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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Series of Tests

as some of you might already know, i have to go through a series of tests before surgery (which is set for February 16). today was filled with blood tests, urine sample, chest x-ray, and an EKG. i can think of better ways to spend my time, but i guess we all have to do what we need to to beat this disease.
after only 2 hours of sleep last night, we (my boyfriend and i) arrived at the clinic around 7:30 this morning. first on the agenda was blood and urine, the latter of which has been postponed due to my menstruation and therefore i cannot produce an accurate urine sample. but never the less, 4 tubes of blood were taken so at least that is over with and my arm resembles that of a heroin addicts.
next stop was chest x-ray. this was actually fast, efficient and painless i must say. but there is something to be said about taking your shirt and bra off, leaning against a cold plate of metal and taking a deep breath. i think its the whole "taking shirt off" bit that i dislike. its not that i feel uncomfortable, but lets face it, more people have seen my breasts and genitals this year than my entire time in high school. keep in mind that it isn't even February yet.
last but not least, was the EKG. now the fact that they call it EKG has me somewhat baffled since its real name is electrocardiogram. wouldn't it be ECG? doesn't matter i guess, i just thought it kind of odd to abbreviate with a letter that doesn't even exist in the word.
but the real baffling part is when they hooked two wires up to my legs. now, unless i missed something in science class, the heart is more towards the chest region, right? anywho, i had 1 wire attached to each leg, 1 on each side of my chest, and 3 underneath my left breast. the entire experience is completely painless and as i laid there on the bed, i had to hold back the urge to just burst out laughing. i'm not sure if it was the lack of sleep or the fact that i felt like keanu reeves in the matrix shortly after he took the red pill (hairy legs and all), but it was the perfect ending to the first series of tests. although next time i think i might take along a camera so as i can get pictures of the idiocracy that i felt at that moment.
tomorrow, we get results from tests, so i will keep everyone posted. i just wanted to share this unforgettable experience and try to shed a little bit of light on what is a dark moment known as cancer.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Man or Martyr? we are drawn to that question. is he a man who loves you, would do anything for you?
or is he the one who wants everyone looking at him saying "oh poor" you, i guess, because he wants to feel like the hero when he is not?
this is easy to tell ladies. there are a few rules to take into account:
does he spend his time catering to you?
does he not just ask if you want to go out with him and his friends, but say "i will tell them they have to come here"?
does he say that you should not be reading stuff like this?
does he make your illness into his imaginary, "look at me" illness?

how do we tell these men apart?...simple!
when you feel depressed..does he hug you? hold you? tell you everything will be ok?
does he tell you he should be the ones who is crying because he is the one who ACTUALLY has to go through it?
do you feel like you want to not die, but just not exist anymore? (yes, there is a difference)
do you feel like you should not talk about him because he might find out?

here is a big and the most significant hint.....
if a man or a significant other feels like they are being betrayed as an idiot, a bitch, or an asshole...then they should try a different approach to life and their other.
otherwise, they are an asshole, bitch, or, if i must say, worst scum of the earth and surrounding planets.
if i may say...and i may because it is my blog and mine alone....
no one is here to serve anyone....we are all equal
plain and simple!
any man who says that they are superior ...ask them where their next meal comes from (besides their pocket)
any man who says they can do anything a woman can do...then by all means ..give birth!
they get a papercut and it is an emergency..try an episiotomy!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Doctors and Algebra

i have to go see another doctor (doctor B) today about my cervical cancer. this is the one who is covered by insurance, but he doesn't speak english, which is why i was going to the private doctor (doctor A) to begin with. Now hopefully doctor B will just write the referral i need to go see yet another doctor (doctor C) on Thursday. doctor C is the oncologist/gynecologist. he'll be the one performing the surgery.

upon all these doctors and doctor visits, the question is posed: how many doctors does it take to screw in a light bulb? i have been seeing so many doctors lately, i feel like i'm at a singles mixer for the rich and famous. call me old fashioned but i prefer to be tied down to one doctor and not play the field. to have just one doctor that does everything and not have your medical journal look like an algebra problem.

if A+B=C, then why can't i just go to C? is it just like in school when you can't just write down the answer, but have to show your work? my teachers always said that i would need all of that information i learned sometime in my life. i just never thought it would be that.

maybe life really is an arithmetic problem. death is "the answer", "showing your work" is life itself.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Is There Life After HPV?

sex life that is.
i was taking a nice hot bubble bath earlier and was feeling really relaxed and comfortable. then i found myself starting to feel depressed. at first, even i couldn't figure it out, but then it dawned on boyfriend was in the living room.
may not sound strange to most of you, but there was a time before my diagnosis that i rarely took a bath without him. then my mind began to race as to trying to remember the last time i had a "real" kiss and not just a peck. by that time, the tears flowed from my eyes like niagra falls.
has HPV stolen my sexuality? will he ever see me as the woman i was before the HPV?
by no means am i blaming him, as no one else should either. this disease is not his fault. i'm the one with HPV...not him. but when will i feel sexy again, if ever?
i read on the internet (as usual) a little bit about this, but couldn't find much on the subject. i guess it is just all derived from personal experiences and not scientific theories based on evidence.
makes you wonder what HPV really stands for. is it human papillomavirus or something else? maybe its Having a Penis Vacation! or Horny Persons Village. either way, i would thrilled to have a little more intimacy than intimidation in my life.

Friday, January 16, 2009


So i went to the doctor yesterday and found out that i need a conization. of course, after i got home, i started doing research on this. here is what i found out:
conization, also known as cone biopsy or cold knife biopsy, is where a piece of flesh from the cervix is taken out, either with a scalpel or laser, in the shape of a triangle. this piece is similar to a cone shape, hence the name.
this procedure has 2 functions:
  1. to remove the abnormal or cancerous cells
  2. to further investigate the extent of the cancer
upon removal of the tissue, the sample is then examined and the doctor and patient then decide what the following steps should be. sometimes, this is all that needs to be done. sometimes, further treatment is required.

this is a picture that i found on the internet giving a description of the cone biopsy process.

In a cone biopsy, the patient lies on her back, and a speculum is inserted into the vagina (A). The cervix is visualized, and a cone-shaped piece of the cervix is removed (B and C). A cauterizing tool is used to stop any bleeding (D).

in rare cases, it may become impossible to carry a fetus full term, so you may want to ask your doctor about this if you want to have children in the future.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Worried About Surgery

its been a few days since my last post and for that i apologize. i spoke to my doctor on monday and i have an appointment tomorrow to go over the steps we are going to take with my cancer.
i have been depressed and didn't want that to come out in my blog, so i stayed away. as i said in earlier posts, i am an american living in croatia and right now i am worried about the communication difference, among other things. will i be able to talk to the nurses or doctors in the hospital? will they understand me if something hurts? will i be able to understand them when they tell me of my progress?
it may not seem like a big deal to most, but to me it is.
then there is the recovery period. i have never been pampered and i am guessing that that will not change. though, from what i have read, i will be out of commission for a few weeks. i will have to limit physical activity. problem is, i don't think i can. and if i do, then i will have weeks worth of dishes and cleaning to catch up on. should i pamper myself and play catch-up later, or just ignore doctors orders and go about my normal routine?
what would you do?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cancer-Free Baby

"The first child in Britain known to have been screened as an embryo to ensure she did not carry a cancer gene was born Friday"...CNN
"Her embryo was screened in a lab days after conception to check for the BRCA-1 gene, linked to breast and ovarian cancer."...CNN
"She pointed out that the unidentified woman and her husband had used medical science to screen 11 embryos fertilized via the in vitro process for the presence of one gene, called BRCA-1."...MSNBC
"Of the 11 embryos conceived in the lab, five were free of the gene. Two were implanted in the woman, with one becoming a viable fetus."...MSNBC is where my post starts. question is, is this ethical? is it right to bring a child into this world knowing that it could develop cancer? is it wrong to dispose of all the other embryos because they weren't worthwhile to the parents?
i'm not entirely sure how i feel about all of this, but i do know what i believe. i don't think we should be able to pick and choose our children. are we heading towards a "superior race"? if that is the goal, then leave me out of it. i kind of like life messy. it's more interesting that way. i guess it depends on if you like the roller coaster or the carousel.
and just because this child is "cancer free", doesn't mean it can't develop some other disease.
did they actually save this baby or did they do more harm than good? i don't believe that all diseases are from nature. i believe that some were created through medical science. when humans start to play God, things are bound to get screwed up. they are messing with the natural order of life. for every good their is an evil, that is a fact. and yet, they sit in their laboratories and come up with these "quick fixes" without thinking of the consequences.
is this little girls genetics now screwed up? how will this effect her children and her children's children? did anyone stop to think about any of that? i doubt it.
or will this all boil down to developing the perfect child and then cloning afterwards? when do we say "when"? or "enough is enough"?
how far is science willing to go before they finally open their eyes and let nature take its course?

Friday, January 9, 2009

HPV and Circumcision

ok, as i was going to touch on this subject, and i still might later on, i felt it was necessary to post a link to a blog i have been following. it is a very informative post that i believe everyone should read.
Inaction is Not an Option

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Right to Live vs. Insurance

not sure about everyone out there, but i reside in zagreb, croatia. i am a united states citizen, born and raised for 35 years, so i know how the US health care system is. i currently have insurance to which we (my boyfriend actually) pays every month. it is expensive but mandatory here.
it is extremely difficult to find a gynecologist that accepts insurance that is taking on new patients. let alone trying to find one that speaks english. so everything so far has been out of pocket expense and quite frankly, we are going broke because of it.
if paying for insurance is required, then the government should be required to provide adequate doctors.
when i go into the hospital, fortunately (i guess), it will be covered by insurance. however, the cost of the operation is 4,000 kunas and 150 kunas per night, roughly 4 nights, in the hospital. those figures are our co-pay of 10%. so the entire process will cost about 4600 kunas or $1000 our expense and 46,000 or $10,000 totaled.
why does a procedure that they consider to be "routine" and only takes about 2 hours cost $8000 to begin with?
and why does the person who is needing the surgery have to pay? haven't they been through enough? when will the bureaucrats get off their asses and start helping civilians? do we not have a right to live or does that just pertain to the elite?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Informing Your Loved Ones That You Have Cancer

well i finally got around to telling my family that i have cancer. i didn't want to ruin their holidays so i waited until after to inform them of what was going on.
and, no, they do not read my blog...i didn't tell them i even had one. some things i like to write about and get my thoughts organized before my family knows. that's just the way i am:)
anywho, the questions for today are "how do you tell your loved ones that you are sick", and "do you actually let them know how you are coping with it"?
i guess honesty is the best policy but is that always true?
here's the situation:
when i e-mailed my sister and told her about my cancer coming back and the surgery, she told me that my mother has had heart problems and needs to see a cardiologist as soon as possible. my mother told her not to tell me because i "had enough on my plate". this of course is ridiculous! i thanked my sister for letting me know, but then thought, "i am a hypocrite". i withheld the information because i didn't want to worry them, but then i was upset when they withheld information from me for the same reason.
now, do i actually tell them that i have bouts of depression because of my cancer? or do i tell them i am doing fine and to not worry? would i want the truth from them even if i lie? where does hypocritical start and reassurance end?
it's interesting...i never thought of myself as a hypocrite in that sense, but i guess i are many people. after all, small lies to comfort someone is still, in fact, a lie.

so if doctors take the hippocratic oath, does that mean that the patients are entitled to the hypocritical one?

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff?

i know that there are a lot of bigger concerns when dealing with cancer. there is the pain, the twinges, the not knowing, the nausea, the worrying about death, and the expense, just to name a few. but i would like to discuss the little things. they are the ones that are important to me but are dismissed by others who are not experiencing them.

  1. hair loss- i am not and have not gone through chemotherapy. though my hair is in fact falling out and by the clumps. this is due to hormone imbalance (or so i read on the internet in a medical journal). i realize that great hair is just vanity, but it depresses me when i see enough hair in my hair brush to make a wig for a small child.
  2. discharge- i am not referring to normal, everyday vaginal discharge. i am talking about the black, foul smelling that reminds you of a squid in a fish market. no matter how much i cleanse, i cannot get rid of this. i feel like the unsexiest person in the world with this even though it is normal. see my post The Squid Complex
  3. fatigue- i do not work or have children running around the house, so this should not bother me. but then again, if i don't work or have children running around, then why am i so damn tired all of the time? we are eating a healthier diet, much more healthier than before the cancer. again, considered normal, but i just don't feel normal when i walk around like a zombie half of the time.
  4. hot flashes- nothing like turning the heat off in 30 degree temperatures and then stripping down because its "hot?". i was a cook in many restaurants and am use to high heat. there is no reason why i am sweating at below freezing temps.
like i said, these are just the small things, but according to number 4, i am sweating the small stuff.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cancer Fighting Recipes

since my "Recipe of the Day" doesn't seem to be working out, i figured i would add a few in one post to try to catch up.

Penne and Tuna
1 small eggplant (1-1 1/4 lbs.)
8 oz. penne pasta
Spray olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 can (6 oz.) water-packed solid tuna, drained well
2 Tbsp. chopped green olives
2 Tbsp. capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut eggplant vertically into 3/4-inch slices. Trim away peel and cut flesh into 3/4-inch cubes. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet. Coat pieces well with olive oil spray. Bake 15 minutes or until eggplant is soft but holds its shape, stirring once to turn cubes. Cook pasta in a large pot of water, simmering until just tender. heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant, onion and tomatoes. Stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, cook until tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes. Add tuna, mixing pieces into the sauce. Add olives, capers, basil and parsley. Cook just until evenly heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drain cooked pasta, but leave some water still clinging to it. Immediately add it to the sauce. Stir to combine well. Serve immediately, if desired with a bowl of breadcrumbs to sprinkle over the pasta in place of cheese.

Apple Crisp
Canola oil cooking spray
4 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into thin slices or bite-size pieces
1/2 cup raisins
3 Tbsp. apple juice
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Combine apples, raisins and apple juice in bowl, toss well and set aside. In another bowl, combine flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. With pastry blender or knife and fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer apple mixture to baking dish. Sprinkle flour mixture evenly over surface. Lightly coat top with cooking spray. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes more or until apples are tender. Remove from oven and let stand on wire rack at least 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature

for more recipes, visit my other site at "Recipes for Life"

The Squid Complex

i was doing some research and reading forums and blogs on LEEP and black vaginal discharge and found there are a lot of women scared when they experience this. for those of you who have not, let me explain a bit.
when you have the LEEP process (a biopsy using a wire circular object), it is highly unpleasant. though the symptoms that follow are equally, if not, more unpleasant. this is what i like to call "The Squid Complex."
a few days after LEEP, many women will get a black as coal, extremely foul, fish smelling discharge. this is normal though i do not know why. it is also accompanied by black "ashes" on the toilet paper upon wiping. one girl explained it beautifully when she said "it looked like someone had flicked their cigarette ashes on my toilet paper". this is all left over from the cauterization doctors perform so you don't bleed after the biopsy.
and though i have not been able to find any website which explains the "why the discharge is normal" i have found many that says it is. that includes the foul smell as well.
as unpleasant as it is, and it is extremely unpleasant. i felt i could not only smell myself but everyone else could also. it was like walking into a fish market every time i pulled my underwear down. i can assure you, that this will in fact go away after a week or so though. the only thing you really need to worry about after a biopsy is if you run a fever...everything else is just part of the process.
for more information on a biopsy, visit my article titled "What Really Happens During a Biopsy"

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Omega 3

we all knew that omega 3 was a healthy fat. it is found in milk, yogurts, and even hard boiled eggs we buy from the grocery store. but did you know that other than helping our cardiovascular, circulatory, and mental health, it may also help prevent cancer? some recent reports have shown just that.
foods such as fish (salmon, tuna, and even anchovies), flax, eggs, walnuts, and black raspberries are just a few that contain omega 3.

here is an omega 3 recipe that your family will love and you can keep them healthy at the same time.

Poached Salmon with Wild Rice
2 cups cooked wild rice
8 oz chopped walnuts
1 medium lemon
1 cup of dry white wine
3 pounds salmon (more or less depending on family size)
black raspberries
2 cups of yogurt

cook rice according to package directions. in the last 2 minutes of cooking, add 6 oz walnuts and let set. in deep skillet, place salmon, 1 cup of dry white wine and enough water to barely cover the fish. slice lemon in thin rings and place on top of salmon. cook on medium heat until fillets flake.
in several glasses, prepare the parfait. take a glass and add a tablespoon of yogurt, place a few black raspberries on top and repeat process until glass is nearly full (always end with yogurt). crush remaining walnuts and sprinkle on top of the parfait. repeat in other glasses until all ingredients have been used.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Facts about Cervical Cancer You May Not Know

i would like to dedicate this post to those who do not have all of the facts about cervical cancer. i do not even have all of the facts and it scares me the more i find out.
one of the greatest causes of cervical cancer is HPV (human papillomavirus). HPV is and i stress, IS a sexually transmitted disease! just because you are male, do not think you are not affected by this. that is a delusion.
men are just as likely to get this as women. and though they do not have a cervix and might think, "i could be just a carrier, but nothing will happen to me"...they are wrong. they can develop mouth cancer, anal cancer, cancer of the penis, and/or genital warts.
this is a very serious disease that if, not recognized, will be spread quickly. it is not even known if condoms are effective against this STD.
one of the main risks of cervical cancer is the fact that it rarely has any symptoms until it is in the advanced stage. i do not want nor intend to panic anyone. but fact is fact, and this fact is just plain horrifying. this is a strand of cancer that is contagious and is being spread as i write this post. more and more people are being infected as you read this post.
i would just like to encourage everyone who is reading, rather you have symptoms or not, rather your partner has symptoms or both need to be checked out.
help stop the spread of cancer! have regular checkups and use precautions when engaging in any form of sexual activity.

here are some statistics i will quote for you:
  1. Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and another 6.2 million people become newly infected each year. At least 50% of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives.
  2. 3,460 women diagnosed with vulvar cancer
  3. 2,210 women diagnosed with vaginal and other female genital cancers
  4. 1,250 men diagnosed with penile and other male genital cancers
  5. 3,050 women and 2,020 men diagnosed with anal cancer.
  6. More than half of men who are sexually active in the United States will have HPV at some time in their life.

Cancer and Nutrition Go Hand in Hand

so i have been reading a lot about nutrition and diet when it comes to dealing with cancer. i have had some good luck as well. there are so many helpful foods out there to help prevent and combat cancer. it's amazing how the foods we eat everyday can either help us or hurt us.
sugar for actually feeds cancer. not all sugars (natural that is found in fruits are OK), but chocolates, sweet desserts, etc...i never knew they were that bad for us.
i knew green tea was good for me and quite frankly, i like the taste, but this is also useful to combat cancer. interesting, huh? here's a link i found particularly resourceful from BBC News.
carrots, tomatoes, soy, olive oil, mango, and many more also help to fight cancerous cells.
i will be discussing all of these food in depth when i have fully read and understand all the benefits from them. as for now.. a recipe for the day will be added to each post. i hope you enjoy them.

Spinach Salad
this salad is very high in beta carotene which is essential in fighting cancer

1 cup raw spinach
1 medium carrot shredded or julienned (your preference)
1 medium tomato
2 teaspoons soy nuts
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 small orange

wash all vegetables. place spinach in a bowl and top with carrots. chop tomato and add to salad mixture. peel orange and separate segments. add orange and soy nuts to bowl. drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss all ingredients until equally combined.
serving size: 2

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009

well, its a new year and time for change. resolutions mean nothing to me but this year there are a few things i would like to get done. first thing is to take care of the cancer, live healthier, and be happier. which would mean that i have to stop feeling sorry for myself. and as of this moment, that is exactly what i intend to do.
there are a lot of people in this world that are a lot worse off than i am and it is time that i realized that. from now on, this blog will be filled with helpful tips on dealing with cancer, everyday wellness, facts about cancer and most importantly, optimism:)
have a great year everyone!