Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blonde Wigs and Double Ds

My sister has reached the halfway point in here chemotherapy treatment. Last week she sent out this mid-term assessment. Some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent.


I know it has been a while since I have sent an update on how I have been feeling and how the chemotherapy is going, so I thought it was time to send out another update... (it's a long one)

As of this afternoon, I am finished with the first chemo drug. I actually tolerated the chemo very well. I had one bad week, a week after my second chemo, which in my opinion really was a result of a side effect of a side effect.

I thought I was mentally prepared to relinquish my high school title of "Best Hair" but, on Sunday, June 17th my hair was combing out in big strands. I knew it had been thinning so I decided to hold off on the washing of my hair. Monday, I washed my hair and I had a lot of hair in my hands by the time I was done. Then I tried to comb while it was wet and it was a very depressing moment. I decided I had to get rid of it. Compliments of my friend and stylist of many years, we made it through the shaving of my head with only welled up eyes. Playing around with hats and wigs for the next few days and trying to avoid mirrors like the plague as well as dealing with the humidity, I developed a sinus headache and then caught a stomach virus bug for 36 hours. But by Sunday evening June 24th, I was feeling like my old self again (minus the boobs and hair, hee-hee).

I am actually quite comfortable now, in just wearing a engineer type baseball hat. And I have been so comfortable around the house not wearing anything on my head at home that I have been scaring the neighborhood kids a little. (running outside or answering the door with nothing on my head, not even realizing I am not wearing anything, I am working on the title of the scary lady that lives on the corner) However, I finally received my blonde wig that I have been waiting for and looks a lot like the short haircut, I got, compliments of my sister Dianna ( she didn't cut it) in May. I never would have thought, I could pull off a short sassy haircut but I loved it!!! Now it won't take me as long to grow my hair back ( I say that now...).

Also, due to the support, research and funding of organizations such as the Komen Foundation, scientists have been able to discover 2 known mutations (BRAC1 & BRCA2) and are working on 2 more that are genetically inherited that significantly increase a woman's lifetime risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer as well as a very slight increase for men to develop breast and certain other cancers.

At my second chemo treatment, I learned that I carry a mutation in the BRCA 1 gene. So, if there was any hesitation in my mind about my decision to do a bilateral mastectomy, after meeting with a Cancer Geneticist, I no longer have any regrets or uncertainty. (the bilateral mastectomy greatly reduces my risk for recurrence) I will also be removing my ovaries in the near future as it no longer serves a purpose for me and it will decrease my risk of ever developing ovarian cancer to about 4% and it also reduces my risk of recurrence of breast cancer.

Fortunately, I have responded extremely well to the anti nausea drugs I get in my IV during chemo and a drug I take the day of and 2 days after chemo. I still exercise 4-5 days a week (lighter workouts in the week after chemo) and since I don't experience any nausea I am able to eat everything I was able to before I started chemo. I don't know exactly what to expect with the next treatment of Taxol. I know what they tell me, but they also told me that women my age don't tend to do so well during chemo. This new drug doesn't really have the nausea side effects but can cause your bones and joints to ache and my doctor told me that people that don't get nausea with the drug I am now, tend to experience more aching on Taxol. I am going with, I will tolerate this drug just like I did the last one.

I know your prayers, love, cards and meals are what helped me through the first round, so of course it will help me through the next. I will be done with my chemo on September 6th. Just in time to enjoy all the fun of back to school, my youngest son's birthday, my sister in law's wedding showers and wedding in October, which we are all in, (I think I will borrow my mom's 500cc implants to fill out the dress) and the joyous holidays. And my Christmas Carol this year will be, "all I want for Christmas is some Double D's" j/k (I hope to schedule my reconstruction sometime in November, I am window shopping right now for the right size, hee-hee)

I am abundantly blessed to have each one of you in my life. You have all reminded me of the way God brings us love, compassion, generosity and kindness delivered by family and friends. Your words of encouragement and hope, keep me positive and renew my strength. From the depth of my heart and soul, I am forever grateful and thankful for the way each one of you in your own individual way have brightened my day and have helped me to find joy and inspiration during this speed bump. And the hubby tells me that I am a MAC truck.

Love and hugs,
Sven's Sister

PS: To all the ladies in the crowd, I know I am a day late but yesterday was the 11th and as your KARE 11 "Buddy", here is my reminder to do your self breast exam. Feel 'em up girls!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pray For Us Sinners

Dear Mr. Pope,

I read an article in the paper today regarding your recent statement reasserting the primacy of the Catholic Church and claiming that all other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches. From one Catholic to another, I may as well be the one the one to tell you - that's a bunch of nonsense.

Although we may claim to trace the lineage of our bishops back to Peter, we don’t necessarily have direct access to heaven. It’s this exact sort of rhetoric that causes people to hate Catholics. After, the priest-sexual-abuse scandal, the last thing we need is more animosity.

Your claim that the Catholic Church is "the only means to salvation" must have come as quite a shock to many good and decent people - including Jesus and his mother. I'm sure you have heard, but they were Jews. Not exactly the type of people you seem to be including in your "Church".

After I read the article I spent some time looking through the Gospels as well as most of the New Testament. I couldn't find any mention of Jesus asserting the primacy of the Catholic Church anywhere. In fact, I don't think he even mentioned it. (As an aside, he never said anything about homosexuality either, but that's a subject for a different letter).

Rather, I got the distinct impression that Jesus wasn't a big fan of organized religion. He seemed to spend a great deal of time challenging the leaders of the day, pointing out their hypocrisy and holding them to a high standard. Or in his words, a new covenant - that being one of self sacrificial love and service to others as well as a faithful devotion to God. Which in my estimation is different from blindly following an elected leader and his archaic proclamations.

You went on to say that "Christ established here on earth only one church". Surely you can't be serious? A scholar such as yourself must know that Jesus didn't set out to establish a new "church" as much as reform the existing one. He did create a quite a following though, and eventually a number of faith communities sprang up in the wake of his death and resurrection. However, it wasn’t until the 4th Century when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and took up the sword for the Holy Roman Empire that the Catholic Church really came into prominence. Sadly, that may have also been one of the worst things to ever happen to the legacy of Jesus. It’s pretty tough to carry the cross when you’re also wielding a sword.

I know you’re not alone though. There are lots of folks, of all religious varieties, who claim to know the true path to salvation. “If you simply believe what I believe you’ll have a guaranteed place in heaven”, they say. While that may prove to be true, it seems to me that the world could do with a little more humility. Particularly on the part of Christians. If we spent less time talking about Jesus and more time acting like him we may actually begin to experience the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Meanwhile, I’ll be praying for you.

Together, humbly, in Christ,