Monthly Archives: September, 2011

A Hairy Situation

I know this will sound pathetically superficial, but I love my hair. My hair and I go way back.  When I was a girl, it was long, thick, and waist length.  Hair trims were infrequent and I often amused myself in junior high and early high school by crafting elaborate French braids, fishbones, and twists. …

Read more »

Quackery or Quacking Good?

In this order:  1) Lose the cancer.  2)  Keep the hair. Easy, right?  No, but it’s possible, with some work, discomfort, cost, and luck.  My oncologist is responsible for part one.  Treating the cancer is the clear goal, period.  However, if there’s a way for me to hold onto my hair, assuage my vanity, and significantly …

Read more »

Chemo Cut

During the months of chemo treatment and for a couple of months afterwards, patients using scalp cooling to help prevent hair loss are advised to limit stress to the scalp and fragile hair. This means infrequent (biweekly at most) hair washing with cold water only, gentle combing, and temporary cessation of cutting, coloring, perming, blow-drying, …

Read more »

Taxing the Taxol Supply Chain

As if cancer patients didn’t have enough concerns, now they might also have to worry about whether they there is enough medicine to treat their illnesses.  Since early summer, doctors from Atlanta over to Palm Springs and from Milwaukee down to Albuquerque have been watching their Taxol supplies carefully.  Some have observed  their supplies dwindle …

Read more »

Reconstruction Update

Surgery is now 7 days away and 4 months have passed since I last met with my plastic surgeon.  Back in May, I had planned on immediate reconstruction during the same surgery as the mastectomy, but my breast surgeon kiboshed that idea when it appeared I might also need radiation therapy (which thankfully turned out …

Read more »

A Chilling Thought

I have recently delved into the notion that cold caps could increase the likelihood of brain metastasis from breast cancer.  The central question is whether brain temperature reduction via cold cap therapy reduces local uptake of Taxol and Herceptin.  It turns out there is something which scientists call the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) which helps …

Read more »

AAAAAACK!

The childcare is arranged.  Schedules have been turned upside down to accommodate my being in the hospital for a week, and my plastic surgeon just called to say that my surgery has been cancelled. Northern California nurses are striking on Thursday Sept. 22 in support of Kaiser psychologists, optometrists, and social workers (not even for …

Read more »

No Go

Dr. Orman just called back to say that while my procedure is not elective, only emergency surgeries are allowed to proceed, so I’m out of luck.  He did say that because we’re clearing up close margins, my case can bump someone else’s delayed reconstruction (which I feel badly about, but not enough to say no). …

Read more »

Eleven Day Delay

I just spoke with the scheduling department and learned that Dr. Orman is working on setting up Friday, September 30 for my surgery.  He’s trying to figure out whether Dr. Bitar can do the reexcision that day.  If she is already busy, he said that he could look for another general surgeon or else he …

Read more »

Recent Article on Treatment of T1ab, N0, HER2+ Breast Cancer

I recently found another article discussing the adjuvant therapy question for small invasive node negative HER2+ breast cancer.  It cites the the Kaiser study by Dr. Fehrenbacher et al. (cited extensively in my earlier posts) in which very low rates of distant recurrence were found:  0.9% in T1a (0.1cm<invasive tumor size<0.5cm) and 5.8% among T1b (0.5cm<invasive tumor size<1.0cm). …

Read more »