Thursday, January 19, 2012

Update Thursday, Jan 19th

It has come time to give all of you an update on my health.  On Saturday, December 17th I began having some left sided lower pain.  It persisted over the next 2 days.  On the following Monday I called in to my Gyn Oncologist's office. My physician was out for the week for the holiday but her nurse advised me to have my Ca125 (tumor marker test) done earlier than planned.  Unfortunately, the test showed an elevation compared to my numbers over the last year.  I had been running 6 throughout the year. I went up just a tad to 8 in September and the test on Dec 22nd was 17.  This is still in normal range but a definite change from what I had been trending.  My physician called me once she was back in the office and advised a CAT scan and an exam with her.  I was already scheduled to see her on Jan 19th for my routine 3 month check.  I did the CAT scan on Dec 28.  It unfortunately has added to the confusion, rather than helping.  It didn't show anything on the lower left side where I was feeling the pain, but there is a small nodule just below my belly button area.  Unfortunately, no one knows what this nodule is or its significance.  Dr. Chen called me a bit frustrated herself.  We decided to repeat another Ca125 before coming to see her on the 19th.
So today is the 19th and I did have an exan by Dr. Chen which was normal.  Unfortunately, my Ca125 continues to creep up and is now 24.  Dr. Chen would like to believe that my pain and the increase in my blood test is from Diverticulosis, but cannot know for sure.  We discussed jumping into a variety of treatments including: chemo, PET scan, and Laparoscopic Surgery with colonoscopy, or waiting.  I chose to wait.
The plan is to continue to follow Ca 125 values and exams over the next few weeks and see what the trend is.  Dr. Chen again wonders if all my wonderful healthy eating of raw foods/roughage/juicing is creating a diverticulosis but was quick to say continue doing what you're doing.
I would like to be confident with all the good changes I've made, how good I feel overall, and everything I've been working on to improve my health that there is no cancer developing in my body again.  But the stress and fear of the unknown still remain in the back of my head.
I was trying to keep all of this quiet from all of you until I knew something definite and could reassure you and just let you know what I HAD been going through. BUT I continue to not have answers.  You all know I'm pretty much a "writing on the walls kind of gal" and it's hard for me to say all is good and I'm feeling great when any of you are asking how's it going.  Sooo, at this point I prefer to be completely honest and let you know what is happening even though I don't have solid answers.
I appreciate any support, prayers, positive thoughts, healthy guided visualizations you can do on my behalf. I deeply hope to be writing to you soon letting you know there is a decrease in my Ca125 value.  Until then, I will continue with massage therapy, acupuncture, neuro reflex therapy, electro lymphatic drainage, supplementation, detoxing, juicing, exercising, walking/loving on Oliver, meditation, and learning/reading all I can on living a balanced/healthy diet in mind, body, and spirit.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Article in St. Joseph's Cancer Quarterly

I wanted to share an article I was asked to write for the Cancer Quarterly Newsletter put out by St. Joseph's hospital in Stockton.  I have participated in several of their activities over the past year and the head of the cancer center (Jim Linderman) asked if I would contribute to their latest newsletter.  I hoped to put a link to the entire newsletter in this blog, but my technical abilities or inabilities are preventing me from doing so.  Anyway, here is the written words of the article without all the glory of the actual newsletter.  Hope you enjoy!

Embracing My
Cancer Diagnosis
By Denise Southwick
My diagnosis of stage 3C Fallopian
Tube Cancer came in November of
2010. It was quite a challenge for me to
play the part of the patient, because I’ve
been a nurse practitioner for 14 years.
I was happy being the one in the white
coat providing support, treatment, and
education to patients. I wasn’t supposed
to be the bald one on the exam table.
Well, our journeys are not always as we
As long as I can remember, I’ve tried
to live my life from a positive perspective,
believing that there is a higher power out
there working with me. I welcome the
lesson in every experience, despite the
perception of it being positive or negative.
Fortunately, I maintained this attitude
with my cancer diagnosis. I knew I had
been struggling with stagnation in my life

and felt I could be doing more to aspire to
happiness. So when the diagnosis came,
I accepted that this was my opportunity
to shake things up and take my life to a
whole new level. Easier said than done!
I found that I embraced my cancer
diagnosis and all that I could learn.
Unfortunately, I was not so enthused
about the chemotherapy. My energy and
ability to be positive were zapped and all

I could focus on was how to get through
the next few minutes, hours, and that
particular day.
When opportunities arose that
seemed to me to be baby steps towards
getting back to living a purposeful
life, I tried to push myself to partake. I
agreed to have a foot rub by my massage
therapist. And agreed to attend a
KMBS workshop at St. Joseph’s about
meditation. And, reluctantly I agreed to
participate in the Treat-Meant for You
Day. I’m the first to admit I really didn’t
want to go. I didn’t want to be around
“sick” people, because I was already
struggling with trying to maintain a
healthy frame of mind.
What if you could be in an
environment where the person with a
full head of hair was more of the anomaly
than your own bald head? And most of
the people around you truly understood
what you were going through – not
showing sympathy but ALSO walking
that same cancer path. What if this
environment also provided services that
helped you feel like a whole person again;
provided insight on how to heal in every
way with laughter, giving, and relaxation?
When I arrived and saw all the people
with head dressings such as wigs, hats,
scarves, and a few brave bald ones, I
thought to myself, this is going to be so
depressing. Boy was I wrong.
I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with
“my people” who understood just what
I was feeling. Those providing services
wanted to help and wanted, so much,
for this to be a positive and healing
experience for all involved. I encourage
any of you newly diagnosed, to embrace
what the Treat-Meant for You day has to
offer. Along with Treat-Meant for You I
found many modalities including support
groups, acupuncture, massage therapy,
meditation, and nutritional supplements
that are helping me heal my mind, body,
and soul. My focus now is in helping
others who are called to walk a path
similar to mine.

Dr. Oliver