatase inhibitor (Arimidex), I know that many women discontinue these drugs due to severe joint pain, increase of fractures, and uncontrollable flushing/sweating. I haven't experienced joint pain, I take Fosamax weekly (which is thought to also prevent against cancer spreading to the bones), and daily meds for the increased flushing events. I will continue to take Arimidex faithfully until the end of my 5 years.

It would be extremely beneficial to patients who can't tolerate the aromatase inhibitors if eating pomegranates or drinking pomegranate juice could equal the drugs' proven results. One question is, how much pomegranate would have to be consumed, and how often, in order for the phytochemicals to be effective? Also, the results can be markedly different in a laboratory environment versus being tested on actual patients. What works in a petri dish, sadly, does not always work in the bloodstream.

I am hopeful about this news, and until then, it certainly couldn't hurt for estrogen-positive breast cancer patients to add pomegranate products to their diet. Aromatase inhibitors are still the most effective treatment for hormone-positive cancer, and we should keep this in mind.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Showtime Picks Up Linney Cancer Comedy

I just saw this headline, and I have to say that I find the expression "cancer comedy" offensive and disturbing. I'd wager that other cancer patients will feel the same way. As a person who has lost a parent, aunt, and uncle to cancer, it's troubling; never mind the fact that I'm a cancer patient myself! This strikes me as a little too casual, and disrespectful. Basis for the show: "A suburban wife and mother finds out that she has cancer" - hilarious! No, it's not humorous: it's devastating. Ask anyone who has been in this situation.

Of course, there are going to be comedic moments as part of the cancer experience: the very day that I was diagnosed, my OBG said on the phone, "I'm going to prescribe an anti-depressant for you right now." My response was, "Okay, thanks; I guess that I might become a little depressed about getting this news." I was being ironic, but she was prescribing the drug for my hot flashes and night sweats, not for depression! The point is, I could decide to joke about this at the time of my diagnosis; but cancer is no joke to those who have to deal with it each day.

If you want to see a TV series which truly depicts what goes through the mind of a person who is diagnosed with cancer, watch "Breaking Bad" on AMC. Bryan Cranston is nothing short of brilliant in his portrayal. His entire world, and most notably, his moral compass, are changed by his will to live long enough to provide financially for the family he will be leaving behind. He ably portrays the shock, numbness, grief, anger, and conflicting emotions which a cancer patient goes through. Ultimately, he leads a double life in his quest to ensure that his wife, physically challenged teenage son, and newborn daughter will not live in poverty when he dies.

Correctly, this show does not take a comedic approach to a man and his terminal disease. It shows the sheer desperation and urgency he feels in the face of impending death, and what he chooses to do with the time he has left.

I still have my sense of humor, and I joke about various aspects of my cancer experience: being a "radiation and imaging supermodel", my many medications, my wicking t-shirts and PJs, not needing to give up my "pre-cancer lifestyle" because I'm so boring, etc.

But, I still find treating cancer in a comedic light unsettling. Perhaps I'm being too sensitive?

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year!

Today is the first day of 2010; the entire year is spread out before us right now, full of possibilities and opportunities. It is a time to celebrate, because we have been given another chance, another "blank slate", in which to improve our lives.

I don't believe in resolutions; they are too easily broken, but I do believe in positive thinking and working towards a goal. Whatever motivates you is the key to success. And, keeping your goals attainable and your expectations reasonable will provide much more fulfillment on a personal level. "Baby steps, baby steps!"

Here's what I would like to focus on in 2010:
  • letting my precious husband know every day how much he is loved
  • treasuring the life that I have been given, and never taking it for granted
  • maintaining healthy exercise and eating habits
  • slowly getting back to my pre-cancer weight for my continued health
  • seeing the beauty in the tiniest things all around us
  • not giving up my dream of retiring to Maui (and hoping to be back there very soon!)
  • keeping my heart open to others and the joy that this gives back to me
  • being thankful for my wonderful job, my friends, my home
Happy New Year, Everyone! May we all have health and happiness in 2010.