Friday, February 18, 2011

Asparagus smoothies, anyone?

My T9 vertebral body, which is a bone in my spine, is special.  It is glowing on the PET scan, it is darkened on the MRI scan.  The question seems to be not "if" it's metastatic cancer, but "what kind" of metastatic cancer is it, although Dr. O put it out there that an injury would visualize similarly (if only I were injured!!!!).  She wants to biopsy it to get more information about the receptors on the cells in that area.  She only trusts one person in town to do it, and they are unavailable until the end of the month, so I am to pursue this biopsy with the surgeon in Iowa City on Tuesday.  Apparently you can just jam a needle into the vertebrae and take a sample that way.  Fantastic.  

Some good news is that the breast cancer responded beautifully to the chemotherapy.  Everything that was big is now small.  With the distractions of T9, we didn't even discuss the fate of the healthy right breast, although I'm sure that the existence of T9 cements the fate of the right breast (bye bye, babe).  Additional good news is that metastatic disease had been my biggest fear, so now I'm free to proceed fearlessly.  The bad news is that my chemotherapy regime was designed to counter metastatic disease, so the question remains why it more or less failed.  The bright side of the bad news is that my brain, lungs, and liver are still clear, as cancer there would be the worst possible news.  There are still treatment options that come with today's bad news, although I don't yet know what they are and they will be dependent on the biopsy results.

It's high time I started to help out my oncologist.  She is working hard to make me better, but am I working hard enough?  I'm a vegetarian and I'm active, but I don't eat broccoli EVERY day and I don't exercise EVERY day.  Time to research and adopt an anti-cancer diet and lifestyle.  It's something I can do, and it's important not to feel helpless, although reality certainly seems to be moving in that direction.


  1. To answer the question: Yes, you're working hard enough. Just relax and enjoy the ride, albeit an incredibly bumpy one.

    It's a little bit like the Tornado at Adventureland...every now and again you think you're going to fly off the tracks, but keep a smile on your face, your hands in in the air, and that rickety ol' cart will take you exactly where you knew it would go the whole time. And don't worry about the kid puking in the cart in front of you, just lean to the side to avoid the spray. He shouldn't have eaten three funnel cakes anyway--we're in the middle of an obesity epedemic, for Christ's sake.

  2. Ditto to Martha's comment times 100. Lentil smoothie recipe search underway.

  3. Dearest Mapman...thank you for making me chuckle.

  4. Beak, Mapman is most correct.

    However, if you do happen to crest 240lbs and ride the Tornado, as I did last summer, there are fewer smiles, and more "Christ, how did I fit into that small square a** red pleather seat, AND get the lap bar to come down?", and "Why are my screams in soprano....oh right, lap bar".

    We are all hanging on with ya girl...all the way to where the say 'Thank You for Riding the Tornado'.........

  5. Sitting in the doorway waiting for sleep to fall over Miss A - thinking of a way to make words out of what's on my mind. Guess this Mary Oliver poem will have to suffice. Love you so much Heather K -

    It doesn't have to be
    the blue iris, it could be
    weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
    small stones; just
    pay attention, then patch

    a few words together and don't try
    to make them elaborate, this isn't
    a contest but the doorway

    into thanks, and a silence in which
    another voice may speak.

  6. Yes. Beautiful, lovely, wonderfully calming poem.
    Isn't it odd how tiny words/images(that
    you can almost carry in your pocket)
    can steady your breath?
    But may I add...
    What the h T9? Get with the program! It is dancing time!!!

  7. Asparagus cookies anyone? Asparagus will be the first thing that goes into our garden this year. I will be sure to bring some fun treats over, but don't blame me when your pee smells funny :)

  8. Remember the kid's joke, why was the number 6 afraid of number 7? Because 7 ate (8) 9! Well, I say let T7 eat T9, remove any remaining cancer, fuse T8 and T10 and then you should be ready to do the merengue and salsa on the beach! (okay, so Doing the Twist listening to Chubby Checkers may no longer be a possibility).

    Hang in there Heather. The docs in Iowa City are amazing, so we hope to hear encouraging news on your return. In the meantime... you know the drill: Rest, relax, hug and kiss your girls, and call on the rest of us to help you out. Anytime.

  9. Well, uh, hmm. Is getting to go to Iowa City the silver lining to be found in this development? Are you going to take the girls with you? If so, I know a totally rockin' set of swings and some great climbing trees just off E Davenport. Azalea especially seems like a born tree climber.

    As ever, you're an inspiration to us all.

  10. Dear Heather,

    There are no words to express my love and soul-searching "why" for you at this time. I only want to let you know how you have changed my life. I look forward to every post you make in order to apply it to my life. I enjoy Gabe and my other 3 grandsons much more. I take a look at the "little moments of life", such as Gabe asking me if I'm happy or Gavin telling me what he packed to take to a cousin's house, or Kaden's hockey tournament with him as the goalie, waving joyously to us as the puck slides in the net, and Chase's deep little voice telling me that he loves me. The birth of a baby lamb shows itself as the miracle that it is. Lori's simple poem that says it all. My thoughts, my wishes for you, the spirituality that resides in my soul all go out to you and your family. I love all of you.

  11. Hey Heather,

    I was in St. Louis over the weekend and Torey just alerted me to your new posts and the updates on things. I wish I could give you a big hug right now, I'm sorry for the spine news. But we'll be with the whole way as you tackle that treatment as well! And as for those lifestyle changes, I'm sure you're doing really well as it is but if you want a running buddy - you know who to call! :) Between my being preggers and you being post-chemo, I think we're about on the same pace speed-wise ;)

    Love you!