Archive for the Non-Invasive Treatment Category

Living With MBD

Posted in Evidence-Based Medicine, Non-Invasive Diagnosis, Non-Invasive Treatment, Sustainable Health, Uncategorized with tags , on August 6, 2009 by Leane Roffey Line

Metastatic Breast Disease (MBD). It’s a sobering thought, even admidst dissolving of brain tumors by radiation. Advanced cancers perhaps aren’t the death sentences they used to be, still, when taken in all their invasiveness, are things to be respected.

I may always be on some form of chemo. I may be on Tamoxifen, as long as possible. With luck, my tumor marker numbers will continue to go down, until they are part and parcel of my whisper factor, the cancer that makes up my particular MBD.

Radiation oncology has its place to play amidst all the chemicals as well.

In any equation, you have things like overriding pain that has to be controlled — the cancer causes its own little bits of grief after all, and if you’re like me, your cancer is here and there in your body; I’m Stage III, I don’t know how I’d handle it being Stage IV for example. Some people out there are totally brave.

Right now its just one step in front of the other, and slip-sliding into states of head consciousness where I can deal with the enormity of the disease, not only my own process, but my husband having cancer too — we’re certainly not the only two cancer family in the world right now, but the fact that we both have a cancer at this time is pretty rough.

I’m not complaining though, at least we can both move still and are not incapacitated except for the general fatigue that comes from being on chemo meds and roids.

Thanks to a bit of help from some friends we’re managing over here.

I’m debating, after the radiation is over, about breaking into a brand new blog about living with MBD, how people cope, what they can do, etc. I’m giving it serious thought.

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Moving Along to Plan B

Posted in Evidence-Based Medicine, Non-Invasive Diagnosis, Non-Invasive Treatment, Sustainable Health, Uncategorized with tags , , on July 20, 2009 by Leane Roffey Line

While my body is recovering from its anemia, we’re moving along in treatment to Plan B, which is receiving radiation therapy for a small mass that’s popped up near critical motor centers in the cerebellum. It’s extremely tiny and we found it just by happenstance. Tomorrow I’ll start a series of short radiation treatments combined with taking the hormone tamoxifen for everything below the blood brain barrier. Since my tumor markers were so good, I have great hopes for this new series of treatments. Most chemo cannot penetrate to the brain itself, so when you find little things like this it is best to address them with radiation. Radiation has now got a 100 year history and has advanced significantly as a treatment for cancer.

This story would be too long to tell in all its detail, but what started out as a lunch trip to the mall on Thursday turned into a dizzying experience, winding up with a trip to the ER, admission to the hospital, a blood transfusion (which was badly needed IMHO), and meeting with my doctors — and some new doctors — resulting in a few more tests and a release home with a clear slate from the vertigo/nausea event of last week. I’ve never spent much time in hospitals and I’m here to tell you, hope I never have to again!

In spite of the hard work of the nurses, much of the labor of patient care is now involved with a series of steps that adds much to the costs of such visits. I am very clear now on what needs to be done to overhaul the system (which we really don’t have), and would not wish a hospital stay, no matter how nice the staff, on my worst enemy.

Lucky for me the Drip Factory has a Death Ray Room with my very own Dr. M*ng the M*erciless — a doc about my own age with 30 years experience that I like very much. He’s also very hip to the infighting games between hospitalists here in our small town, and to my request this morning  of “Get ME OUT OF Here”, he had all accomplished by 2 pm, while saving everyone’s ego. Here the story must end, because everyone is really a good person, and there is no point in continuing on with Plan C when Plan B is now in effect.

Update 1 – 7/21/09 First external beam radiation therapy done today. Painless, quick. Machine used was a Varian 2300 with bells and whistles. I like it. I shoulda told the tech to reload the photons for tomorrow (just kidding).  Plan B updates will be done over  the coming days as updates here. If something significant happens I’ll write a new post, but for now, it’s just lock and load.

Update 2 – 7/22/09 Second treatment today, I’m feeling a bit less disheveled from the hospital experience and a bit more like myself — the hubster and I are still resting and trying to get some food down, but we’re tired, and not young anymore! My sister-in-law, whose on her third year of tamoxifen treatment herself, advises that no one else truly counts in this process save for the medical oncologist and the radiation oncologist at this point. She’s right. I had the distinct pleasure this afternoon of speaking to both these favorite people in my medical world — and giving them their new nicknames: my medical oncologist is Flash Gordon and my radiation oncologist is M*ng the M*rciless. Flash Gordon in the 21st century, he quipped, and yep that’s it — this is the 21st century — save for the equipment in that man’s office — the rest of the world doesn’t exist for me right now. I’m in love with that Varian. If I were younger I’d have pursued a career as a medical physicist in this exciting field. Being an old geezer now, it’s who the hell do I donate my very expensive library of books on biological medicine and quantum medicine I used in my own career up to two years ago, and I think I know exactly who that person is going to be.  Here’s the schtick: In any situation in life, on any given day, you either live or die, survive or not. I may not survive this experience or I may live to see more time, I can’t predict the future. Guys like Flash and M*ng don’t come by anymore, the world is dumbed down beyond belief in this excuse for a banana republic we’re living in — so when you meet people like this, who build organizations like this, and do healing like this, you want to leave the good books to them. They have a “physics department” and a medical physicist who comes down to check on the stuff, awesome staff, and are complete jewels in terms of who they help and what they are doing. Here in the heart of green country, there is a world that really does represent Flash Gordon in the 21st Century.And that’s the joke — it really is the 21st century, and we’re no longer sending rockets to the moon. Things have changed since my time in the brilliance of the space race, in running my own clinic, in persuing the careers, writing the books, doing the research, it will never be the same again. Now, my future time on this planet may be in days or years, but it will most likely be spent in a floating home on a river in Portland, Oregon, taking care of my wonderful husband. Relaxing. Painting, and cooking. Disability takes it toll on us all eventually. Cancer trumps everything.

NP Deb came back today as well, her presence has been sorely missed, but she survived her vacation and is prepping for boards 8/7. We wish her all the best of luck. Deb is one of those exceptional people who has both intelligence and character to reach and communicate with patients. She’s a rare one, our Deb is, and if she reads this, she’ll know how much we truly appreciate her!

Chemo 2, Leane 2

Posted in Non-Invasive Diagnosis, Non-Invasive Treatment, Science, Uncategorized on April 29, 2009 by Leane Roffey Line

Chemo Wk 1 turned out to be an excellent week, with no side-effects save for a shade of nausea which passed in a day thanks to Schweppe’s Ginger Ale — a sure fire cure all for queasies. The queasies came on four days out, which is about right, because the prepack anti-nausea meds kind of wear out of the system by then. This chemo routine of doing an hour of prepacks (Tagamet, Benadryl, any steroids, you name it) is a really good way to prep the body for the chemo…and then the nurses finish off with a saline flush.

Things were good, especially when the doctor could not hide the delight that my inflamed boob was no longer red as a fire-engine and had improved in texture. He was pleased that I had a nearly perfect Week 1 with VISIBLE changes in both tumor position and ability to breath etc — in short, the chemo compounds in the cocktail are working. I had very little side effects as well, meaning the pre-chemo compounds were doing their jobs, and when he saw that the redness had faded from the boob and that its texture had improved, and it’s size had shrunk, I thought he was gonna cry. Yes, it worked. Duh. Science sometimes does that. Having the thorentecis procedure also helped a great deal — yes, the pleura will refill, that happens with cancer, but the lungs expanded and work and are healing. And you can always have another procedure to drain the plural effusion.

For the troops in the infusion room it was a morale booster:

I also loudly announced when one of the nurses commented on how nice my hair looked (I washed it), that “they had to be kidding THIS HAD BEEN THE BEST WEEK I HAD IN 2 YEARS and near as I could figure it was just the chemo that made the difference” — the 15 sad faces in the infusion room immediately perked up. Hey, it works for someone. Maybe it will work for me? Maybe I don’t have to have all this horrible chemo reaction? Whatever? Sure, it’s not going to be peaches and cream, but the procedures, and the compounds have improved a lot since my mother’s time.

If I’m going to lose my hair, by the way, that’s supposed to happen between weeks three and five. We’re on a six week sprint, then plan to take two weeks off. I have a great wig I already own. It looks just like my hair.

The results are so obvious visually, there may not be need for another scan, but whatever, I’m open. Again, the procedure will be the same, blood tests next Monday, Chemo Tues.

I’m thanking the Elder Care volunteer squad right now for organizing rides to and from for me for the next couple weeks. Eventually I’ll be able to drive my own car there and back, I think.

Yep, cytology reported more live cancer cells in the pleural effusion fluid, but that was to be expected. This report is a mixed bag, but everyone must realize by now that if this was an easy cancer, it wouldn’t be in my lap. (Sorry Mr. President, but it’s like the economy, and foreign relations, and Wall Street).

What’s in a CAT Scan?

Posted in Evidence-Based Medicine, Non-Invasive Diagnosis, Non-Invasive Treatment, Sustainable Health, Uncategorized on April 4, 2009 by Leane Roffey Line

I’m ordinarily not one for Gallow’s Humor, but apparently my now 60 years of days are numbered here on Planet Earth. I’m not entirely sure what it is that I am fighting but from the looks of the following I’ve outlived my own death by some weeks. Pretty serious potential cancer diagnosis upcoming here, methinks. Anyway for the benefit of any who are curious, who are long-distance healers, or who just want to send good wishes here is my CAT scan, soon to be followed by my biopsy results (due next week). Treatments, if any, will be blogged here, as will my reactions, etc.

I’m a self-pay. That means we don’t have insurance because we can’t afford it. It also means that I have to go through charming conversations with office people who ask “can you leave a check today?” at the end of a procedure — and with doctors who say “I didn’t do the test you requested because I knew what it was and it would have wasted your money”, and a whole host of other things done to discriminate against people who have no insurance. This is all about having enough vs. relying on what can be provided if you have nearly nothing.

By all lights, according to this I should be six feet under yesterday. I’m not. Ergo, more things are happening here than people understand. This thing reeks of CYA, IMHO. Cancer, and this whole national medical nightmare, like everything else in this country, is motivated by FEAR. This is the same FEAR that has kept us trapped, prisoners of our own devices, for over 20 years, while those with power took even more power, and let the “private sector” determine the flow of everything from care to justice in America.

Further, it’s a protection racket. You’re gonna die if you don’t let us protect you. Frankly, if you’ll pardon the cynicism, I’m going to die anyway — and I could be hit by a car tomorrow.

We should have had this cancer issue solved forty years ago. We haven’t, and the AMA and organizations like it are no where near breaking the field open to provide enough practitioners to tend to the population. Never have been interested in that, oh no, save the big bucks for them that matter.

After three bouts of pneumonia, countless trips to the ER and Immediate Physicians Care facilities, and primary care internists, its inconceivable that all this could be missed. We need preventative exams, up front, baseline scans for everyone, and full internet access to medical records. NOW.

We need national health care.

LEANE’S CAT SCAN

Here it is:

FINDINGS:

1. There is a large mass involving the right neck base, right lung apex and right axilla. These have approximate maximum diameters of 9, 7 and 8 cm respectively. This is likely metastatic adenopathy.

2. There is resultant obstruction of the right subclavian and right  internal jugular veins. The superior vena cava fills through right chest wall venous collaterals.

3. The airway is displaced to the left but not obstructed.

4. There are other smaller individual right axillary and mediastinal nodes. These measure up to 2.8cm.

5. The breasts are incompletely imaged. The right breast appears engorged with skin thickening. There are 1.4cm right and 1.7cm left breast nodules.

6. There are diffuse subcutaneous metastatic nodules. These measure up to  2 to 2.5cm. The largest lesions are seen at the left lower paraspinal, epigastric and right lower chest wall regions.

7. There is a large right pleural effusion.

8. There is suggestion of a 3.4cm right middle lobe mass. This may  represent a bronchogenic primary.

9. The right lower lobe is completely collapsed.

10. There are no adrenal masses.

11. There are no adrenal masses.

IMPRESSION:

1. Large right neck base, right apical and axillary mass, likely
metastatic adenopathy.

2. Chest wall and breast lesions, likely metastases.

3. Large right pleural effusion.

4. Possible right middle lobe mass.

5. Right subclavian and internal jugular vein occulsion.

6. Right hydronephrosis.