Thursday, August 28, 2008
On the hike with my father, I forgot to wear my compression sleeve. The combination of altitude and hot weather on a hike caused a bit of swelling in my arm. But with a little extra attention, I was able to get it under control in a short time. I did a lot of neck rolls and shoulder rolls, and extended my arms out to the side and made little backward circles. And of course, I kept it elevated, and opened and closed my fist.
This is just a little reminder that there is a lot we can do to keep edema in check. We are always at a higher risk - our risk doesn't go away. But we can live our lives (which means sometimes we might not be as cautious as we should be), we can do a lot to control our risk, and we can do a lot to help our bodies deal with edema if it happens. And of course, if it's severe or persistent, get help! See you doctor or a lymphedema specialist.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
So....in solidarity, I am uploading a couple of my bald pictures.
The bald didn't bother me so much - - I actually kind of liked it. It was when my eyebrows and lashes mostly fell out. Then, I just looked like a frog!
But, since nothing stays the same, buck up little sunflower, it does come back.
Monday, August 18, 2008
At Life-Cise, we place a lot of emphasis on resistance, or weight training. While all adults experience some gradual bone loss as they age, it can be more pronounced and come on more quickly for those of us who have undergone cancer treatment. Many of the chemotherapy drugs, as well as hormonal treatments can cause bone loss. Bone loss can be a significant issue for young women who are thrown prematurely into menopause. Besides bone loss from drugs, these women simply face more menopausal years with less estrogen.
Another, often overlooked group at risk for osteoporosis is men. Although much more attention is paid to women's risk of osteoporosis, especially in commercials by drug manufacturers to makers of breakfast cereal, it is estimated that at least 20% of cases of osteoporosis in the US are men. And men who are cancer survivors are also at an increased risk for the disease. Once again, some of the chemotherapy drugs that save our lives, including some of those for prostate and testicular cancers, can weaken our bones.
Weight-bearing exercise will not help you gain bone mass, but can slow the decline of bone mass. In addition, regular exercise can help improve balance and stamina, thus reducing falls. For people who have already lost significant bone density, reducing falls is very important. So, weight training is a really valuable tool for cancer survivors - which is why we stress it at Life-Cise.com. But, also understand what it won't do - build up bone mass.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Please help support me in this important event by contributing generously to Komen Greater New York City. Your tax-deductible contribution will fund national peer-reviewed breast cancer research programs and breast health services in the five boroughs of New York City, on Long Island, and in Westchester and Rockland counties. It is faster and easier than ever to support this great cause - you can make your donation online by simply clicking on the link at the bottom of this message. If you would prefer, you can send your tax-deductible contribution to the address listed below. More information on Komen Greater NYC and its programs can be found at http://www.komennyc.org/.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Whatever you can give will help it all adds up! I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.
To send a donation:
Write the participant's name on the memo line of the check.
Make all checks payable to: Komen Greater NYC
PO Box 9223
New York, NY 10087
Thursday, August 14, 2008
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I was in my 30s. So when people talked about 5 year survival rates, I used to think, "But that only gets me into my 40s." Was that what I wanted to focus on? I remember meeting a woman in her 80s who was a 23 year survivor - wow! - And then I realized that 23 years gets me to 60, which seems like a young enough and very vibrant age. No matter how I looked at it, because I was young and my prognosis was bad, if I focused on age or years it was just depressing.
So I changed my focus. I looked at what people were doing with their lives, not how long they lived. Were they involved and engaged in their lives and the world around them? Were they doing interesting things? Were they happy? With my own treatment, I tried not to look so much at the long term, but focus on the next step. What could I do today: go for my treatment, or take my meds., or take a walk. And then, what could I do today that could bring me (or someone else) joy, satisfaction, laughter? And I would get through another day, which would turn into months and years (7 of them now). It's so easy when dealing with cancer to focus on time, but I think it might be more useful for many of us to focus on what's in that time.
I still don't know what counts for success in surviving cancer. Is it living 5 years, or 25? I have no idea how long I'll live (none of us do), if I'll have a recurrence, or if I'll die of something completely unrelated. So instead, I think about success for each day. Am I doing something that can make me happy today? Am I doing something that can make me feel better, be healthier today? That's my success with cancer - today is my success story. I don't know how long my story might be, but I want it to be a good one. If my cancer comes back tomorrow and I die in two months, I hope people will still think mine was a good story.
Every day you are adding another piece to your story. Is it a good story?
Thursday, August 7, 2008
My concern is that bad advice can lead to serious injury. You can do damage that can take weeks or months to fully heal. Or, at the least, bad advice can lead to wasted time and an inefficient workout. Do we seek medical or financial advice from people who have no expertise in those areas? Not very often, and there are some frightening stories of people who have. If we have a plumbing problem, do we ask for help from someone who knows little about plumbing?
This is your body, pay attention to what you do to it. Seek advice from qualified people. This is one of the reasons I started Life-Cise, to give people in or recovering from cancer treatment access to fitness information from qualified professionals, no matter where they live.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I know that climbing is not generally a recommended activity for people with lymphedema risk. I mention my climbing for two reasons: as a way of talking about precautions and care, and to show that with reasonable precautions and care it can be possible to lead a perfectly normal life in spite of a higher risk. I returned to climbing only after very slowly and carefully building up my upper body strength after my surgery. I started with simply working on my range of motion, just mobility, no weights. When I had regained some of my range of motion, I started building strength. I began with no weight exercises, just using the weight of my body as resistance. As I gained strength, I slowly added weight. Whenever I added weight I would watch carefully for signs of swelling in my arm. I added weight a little at a time and always gave my body time to adjust to the new level of weight. I never want to suddenly stress my arm if I can avoid it. In addition to my fitness, I take other precautions. I would wear a long sleeve on my right arm to protect from scrapes. Later, I began wearing a compression sleeve while climbing. I also am very careful about treating any cuts or scrapes on my hand. Climbing, I often get nicks and cuts on my hand, and used to pay no attention to them until the end of the day. Now, I clean them right away and always apply some antibacterial cream.
I do take my lymphedema risk very seriously - it can be a devastating condition for which there is no cure. However, I want to lead a normal life and do the things that make me happy. So, I take precautions and make some adjustments, and manage to lead my life while managing my risk.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Although the Body Mass Index may be a more well known measure (we've all seen the charts in magazines), the Waist-to Hip Ratio may be somewhat more meaningful. The BMI, which measures weight relative to height, doesn't really take into account muscles mass. It may overestimate body fat in people with a muscular build, or underestimate body fat in older people and others who have lost muscle mass. The Waist-to Hip Ratio (divide waist measurement by hip measurement) helps determine body fat patterns. Ratios greater than .86 for women and greater than .95 for men indicate a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. And now a high ratio is also shown to be linked to pancreatic cancer. Additionally, several studies have shown that general obesity raises the risk of several types of cancer, including breast and colon.
Just a couple more reasons that I'll be paying attention to losing a few pounds and maintaining a healthy weight.