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Monday, March 30, 2009

Cancer in France

Ok, I was going to post about a cure for cervical cancer that was recently discovered in France, but unfortunately all of the sites are in French...go figure. So while I refresh my brain and kick myself for not paying attention to Madame Micke in 10th grade, I will continue to try to find adequate research on this subject. While I'm at it, I might even look up first year French to see if I can find out what happened to Marie-Claire, Annette, Jaques, and George (though I think George probably found out that he was adopted and killed them all).
Anyway, I did find other interesting facts such as:
  • It is the leading place that celebrities such as Kylie Minogue and Marianne Faithfull go for cancer treatment.
  • After hospital treatment, patients are often sent to a "medical spa" for after treatment care (All i got was a bill)
  • France has the highest survival rate of people with cancer in Europe.
As I said, I will keep trying to find the studies on the cervical cancer English of course:)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Depo Provera and Cervical Cancer

The reason I started this campaign with Depo Provera was due to a theory of mine since 1996. After my daughter was born, I received a "new" form of birth control available to the public guessed it...Depo Provera. I was on medical assistance at the time and was 22 years of age (hence the research studies that targeted young, poverty stricken women). That was back in January of 1994, when I received my first injection.
Over the next few months, I had experienced irregular menstruation, nausea, abdominal pain, depression, and headaches. When I went for my second injection at the clinic, I was told by the midwife (no doctors) that those symptoms were common after childbirth, which I will admit, they are. So she gave me my second shot and I was sent home. That was late April 1994.
In June that year, I found myself bleeding non-stop as if my period had started and forgot to end (about 3 weeks straight). One night, I was in so much pain in my stomach region, that I ended up in the emergency room. I was later released and told to see a doctor (guess they meant no midwife) so i scheduled an appointment for a check-up. A month later, I was told that I was pregnant (yep, Depo helped a lot) and that my pap test had came back as abnormal and a biopsy would be needed. I went for the biopsy and it concluded that I did, in fact, have cervical cancer.

My son and I are both fine. We made it through the pregnancy and childbirth great....he was born March 22, 1995.

1 year later, I was working at a local diner talking to a co-worker of mine and found that she too had been diagnosed with cervical cancer and had also taken the Depo Provera shot. She informed me that a few of her friends had the exact same experience. Now I had put it all together back then, but it wasn't until recently when I started research on the internet about it.
I found that most information regarding the research and disadvantages of Depo Provera cannot be found on the Depo official site....which seemed very interesting to me.
Here are a few links for you:
  • From Depo on "important patient information"...this is the link you get
  • From Depo on "new important safety information...i cannot give you this link, because none appears
According to, it states this:
"Other side effects include:
  • Change in menstruation (may be lighter or heavier; shorter or longer)
  • Increase in spotting and breakthrough bleeding
  • Weight gain
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Change in libido
  • Headaches
  • Rash or skin discoloration
  • Breast tenderness
  • Depression
  • Increase or decrease in facial and body hair
  • Hair loss
Although they are rare, there are some serious health complications that can occur with the use of Depo-Provera. Users may have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer and cervical cancer, but study results have been conflicting. Other possible complications include jaundice, blood clots, severe allergic reaction and infertility."

To end this post, I will leave you with one thought. If Depo Provera is so safe and effective, why are there so many lawyers that specialize in Depo Provera lawsuits?
Depo Provera attorneys

Friday, March 27, 2009

Depo Provera...Fight for Approval

Even though one of the first application for the FDA to approve Depo Provera was in 1973, the contraceptive drug was not approved until years later. During that span, numerous tests and research were performed on both animals and humans by the company responsible for it, Pfizer.
Some of these studies consisted of experiments on dogs (which proved to cause breast cancer tumors) and monkeys (where the results were endometrial cancer in 1 out of 6). However, these tests were later reported to be inconclusive since they were tested on animals and not humans.
personal note: if tests would have been fine, would they have used the results then?
According to Upjohn and NCI, who performed their own research, cervical cancer in women was increased 9 times more than those not given Depo Provera. Upjohn's study extended over an 11 year span and was deemed questionable due to "sloppy record keeping".
Their testing was localized to the Atlanta Georgia area and was centered on mostly illiterate, poverty stricken, or mentally challenged women. In the study, it was proven that some of the women died due to cancer and some died from suicide brought on by depression (one of the side effects of Depo Provera). Unfortunately, the experiment which consisted of 13,000 women, was never considered as concrete and was disregarded. Depo Provera was finally approved by the FDA on October 29, 1992 despite all the controversy surrounding it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Depo Provera Pros and Cons

If you or someone you know is thinking of using Depo Provera, please read the following information. There are many reasons women choose to use the contraceptive, but we must also weigh in the problems associated with it.

  1. you get an injection only once every 3 months.
  2. menstruation has either stopped or became less frequent in some women
  3. you won't have to worry about remembering pills, applying patches or inserting your diaphragm right before intercourse.
  4. it is 97% -99% effective against pregnancy
  5. contains no estrogen
  6. cramping and pain associated with menstruation may be lessened
  7. you may still conceive after stopping Depo Provera (though it may take up to 18 months after)
  8. it is safe for nursing mothers
  9. it is generally less expensive than other forms of birth control
  10. it is effective 24 hours after your first dose

  1. does not protect against STD's
  2. some women have had heavier and more frequent menstruation during use
  3. may cause you to lose calcium in your bones. longer exposure means greater loss that you may not get back.
  4. most women experience weight gain in the first year and an increase in body fat
  5. is still not approved in certain countries
  6. may cause abdominal pain and discomfort
  7. may cause headaches
  8. increased fatigue is shown in some women
  9. breast cancer tumors were found in dogs that were given Depo Provera in research studies
  10. it caused endometrial cancer in 1 out of 6 monkeys in research studies
Like I said, this is just a list of some advantages and disadvantages of the usage of Depo Provera Contraception Injection. I suggest that if anyone is considering this form of birth control, to do more research on the drug. And also follow this blog for more posts about the health risks and history of Depo Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Depo Provera Awareness

This is the start of my crusade against the contraceptive drug known as Depo Provera (also known as medroxyprogesterone acetate). As of right now, I will just have a brief summary as to topics I will be touching on as far as how this drug effects women's health.
In the upcoming posts, I intend to apply the following results:
  1. Depo Provera pros and cons
  2. History of Depo Provera and the struggle for approval in the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
  3. The connection between Depo Provera and cancer in women
  4. The experimental period (which lasted 20 years)
  5. Why some countries still have not approved Depo Provera
As a 2 time survivor of cervical cancer, it is my belief that this drug has caused numerous health problems in women globally. It is a theory that I have had since I was first diagnosed with cancer in 1995 and have continued to have problems since.
I sincerely hope that the posts listed above will be followed and help to inform other women about the real risks associated with the contraceptive injection.
The first post will begin tomorrow and hopefully, if all goes well, the others will follow 1 per day after that.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jade Goody

though i never really followed her life (she was a UK reality TV star and i live in Croatia and don't like reality TV shows), but this story did astonish me. how someone so young could die from a disease, most doctors will tell you is nothing to worry about. proves them wrong, doesn't it.
she was born on June 5, 1981 and passed away on March 22, 2009..making her only 27 years of age at her time of death. it is upsetting how she had battled with poor health since 2002 and the doctors could find nothing wrong until 2008.
a short outline of the events:
2002- cervical pap test that revealed abnormal cells...possibility of cancer.
2004- tested for ovarian cancer..came back negative
2006- tested for bowel cancer..came back negative
2008- went for hospital tests after collapsing for the 4th time....diagnosis...cervical cancer.

why was she not checked for cervical cancer in 2002? if she was, it is not mentioned in the articles that i have read. perhaps they made a mistake and don't want to admit it. though admitting to ignorance is worse, i believe.
here is a quote from her spokesperson upon the cancer diagnosis in august 2008 while she was on the show Big Boss (Indian version of Big Brother) : "It looks like her cancer is at an early stage but we will have to wait until she gets back to Britain and sees a specialist and has more tests".
i was told that as well, as i am sure a lot of us who were diagnosed were told.
as early as September 1, 2008, she was told that the cancer was in advanced stages and her survival chance was 65 percent. after months of surgery and chemotherapy, she lost her battle and her life.
our hearts and thoughts go out to the family and friends of jade goody and all women who have fought the battle of cervical cancer. i will end this post with a quote from wikipedia:
"When news broke that Goody's cancer was terminal, medical authorities in the UK began reporting a surge in requests from women, particularly younger women, for screening for cervical cancer. This reversed a trend which had seen demand for screening decline overall in the past decade, with the highest decline being among women aged 25-29. As a result of the publicity surrounding Goody's illness, on 13 March 2009 government health ministers agreed to review the NHS's policy of not offering screening for cervical cancer until the age of 25 in England (it is 20 in the rest of the UK). Goody issued a press release the same day, saying that she was "immensely proud" that she had helped prompt the review."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hospital Menu

so i won't have to describe the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of every meal, i will list the food that was offered. this list includes everything: meal, condiments, and drinks....bread is always white

lunch: broth


breakfast: 2 slices of bread, bowl of milk (what am i, a cat?)
lunch: broth, hot dog, 2 slices of bread
dinner: rice with some kind of meat (i think it was meat), 2 slices of bread

breakfast: 2 slices of bread, a packet of butter (breakfast is now known as "whats for bread?")
lunch: pickled beets, 2 slices of bread, noodles
dinner: cream of wheat, 2 slices of bread (by now, i was wondering if they just keep giving us the same 2 slices of bread we didn't eat from previous meals)

breakfast: 2 slices of bread, cream cheese
lunch: 2 slices of bread, fish, spinach-potato-cabbage mix, broth (actually, this meal was pretty good)
dinner: macaroni and cheese (i think this was diet mac and cheese because it had half the milk and cheese of others), 2 slices of bread

breakfast: 3 slices of bread (must have had an extra slice laying around), butter, jam, bowl of warm milk
lunch: corn grits, beef stew, seasoned salad, 2 slices of bread, broth (again, not bad)
dinner: chicken and dumplings, banana, 2 slices of bread (not as good as mine, but still ok)

breakfast: 2 slices of bread, cream cheese, bowl of warm milk
lunch: 2 slices of bread, broth, macaroni and cheese (wasn't too bad after i mixed it with my broth)
dinner: boiled potatoes, seasoned salad, and of course...2 slices of bread

breakfast: 2 slices of bread, bowl of white coffee (must have been my "farewell" present)

for those keeping track..that was 33 slices of bread:)

M.S.A.T.H...Part 7

Wednesday morning i was woken up as usual at 6:00 am sharp by a nurse. good news was, i was allowed to finally eat, so i anticipated the arrival of breakfast, which was due at 7:30 am, cracked open my book and began to read. btw..nothing else to do there without a television or radio.
like clock work, my first meal arrived and to my dismay, it was less than typical hospital food. it consisted of 2 pieces of white bread (not toasted) and a bowl of warm milk. ok, i will repeat just in case you think i mistyped or you misread....a BOWL of warm milk, as in, not a cup. now, rather the milk was for me or the vermin, i am not sure. though someone should inform these people that it is a woman's hospital and not a veterinary clinic. the only time i drink milk from a bowl is after i am done eating cereal, which apparently, they forgot to add. they also forgot butter, jam, jelly, or anything else that may go with bread.
at 8:00 am, the doctor came in with about 6 interns to check on us and remove the gauze from my vagina. of course, without curtains, my entire womanhood was there for all to see, including my roommates.
the rest of the day was long, but i did manage to finish my book, and since one of my roommates was sent home, it was just 2 of us, which made it a little more quiet and peaceful.

Friday, March 13, 2009

M.S.A.T.H...Part 6...Tuesday

ok, just thought i would warn you that this will in fact be a long post. this was the day of surgery and my nervous breakdown (to put it mildly). however, you will get 2 pictures and a few links with this here we go.

Tuesday morning began abruptly and precisely at 6:00 am (as did every morning after that). We were awakened by the nurse (to whom i like to refer to as Brunhilda) flipping on all of the lights and yelling "dobro jutro", though she did not sound as chipper as one normally sounds when saying good morning loudly. She then handed each of us a thermometer and left the room. 10 minutes later, she returned like a drill sergeant, ordering us out of our beds and to line up on the other side of the room. After a long speech to us, which i didn't understand, she made the beds and left. Now, when I say "she made the beds"..I refer to just folding down our blankets to the bottom of the bed (as if we were done with them) and straightening our pillows. I will get into the sanitation of the place later on.
Anyway, 15 minutes after Brunhilda left, I went in to take a shower. I dried myself off with a shirt (there were no towels, remember?) and then laid in my bed waiting for the time to pass. It was a very long morning since I was not allowed anything to eat or drink and that included water. Though the one women in the room, was allowed, so we (Kristina and myself) watched her eat. I will get into the menu and nutritional aspects of the meals later on as well.
Finally, around 10:00 am, Brunhilda came to get me and Kristina and took us to pre-op. As we walked down the halls (there are absolutely no wheelchairs..not kidding), I could feel the anxiety start to build within me. We arrived in a room with pre-made beds and we undressed and laid down in our individual beds (i should be thankful that we didn't have to share one). Brunhilda left and 2 other nurses came in and covered me with a green paper blanket and place my hair in a green paper hairnet (at least I matched) and wheeled me in to a room right outside the operating room. The one nurse gave me a little blue pill, which I later found out was a pain pill called "Ketonal" (though it would have been nicer to have the little blue pill from "The Matrix") and prepped my veins for the IV needle.
They stuck a needle in my hand 1st and it hurt a lot. I'm not sure if they missed or what, but they had to try again. So the nurses (and I actually mean morons) chose a spot directly above the 1st and of course, something went wrong. By that time I was in tears. Let me briefly explain to you my pain tolerance. Last June, I had fractured a rib and still moved about and never took a pain pill. I have had many bad relationships and am accident prone as well. So in the course of my lifetime, I have had broken ribs, fractured ribs, been in a fire (as you will see from the picture of my hand), fell down numerous flights of stairs, had my head put through a window, and have been sideswiped by a drunk driver while I was driving a taxi...just to name a few. So my level of pain that I can tolerate, is pretty high. The needle freaking hurt like Hell.
The 3rd attempt was apparently a charm as they stuck the needle in the inside of my elbow and it was pain free at the time. Then it was Kristina's turn to get the IV needle and they actually broke the needle in her hand. She ended up with the IV in the same place as mine. I then turned to her and said "I hope surgery goes better" and she smiled.
They then wheeled me in to the operating room and I heard a nurse say that they had put something in my IV and I would feel very "drowsy?" I'm not entirely sure what she said after the word "very". All I know is that when I heard her, I was staring at the ceiling in the operating room and then I opened my eyes to another ceiling in the recovery room.
I remember when I woke up, a nurse asked how I felt and I told her that I had to "go pee" and she replied "No you don't" and that was it. She took my blood pressure while I was still in the bed they had used for the operation and then I climbed into my hospital bed (not an easy task after having a chunk of your genitalia removed) and was wheeled up to my room. I then grabbed my glasses from the table and saw my right hand. I had 2 puncture wounds from where they had attempted to put the needle (or was attacked by a vampire) and a lump or knot half the size of a golf ball that was purple, green, and black.
Now a golf ball may not seem all that big, but take a look at your hand and imagine shoving half of a gold ball under the skin. Scary huh? I then located my cell phone and messaged Bela to tell him that I was okay. Within the next hour or so, several nurses came in to check on me (though an English speaking one would have been helpful). I asked 3 times to 2 different people about when I would be allowed to eat, drink, or even use the bathroom (I don't care what the nurse said in recovery, I really did have to pee). One nurse answered "sto"..meaning "what" and the other said I was not allowed out of bed for 3 days. No bed pans and not allowed out of bed..this was not going to be a pretty sight.
Around 3:00 pm, I asked a nurse again, if I may use the toilet. She gave me the "1 minute sign" with her finger and at that moment I felt like raising the "not so pleasant sign" with another finger. But I refrained. I then messaged Bela and told him that I wanted to come home. What was the point of being looked after if communication was impossible anyway? A doctor came in about 4:00 pm and spoke a little English, finally. She asked how I was feeling and I told her that I wanted to go home. She said I was suppose to take it easy for 10 days and I said that would be fine. I told her that I did not work, had a live-in boyfriend and had no kids living at home, so bed rest was completely possible. She responded with "You can still have kids". I repeated that I did not have kids at home so I could get bed rest. I even said that I didn't want anymore kids. She then said "You didn't have a hysterectomy. You can still have kids" I must admit, the thought of jumping up and smashing her head against the wall, did enter my mind.
A half hour later, Bela showed up and I told him everything that had happened that day and showed him my hand. Told him I wanted to leave and go home so he went out to talk to someone. He came back and told me that I had to be there for a few days (not sure why, since I read several articles online that said conization was outpatient surgery). That is when I really lost it. I don't think I cried that much since my father passed away. But the real clincher was when a nurse came in about 5 minutes after and took Kristina to go use the toilet and walked out of the room. At that moment, I knew that I was on my own. I stood up out of bed, which was not an easy task, and walked myself to the bathroom to relieve myself of the urine that was still inside of me since before surgery (roughly 7 hours). Bela kissed my forehead and said he would see me tomorrow and left. The rest of the night, I spent crying until I finally cried myself to sleep.

"Right after surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area where nurses will care for and observe you. Usually you will stay in the recovery area for 1 to 4 hours, and then you will go home."

As with any procedure that is done under anesthesia, you will probably need to fast for 6 - 8 hours. You must sign an informed consent form. The procedure is done on the same day (outpatient) and a hospital stay is usually not needed

The mildew on the wall beside my bed. Note that the wall gets darker but the pole stays white:

Picture of my hand 1 week after surgery:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

M.S.A.T.H...Part 5...Enema

i was awoken at 3:30pm and taken a room at the end of the hallway to be shaved. not a pleasant experience, but not as bad as the enema. now i will stray off topic for a minute and try to describe the enema experience.
an enema is basically a douche for your colon. it contains a water solution in a medium sized container with a tube (guess where that goes) and a pump to allow the fluid to enter your anus and get into your colon. in itself, it was not so bad, however...i should remind you that i was taken to a room at the END of the hallway. i was then sent back to my room..may i add, praying the entire time. luckily, i made it just in time. the only way to describe the feeling was that of drinking a gallon of prune juice and holding it in for 4 or 5 hours. my roommate, kristina, went next.
now why they give 2 women in the same room an enema at the same time when there is only 1 toilet is beyond me. maybe there were cameras somewhere i wasn't aware of, and we were some sort of reality tv entertainment for them.
on a brighter side, anyone who needs to lose 5 pounds quickly, an enema is the way to go. i, on the other hand would require about 20 of back to my story.
at 4:30, bela arrived and i took the opportunity to walk around a bit (the enema effects had subsided) and mainly to go to the basement to go outside and have a smoke. (yeah, yeah, yeah..insert your "boo's" here). as i sat there chain smoking 2 cigarettes, bela went to the store to get me a bottle of juice and then we said our goodbyes for the day. i returned to my room and began reading my book again.
2 hours later, my roommates grabbed their robes and headed downstairs. i laid in my bed contemplating for a few minutes and decided to go downstairs as well. if i was to get in trouble, then at least i had them to get into trouble with. when i got to the basement, i found a group of women (about 8-10 of them) sitting inside drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. as smoking is not allowed inside the hospital, they were using an old coffee cup as an ashtray. at that moment, i looked around the room and my brain flashed on the movie "girl interrupted" with winona ryder and angelina jolie. the rest of the night was without disturbance from the nurses.
so then we come to the most interesting day of all....Tuesday

barium enema

to be continued

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

M.S.A.T.H...Part 4

a half hour later, i was awakened by "blondie", who told me we had to go down to see the anesthesiologist. i don't know why since i was just there on friday, but then figured what the hell. so "blondie" doesn't speak to me the entire way in the corridor or elevator..she just led me along, and i mean she led me by having her arm around my waist and guiding me. then she said "stay" and went into the office. ok...i must admit that i am in fact a bitch sometimes, but by no means should i be treated like a dog. then she came out of the office and and led me back to my room. i was then informed that i could sleep now, and i did, because i believed her.
a half hour after that, another nurse came in, woke me up and took me to the back office where she took down my information that was already written on 5 other documents in my folder. i then went back to my room, and knowing better than to try to sleep, i picked up my book and started reading. at around noon, blondie came in with some disgusting liquid for me to drink along with 3 cups of water to help cleanse my system. an hour later, my lunch arrived. it was a coffee cup of what i think is suppose to be chicken broth and i was told that would be all i am allowed for the day. oh joy. though if any other form of vitamin or supplement was offered, it might not have been so bad.
i then tried, and i stress, tried to take a nap, yet again. this time, i was actually successful for a few be continued

Monday, March 2, 2009

My Stay at the Hospital Part 3----Monday

We arrived bright and early on monday morning at "klinika za ženkse bolesti i porode"...basically it translates to "hospital for women". after asking 3 or 4 people for directions, we finally found the ward we were to be in. the wait was only about a half hour, so it wasn't so bad (though having more than 3 chairs in the waiting area would have been nice). but then we found out that "monday was preparation day". so basically, sunday was just a trial run and i was regretting not having that morning cup of coffee i deprived myself of. my boyfriend, bela, had then informed the nurses that i spoke very little croatian and i was from america. one nurse (we will call her blondie) , responded with, and i quote, "no problem".
so we go into the room that i will be staying in. it is what i described, with the 4 beds, 1 toilet, 1 shower, 2 closets, and 1 tv (which i guess is only for the lucky 2 people on the one side of the room), no curtains which equals no privacy. upon further inspection of this facility, i noticed that there were not any towels in the shower room, no hospital gowns (not even the paper ones), no juice or watered offered (even at meals), no toothpaste, toothbrush, paper towels, shampoo, or any other little complimentaries you might receive at a hospital. we even had to ask for our toilet paper. this just all seemed odd to me as i was under the impression that hospital was in fact short for hospitality. pretty much, if you didn't bring it, you didn't have it.
so i picked a bed, only 2 left (yes, the ones without the tv) and bela left. i unpacked some belongings and waved to my 2 roommates, who waved back but that was about the extent of our conversation for the day. i cracked open a book that i had bought just for my visit (very good btw..."one last scream" by kevin o'brien). i then fell asleep reading it due to lack of sleep the previous be continued