Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Today is one of those days. I come home with my arms looking like that of a junkie's. I have a nasty migraine to boot brought about by food deprivation having fasted for 12 hours (wonderful news from the lab though, I was advised I can now take a few sips of water while fasting since my veins tend to constrict even more when I'm dehydrated) I usually end up with a month's worth of fat and cholesterol because my hunger always points me towards that place reeking with burnt grease but yet smelled awfully tempting. I flush a month's worth of work out and healthy dieting again because my brain is just too clouded by hunger I ended up letting my nose decide for me. My brain is still alive though and it's telling me to move out and choose healthy. But my defenses are weak. I give in. I will worry about the consequence later. For now, I immerse myself in all this greasy glory.

Every 6 months or so, I have my blood chemistry checked (usually it's for Lipid profiling and SGPT count. some days, the doc would request for the complete set). In late 2010, I went to a Cardiologist because I have been feeling some on and off chest pain and that really bothered me. Turns out what I categorized to be pain was just a product of my imagination since my ECG showed nothing to be worried about. Well, it wasn't really that pain that you might be thinking. I didn't feel like I had a hollowblock sitting in my chest or anything. It was more like a pinch that lasted for 10 secs. Doc  tells me it could be heartburn but just to appease me, he ordered for a stress test and blood work. The stress test was normal. I even reached level 4 which according to the doctor who monitored my test wasn't really necessary and yet I passed it. I can even pass for an athlete they say, save for of course my hideous flabs. The blood work though didn't bring good news. I was High and Low in the wrong areas. So dear doc put me on medication for 1 month. That didn't work but it did lower the cholesterol a bit. I graduated to 2 months, then 3 months. My OB-Gyne however was not comfortable with me taking these meds. So we all agreed on a compromise. I faithfully watch my fat and sugar intake (read: AVOID AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE) and we'll stop the medicines. Well, I did not only promised to be religiously conscious of my diet but to exercise as well. Doc took my word and it has been almost a year since I stopped medicating.

I will know in 3 days if all my efforts have paid off. But so far, my lipid has not spiked since. It's not yet normal as normal can be BUT it is better. And I'm hoping for normal soon.

Apart from the blood tests today was also my routine sonomammogram. I saw a couple of new nodules earlier but I got a shoulder tap after the procedure somehow assuring me that they are most likely nothing to be worried about. BUT then again, you never know till you see the results. So I wait. Hopefully for good news.

For now...we do the waiting game. That I tell you is always the worst part of this whole routine.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Scanxiety, That Is What It's Called


Last March, I was told that CT Scans are going to be an annual thing for me. Initially (c. 2009), I thought it was just going to be something that I would be doing for 3 years (or 5 years tops probably) while we are monitoring for recurrences. But my doctor explained that due to the rarity of Phyllodes, scans are the only way we can ever catch recurrences and mets at the onset. By that, she went to confirm that it is going to be a lifetime thing. I don't really mind. I'm just glad (and very thankful) my current job gives me the opportunity to somehow afford this very costly procedure by providing me with a good health insurance coverage. 

Yes, I don't really mind doing this every year because I know how IMPORTANT this is for me. But the thing is -- this whole procedure scares the sh*t out of me. ALWAYS. Apart from [forever] hating that weird smell the minute I step into the hospital's radiology section (well, fact is i could never even get used to the disinfected smells of hospital what more in this part of it), what I hate most is getting that large dose of dye contrast into my small (yes, i'm still small! lol) body. You see, I am allergic to contrast agents and yet I usually get injected with 120-150cc's of this dreaded thing. The first 3 scans I had sent me puking my guts out. It left me overly traumatic. I only do this once a year but every time I sign the paperwork and get myself prepared for the procedure I'd almost always feel like I'm on the verge of a heart attack. And it doesn't help either that I have very small veins and it almost always takes the IV therapists at least 30mins to get the heplock insertions done because they had to re-do at least 3x and I'd usually end up with hematomas in my arms. And when the machine injects that dye unto my small veins, I can't tell you how painful it is. But I can tell you though that they leave my arms sore for days. I could see the veins change their colors from bluish to purplish and when they disappear I can only assume that's the time they're finally healed.

Oral Contrast Agent (it used to be barium, i forgot to ask if it's still the same since the texture has changed. This one was not that difficult to drink since it also tasted like mineral water)
Thank God for hospital staff that were trained well on bedside manners. They always sort of give me a certain degree of comfort. In the midst of my internal hysteria, the simple reassuring squeeze of my hand or shoulder from the nurses and the resident doctors somehow gives me a brief feeling of peace and turmoil resolution. It doesn't last long. But the breather helps. Tremendously. And so today, I'd like to offer this post [as a big, big thanks] to the doctors and nurses who heard my panic. Although, the last 2 scans that I had prior to today's turned out way better than the first 3, today's was sort of a milestone-r as well in the sense that it might just help me handle (emotionally) my future scans better. On my fourth scan (today was the 6th), one of the attending doctors opted to change the brand of the dye contrast (I'm now using the brand Iopamiro) to use on me and the puking stopped after that. I was still nauseous but it didn't send me throwing out whatever's left inside my stomach after fasting for 6 hours at least. I'm glad that doctor listened to me. One of the residents told me there's really no difference with regards to the composition of both brands they used on me except for the manufacturer but I'm just glad that helped addressed my issue. Now I need not worry about anaphylactic shocks (have I ever mentioned I eat paranoia for breakfast?). Today, the doctors added more padding to my assurance by giving me a dose of antihistamine and steriods. It's just an additional precaution they say. But you see my brain is just wired that way. The mere mention of the word precaution somehow pacifies it. So when I got inside the scan room (coming from an hour of restful sleep brought about by the wonderful Benadryl - no wonder they never sell it over the counter hehehe), I wasn't as clammy as before. And what used to be an hour long procedure was now shortened to half. I came out grinning from ear to ear. For a moment, I felt like I was a real winner. 

A few minutes before Benadryl sent me to lala-land.
I know that these concerns of mine are very trivial compared to those who went through cancer treatments. This morning was also an eye opener for me having interacted with 3 women who just finished their chemo and radiation treatments. I was actually sadder than happy today having met this women and seeing how cowardly I've behaved. I deeply apologize for that. But I just had to let this out. 

Next year, I will have to go through this again. The scanxiety might probably revisit me once again knowing that they always come in different forms (today was about vomits and anaphylactic shocks, next time it could be dreading the results who knows). But I hope I can deal with it even better knowing that today turned out great. The waiting for the results is altogether a different story but surviving today alone just makes me grateful for a lot of things. So again, thank you. THANK YOU. thank you. To all of you who told me I can do it. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's Been Three Years

Yes! Today is my cancervesary. And it's been three years since that (un)fateful day, I was wheeled into the OR and got out without my left boob.

I wanted to write something longer. Just to commemorate the day. But I guess I ran out of things to say. My big plan is really just to move on. And keep praying for others who need more of it. From where I'm sitting, that's the best support that I can think of right now. Lame, lame. The first year of my diagnosis, I had a grand plan. I really wanted to promote PT awareness in the Philippines. But I was sucked into the world of motherhood, drowned in it and never got out (not that i'm complaining).

This post had been sitting in my draft folder a few days before my cancerversary. But I never got past one sentence. So now, I'm just posting what I wrote in Facebook to remember that day by.

Three years ago, I was already being prepped for surgery the next day. It will probably remain to be one of the scariest days of my life but I will keep holding on to that memory because despite the how scared I was of that day, it was also the day I realized how much I value life. 

Life is a gift. Sometimes it just takes a different perspective to see that. But it is a gift that we all should cherish and experience to its fullest. 

I just have to say this though - phuck phyllodes

If you are a PT patient and is lost and looking for somebody to talk to, feel free to join our Facebook group (group name: Phyllodes Tumors, CystoSarcoma Phyllodes, whatever it's called...) You may not find your answers but there sure is somebody in there who will listen to you and comfort you the best way they can. My PT sister Anna Wallace has a wonderful blog as well. Please go visit if you would want to read on her PT experience. Click here to visit her page.

Here is another informative article that discusses the facts and myths on Phylloides Tumors. Click here to read the article.