The ABC Cancer Diaries

A young, American-Born-Chinese woman living with metastatic breast cancer

The problem with research June 28, 2009

Filed under: Research — wenren @ 9:11 pm

An informative article on the problem with the limits of cancer research funding in the NY Times today. It’s hard not to get discouraged after reading articles like this.

Here’s the link.


So far, so good

Filed under: Treatment,Uncategorized — wenren @ 9:08 pm

I had my first taxol/avastin treatment this past Wednesday, and so far I am doing okay. Wednesday night and Thursday I was mostly recovering from all the benadryl they gave me!! Sheesh, I was completely knocked out from that, and spend most of Thursday in a fog. I’m going to try to get them to lower that dose, or maybe I don’t really need it, since I haven’t really had any allergic reactions to it. My appetite, and energy seem okay. But I am still being cautious because this is only my first treatment, and only time will tell what type of side effects I will have. In the meantime, we are preparing for our trip to Deustchland! And Tuesday night we’ll be on our way. We will mostly be in Munich, and will check out the Bavarian alps, and get in some lake swimming, and spa indulging! Looking forward to it, and with my new short “haircut” I suppose I will fit right in.

So, if anyone is interested in joining my next chemo appointment, it will be July 13th – Monday at 9 AM. I’m trying to learn bridge, so if you want to come and give pointers, feel free to stop by. I’ll try setting up some kind of appointment thingie up on this site.


My new haircut June 23, 2009

Filed under: Treatment — wenren @ 9:11 pm

I’ve been getting some compliments on my new “haircut.” I started telling a joke about it to friends, that it’s the work of my new hairstylist: Kimo Therapy. Anyhow, it’s rather nice to have some hair now, but I’m trying not to get too attached as it will be gone once I begin my new chemo treatment (which will be this Wednesday at 1:30 pm). Click below to check it out!


I’m still figuring out how to use this google calendar thing, but hopefully it will make it easier for people to sign up!  Anyhow, I’m also not sure how interactive I will be with the first chemo since I think I might get alot of pre-meds, and sometimes that includes benadryl, which completely knocks me out.

Whatever the case, you will still get to see me with my “new haircut.”


George Michael June 14, 2009

Filed under: Memories — wenren @ 4:25 pm

My first record album ever!

My first record album ever!

Why am I writing about George Michael?! Well, it’s really about musical memories. You hear a song, and you are transported to a different time, and for me it’s always been very powerful. Maybe it’s because I studied music, and have always had a passion for it.

While I had all this idle time to rest at home while recovering from pneumonia this past week, I started thinking about my childhood, and remembering memories, and my first record album Wham! Make it Big — bought at the grocery store. George Michael was my first obsession, and regardless of his sexual orientation, which is quite clear now, I just loved his voice, and (ahem) his looks! Don’t worry, I’ve grow up alot since then!

But I hear any of his songs, from “Careless Whisper” to “Jesus to a Child” and I can remember the exact feelings, and mood of my life at that particular time. For example, “Careless Whisper” was awkward pre-teen age, and that entire album for that matter. (I must of listened to that album over 100 times! Especially since for a while, it was my only album.) I remember around that time, my brother, dad and I were getting ready to visit my mom in China for the first time (late 80s), and I also remember the music video, Freedom, was shot in China, which at the time was a huge deal. I actually remember playing it cool in China all the time saying in my head, “Hey, maybe I’ll run into George Michael and Andrew Ridgley  on the Great Wall!!” Oh, that would have been the coolest of cool for me.

Many of my earlier albums of Wham! and George Michael have been lost to the LP and cassette tape black hole, but hey it’s all on itunes now. But, somehow it’s not quite the same — the musty old LP covers (in which I carefully preserved the actual record cover of Wham! Make it Big by leaving the delicate plastic film on the outside), or scratched up cassette tape cases. I can remember every detail of that Wham! album cover, from the frosted hair to the placement of his two earrings, to wondering if his suit was pinstripe or not.

Anyhow, it made me think — what song brings it back for you? Name your song, and attached memory!

And, George Michael if you somehow stumble upon this, consider this my humble tribute to your oeuvre.


Is someone really out to get me? June 11, 2009

Filed under: Cancer sucks big time,Uncategorized — wenren @ 8:17 pm

Had chest x ray today, found out I have a partially collapsed lung. I guess I’m just supposed to be sick. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been sick this year. I guess my Chinese horoscope was right, not a good year for me in terms of health this year.

To all of you who have had few health problems, remember to be thankful.(I’m trying to be thankful right now, but it’s really, really hard since I feel crappy.)

What’s next??? After I get over this, I have chemo to look forward to.

I mean really, this is getting ridiculous. Feel free to forward me your words of strength, encouragement, wisdom, humor, etc….


Lordy, lordy, lordy June 10, 2009

Filed under: Treatment — wenren @ 2:11 pm

No chemo today. I’ve got some kind of flu/cold thing where I’ve been having fevers off and on. Yesterday, I stupidly decided to go into work, and when I got home I felt miserable, and had a really bad fever. So today I’m home trying to get better. This year has really been a sucky year in terms of health. I keep getting sick, and I’m glad that I finally submitted my sabbatical forms in, so hopefully I’ll know soon about next year. If anyone has any ideas of how to keep myself preoccupied at home, I’m open to ideas! I just am starting to feel a little stir-crazy.


So, what’s next? June 5, 2009

Filed under: Thanks,Treatment — wenren @ 2:55 am

So I’ve been dealt another disappoint in Cancerland. My emotions are still very mixed. I feel angry, I feel sad. Sometimes I have very morbid, fatalistic thoughts. I still wonder why this is happening. I’m at times not very hopeful. I think it will take me a bit to adjust to a new reality.

Up until recently, alot of my cancer treatments have been very manageable. Being able to take pills at home, I still felt that I had some control over my time and my life. But every since I’ve begun chemo, the doctor visits are just incessant. It saps so much time from my day, and it’s easy for me to feel resigned. I feel defeated after returning from the doctor’s. All the waiting, killing time (no that wasn’t intended to be an unfortunate pun, but quite fitting nonetheless). My last treatment really affected my blood counts, and made me anemic, and tired. I got tired of feeling tired, but  it really was beyond my control. In short I haven’t felt much like myself.


We met with the doctor today, and she suggested that I start a chemo, Taxol, combined with a biologic, Avastin. Avastin has been proven in recent clinical trials to enhance the work of the chemo, Taxol. Since there has been progression in my liver, my doctor doesn’t want to fool around too much. There are other chemos I could take, but the idea is to control this thing right away. Nothing in my liver is that big that I feel any symptoms, but knowing that it’s there is bad enough.

Taxol and Avastin will make me lose my hair (again). My hair has started to grow back, but it will be gone soon. The hair thing has been hard. I really hate having to “wear” my cancer. I think I also  assumed that I would get a certain mileage out of the navelbine, and  that I’d regain some normalcy in my life, but I think I just need to adjust to a different world — one that I perhaps haven’t fully accepted.

So, taxol and avastin takes a lot longer to infuse than what I’ve been doing. I will easily be a the doctor’s for 4-5 hours (start to finish). If anyone is up for a chemo craft day (bitch ‘n stich meets chemo!), or chillaxin’ in the chemo room, or helping me write the perfect ironic cancer song, or just hanging out with me I’ll be at 425 61st street, 8th floor weekly (more or less). (If they had a piano there, I could also serenade everyone.) Luckily, we’re  going to be purchasing a netbook soon, so I’ll be able to have that with me. But bottom line, it would be nice to have some friends join in the chemo experience. If I have to spend 4-5 hours at the doctors, at least I can see friends and catch up on what’s up with you all. (Otherwise, I end up reading an awful lot of trashy magazines and knowing waayy too much about Brangelina, and that septuplet family.) Besides, the nurses are nice, and lots of time people bring in treats. (Hey, who knew chemo was such a partay!) Also, it will sorta be my home away from home, so it’d be nice to see some familar faces.

Ok, that’s all for now. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts.