Saturday, November 21, 2009

22 miles and a lady named Sherry

Ok, we are just 3 weeks from our first marathon and spent the morning running our longest run we will do until marathon day! Today was a 22 mile day! We had fantastic weather, nice and cool, cloudy and no rain. I won't tell you it was easy but I actually had a better run today than I did running 20 miles the day after a PET scan. We are both thrilled with our run today and overall felt good but most of all, we feel READY!

Going through all these tests, surgeries, scares and difficult times these past few weeks definitely took it's toll and for the first time I was beginning to waver about the marathon and the purpose of completing this event at this time in my life. I have been praying about it and asking for strength, energy, confidence and reassurance.
So... as God always does, He answered. He sent a lady to us today named Sherry. We were at about mile 13 when she came along side us ( to tell me I had some pronation in my left foot) and spent the next 3 miles running with us. We talked all about running and how we all got started. She shared that she began running at 55 and is now 57- you would never have known that. As the conversation went on, I shared my story with her and told her how I have been told twice in the past few weeks that the doctors thought there was more cancer and how it turned out not to be.
Then she said, (not knowing we are Christians and believe in the power of prayer) " or maybe there have been many people praying for you and what was there has been taken away by God".
Today God sent a lady named Sherry to answer my prayer and reassure me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

PET SCAN results & Tribute

Well, I know many of you have been wondering about how the PET scan results turned out. I have not posted for a while for 2 reasons. First, sadly we lost my father-in -law last week on Thursday and have been out of town with our family at the funeral ( Please see his beautiful tribute in the post below).

Second, I had part of the results but not all. As far as the PET scan and the area of concern in my legs that all came back fine. They did not see anything on the PET except an area in the right chest wall that also showed up last January. It was followed by an MRI last year and showed nothing. This is the site of the original breast cancer. However, this time the test has shown up again with an increase in activity. The PET basically picks up energy, cancer shows as an energy. Last year the uptake showed 3.4, this time it was 7.5
So... now they want me to do a more extensive MRI of the chest to try to get to the bottom of what keeps showing up. Good news, everything else is fine. Bad news, another extensive test to check another area of concern.
The new blood test to check tumor markers has a scale of 0-3 which is considered normal range. My result was 0, so that is good.

At this point, I have spoken with my doctor and asked to put this test on hold till after Dec. 13th so I can stay strong and healthy enough to finish training and complete the White Rock Marathon. He is fine with that.Bottom line, I need a break both physically and emotionally. All of you that are runners understand the toll this will take on your training and the effect on the "mental game". I plan to spend these next 3 weeks focusing on training and praying that once again there will be another explanation for the area in my chest wall. Your prayers for both of these are welcome and very much appreciated :)
Thanks all~ don't forget to watch Ed's tribute.

Final Tribute for our Dad, Ed Minich

Last week, on November 12th my father-in-law, Ed Minich passed away from complications while receiving treatment for brain cancer. He was a wonderful man and we already miss him beyond what words can express.
Please keep the Minich family in prayer. Ed had 6 children, 4 daughter-in-laws, 1 son-in-law, 20 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren and 2 sisters among many other family members. His passing will leave a huge hole in our hearts and lives.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Big Day in our Training!!

Today was a very big day for Chris and I with our training for the upcoming White Rock Marathon. We ran 20 miles this morning which was a huge milestone!

I was not real happy with my time today ( 13 minute miles overall) and I had to walk more than usual. But it has been a rough couple of weeks physically with all my tests, biopsy and surgery. As well as emotionally with two scares of more cancer. So, taking that into consideration I am happy to have finished the whole thing! 6.2 miles to go!

The weather was cool this morning and 72 by the time we finished. The park we train at had men and women from the Navy and Marine Corp. out there training new ( very young looking) recruits. That was a nice distraction and kind of fun to watch.

Our next long run will be shorter but more challenging with a lot of hills. Our hopes and prayers are for the PET scan and blood work to come back with no concerns and that I can spend these next 5 weeks finishing this training we have both worked so long and hard at.
Thank you all for your continued thoughts, prayers, comments and e-mails! They are appreciated :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Todays PET scan & Labs

Today was spent at Arlington Cancer Center having what I hope to be my last tests for at least a little while. Today was a PET scan and more labs. First they took 4 tubes of blood to perform a brand new blood test that has only been being used for the last month. It apparently is very accurate for determining tumor markers and very expensive as well. It requires approval from your insurance before they can run this test.
Next was the PET scan. Beginning with an injection of something radioactive that I do not want to know what it is. I just know they put you in a room the size of a closet, come in with thick purple gloves on holding a square metal (I guess) box with a cylinder shaped thing on top that has a needle sticking out of it. They close the door immediately, put this "stuff" in your arm and then you are instructed to lay still for 45 minutes. I always fall asleep because they have taken away my coffee for over 24 hours now and food for 12. I am pretty much mush by this point with a horrific headache.
Then off to the actual scan which lasts another 25 minutes and my head is now about to explode!

Finally it is over, I get some juice and a granola bar from my friend Donise that has been waiting for me and meeting "new friends" in the waiting room:) Two Advil and 3 cups of coffee later I begin to return to a human being. Donise has been such a great friend driving here from 2 hours away to be my chaperon and moral support these past 2 weeks. We make sure to get all these tests done but also make sure we get some "play" time in! This picture was taken yesterday after shopping at bath and body works :) I sure am grateful to have such a good friend who now knows more about cancer, tests, doctors and treatments than she probably ever wanted to know :)

I should have these tests results by Tuesday and we are praying that they confirm the MRI showing no evidence of metastatic disease. I know so many of you have been lifting our family in prayer and I want to thank you for that and ask that you continue to lift Chris's dad Ed up as well.
Time for bed, we have a 20 mile run in the morning! Good night all~

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Your prayers are working!

My MRI is showing NO evidence of metastatic disease! This test did not see any cancer in my legs. It is kind of complicated as some tests ( tumor markers and bone scan) are showing evidence of activity but the x rays and MRI do not show anything.
Therefore, I have one more test tomorrow, a PET scan and more blood work. They will be looking at my tumor markers again as well as some new blood test that I do not yet understand.
All this will be followed by a visit with my doctor next week to see where we go from here.
So... so far, so good! We continue to pray about the tests tomorrow that they will confirm the results from the MRI.
Thank you everyone for continuing to lift this up in prayer~

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today's MRI

Today was a very long day. I spent 3.5 hours having an MRI of my legs. What a long and painful test. The pain was all in my lower back from being positioned on the table for such a long time with my legs strapped down to hold them straight.
Ryan, the technician said today's test with me is one of the hardest ( for the patient) that he has had to do because he had to look at both legs, not just one, making it a much longer test. Also, because the bones in question are considered "long bones" they had to do the MRI from joint to joint instead of just in one spot. So, from my hip to knee for the femur and knee to ankle on the opposite leg for the shin.
They could not prop me up to relieve the pain in my back so it was literally pain the entire time. One of the hardest tests I have had to do. By the time I couldn't stand it anymore and asked for some Advil he said we only have 20 minutes left and it would not help until the test was over. So, I hung on for 20 more minutes.
He came in at the end and said "sorry, we need to start over". Quickly followed by "just kidding" :) I said "you better be or be ready to inject some pain meds in that IV".
It is done and I am awaiting the results. As much as I would hate to have damage in my legs from running it would be the better outcome. We are prepared for either result but praying that it is not cancer.

After all that; Starbucks, food, Advil, therapy bath and bed!

Monday, November 2, 2009

MRI Tomorrow

I will be having a two hour MRI done of my legs tomorrow. We are praying and asking for prayer that there may be another explanation for the areas that were found on the bone scan. It is the right femur and left tibia/fibula.

10 Things That Increase Cancer Risk

cancer causes

Some cancer risk factors are well established and well known, like smoking. Others aren’t well known at all. Here are 10 things that are linked to cancer, some of which may surprise you:

1. Shift work. For all those employees working vampire hours, it’s discouraging to hear that shift work has joined the list of items considered “probably carcinogenic to humans,” according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Studies show that women working the graveyard shift, like flight attendants and nurses, have a greater risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers are investigating how disruption of the circadian system, the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, can affect melatonin production and possibly cause tumors to develop.

2. High-temperature cooking. If you like your steak grilled to a crisp, you might be putting yourself at risk for something more than just burnt taste buds. Studies cite a connection between high-temperature cooking (like grilling or frying) and colorectal cancer. The good news, however, is that this greater cancer risk only seems to come into play in people with a specific type of genetic make-up.

3. Hormones. When a woman goes through menopause, her body produces fewer hormones. These lowered levels of estrogen and progesterone can trigger uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms. Menopausal women, or women with ovary issues, can choose estrogen and/or progestin replacement therapies to pump female hormones back into their bodies. Unfortunately, these hormone therapies carry the risk of endometrial (uterine) cancer, breast cancer, and possibly ovarian cancer. Women should carefully discuss the pros and cons of using female hormone therapies with their doctors.

4. Infection. “[We] once thought [that infection] didn’t have much to do with cancer,” says Michael Thun, MD, vice president of epidemiology and surveillance research for the American Cancer Society. However, Dr. Thun notes, infection and viruses are now linked to many cancers. For example, researchers have found connections between the human papilloma virus and cervical and ovarian cancers; hepatitis viruses B and C and liver cancer; bacterial infections and stomach cancer; and the human immunodeficiency virus and lymphomas.

5. Mom and Dad’s genes. You can develop cancer based on abnormal genes passed through your family tree. It’s more common for cancer to spread through a family based on carcinogenic exposure or just plain coincidence, but genetic mutations do occur (between 5 and 10 percent of cancers are inherited). Usually, abnormal genes are at fault if the cancer is a rare type; the person has more than one type of cancer; the person get the cancer at a younger age than is usual for that cancer type; the cancer impacts a pair of organs (like both kidneys); and childhood cancer affects multiple siblings. Prostate, ovarian, breast, and colon cancers are examples of cancers that can be passed on.

6. Diesel engine exhaust. Trying to breathe while you’re stuck behind a huge semi truck spewing out soot can be pretty miserable. However, it can be downright dangerous if you work or live near these pollutants. People who continuously inhale diesel exhaust have a higher risk of developing lung cancer, as well as respiratory problems like asthma.

7. Cancer treatments. It seems a cruel twist of fate that some therapies designed to treat cancer have carcinogenic properties. For example, tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is a medication used to treat breast cancer; however, potential side effects of the drug include the development of endometrial and uterine cancers. Some people treated with radiation therapy later develop a form of leukemia. Depending on the treatment and individual case, doctors may advise that the benefits of cancer treatments outweigh the risk of side effects.

8. Anabolic steroids. Manmade male hormones called anabolic, or androgenic, steroids can be used to help men with hormone-related problems. More often, however, we hear about the illegal side of steroids — athletes using these products to help build muscle mass and improve performance. Athletes may be able to run farther and score more points, but these skills will mean nothing if they develop one of the possible side effects of long-term anabolic steroid use — liver cancer.

9. Hair salon chemicals and dyes. Exposure to specific hair dyes, chemicals, and pigments has been linked to certain cancers for hairdressers and barbers. The IARC classifies these salon products as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” But before we all go through a lifetime of bad hair days, it’s important to note that hair dyes made for personal use have yet to show the same carcinogenic results. Hairdressers and barbers who wear gloves limit their exposure to these products. In addition, some of these cancer-causing agents already have been eliminated from certain hair products.

10. Hazards to painters. Artists should pay attention to their doctors as well as their critics. Painters put themselves at a higher risk of developing lung and bladder cancers when working with certain mediums. Although researchers have yet to determine which agents trigger the increased risk, it’s safe to say that painters who work around hazardous chemicals and pigments, including carcinogenic materials like silica and asbestos, may inadvertently be harming themselves.

Thun emphasizes that although there are many carcinogens in the world, people can do their part and keep cancer at bay by taking action in five important arenas: Avoid tobacco, eat right and exercise regularly, go for recommended screenings, limit alcohol, and maintain a healthy weight.

“If we could apply everything we know now, we could probably prevent almost half of the world’s cases of cancer,” he says.


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