Saturday, August 21, 2010

Leaking Blood

I went in for my herceptin/oncology appointment Wednesday.  It may sound shocking, but I look forward to these appointments.  I get to see people I like, I get to sit and rest for an hour without having to do anything, and I don't mind the needle stick.

Not everyone feels the way I do, but just like a school cafeteria, the like-minded sit together.  The people who treat it as a social event are on one side, the sleepers are in the middle, and the frightened or upset are on the other end with the nurses.

I was thrilled to see Bert and Jeannette.   Jeannette was in for a checkup, and came back to the infusion room to visit.  She looked great  - her hair was down to her shoulders , and she looked vivacious, healthy and happy.  She had dyed it stark black, which I think is aging on a 77 year old woman, although I did not tell her that.  She wasn't too thrilled with my gray hair  (which she did tell me: "Why do you want to look old?" ), so we are even.

It was so nice catching up with them - old home week on the oncology ward. Bert told me all about the zucchini soup he'd made with vegetables he got as a volunteer for the Senior Gleaners.  They talked about pies they'd made and how Bert grows rhubarb in his garden.

Jeannette is coming back in a month to get her port out and I hope our appointment times coincide - I should have asked.

When it was my turn to see the doctor, my opening comment is always and forever the same, "I hate tamoxifen."  He knows why, but I won't let him forget; he needs to share in the pain too.   He recited my options again - removing my ovaries, or going on an AI - all which will have the same side effects.  I declined, again,  and we got on with the rest of the appointment.

I  did ask if the joint pain I was experiencing was permanent - it feels like it is going to be.  If I sit cross-legged and try to stand (which I've always been able to do) my knees are so stiff I have to hold on to something to support myself.  But, he says it's not permanent.

I'll let you know four years and seven months from now.

My blood has still not recovered and at almost five months out of chemo, it should be back to normal.  I'm still anemic and my red cells are abnormal and my whites are still a little low.   My oncologist says that it's probably nothing, and I believe him.

But, they are going to do tests to be sure.

Nobody ever told me that once you were diagnosed with cancer they want to continually test you for more.

If it's not nothing, then what is it?  It could be that my body no longer absorbs B12, due to damage from chemo, which means I might have what is called pernicious anemia.  That would explain the sudden numbness I've gotten on the tips of my fingers that I thought was chemotherapy-induced neuropathy. It came on a couple months after chemo, which is weird, but now there is an explanation.    If that's the case, then I would have to get vitamin B12 shots on a regular basis. They took some extra blood to test for vitamin deficiencies.

I could also be leaking blood, so they are going to test me for colon cancer.   Actually, I'm going to test me for colon cancer.

I'm not worried that I have colon cancer at all, so don't you be either. 

What I am worried about is the test I have to do to find traces of blood where blood isn't supposed to be.  It involves three days of no beef,  a little card, some wooden sticks, and a strong stomach.  "nuff said.

Besides, I can't have colon cancer.

But Doctor, I Hate Brown is a terrible name for a blog.



  1. Yep... there were about the same in my chemo ward when I was doing my weekly unwanted visits. I was usually one of the 'angry' ones, I hated the fact that I had to be there with the 'sick' people. And let me tell you, they WERE sick! I just knew I was going to catch what they 'had'... :-|

    I have decided I do not like it when I hear a Doctor say 'It's probably nothing'. If the first one had taken a possibly more serious approach, I might not be sitting where I am today, but whose to say, right? Don't you love it when they throw all those 'possibilities' at us, when it is probably in fact, NOTHING!!

    Enjoy your writings...

  2. Hi Ann!
    I also enjoy going for my Herceptin infusions! It's my time alone for reading or visiting with the nurses. I also went last week and my husband decided he was going to come with me for support! It totally threw me for a loop... not that I didn't want him there, just that I have my own little routine.
    I hope everything comes back OK on your tests. I'm on Tamoxofin too and having really bad joint pain, hot flashes and sleepless nights. I'm popping Advil likes it's candy. 4 more years of this...

    Take care,

  3. Ann, it seems to me that being on this journey means we are constantly searching for 'something.'
    So glad the regular appointments give you time for yourself, along with the opportunity to sit with people whose company you enjoy.

  4. Take Vit. D3, it will help you process B vitamins, and vice versa. Also good for cancer prevention, if that matters (ha. ha.) Get the liquid or the gelcap kind, NOT the powder-filled capsules or the tablets, those kinds do not process well. I take 10,000iu a day, but get your D levels tested to see how much you should take. Don't go with the current levels (30 or greater) as what you should aim for, however - with cancer prevention as a goal, you should aim for the 70's or 80's.

    The AI's - and the hysterectomy, for that matter - don't give you the 'tamoxifen rage' issues. I've done both. Hot flashes, yes, and the AI's can cause joint pain. But some people have no side effects from the AI's (this was true of a friend of mine), and I found the AI side effects less bothersome than the tamoxifen ones. You will react to different drugs differently, so IMO if this drug is causing you major issues, it's worth trying something else. If you would rather do a SERM than an AI, some people do better with Evista than with Tamoxifen - if it's not too much trouble with your insurance company, it might be worth trying out. Good luck!!


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