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MARYJEANSL's Recent Blog Entries

Appointment with my new GP

Sunday, July 06, 2014

I recently found a new doctor, and I must say that I am very pleased with him. I have had an oncologist and surgeon since 2007, when I was diagnosed with cancer, but I haven't had a primary-care doctor. A few years back, a friend referred me to one, but, in the end, neither she nor I was terribly happy with him. He was a pretty nice guy, and I'm sure a competent doctor, but I draw the line at a doctor who has the office staff send you a letter telling you your test results. I mean, I understand he is busy, but that's a bit too much.

So I wanted to find someone else. I had heard pretty good things about this guy. The same friend who left the other doctor had switched to him, and my pastor goes to him, plus one of my oncologist's nurses. That sounded like a good enough recommendation.

When I went to the first appointment, he took a thorough history and had blood drawn for a whole lot of tests. He also referred me for a colonoscopy, about which I am not at all happy, but that's another story. The follow-up appointment last week was to discuss the results.

I wasn't thrilled to find out that my thyroid hormone is low. Not low enough to require treatment at this point, he said, but when I asked if there is anything natural one can do to increase it, he said no. I am going to research that myself, though.

In addition, my levels of omega threes are about half of what they should be. Since I take quite a lot of Krill Oil, I was unhappy about that. Well, it turns out that I should be taking 2000 mgs. of omega threes, not 2000 mgs. of the Krill Oil. Yikes! At the strength of the oil I have been taking, to get 2000 mgs. of omega threes, I would have to take twelve capsules per day! There are only 60 capsules in the bottle - it would last five days. And they are pretty expensive pills to start with. I need to find stronger and cheaper pills.

On the plus side, my Vitamin D levels are good, so that at least was a relief to me. I take a Vitamin D supplement and try to get a little sun at least occasionally, before I put on the sunscreen.

Dr. F recommends a niacin supplement, because my levels of 'sticky' cholesterol are very high. That I don't mind doing. I just hope it works. He also recommends exercise to get my inflammation down. Big surprise there. But I really haven't found anything I like well enough to stick to it long term. With my bad hip, I simply can't run. :-( Walking is OK, but it gets pretty boring for me.

One other marker I am not familiar with is my coagulation genetics, which came out as intermediate risk genotypes. To improve my situation, he recommends that I take methylfolate, which, again, since it is a vitamin supplement, I don't at all mind doing.

Also on the plus side are my blood sugar numbers. They are very good. Also my liver function and kidney function look pretty good. My CBC is all fine. And after looking for so many months at Danny's terrible numbers, it seems strange to see a CBC with every single number in the normal range.

All this isn't too interesting, but I am very pleased to have a doctor who is really doing a thorough evaluation and telling me what I can do to improve things. He did also say that what he does is to try to prevent heart disease and stroke, but that in my case, what is really of concern is my risk of cancer. I do know that, but of course many of the same changes to diet and lifestyle that can lower the risk of heart disease can also lower the risk of cancer.

What makes me so happy is that he takes the time to do all this. My previous doctor didn't. And now, I do have my work cut out for me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BLITZEN44 7/12/2014 1:13PM

    I had no idea they check for omega 3 levels in a baseline blood draw. Interesting. And coagulation genetics? I didn't even know such a thing existed. Colonoscopies, on the other hand, I've heard quite a bit about, and therefore fully intend to avoid ever getting one. I've heard the prep for one of those is just a blast. Literally. emoticon Glad you found a doctor you're happy with. emoticon

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LINDAKAY228 7/7/2014 1:37PM

    I'm glad you found a doctor you like. Sometimes it takes some looking. And sometimes a doctor is good with one thing but terrible with a different thing. Glad he's really paying attention and giving you information. I didn't realize you had cancer too, only Danny. You really have had so much going on for quite a while! Even more of an inspiration to me!

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SIMPLELIFE4REAL 7/7/2014 11:58AM

    It sounds like you have found a keeper! I love how he ran so many tests.

I didn't realize the difference between krill oil and fish oil was so big in terms of dosage. I take both.

Hope you find an exercise you like enough to stick with. That is a hard thing to do!

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Friday, July 04, 2014

I have a bunch of blogs just waiting to be written, including one about a day Danny and I spent at a really neat ranch, and also my recent visit to my GP (some good news, some not so good). But CLAIREINPARIS posted one of those 'getting to know' you sorts of questionnaires I used to do a lot of, back in the day when e-mail was new and the earth was young, and I decided to go ahead and do the questionnaire before any other blogs. I hadn't done one in years. So, here goes:

Your go to chewing gum flavour…

Probably Juicy Fruit, but I rarely if ever chew gum.

Best time of the year…

I like the fall, but fall in Pennsylvania, where I grew up, rather than in
Texas. It just isn't that pretty (or that cool) here.

If you were a toe nail polish what color would you be….

Well, if the question is really what nail polish color I like best, I would
probably say a muted pink. If the question is really what color fits my
personality, who knows? Maybe tan.

Favorite pie…

Chocolate chess pie.

First record you ever bought…

That's really hard to remember. It might have been a Carpenters album.
Yes, I admit it (blush, blush).

Current perfume you use…

I really don't wear perfume.

Do you have any trophies or awards…

One, for a bowling league I was in some years ago. I believe it was
a trophy for participating. I have no trophy-earning skills whatsoever.

Worst day of your life…

I have had several super horrible days. One, maybe the worst,
was in January of 1982.

Do you cuss and swear...

Not often, and I try not to, but sometimes a word or two slips
out. I always regret it.

Celebrity crush you would get a hall pass for…

I have never had one that I can remember.

What is the new reward if it isn’t food anymore…

A new book, always a book.

What makes you the Zodiac sign you are…

I don't pay any attention to the Zodiac, other than knowing
what sign I am, which happens to be Libra.

What is your goal weight....

I have intermediate and long-term goals. My long-term goal
is 135.

Do you think you are a giver or a taker…

Honestly, I am more selfish than I would like to be, but
I am a giver as well as a taker, especially when it comes to my

Beach house or Mountain cabin…

Definitely the mountain cabin. I am not a beach person.

If you monogrammed your towels...

I'm not sure what the point of this question is. I would put my initials
on them.

Someone offers you free plastic surgery, what do you do….

Right now I would refuse it, but at some time I might consider a
tummy tuck.

I might be tempted to time travel back to….

I love history, and I would like to visit a lot of different times and
places. However, I don't think I would want to live in any of them.

Nickname in high school....

Some people called me Mati Jean or Maude. But the biggest one was
Mean Mary Jean, after a character in a Chrysler ad - "Mean Mary Jean,
superstar of our team..."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BLITZEN44 7/8/2014 2:03PM

    "back in the day when email was new and the earth was young"... LOL! You should be a writer. I've never done one of these "getting to know you" questionnaires, but it was fun to read yours. TY for sharing! emoticon

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LINDAKAY228 7/5/2014 10:48AM

    Very interesting. I read CLAIREINPARIS's blog also. I keep saying I'm going to do it but haven't yet. I also have other blogs I need to write. Keep up the great work!

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Back to the Trenches...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

...which, in my case, means the dreaded *lawn!* I have, unfortunately enough, a huge back yard. My front yard is small and manageable, but the back yard is another story. It can't all be mowed in one session, because the mower will manifest its displeasure by stopping and refusing to re-start. Presumably it gets too hot and wants to cool off.

It mattereth not to me, because by the time the mower wants to call it quits, I have long since passed that point anyway. But the result of all this is that it is a rare day indeed when both my front and (entire) back yards are completely mowed. And we have had more rain than usual lately, and I have been out of town twice this month.

So, there was one part of my back yard that simply didn't get mowed. At all. Today I had to tackle the back yard, but even the parts that I had mowed two weeks ago needed it again. It's a very vicious cycle. So I donned my mowing uniform (shorts, T-shirt, tennies, sunglasses, baseball cap, sunscreen, and bug repellent, and had at it.

It's a jungle out there! Two hours later, I had made some progress, but was a long way from the prize. And I was exhausted, dehydrated (in spite of drinking quite a lot), and filthy. Did I mention it was in the 90s? Which is pretty much is every single day, all summer (and spring and fall) long, and which is why I put off mowing whenever possible.

On the plus side, I am optimistic that I may possibly be able to finish the back yard tomorrow, if I work hard.

By way of showing the immensity of the job, here are some before and after pictures of my back yard from a previous mowing adventure. That time I won the prize! But it was winter and much more pleasant mowing weather.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BLITZEN44 6/30/2014 9:16PM

    Good for you for getting out there and giving it a 90 degree weather, no less! I don't even have time to think about my yard any more since I've gone back to work full time. DH does what he does with it, and I'm fine with whatever that may or may not be. Well, while it's a hot, sweaty, filthy job, esp. in 90 degree temps, at least it's a good workout. Gotta love functional fitness! emoticon

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    Congratulations on getting A LOT of the yard cut. I saw the pictures on your blog, and your yard and home are both beautiful.


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LINDAKAY228 6/29/2014 5:18PM

    I read the other blog and you do have a very large yard! That's a lot of work in the heat!

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BROOKLYN_BORN 6/29/2014 8:45AM

    My goodness, that's a lot of yard. We have a riding mower at my Mom's old house that DH uses, but that yard is flat. Here at the lake we're on a hill so riding is out. DH has been terracing with ground cover to cut down on the mowing area.

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Cancer Survivor's Day at the Hospital

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Danny's hospital had a huge party last Saturday for Cancer Survivors. It was fifties themed, and there was a costume contest, dance competition, free food for the survivors, door prizes, a raffle, a health fair, etc., etc. When Danny got the invitation, I called to ask if there would be kids there, since I was afraid it would be entirely geared for adults. The lady reassured me that there would be lots of kids there, and that there were plenty of activities for kids.

So, Danny, Cecily, and I went to the hospital for the party. My first warning that it wouldn't be what I expected was the huge line of cars trying to get to the parking lots, and the extremely full parking lots - not at all normal for a Saturday. Then there was the fact that there were so many people inside that it was a bit of a struggle to get into the building. What was worse was that there were almost no kids to be seen.

We weren't dressed for the competition, nor were any of us interested in dancing, so we didn't quite know what to do at first. There was lots of free stuff, including some books. (I took one that seemed interesting - it has a lot of strict vegetarian recipes.) But we felt sort of out of place for quite a few reasons, not least of which was that most of the people there were really pretty old. I should have realized that it would be that way. The vast majority of people who get cancer are older - heck, age is one of the biggest risk factors for getting cancer. The number of children who get cancer is minuscule in comparison.

Then the speaker started announcing awards, and at that point we were up near the front. He started handing out trophies for things like - the most recently diagnosed person, the person who has survived for the longest time, the oldest survivor, the one who has had cancer the most times, etc. His not-too-efficient method of finding these people was to start with a certain time frame (or age) and ask people to raise their hands, then go one notch further and again ask for a show of hands, etc.

Well, when he got to the 'youngest survivor' category and started by asking if there were any survivors in their forties, I got a little irritated, and yelled out, "Here's one who's thirteen!" or something similar. Someone got his attention, and he looked our way. Honestly, Danny isn't anything close to the youngest survivor, at that hospital or anywhere. There are actually babies who are born with tumors (though it's rare), and lots and lots of kids who are toddlers get cancer. So I was quite surprised when, having had his technique pre-empted, the announcer yelled out to ask if there were any survivors younger than thirteen. No one raised his hand. No one. That's when I knew that the lady who told me lots of kids come to this event was waaaaaaay off base.

So Danny won the prize. And we got our picture taken, and apparently we will make the hospital newspaper as well, since I guess Danny was more interesting than the 94-year old oldest cancer survivor.

After that excitement, we went through the health-fair booths and got a few more freebies. Then we got into the mile-long line of people waiting for the meal, which was anything but healthy (cheeseburger slider, tater tots, and a mini milkshake), got our food, and retreated to the basement, where there were empty tables to eat at.

We also got to chat with Danny's oncologist, who was staffing the pediatric oncology table and was probably bored by not having too many people stop by her table. As the youngest and newest doctor in the clinic, she evidently got stuck with the job no one else wanted. I mean, why would adult cancer survivors be interested in stopping by the pediatric oncology table?

In the end, it was kind of fun, but I am not sure we will come again next year.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BLITZEN44 6/27/2014 9:34PM

    It sounds like a nice event. And how fun to win a prize! Great picture of the 3 of you! emoticon

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BROOKLYN_BORN 6/26/2014 6:23PM

    Nice trophy and great picture. At least now you know what to expect when invited next year. Strange about the food though.

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SIMPLELIFE4REAL 6/26/2014 12:30PM

    It always amazes me when they serve such unhealthy food at cancer-related events. What are they thinking?

That's a great picture of all of you.


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LINDAKAY228 6/24/2014 11:42AM

    Sorry that it was so off base! Glad that he got an award, even if there are younger ones but not in attendance. Glad that it turned out okay but doesn't sound like something I'd repeat either LOL!

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Busy Summer

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I haven't felt that I had much worth posting about since Danny's treatment, with all its ups and downs, ended. But my life is still really busy. Nothing earth-shattering for sure, but busier than I had hoped this summer would be.

Danny's second follow-up appointment with the specialist at M. D. Anderson in Houston has been re-scheduled. I hope the third time is the charm, since I am more than tired of making motel reservations and plans and then having to change them. The re-scheduled appointment should happen next week. I am particularly looking forward to asking Dr. Mahajan about long-term effects of radiation and what I can expect (dread) for Danny.

Then things should be pretty quiet until the end of July, when my aunt's birthday celebration will take place - in Wichita, so that means yet another out-of-town trip. It should be a lot of fun, though. My brother and sister are coming, and many cousins whom I haven't seen in years will also be there. I am also able to save money by not having to rent a car, and by driving part of the way home with Henry, who will be driving to the party from Dallas.

Then in August is the week-long camp, which I hope will work out. Everything depends at this point on whether Danny's doctor thinks he is strong enough to handle the high altitude and activities in Colorado. What is especially nice about this camp in particular for us is that (1) it is a family camp, and (2) the organization sponsoring it runs a bus from Dallas to Colorado, which means we will get to see Henry coming and going, and (3) it is totally free, except for the cost of getting to Dallas and any souvenirs we might want to get.

In addition to all that excitement, this weekend are two special activities locally for kids with cancer - a day at a local ranch, and a party at the hospital. Both are free for Danny.

I had planned for this to be a quiet summer, but it isn't shaping up to be that way.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BROOKLYN_BORN 6/26/2014 6:32PM

    I'm glad there are happy busy things in your future. Hope the camp works out. Sounds like fun.

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LINDAKAY228 6/19/2014 8:12AM

    You are you, and you have important things to say whether about Danny or not! Of course I love reading about how he's doing and how you are handling it. It makes me sad sometimes and happy sometimes. But that doesn't mean that the things you have to say aren't just as important about you and your life as well as the kids. So don't stop blogging!
Sounds like he has a lot of fun coming up, and you do too. I hope he is able to go to the camp in Colorado! Hopefully that will make him feel so good about himself, even if he gets somewhat tired. Of course we don't want him to get overextended if it would meant that. Have a great time with him and also just with yourself!

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BUSYGRANNY5 6/19/2014 1:04AM

    I hope you enjoy your busy but interesting summer!

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WORKOUTWITHPAM 6/19/2014 12:56AM

    Sounds like busy, but fun days ahead. I hope goes well and that Danny is able to go to the camp. I continue to keep him in my prayers.


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