The ABC Cancer Diaries

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

A Shot in the Arm July 27, 2009

Filed under: Side Effects,Treatment — wenren @ 6:53 pm

Today I went in for my Avastin and Taxol, but due to low white cell counts, I could only get the Avastin. I was a bit bummed out, but glad not to have to be there so long, but wishing that I could have the chemo part, Taxol too. So, the nurse gave me one shot of neupogen to boast my white cell production. And now that I have a prescription ffor that, I can give myself the shots tomorrow and the day after at home without having to trek uptown. Neupogen comes in a small prefilled syringe, and it must be injected subcutaneously. I have never given myself a shot, but I guess there is a first time for everything. Hopefully I will do okay, and not get too squeamish. I am supposed to give it to myself in the belly. Ah, the adventures in cancerland continue!

Today I had to wait a bit longer than usual because one nurse was out sick. Apparently when a nurse is out sick, they don’t call in a sub. I was surprised to learn this, but my husband tells me that it is too expensive to hire a temp nurse, so hospitals just make do. The treatment room today was nearly full, and the two nurses were running back and forth to try to get everyone’s needs attended to, but it’s not an ideal situation.

So, I was thinking of writing a complaint letter, though not sure how much good it will do. With all of the health care discussion in the news these days, I find it disheartening that we as a country can’t seem to figure this one basic need out. I guess if everyone had advanced cancer in the U.S. (including all those politicians, and lobbyists) maybe we’d be in a different situation. Anyhow, my next chemo appointment is August 3rd, Monday at 10:30 AM. Hope to see some friendly faces there!


Next Chemo- July 27th 10 AM July 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — wenren @ 2:16 pm

Be there or be square! Let me know if you can make it. Come for the beginning, or just lunch (we order out), or come for the end! I will probably be there for a good 4 hours or so. 425 East 61st street, 8th floor.


A Poem For You. July 21, 2009

Filed under: Poetry — wenren @ 3:32 am

Someone posted this on a metastatic breast cancer listserve that I am part of: I thought it was fitting for the season, and for life, in general.

A pciture I took while in Germany

A picture I took while in Germany

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

~ Mary Oliver ~


The Meaning of Life July 16, 2009

Filed under: Articles of interest,Dealing with cancer emotions,Death — wenren @ 3:22 am

Here it is — it’s all in this article, from the Wall Street Journal. No joke! I found it very interesting, uplifting, and inspiring.

Finding the Meanng of Life.


Back from vacation-land.

Filed under: Treatment — wenren @ 2:08 am

I’ve not posted in a while because we were away in Germany! It was a nice vacation. We ate lots of yummy things, and overall I felt great.

Now I’m back, and I have just had my 2nd round of taxol/avastin. So far, I am not experiencing too many bad side effects. Mostly drowsiness from the Benadryl, and some dry mouth. The dry mouth usually goes away by the second day after the treatment.

My energy has been okay. The day after treatment (this past Tuesday) I went for a half and hour swim, and felt good. Then this morning I got up and went running. At about 2-3 pm today I just crashed. My calf muscles ached, and I just felt spent.Was it the running? Or the running errands? Now as I write this it is evening, but I took some advil and rested up a bit, and that seemed to have helped. I think it may have been a delayed reaction to Zometa. (I take Zometa bi-monthly to help protect my bones from cancer. Originally I had some bone involvement, but lately bones haven’t been the ones giving me trouble.)

Since getting back, I have also gotten to become a Chinese Auntie! Or 姑姑 (Gugu= Sounds just like goo goo, as in goo goo, ga ga.) My new nephew and his parents are doing well. I am amazed at how much newborns sleep in the beginning. Even when he cries, his eyes are still shut!


So, I will have to do at least two or three more treatments before I have scans, which will help determine whether or not the new treatment is working. Right now, I guess I am enjoying the relative stability of being in a treatment. I know that I can expect at least two more rounds before anything changes, and that is as much certainty that I will get in that department of life.

Also, special thanks to my mother-in-law, Carol, for braving the NYC traffic and hanging out in the chemo suite with me this past Monday. We got to chat, and have our lunch delivered right to us. My husband also joined in for the fun lunchtime games (which included a special private screening of photos from our Germany trip while I was dosing away to la-la land thanks to Benadryl.)

Now of course special thanks to those folks who were at the first treatment: Gila, Soo ,Walter and my wonderful husband! I don’t remember what we talked about, but I know it was nice to have some friendly familiar faces to spend 4-5 hours.

So, the next chemo will be Monday, July 20th at 10 AM. Let me know if you are interested in joining! I believe I have one nice person signed up already!