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Posts Tagged ‘Cancer’

Possibly an Unwanted Visitor

02 Sep

Day before yesterday I wrote (on Facebook) that I’ll be sharing some personal concerns sometime soon. While nothing is definite, “sometime soon” is today. I spoke with Mom a short while ago and called one of my brothers (Wayne) directly after to give him a heads up because I know Mom will undoubtedly bring this up in conversation.

Close friends and family know that I’ve lived with HIV for twelve years now. You also know that I was diagnosed and treated for Stage 3B Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in late 2006/’07, having officially gone into remission around my 44th birthday (March of ’07).

My mantra has always been not to “borrow trouble” (simply meaning, “get the facts first and then deal with whatever may come“). So many assume the worst when there may be other explanations for why something is going on.

In 2006, I had begun to feel back pain around February and that pain got progressively worse as the year progressed. I mistakenly “thought” I would likely have to go in for back surgery as I’d done something really thoughtless some years earlier. As it turned out, the pain was due to a tumor (enlarged lymph node) located in my back that was pressing upon the nerve bundle. That same feeling is what I’ve been experiencing, along with a lot of upset stomachs over the past week or two. I had felt “some” back pain over the course of the past four or five months but it always seemed to abate (which was not the case in ’06) so I didn’t give it “too much thought.” Besides, the physicians were taking periodic CT scans to [supposedly] see to it that the cancer had not returned.

Those physicians were affiliated with the county hospital (Parkland) here in Dallas and to tell the truth, I’ve never had as much confidence in them as I had in the oncologist who first diagnosed and treated me for the cancer in 2006.

The last week has been especially difficult; the pain is pretty much constant, as is the upset stomach. I now have health insurance so I’m going to schedule an appointment with [hopefully] the same oncologist who first treated me all those years ago. He will likely need a referral from a family physician so I’ll see if I can locate the physician I was seeing in 2006 and have her refer me to both, the oncologist and my prior physician who was handling my HIV care from 2006 until I lost my insurance in late 2008. I am (perhaps unwisely) assuming and preparing for the worst-case scenario; that the cancer has returned and will again need to be treated with chemo, radiation or a combination of the two.

Not in the least happy with the circumstances; more than a little bit pissed that I may yet again be facing this dreaded disease but it is what it is. Everything in life happens for a reason so we shall see what the doctors have to say. I’ll share more as I know more…

Hugs, love and namaste,
Michael

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Cancer, Mothers and Custody Battles…

13 May

Photo of Alaina Giordano with her two childrenShould a mother lose custody of her children just because she’s been diagnosed with breast cancer?

If you think like I do, you’re thinking, “What the hell? Why on earth would they even consider such a bold and ludicrous decision?” One judge, Nancy E. Gordon has passed down just such a ruling against a North Carolina mother (Alaina Giordano) who is fighting to survive Stage 4 breast cancer.

A petition has been circulating in the hope that the governor of the state of North Carolina will step up and convince the judge that the ruling is not in the best interest of the children. However, as with any “tale” there are always two sides to the story. The judge expresses a number of concerns that are revealed upon review of the order.


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Update as of April 12th

12 Apr

button- do not worryUPDATE: I woke up this morning feeling as though my cancer (diagnosed in late ’06, remission in Mar ’07) is trying to make a comeback. With no health insurance, that leaves me at the mercy of the county hospital and their ability/willingness to spot trouble if it reappears on the horizon. I had CT scans late last month and still have not heard anything back from them. Have a call or two into the oncologist but can see that I’m going to have to [again] call to see what is going on. Meanwhile, I’m going to focus on my life and what I have left of it.

I should point out that I don’t know for certain that the cancer is back; it’s only a feeling that I have (a few of the earliest of symptoms that I did experience, leading up to the initial diagnosis in 2006). With that said I simply do not know how this year and the one following are going to play out. In some ways, I just do not care any longer.
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Eating Fruit

28 Mar

We all think eating fruits means just buying fruits, cutting it and just popping it into our mouths.. It’s not as easy as you think. It’s important to know how and when to eat..

What is the correct way of eating fruits?

IT MEANS NOT EATING FRUITS AFTER YOUR MEALS! * FRUITS SHOULD BE EATEN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH.

If you eat fruit like that, it will play a major role to detoxify your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities.


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Possibly Bad News On the Horizon

25 Sep

The “official” word has not yet been given but I think it may just be a matter of time. I had a CT scan on the 16th in preparation for my next regular checkup with my oncologist. His office called me yesterday and had me come in for a PET scan this morning (they saw something which gave them cause for concern). I’ve learned to ask for copies of the scans as soon as they’re taken (scans are digital so they can copy them to CD for me) and that’s precisely what I did this morning.

I’m now at home and have looked at both, the CT scans and the PET scans, having hoped to see some evidence that this was most likely just a false alarm but I’m not very confident of that right now. I know what the scans taken of my body looked like when the cancer was first diagnosed within and while the evidence is not AS compelling it does appear, to me, that the cancer has returned (though not as far-spread). I’ll see the oncologist Monday afternoon and he will give me his take on the matter. I can tell you now I will be surprised if he says anything other than, “it’s returned and we will need to do further tests before making a decision as to how to treat it.” My guess is more chemo. Pardon my brutal reaction for a moment while I say “ck!” (If you’ve never been through chemo just know that it zaps the energy out of you and it also screws with your mind, making you forget things [temporarily] that you never would have thought you’d forget.)

Anyway, if you’re of the mind to do so, prayers would be appreciated. While I realize he ‘could’ tell me differently I fully expect the Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has returned. My hope at this point is only that he’ll tell me it is not too wide-spread and the treatment this time around will be much shorter (fewer rounds of chemo). I had six rounds last time, one round every three weeks and had to go on short-term disability for four months while undergoing treatment. (I’ve no intention on allowing the office to force me into short-term disability this time around however. If I must again be treated for cancer I fully intend on working through the treatment.)

Some might ask “why would you work through that?” Simple. The economy sucks and I simply cannot afford to give them an excuse to force me out, letting me go. I need the health insurance – pure and simple.

Love, hugs and blessings to all…
Michael

P.S. Meanwhile, here is a video I put together with some photos of some of the damage caused by natural disasters around the world (many of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina). Despite the news I may be faced with on Monday I still count myself lucky. I also count my blessings for the friends I have made here on myspace.

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Another Step Along The Way to Recovery

24 Mar

I admit I’m not in a very good place this evening. I’m not sure why; perhaps it’s just the pressure of it all. If you read my earlier blog about the most recent set of CT and PET scans, you already know that there is a chance (it’s not definite) my cancer is back.

To be honest, when I look at the scans I don’t see what the doctors are seeing – but all three; the oncologist, radiologist and the chest surgeon seem to see what I’m NOT seeing so there must be something there to cause some worry. Rather than go all through the details again, if you haven’t read the earlier blog, just quickly skim over that.

I’ve now seen the chest surgeon for the consultation. I’m a bit concerned that perhaps I should have told the oncologist just when I was scheduled to see him, as he (oncologist) had requested but I thought, it having happened so quickly and this only being a consult, that he could discuss whatever he needed to discuss with the surgeon “after today but prior to the surgery.” The chest surgeon explained what is to happen.

I will go in for day surgery and they will make an incision above my breastbone and insert a scope of some kind thru that, following along the path of the windpipe until they reach the area where the lymph nodes are located (and they will remove a sampling of those nodes for a biopsy to see if they’re malignant or benign). I was just fine with what he was describing until he said, “there is a ’chance’ – albeit very remote, and it’s never happened on my watch – that we could nick something along the way and cause rapid internal bleeding, at which time we would have to quickly cut the breastbone (I’m visualizing frikken’ heart surgery at this point, in my mind) in order to get in and repair the damage quickly.”

My response? Um, “well, that would totally put a frikken bummer on the day, wouldn’t it!”

Truth be told the more I think about it the more upset, anxious and just plain terrified I am making myself. At this point, it isn’t the results of those biopsies that are worrying me; it’s the damn procedure itself, to GET the samples. (And it all sounded so simple at first.) [Grrrrrr…]

I’m also having a pity party for one of the reasons I generally try and talk to all of my younger friends about. …and it’s not like this is new. The same thing happened to me when I was first diagnosed with cancer in late 2006 and facing four months of chemo and an uncertain outcome. Feel free to slap me if you wish. I probably deserve it right about now but it’s that “being single and living alone” thing that’s bothering me tonight. I NEVER really have a problem with that at any other time, when things are fine with my health and there’s no real health scares to consider. It is, seemingly, when I’m faced with my own mortality and the possibility that this could go badly … that I begin to indulge in what I like to call “my silly little pity party of loneliness.”

I know. I know. I have many, MANY good friends here on myspace and a number of good, dependable friends here in Dallas. It’s silly. I can’t quite put my finger on it but ’I think’ it might be that age old question, “Would anybody really miss me if I did not make it through?” (Sounds like I’m fishing for “yes, we woulds” but I don’t think I’m really looking for that so much as just second-guessing whether I’ve done ’enough’ in my life to ’warrant’ such an attitude from others. And to be totally honest, I feel kind of guilty for feeling like it would be easier IF I were in a relationship, if something happened and I died. I mean, think about it. That’s really kind of selfish of me when you think about it. It means “somebody would have to go through the grief of having lost a loved one.” How does THAT make such a situation as this better? Silly!

I will say one thing. It is good to know that I can get out of my apartment lease a month early now because doing so enables me to concentrate on securing the new place and getting moved in there. I’ll be going in to sign the application and negotiate the lease terms (months, etc.) tomorrow and won’t be moving in till around the middle of the month, AFTER the surgery, but at least I have something to focus on that might take my mind OFF this damn operation a little. I don’t know. (Mom thinks I’m nuts for doing the move in the middle of surgery — but I’m going to get a moving service to move all the big stuff and will take my time moving the rest. So long as I don’t end up with a gaping slit from the top of my chest to my belly, I’ll be fine — and I guess the upside is that IF that should happen, they could go ahead and do the hernia operation too!” LOL!!!) Okay, I know. That was kind of sick.

I think that is enough blogging for tonight. Just thought I would give an update on what the surgeon said. Operation is supposed to be scheduled for April 4th.

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The Results Are In… (and we still don’t know what to think!)

21 Mar

Ceramic ribbon for LymphomaI began a blog entry earlier about friends and what they mean to me. I’ll finish that entry later on tonight or this weekend. However, many have been worrying alongside me about the recent circumstances surrounding my health (re. CT/PET scans). Well, I got the results this afternoon and am not very overjoyed with them. It isn’t definite and more tests (oh, joy) are now necessary but the recent scans did show some activity in my chest area near the sternum. What this means is that some of the [lymph] nodes in region of my chest have shown signs of enlargement. This could have been due to having fought off a recent illness, like pneumonia (but I haven’t had pneumonia so that isn’t it). It could be something odd going on with me as a result of my HIV status but that can’t really be determined. What we have to do is assume, given my history with cancer (Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) that it is too big a risk to take a “sit back and see if it gets worse” attitude.

An appointment has now been made for me to have a consultation with a chest specialist on Monday afternoon. He will look over the films of the recent CT and PET scans, take a gander at the radiologist’s report … and talk to me to see if I can offer anything more of interest which might explain what is going on, then… He will decide how best to go about serving up a biopsy of the nodes within my chest to see if they are benign or malignant (cancerous). As I said, Monday is only a quick consultation. The biopsy will involve, at minimum, day surgery where they make an incision and (I guess) poke a scope down between two ribs and start plucking off bits of tissue from one node and another.


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Michael Gets The "All Clear!"

18 Oct

This has been a trying month, so to speak. I’ve been worried about a lady I worked with, with whom I had become fond of (as friends). She has always been a good friend to me; very gentle and loving in her nature and never had anything bad to say about anyone. While I can’t really go into detail I’ll say that she is no longer with the company and civil charges, I guess, are being brought against her as well as (I believe) criminal charges. It’s all about money they say.

But I’m having a hard time believing she could be capable of what she’s been accused of. I’m not saying she didn’t do it; I have no way of knowing whether she did or didn’t. It only strikes me as so “out of character” for who I thought she was. And it’s upsetting because it either (i) represents a grave misjudgment of character on my part as to who this person really is, or (ii) a vast miscarriage of justice against her.

The former I can learn to live with; the latter I find to be really disturbing. So, that is part of why I’ve been stressing.

Another reason is that somebody I care a lot about will be going in for surgery later this morning and I won’t rest easy until I know that operation has definitely gone as well as I hope (and pray and expect) it will. He’s a close friend and someone I’ve come to think of more like a member of my family. There are a couple of you who fall in that category, I suppose; I think you know who you are. (c: ..so I’ll be awaiting word from either him or his boyfriend that all went well.
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