Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My family, the Mutant Ninja Turtles

Yesterday, I had my 7th IV chemo infusion. 7 down, only ONE to go.  My last treatment is Jan 28th, 2013 and boy am I ready to celebrate that day.  I think i might keep myself away from any public areas for the next 2 weeks so I wont risk getting sick and pushing back this date.  I do not want any more ER visits. Two weeks ago, I landed myself in the ER again this time with Tachycardia.  Everything seems to be fine with my heart and it has since slowed down, probably just a reaction from the chemo or any one of the premeds they load me up with before my transfusion (today I am sporting the steroid glow.  I look like an 1800’s French prostitute with two red circles painted on my cheeks.)  I have been counting down to this day since I start treatment on October 15, 2012.  A couple of my friends are going to join me and my mom for my last transfusion to see me ring the "I did it" bell and get my certificate of completion.  We'll go out somewhere for dinner to celebrate but later down the road, when I can really have some fun, I want a party because damn-it I think I deserve it. But this party won't just be for me, this party will be for everyone who has helped me, in whatever big or small way, get me through this period of my life. 

It is weird to stay that in some small way, I will miss going to the hospital every other week.  It is part of my routine and I know everyone in the department on a first name basis.  I know I'll miss the fresh baked cookies I get there and the volunteers who spend their time chatting with me about their experience. I'll miss the harp players who try to soothe away our pain with elegant strings of their harps and the masseuse who offers a few minutes of relaxation from our aches and pains.  I'll miss the nurses with their humor and whit that always puts a smile on my face.  I'll miss the warm hospital blankets and the coffee cart just around the corner where I can get my cafĂ© mocha anytime I want.  I'll miss chatting with my PA, who was my age when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has now a new life with her career and young son. I hope to be able to meet some of these people again, but in a different setting. I am now going to be preparing for the next step in my fight.  Surgery.

I meet with my surgical oncologist on Feb 8th to figure out needs to be done.  He is the head of surgery at the breast care center and am told, by former patients of his, he is a miracle worker.  He has a very, um, how do I say this, lacking personality though . But he is a great surgeon and that is what I need.  He also hates anything my Primary prescribes me in the area of nonconventional cancer treatment, actually the entire breast care center hates anything Dr Warnock does to try to ensure my tumor shrinks and my cancer cells dissolve.  They only hate it because they know nothing about it and have never bothered to look into themselves.  I have learned to leave out some pieces of information to avoid misinformed lectures from my oncologists.  After I get this cancer over with, I will be in search of an oncologist who is open minded to using alternative medicine along side conventional practices.  I will never stop seeing Dr Warnock because he is the only doctor who has ever listened to me, and he has done wonders for me in the past for my health.  He saved me from taking toxic drugs or drastic surgeries because of my thyroid disease.  I trust him more than anyone when it comes to my health and so when he told me I must do chemotherapy, I knew that I was about the make the right decision, even though I was counting on him to tell me he had a more effect alternative treatment without all the side effects. I never feel rushed out of his office when I see him and usually a visit last approximately 45 minuntes. The first time I saw him, I sat with him for an hour and a half as we went over my medical history together.  He's not afraid to order tests, and send you to specialists.  His mission is to figure out the root of the problem and not just treat the symptoms.  And it really bothers him when he can't figure it out and he keeps researching until he has found the reason.  I sent my mom to him last year.  She has been complaining of MS like symptoms for at least 10 years, with no response from the medical professionals she routinely saw.  After my mom told him everything that was going on with her, he looked at her and said, "I think you have MS and I going to send you to a neurologist."  Sure enough, my mom has MS and they believe she has had it for more than 10 years.  Thankfully she has slow progression MS, but is now in the 2nd phase of the disease.  The Zimmer family is full of all kinds of medical surprises.

I can now be officially considered a Mutant Ninja Turtle.  My parents are just half turtles.  They each hold a genetic mutation that has been passed down to me.  The BRCA gene mutation (known as the breast cancer gene) came from my father.  This gene mutation is also connected to Prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and ocular melanoma, all cancers on my father's side of the family, but I am the first one to be diagnosed with breast cancer.  Now we know we need to be screened more so that if any new cancers present themselves, it will be caught early. 

We believe my MTHFR gene mutation came from my mom, but tests are pending.  From my quick research and conversation with my doctor, basically my body has trouble converting folic acid into methionine which can cause inflammation through out my body and manifest into health issues such as autoimmune diseases, allergies and even cancer, among a list of other issues.  The good news is there is a simple solution, all I need to do is add Methlyfolate to my pill regiment and soon things should improve.  At various points in my life, I have struggled with exhaustion and random achiness in my hands and feet.  Being diagnosed with thyroid disease explained some of that, but then when my levels were normal and I was still experiencing these issues it caused a lot of frustration because there was no explanation, but now everything makes sense.  Having cancer has lead to finding out really important information about my body and now being able to make changes so I can start feeling good get my health back. 

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on being almost finished with chemo! It's really great to catch up on how you're doing, and I'm so glad that you're keeping up your sense of humor and enthusiasm through all of this! I hope to see you soon - any word on a PC get-together? I'll be in touch to see how you're doing and hopefully schedule a trip to see you soon!