Monday, January 31, 2011

Locally owned businesses

Time to give a shout out to those locally owned businesses which provide excellent, personalized services. In our case, we are lucky to have Katterman's Pharmacy mere blocks from our house. It's not just the home delivery option. It's not just the quick turnaround when we walk in with an "emergency" prescription ("can we get Meagan started on the Tamoxifin, now!") and get moved up in the queue. It's not just the fact we got the owner's (Beverely) home number and cell phone and invitation to call anytime for any needs. It's all of that, plus the hugs and warmth Beverly gives Meagan. It's bad enough to have a tough cancer to beat and it's great that we have a big posse on our side. Our pharmacy has been right there with us and provided great advice on alternative, over the counter meds for side effects and coordinating the kid's prescriptions when they are back from college. They also have the same capabilities as the big chains with their telephone prescription renewal service. So we are really happy with them, and glad our business can help support them.

Induced menopause

Meagan got a shot in the butt yesterday (Lupron), which along with her daily dose of Tamoxifin, will shut down her hormones and put her into instant menopause. There is rationale for doing this - perhaps there is a link between hormones and melanoma and the hormones are fueling the growth of the melanoma. It’s the “instant” part of this which gives one pause. Also the thought this could be temporary, if it doesn’t work, she’d go off the medications and revert back to her normal hormonal state. That means at some point she would go through menopause AGAIN. I’m clearly rooting for the one time scenario, both as a means of shutting down the spread of the melanoma, as well as potentially avoiding going through mood swings, night sweats and other assorted side effects of the change.

Scum sucking shysters

What if I promised you a cure for your metastatic cancer, especially for a cancer that traditional medicine has a hard time addressing? Would you fly to Tijuana and undergo exotic treatments? Would you fly to New York and consume 174 capsules of pig pancreas each day, along with 2 coffee enemas each day to help expel the bad stuff out your body? I think it was two decades or so ago that the rage was going to Mexico and getting injected with ground up apricot pits. Now, I’m not one to say that natural products aren’t good for you - in terms of their immune boosting properties and cancer fighting abilities. We are just ramping up our efforts in that area - more supplements and “juicing” and a commitment to organic - especially important when you have an immune system cancer. But - there are still “practitioners” out there offering cures that are outside of mainstream medicine. It’s not that they just don’t work, in many cases they are worse - they can harm you or kill you. There is one reasonably prominent person out there, a Dr. Gonzalez, who has a website with “testimonials” from patients about the success they have enjoyed using his “treatment”. Yet, when you do a little digging, you find out this doc had his license revoked in New York at one point for a variety of skullduggery, and most importantly, when he was finally able to get a controlled test at the National Institute of Health (NIH) his patients did worse than the control group. So you do have to be careful of these claims - and do some research on the good forums relating to the specific cancer. For example, the Melanoma research Foundation has an excellent forum and you can search quite easily on past discussions and see where claims have been debunked. Snake oil salespeople still exist!

Waiting rooms.....

I’m not a really patient person. But when you’ve got a patient on your hands, waiting is the name of the game. We have spent a lot of time in waiting rooms. Inevitably we bring a host of things to keep us occupied: iPhone, books, Kindle, magazines. Often I just end up people watching. Mostly we use our iPhones and update Facebook, check and write emails, respond to text messages from our concerned friends, or I sometimes play Scrabble - an iPhone app. When we are together we are often holding hands so you learn the art of one hand iPhone manipulation. But when she’s off getting blood draws or scans it’s just me hanging out. I like to watch the reception staff - it tells you a lot about the ethos of the place. Swedish Cancer Institute is great - they greet people and get to know people and you hear a lot of “Hi Honey”, or Hi Sweetie”. Lots of arm touching and small hugs - pretty meaningful to the people in for treatment. It’s interesting to see the range of people, meaning at various stages of treatment. The ones in the thick of it - looking and feeling pretty awful. Offset by the ones who have come out the other side, hair growing back, a pep in their step, a smile on their face. Of course Meagan looks fantastic, as she doesn’t appear to have cancer, so sometimes you get the feeling people are looking at her and wondering, what the hell is she doing here messing up our ‘hood - this is for CANCER patients. I sometimes feel like standing up and announcing, “we are here for a reason - my lovely wife has fuckin’ metastatic melanoma!”. Being the well behaved person I am, I don’t though, I just smile sweetly when we make eye contact and I see the curiosity in their eyes. Keeps ‘em guessing.

Juicing, your immune system and cancer

I confess, we have two refrigerators. The one in the back room has, up until now, been used mainly for beverages. It has now become home to a twenty pound bag of “juicing” carrots and two pounds of kale. Two pounds of kale is about the size of a microwave oven. In the future it will likely look like the organic vegetable section of Whole Foods, stuffed with beets, broccoli, kale and carrots. All of which will last about 2-3 days. I understand and appreciate all the reasons for juicing. We discovered “Thrive”, an excellent raw and juice place up on Roosevelt and 65th. They have great juices, smoothies and salads. Meagan needs to get 10 helpings of vegetables each day for their nutritional and cancer fighting properties. But eating that much - cooked or raw - would be impossible. So juicing is us. We bought a nifty machine today. It will mean we will need to go to the store quite often to get the veggies, a big change in lifestyle aside from drinking the damn stuff. Although the suggestion to mix in some organic apple cider is a good one and should make it quite tasty. I thought juicing was only something those old hippies did. Turns out it could be quite the life saver - pun intended.