Thursday, July 16, 2015

Say What?!?! That's Been Proven Safe for Decades!

Today I ran across two articles that left me flabbergasted and incised. One reports that giving chemotherapy to pregnant cancer patients is a novel and unheard of idea in the scientific community. Perhaps that is the case in Belgium, where this study originates, but MD Anderson has been doing it since 1992 with GREAT results. That flabbergasted me. I mean it's not as if that same site didn't do a story on a 28 year old woman diagnosed with breast cancer while 20 weeks pregnant... You know... Erika's Miracle Journey? Sometimes I wonder if the editors read their own sites. I guess it's easy for articles to get lost given the volume of articles they publish.

However, at least this isn't dangerously misleading. Although the comments... Whew... There are some times when I should just stay away from the comments sections. I'm not usually overly sensitive, but when people suggest I should have just 'changed my diet' or had better 'nutrition' and my cancer would have magically disappeared and I wouldn't have 'risked' my baby (who is 5 years old, going into 1st grade, reading, writing, and has bypassed all her age milestones) by doing dangerous chemotherapy I get a bit upset. Sorry, but 5 generations of women in my family with only the last 2 surviving doesn't seem like diet or nutrition played a big part since we span continents and centuries. If anything - especially to the 'natural' folks, the last 2 generations should be the ones that didn't survive since we have GMO foods, less healthy eating habits, higher BMIs, antibiotics, etc that the previous generations didn't have. Apparently, that comment author must subscribe the same philosophy as the next blog post... 

Another blog post trying to appear scientific completely discounted real science and medicine for 'natural' care and accused women seeking chemotherapy while pregnant of unnecessarily and flagrantly risking their unborn babies lives. That incised me! Of course chemotherapy attacks rapidly growing cells - that's what cancer is. However, what this blogger fails to realize is that while a baby is obviously rapidly growing, a baby is also protected by the placenta. The placenta is a many splendored thing. One of its greatest feats is to act as a filter between mother and baby. Only molecules of a certain size can pass through the placenta. Chemotherapy drugs tend to be large complex molecules - especially those used in pregnant women. These molecules can pass through the placenta about as well as a large rectangular block fits through a pin hole - NOT very well. While those in the natural camp profess to believe that nature has provided all the remedies we need, they tend to forget that one of the greatest of all of nature's designs is the mother's body. Women are designed to compensate, even to their own detriment, for their baby's health. We are built to protect the baby from harm and does a very good job - my earlier example of the placenta is one example. Another example is that a woman's body will pull calcium from her own bones to give to the baby if she doesn't get enough in her diet. Even a woman with hyperemesis gravida (extreme morning sickness) can have very healthy babies because of God's wonderful design of a mother's body. 

While the first article does no real harm, this article can undoubtably cause many women to lose their lives or lose their children to abortion or both mother and child may die. Had I not sought REAL science instead of pseudo science like this, it is quite possible that my daughter and I wouldn't be alive today. In general, I have nothing against natural remedies and a healthy lifestyle as opposed to constant running to the doctor all the time, I will NEVER support pseudo-science/medicine like this that basically sentences mothers and their children to death. It is false information like this that leads to people believing that abortion is necessary 'for the life of the mother'. Lies like these need to be exposed before more lives are lost. Please be sure to tell every one you can that being pregnant when diagnosed with cancer is NOT a death sentence for either the mother or the baby - BOTH CAN and SHOULD LIVE!

Here's an article from MD Anderson that gives a brief overview of the history, success, and safety of chemotherapy while pregnant. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cancer: Not a Death Sentence or a Horoscope

Today was my 6-year cancer-versary. I can still feel the terror I felt as the surgeon began my incisional biopsy. Vividly, I recall the surgeon asking for more numbing medicine since I was still flinching as he used a laser to cauterize the wound. That's right, I was awake the whole time, as was my 20 week old in utero baby girl as she flipped and twisted with my anxiety. Thankfully, Rachel, that in utero baby, has no memories of that day. Now, as 34 year old survivor, mother of two, wife, and daughter, I remember that day as the start of a journey that forever changed my life, but didn't defeat me.

I always found it vaguely amusing in a morbid kind of way that my birthday fell in the astrological sign of Cancer. Astrology and horoscopes aren't in my German practical nature, so I never really investigated what the sign of Cancer meant. Incidentally, I think my practicality fits not only into my heritage as well as my astrology. Yet, the coincidence of my family history with cancer as well as my astrological sign of cancer is morbidly amusing. 

So many people think of cancer either as a death sentence or merely as an astrological sign. Others may not think of it as a death sentence, but as a political or social statement/cause. At this point in my life, I use my miracle journey to help other women and families not only survive, but thrive with their diagnosis while pregnant. I also guide others as newly diagnosed or caregivers to MD Anderson so they have better opportunities for life. So cancer is not just a death sentence or an astrological sign, but an opportunity to survive and thrive! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Here I Sit

Here I am, a 5 year survivor. Outwardly, I look as healthy as the proverbial horse. Inwardly, I wish I were healthy enough to go outside to work like a horse or even to play with a horse. Instead, I'm trapped inside bearing my cross that breast cancer left me... inexpiable, unpredictable, insurmountable bouts of pain shooting through my left arm and neck extending into my head and chest. Sleeping becomes my only refuge, but even it is tainted by the pain and must be supplemented with medications and ice packs. At least my Faith gives me the option of offering up my pain for the poor souls in purgatory and for those here on Earth in need of prayers. Otherwise, my pain would serve no purpose.

Perhaps that is why people turn towards "options" like the Hemlock Society as recently departed brain cancer/suicide Brittany. If you have no reason to believe your pain adds anything to your life or anyone else's life, whether here on Earth or in the next Life, then why would you prolong your suffering? Yet, anyone who reads and believes the Bible and Jesus' words should know and find comfort in affliction. St Paul took comfort in his affliction. In fact, there are some stories indicating that some early Christians ran almost too willingly to martyrdom in their efforts to take up their crosses and follow Christ to death (I can't find the source where I read that, sorry).

However, even if without a belief in the redemptive nature of suffering, there is always good left in life. Even Stephen Hawking, according to the recent movie about his life, The Theory of Everything, says "Where there's life, there's hope." Hawking is an ardent atheist and supporter of "assisted suicide" -- even though he could easily have been euthanized (had his life support removed) by his first wife 28 years ago according to the laws at the time and the ones he still supports. However, the quotation from the movie (that I've only seen via the trailers on TV) is an apt one for this type of discussion. Life is hope. Without life there is no hope. With my Catholic Faith, I know that with my Life, even as much as I dislike it sometimes, there is a purpose for the bad that benefits others or even myself. Therefore, even a miserable life has hope both in this world and in the next.

So, there, I turned my pity party into a pep-talk. How about that? Now for some random cuteness from my kiddos. They obviously have both Life and Hope in abundance!

My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!