The Mohs Nose

After I posted Just Nosing Around, I joined a Facebook group for Skin Cancer Warriors. I was amazed how supportive they are. I never had any support with Cushing’s or Kidney Cancer pre-op, so it was really nice to be on the receiving end for once.

From that FB group, I learned that May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and there is a fundraising page (of course) so I actually decided to give it a try. I figure at least it will be another tshirt. LOL This is my page, if anyone is interested: Skin Cancer: Take a Hike!

Sunday, April 25, 2021. I’ve been reading that handout I posted (below) and it’s made me start looking around for shirts that button, rather than pull over the head. I mostly have tshirts and some of those necks are pretty tight. I think I’m ok for at least tomorrow and the next few days.

Also, in preparation, I downloaded some books for my Kindle and started a few coloring images in Happy Color so that I wouldn’t have to use WiFi to download there.

Also, I remembered that I should stress dose tomorrow! I started packing my bag to include Tylenol and I’ll add extra cortisol, a bottle of ice water and my iPad tomorrow.


So, Monday, April 26, 2021 I had my Mohs Surgery.

I remembered to take my extra cortisone! We got there 30 minutes early, which worked in our favor – for once.

Tom could go in with me while I had my surgery and I stayed in room the whole time. The nurse came in and we went over basic questions. The surgeon came in and recognized where the location was – he could see it over the top of my mask. He explained what he’d do and asked if there were any questions, then used a marker to make a circle around the cancer.

He injected the pain killer. I started when it first went in but then it was ok. He asked if I could feel anything. I said no so he continued.

They bandaged everything, cauterized the blood vessels and took the cancer off to the lab.

When they came back, the surgeon said that the cancer was gone. He used dissolvable stitches and a skin graft. I could see quite a bit of blood during this. He did more cautery and the nurse put on lots of bandages which I had to keep on for 24 hours. Because of the skin graft, he called in antibiotics.

Tom drove home – it was hard for me to see over bandages. About 1 pm I took 3 Tylenol. I took first antibiotic about 2 pm – Doxycycline Hyclate 100 mg. I take those twice a day for 10 days because of the skin graft.

Then, I fell asleep and woke up about 8:30PM and had some dinner. 3 more Tylenol and another antibiotic.

I slept ok overnight and woke up about 5:30 am with pressure from the bandages on my face. I tried to sleep for about another hour, then just got up. No real pain just a dull ache. If I touch my nose, it does hurt…so – don’t touch!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021, I kept my video off for my work Zoom meeting so no one would see all those bandages. I skipped an in-person afternoon meeting but about 4:00 pm I got to change the bandages so I could see what I’m dealing with:

Right at the bridge of my nose it’s a little bit swollen and it’s uncomfortable to wear my glasses. I had a handbell rehearsal Tuesday night that I also skipped.

Wednesday is normally one of the three days a week I do water exercise but I can’t get this thing wet so I stayed home and did a little work. I didn’t take the antibiotics with food, just with coffee, and that really upset my stomach. I ended up cancelling my piano students for the afternoon. They had all asked last week about the biopsy bandage – I wasn’t sure how I would explain this one to a first grader. My stomach was still upset from the antibiotic anyway.

I had bought new bandages on amazon that were supposed to be latex-free. I think they skirted around that claim somehow because as soon as I tried them, my nose was itchy. At first, I thought maybe my nose was healing but I ripped off the bandage and went back to the old plastic ones that made my nose red. The itching stopped but after that, I had a lot of trouble sleeping and finally just got up about 3:00 am.

Other healing pictures:

April 30, 2021:

May 2, 2021

Update May 7, 2021. Big Day – I finally went back to water exercise after nearly 2 weeks off and it felt so good to be back, to be normal. Besides that, I ran into my son’s elementary school music teacher (I had also been her piano accompanist) and we chatted about how things were going.

I also went (nervously!) to my main dermatologist for a full body scan and no other skin cancer was found.

May 8, 2021, Healing better than I thought it would.

May 24, I go back to my surgeon where I will (I hope!) get more good news. Assuming it’s good news, this post is done.

If not, there will be yet another update.


I wrote this April 24, 2021:

It seems like my nose is always at the forefront of my medical issues. Cushing’s disease? Let’s do a whole surgery through her nose.

Allergies? Let’s clog up her nose so she can’t breathe.

Kidney cancer? Let’s stick tubes up her nose so she can breathe.

None of that stuff did her in, so let’s try playing with the outside this time.

I hadn’t thought much about my nose lately unless I was adjusting a mask over it for COVID. Luckily, I was never tested for COVID because that would have been a swab…up my nose.

In January 2021, I was just keeping my nose out of other people’s business when I noticed weird stuff on my nose. I made the obligatory doctor appointment. He thought that part of my issue was allergies to paper masks and gave me cream – guess what!?!? – Kenalog, a steroid cream form of the stuff they inject into my knee. Part of the description for that reads “Do not use it on the face, groin, or underarms unless directed to do so by your doctor.” I was directed by my doctor so I guess it was ok but I sure hate using additional steroids.

In the middle of the nose-redness to be fixed by Kenalog was a really weird thing. The doctor thought it would be useful to use liquid nitrogen on it and I figured that was relatively easy so I went for it.

The morning before the liquid nitrogen

So, he sprayed the nitrogen on and said to use the Kenalog twice a day – the thing should fall off in a couple weeks. A couple weeks spread out to about 5 and it fell into my mask a day or so after I had a dream about it falling into the swimming pool and infecting everyone there. Fortunately, my dream didn’t come true!

Unfortunately, when it fell off, it left a hard red bump which stuck around and started looking weird again.

So, February 22, I called the doctor again and made an appointment for March 10. He said he could do the nitrogen thing again and go a bit deeper. I thought, maybe no. Let’s move on to the professionals. So, I got a referral to a dermatologist on April 16.

Even with my mask on, the dermatologist could see the top peeking out of my mask and proclaimed Squamous Cell Carcinoma! She did do a biopsy, so I had a few days of hope. I thought the biopsy would be a smaller amount, though.

So, I put Aquaphor and a bandage on my nose twice a day…and my nose got red under the bandaid. Allergy to the adhesive? I know I’m allergic to latex, so we have plastic bandaids. Whatever.

April 21 I got the official results. The dermatologist was right the first time. Monday, April 26 I will have Mohs surgery.

Of course, I set out to watch this surgery on YouTube.


I downloaded the handbook mentioned at the above video. Find it at https://www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/sites/default/files/2020-12/mohs-handbook.pdf.


Because I always “own” all my diseases, I bought a t-shirt which I will wear proudly. Of course, it has a butterfly and the words: “They whispered to her – you cannot withstand the storm. She whispered back – I am the storm.” and Squamous Cell Carcinoma Awareness.

I have so many t-shirts – not just for places but for causes, diseases, work, piano teaching… I hope this is the last non-fun one I get!

I am not anticipating any changes in this over the weekend so the next post will be sometime next week, after the surgery.

Thanks for any prayers, good wishes, whatever!

Just Nosing Around

It seems like my nose is always at the forefront of my medical issues. Cushing’s disease? Let’s do a whole surgery through her nose.

Allergies? Let’s clog up her nose so she can’t breathe.

Kidney cancer? Let’s stick tubes up her nose so she can breathe.

None of that stuff did her in, so let’s try playing with the outside this time.

I hadn’t thought much about my nose lately unless I was adjusting a mask over it for COVID. Luckily, I was never tested for COVID because that would have been a swab…up my nose.

In January 2021, I was just keeping my nose out of other people’s business when I noticed weird stuff on my nose. I made the obligatory doctor appointment. He thought that part of my issue was allergies to paper masks and gave me cream – guess what!?!? – Kenalog, a steroid cream form of the stuff they inject into my knee. Part of the description for that reads “Do not use it on the face, groin, or underarms unless directed to do so by your doctor.” I was directed by my doctor so I guess it was ok but I sure hate using additional steroids.

In the middle of the nose-redness to be fixed by Kenalog was a really weird thing. The doctor thought it would be useful to use liquid nitrogen on it and I figured that was relatively easy so I went for it.

The morning before the liquid nitrogen

So, he sprayed the nitrogen on and said to use the Kenalog twice a day – the thing should fall off in a couple weeks. A couple weeks spread out to about 5 and it fell into my mask a day or so after I had a dream about it falling into the swimming pool and infecting everyone there. Fortunately, my dream didn’t come true!

Unfortunately, when it fell off, it left a hard red bump which stuck around and started looking weird again.

So, February 22, I called the doctor again and made an appointment for March 10. He said he could do the nitrogen thing again and go a bit deeper. I thought, maybe no. Let’s move on to the professionals. So, I got a referral to a dermatologist on April 16.

Even with my mask on, the dermatologist could see the top peeking out of my mask and proclaimed Squamous Cell Carcinoma! She did do a biopsy, so I had a few days of hope. I thought the biopsy would be a smaller amount, though.

So, I put Aquaphor and a bandage on my nose twice a day…and my nose got red under the bandaid. Allergy to the adhesive? I know I’m allergic to latex, so we have plastic bandaids. Whatever.

April 21 I got the official results. The dermatologist was right the first time. Monday, April 26 I will have Mohs surgery.

Of course, I set out to watch this surgery on YouTube.


I downloaded the handbook mentioned at the above video. Find it at https://www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/sites/default/files/2020-12/mohs-handbook.pdf.


Because I always “own” all my diseases, I bought a t-shirt which I will wear proudly. Of course, it has a butterfly and the words: “They whispered to her – you cannot withstand the storm. She whispered back – I am the storm.” and Squamous Cell Carcinoma Awareness.

I have so many t-shirts – not just for places but for causes, diseases, work, piano teaching… I hope this is the last non-fun one I get!

I am not anticipating any changes in this over the weekend so the next post will be sometime next week, after the surgery.

Thanks for any prayers, good wishes, whatever!

Covid Vaccine 2

 

Quick takeaway: I have adrenal insufficiency (one adrenal was removed with my kidney due to cancer, steroid-dependent (post-Cushing’s Disease), growth hormone insufficiency, panhypopituitary.  I had some issues after my first COVID-19 injection (Moderna) but not too bad.  My second injection was March 15, 2021.  This time I was smart and updosed on my Cortef (hydrocortisone) right after the shot.  My main side effects this time were chills, extreme thirst, fatigue…and a craving for salad(!)


Earlier in March, CVS sent out an email with a few questions to answer before confirming my March 15 appointment.  On March 14, they sent me a text and when I clicked on the link, it said I had answered all the questions already.  YAY

I got this information again from CVS:

On the day of your appointment:

•Please arrive early enough to check in before your scheduled appointment. Arriving late for your appointment may result in an extended wait time.

•Bring your ID and insurance card, voucher or other coverage

•Don’t forget a face covering—wearing it throughout your visit is required

•When you arrive, please check in at the pharmacy area inside the store or follow the signs for the COVID-19 vaccine

CVS tips for vaccine shots:

•Wearing short sleeves makes getting a shot easier and faster

•If you must wear long sleeves, dress in layers with the short sleeves underneath

Review the patient fact sheet about the specific vaccine you are receiving

What to do if you feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms:

•Contact your health care provider immediately

•If your provider recommends it, get tested for COVID-19

Cancel your appointment

•Don’t come to the pharmacy

•Schedule a new appointment when you’re well

After your vaccine:

•Be prepared to stay for 15 to 30 minutes after the COVID-19 vaccination so you can be observed for side effects.

•If you experience side effects from your COVID-19 vaccine dose, you may find some guidance at Coronavirus: Vaccine, Prevention Tips & FAQs

•The CDC has created a way for you to report how you feel after the COVID-19 vaccination through a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to check in with you. Learn about v-safe and sign up today.

 

Monday, March 15, 2021: When I got to CVS, I found that everything was very well run like before.

I got a text from CVS asking me to click a link when I arrived at 3:30 and it gave me directions on where to go.

This time I wasn’t met by anyone  at door but I knew from before where to walk following arrows on floor.  Then I was met by so someone who checked my name and he asked if I had done the texting thing (yes!).

There were 2 people ahead of me that I could see.  It went very fast.  I was in the little partitioned off area within less than 10 minutes.

The nurse asked if left arm was ok to use.

The shot was not quite as fast – I felt it a little but I am used to giving myself daily injections so this was no biggie..

The nurse said if I get a headache, take Tylenol only.  She also said to stay hydrated.

I sat in the waiting area for 15 minutes to be sure there were no problems  There were about 10 or so people sitting around the store that I could see at various stages of their 15 minutes.

This time I was smart – right after leaving the CVS I took a stress dose of Cortef (hydrocortisone).

Around 7 pm i noticed I had what I used to call a “lightning bolt headache”. There is pain in one spot of my head and it moves quickly down, through my brain and out.  I used to get these long ago and I didn’t even know they were a thing until I just looked them andy they are called “Thunderclap Headaches”:

Severe headaches that appear suddenly like a lightning bolt are a cause for concern. This isn’t a sharp pain that goes away as suddenly as it began, but a pain that comes on like a light switch or feels as if someone has hit you in the head with a hammer. 

Who knew – I thought I’d made them up.  I hope this was the only one.

I could not believe how thirsty I was for the first couple days.  My mouth felt like a desert so I drank lots of ice water which meant I needed to run to the bathroom a lot.  Sometimes, I didn’t quite make it.

I was so tired, I skipped my growth hormone injection.

About 10 pm I started being very cold.  I don’t know if that’s a symptom but I noted that on February 17, also.

My arm seems like it is more sore than last time.

About 3 am, I got up needing to get a drink of water and I was still so cold.  I was under 3 blankets, wearing a hoodie and a very warm knit cap.  I didn’t have the death dreams like last time but some that were work-related and all jumbled up.  This has to get done before that can, but then, this other thing happens, type thing.  I just got up, got a little hydrated and checked my emails.

As soon as I typed this sentence, I put my mittens back on.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021:  My arm was sorer than Monday and I was still feeling cold, sleeping off and on.  Still very thirsty.

I skipped my growth hormone injection again.

I had trouble sleeping, especially if I tried to roll over.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021:  We didn’t go to water exercise. I planned that this time, based on my reaction to the first shot.

I had a little headache, dizzy, congested, very tired, lots of brain fog, thirsty. I slept more until about 1 pm and I cancelled piano lessons for the day.  

After cancelling lessons, I went back to sleep. I was feeling cold but I don’t know if it was chills or really a cold. 

At that point, I realized I hadn’t eaten for 2 days or had any coffee!. 

For reasons that are very strange to me, I started craving tossed salad, specifically one from a certain local restaurant.  I have never in my life craved salad.  

I had some dinner (I was surprised that I could eat any) at 9:25 and did my growth hormone injection.  

I went to bed at 11 pm.  Tossed and turned all night.

Thursday, March 18, 2021: I’m a little more tired than usual but ok.  I spent time napping and working alternated through the day. My boss called and he’d just had his Johnson and Johnson shot on Tuesday.  The call was pretty funny because we both were brain foggy and trying to think of words.  His vaccine is the one-dose type – he was glad to get it but found it weird that he could actually feel the medicine going in.  That sounds to me more like it was injected into a vein than a muscle.

My DH went out to Domino’s and got some dinner – and finally, I got that salad!

Friday, March 19, 2021: Just the normal tiredness.  Hooray!  We went back to water exercise.  I took off my bandage for the first time and noticed that the site had bled a little. Oh well. While I was in the pool, I had another of those lightning headaches but didn’t get out of the pool for Tylenol because I knew it was quick.

Saturday, March 20, 2021: DH gets his second shot!

In 14 days, I’ll  be considered to be vaccinated.  April 8, we will go visit our new grandson in NYC without quarantining or testing.  


Info below from https://medshadow.org/covid19-vaccine-side-effects/  I’ve had the bold ones so far after the second injection.

Moderna

Moderna started Phase III clinical trials for its vaccine candidate in July. In earlier trials, nearly half of patients experienced common adverse effects like injection site pain, rash, headaches, muscle soreness, nausea and fevers after the second injection. These effects generally subsided within two days. CNBC spoke to a few individuals, some participating in Moderna’s trial and some in Pfizer’s trial who said much the same thing: the side effects were intense and included a high fever, body aches, bad headaches and exhaustion, but were worth it for protection from Covid-19.

In the FDA report published in December, the most common side effects were pain at injection site (91.6% of patients), fatigue (68.5%), headache (63.0%), muscle pain (59.6%), joint pain (44.8%), and chills (43.4%). Three patients experienced Bell’s Palsy, a sudden, and usually temporary, weakening or paralysis of the facial muscles.

A few patients with facial fillers experienced swelling after receiving the vaccine. They were treated with antihistamines and steroids. In California, officials halted the use of one particular batch of Moderna vaccines (lot 41L20A) after a small cluster (fewer than 10) of patients at one particular site experienced allergic reactions that required medical attention.

Out of the first 7.5 million doses administered from Dec 14- Jan 18, 19 cases of anaphylaxis were reported to VAERS after the Moderna vaccine. No patients have died from anaphylaxis. Patients are now being monitored for 15-30 minutes after receiving the vaccine to watch for signs of anaphylaxis.

Many patients are reporting injection site reactions that show up shortly after the injection or up to a week later. These reactions — which are characterized by swelling, redness, itching, rashes, heat and pain — are expected to last a day to a week. Physicians emphasize that while these effects can be scary, they are not dangerous and should not prevent someone from getting the second shot. So far, doctors do not report seeing these reactions after the second shot, however so few have been given so far that scientists are not sure how common it will be on round two.

The CDC reports that 11% of patients experienced swollen lymph nodes after the first shot. That raised to 16% after the second shot.

A study posted on Feb 1 showed that patients who received the vaccine after having been previously infected with COVID-19 showed greater immune response to the first shot and more intense side effects that are associated with strong immune responses like fever and muscle aches. The study included patients who received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. Some scientists believe these patients may only need a single shot to provide sufficient immunity, but more research is needed.

Moderna has announced that it will begin testing its vaccine in children and adolescents, who they believe may have stronger immune responses, leading to more intense side effects.

This page has information about the other brands of vaccine: https://fairfaxcountyemergency.wpcomstaging.com/2021/02/16/what-you-need-to-know-when-you-get-vaccinated-and-after-you-get-vaccinated/

A really good article – Coronavirus Life: What To Expect When You Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Covid Vaccine 1

 

Quick takeaway: I have adrenal insufficiency (one adrenal was removed with my kidney due to cancer, steroid-dependent (post-Cushing’s Disease), growth hormone insufficiency, panhypopituitary.  I had some issues after my first COVID-19 injection (Moderna) but not too bad.  My second injection will be March 15.


January 12, 2021 my Mom’s doctor called and offered her the vaccine but she didn’t want it. She said she didn’t go anywhere.  True but my DH and I do – and she has a friend visit once a month.  I joked to a friend that I could put on a wig and go as her since we have the same first name.

I have been doing the COVID-19 Patient Monitoring System through my doctor’s office since it was first offered.  Just a few boxes of how I’m feeling, if I wore a mask and so on.  I am a strong believer in helping to participate in medical trials, as I mention below.  This one is very easy and takes about a minute out of my day.  Easy-peasy.

I’ve been on the Fairfax Waiting List since January 19, 2021.  As of right now, they are still scheduling people from January 18 – I read somewhere that 41,000-some people registered on the 18th, so it may be a while to get to my date.  They have set up an interesting dashboard to track how things are going  https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/novel-coronavirus/vaccine/data

I got a link from a friend when CVS opened up clinics in my state – https://www.cvs.com/vaccine/intake/store/covid-screener/covid-qns

I kept the CVS link open and checked it every morning.  Everything was full until Saturday, February 13.  I was able to register at about 5 am.  When I went back about 20 minutes later, everything was gone.

 

CVS sent out an informative email with directions, dates, ics file to easily add to calendar, 

On the day of your appointment:

•Please arrive early enough to check in before your scheduled appointment. Arriving late for your appointment may result in an extended wait time.

•Bring your ID and insurance card, voucher or other coverage

•Don’t forget a face covering—wearing it throughout your visit is required

•When you arrive, please check in at the pharmacy area inside the store or follow the signs for the COVID-19 vaccine

CVS tips for vaccine shots:

•Wearing short sleeves makes getting a shot easier and faster

•If you must wear long sleeves, dress in layers with the short sleeves underneath

Review the patient fact sheet about the specific vaccine you are receiving

What to do if you feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms:

•Contact your health care provider immediately

•If your provider recommends it, get tested for COVID-19

Cancel your appointment

•Don’t come to the pharmacy

•Schedule a new appointment when you’re well

After your vaccine:

•Be prepared to stay for 15 to 30 minutes after the COVID-19 vaccination so you can be observed for side effects.

•If you experience side effects from your COVID-19 vaccine dose, you may find some guidance at Coronavirus: Vaccine, Prevention Tips & FAQs

•The CDC has created a way for you to report how you feel after the COVID-19 vaccination through a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to check in with you. Learn about v-safe and sign up today.

And a short survey, which I took – just add up to 5 stars and write a short paragraph.

Monday, February 15, 2021: When I got to CVS, I found that everything was very well run.

I got a text from CVS asking me to click a link when I arrived at 3:30 and it gave me directions on where to go.

I was met by someone at door who checked my name – I showed him my phone screen – he showed me where to walk following arrows on floor.  Then I was met by so someone who checked my name and he asked if I had done the texting thing (yes!).

There were 4 people ahead of me that I could see.  It went very fast.  I was in the little room within less than 10 minutes.

The nurse asked if left arm was ok to use.

She told me to treat the little quarantine form like gold.  Take a picture on my phone, just in case.  Maybe laminate after second shot.  Keep it with passport.

She said that old folks (like me!) didn’t have as many issues after second shot.

The shot was very fast – I never felt it.

The nurse said if I get a headache, take Tylenol only.  I said that was all I could take anyway because I have only one kidney.

I sat in the waiting area for 15 minutes to be sure there were no problems  There were about 10 or so people sitting around the store that I could see at various stages of their 15 minutes.

I was glad to see that it was Moderna (MRNA) although I would have taken either.  I have a long-standing issue with the other drug company, unrelated to COVID vaccines.

I posted on FB that I had done my first injection and a friend told me about registering at vsafe.cdc.gov for them to keep track of me after the vaccination.  I signed up for that right away – and I noticed that CVS had also given me that link.

About 12 hours later (3:30 am) I got up to go to the bathroom and noticed that my arm was a little sore. No biggie.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021:  I just got my first dose of Moderna yesterday – sore arm, so far. 

The nurse told me yesterday that older people like myself (I’m 72) had fewer side effects since we had been exposed to more things over the years.  I’m not sure how accurate that is but I’ll hold on to that hope until I get my second dose on March 15!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021:  I had weird dreams overnight but I got up about 4:00 am.  I did some work and fell back asleep until 10:15.

We didn’t go to water exercise. I decided at the very last minute, walking out the door. Reaction to Monday shot?  I had a little headache, dizzy, congested, very tired.  I should have taken more cortisone at this time but didn’t remember until 8:30 pm.

I slept more until about 2 pm and had very weird dreams – I don’t know if the dreams are part of it or not but I reported them to the safe.cdc.gov questionnaire.  

I cancelled piano lessons for the day.  I wrote to my students:

I am so sorry but I need to cancel today’s lesson.  I had the first COVID vaccination on Monday afternoon.  I was feeling fine yesterday so I assumed that I wasn’t going to have any side effects but they caught up with me today.  It’s just a headache , a bit of congestion and fatigue (I’ve been sleeping all day so far) but I don’t think I would be at my best during XXX’s lesson.

See you next week…

After cancelling lessons, I went back to sleep until time for Pender’s 7 pm Ash Wednesday service.  I was felling cold but I don’t know if it was chills or really a cold.  I started coughing a little.

At night, I remembered I should have up-dosed. I told my DH that night if he ever noticed me like this again, it was the perfect time to tell me to stress dose.  It never occurred to me during the day.

At that point, I realized I hadn’t eaten all day.  I had dinner (I was surprised that I could eat it) at 9:25 and did my growth hormone injection.

I went to bed at 11 p.

Thursday, February 18, 2021: I’m a little more tired than usual but ok.  I spent time napping and working alternated through the day.

Friday, February 19, 2021: Just the normal tiredness.  Hooray!


Info below from https://medshadow.org/covid19-vaccine-side-effects/  I’ve had the bold ones so far after the first injection.

Moderna

Moderna started Phase III clinical trials for its vaccine candidate in July. In earlier trials, nearly half of patients experienced common adverse effects like injection site pain, rash, headaches, muscle soreness, nausea and fevers after the second injection. These effects generally subsided within two days. CNBC spoke to a few individuals, some participating in Moderna’s trial and some in Pfizer’s trial who said much the same thing: the side effects were intense and included a high fever, body aches, bad headaches and exhaustion, but were worth it for protection from Covid-19.

In the FDA report published in December, the most common side effects were pain at injection site (91.6% of patients), fatigue (68.5%), headache (63.0%), muscle pain (59.6%), joint pain (44.8%), and chills (43.4%). Three patients experienced Bell’s Palsy, a sudden, and usually temporary, weakening or paralysis of the facial muscles.

A few patients with facial fillers experienced swelling after receiving the vaccine. They were treated with antihistamines and steroids. In California, officials halted the use of one particular batch of Moderna vaccines (lot 41L20A) after a small cluster (fewer than 10) of patients at one particular site experienced allergic reactions that required medical attention.

Out of the first 7.5 million doses administered from Dec 14- Jan 18, 19 cases of anaphylaxis were reported to VAERS after the Moderna vaccine. No patients have died from anaphylaxis. Patients are now being monitored for 15-30 minutes after receiving the vaccine to watch for signs of anaphylaxis.

Many patients are reporting injection site reactions that show up shortly after the injection or up to a week later. These reactions — which are characterized by swelling, redness, itching, rashes, heat and pain — are expected to last a day to a week. Physicians emphasize that while these effects can be scary, they are not dangerous and should not prevent someone from getting the second shot. So far, doctors do not report seeing these reactions after the second shot, however so few have been given so far that scientists are not sure how common it will be on round two.

The CDC reports that 11% of patients experienced swollen lymph nodes after the first shot. That raised to 16% after the second shot.

A study posted on Feb 1 showed that patients who received the vaccine after having been previously infected with COVID-19 showed greater immune response to the first shot and more intense side effects that are associated with strong immune responses like fever and muscle aches. The study included patients who received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. Some scientists believe these patients may only need a single shot to provide sufficient immunity, but more research is needed.

Moderna has announced that it will begin testing its vaccine in children and adolescents, who they believe may have stronger immune responses, leading to more intense side effects.

This page has information about the other brands of vaccine: https://fairfaxcountyemergency.wpcomstaging.com/2021/02/16/what-you-need-to-know-when-you-get-vaccinated-and-after-you-get-vaccinated/

National Cancer Survivor’s Day

 

 

Observed annually on the first Sunday in June, National Cancer Survivor’s Day has been set aside to “demonstrate that life after a cancer diagnosis can be a reality.”

Each year on National Cancer Survivor’s Day, events and celebrations are held and hosted around the United States by local communities, hospitals and support groups honoring cancer survivors.  Events may include parades, carnivals, art exhibits, contests and testimonies. President George W. Bush and the National Cancer Institute director each included a commencement at the 2008 celebration.

 

So today is my day and my mom’s day and countless other people’s day.  I’m a kidney cancer survivor – 13 years now!

My mom survived colon cancer TWICE

My sister-in-law survived breast cancer TWICE

My DH survived melanoma and is working hard at surviving prostate cancer.

It hasn’t been all good though.  There have been many more in my extended family who did not survive, including my dad and my aunt. 

 

Congratulations to the survivors on this special “Who Knew” holiday, National Cancer Survivor’s Day

 

 

13 Years Kidney Cancer Free!

WOOHOO

Amazing! It’s Been 13 Years, Already.

Today is the Thirteenth Anniversary of my kidney cancer surgery.  These thirteen years have been bonus years for me.  For my cancer stage, the 5-year survival rate was 81% and I’ve made it more than twice that long – so far.
What were the odds I’d get kidney cancer? According to my “risk factors”, I “should” have had colon cancer because both parents and an aunt had it twice each.  Of course, there’s no guarantee that I won’t get that, too.

And the risk factors for kidney cancer aka renal cell carcinoma? The majority of kidney cancers are renal cell carcinomas. Risk factors for renal cell carcinoma include:

  • Age. Your risk of renal cell carcinoma increases as you age. Renal cell carcinoma occurs most commonly in people 60 and older.

I was younger than this.

  • Sex. Men are more likely to develop renal cell carcinoma than women are.

I am female

  • Smoking. Smokers have a greater risk of renal cell carcinoma than nonsmokers do. The risk increases the longer you smoke and decreases after you quit.

Not me!

  • Obesity. People who are obese have a higher risk of renal cell carcinoma than do people who are considered average weight.

A Cushing’s gift

  • High blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure increases your risk of renal cell carcinoma, but it isn’t clear why. Some research in animals has linked high blood pressure medications to an increased risk of kidney cancer, but studies in people have had conflicting results.

Never had this until the kidney cancer.  It went away immediately post-op but it’s back now.work

  • Chemicals in your workplace. Workers who are exposed to certain chemicals on the job may have a higher risk of renal cell carcinoma. People who work with chemicals such as asbestos, cadmium and trichloroethylene may have an increased risk of kidney cancer.

What?  Me work?  

  • Treatment for kidney failure. People who receive long-term dialysis to treat chronic kidney failure have a greater risk of developing kidney cancer. People who have a kidney transplant and receive immunosuppressant drugs also are more likely to develop kidney cancer.

Nope.  Some sites also list polycystic kidney disease.  I don’t have that but half my husband’s family does.  Hmmm – wonder if that’s contagious

  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease. People with this inherited disorder are likely to develop several kinds of tumors, including, in some cases, renal cell carcinoma.

I’ve wondered about this but, you know, it’s too “rare”.

  • Hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma. Having this inherited condition makes it more likely you’ll develop one or more renal cell carcinomas.

Not that I know of. 

I am so thankful for all my doctors but today I am thankful for Dr. Amir Al-Juburi who saved my life by removing my kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma).
April 28, 2006, I picked up my husband for a biopsy and took him to an outpatient surgical center. While I was there waiting for the biopsy to be completed, I started noticing blood in my urine and major abdominal cramps. I left messages for several of my doctors on what I should do. I finally decided to see my PCP after I got my husband home.
When Tom was done with his testing, his doctor took one look at me and asked if I wanted an ambulance. I said no, that I thought I could make it to the emergency room ok – Tom couldn’t drive because of the anesthesia they had given him. I barely made it to the ER and left the car with Tom to park. Tom’s doctor followed us to the ER and became my new doctor.
When I was diagnosed in the ER with kidney cancer, Tom’s doctor said that he could do the surgery but that he would recommend someone even more experienced, Dr. Amir Al-Juburi.
Dr. Amir Al-Juburi has been so kind to me, almost like a kindly grandfather might be, and he got rid of all 10 pounds of my kidney and cancer.
I owe him, the original doctor, and my Cushing’s doctors, my life.
The following are extracted from posts that were made during my kidney cancer diagnosis and surgery in 2006:
From Alice April 29, 2006
This is Mary’s friend, Alice (Dearest of Power Surge).
I’m not going to go into every detail at this time. I will fill you in on more details as I receive them from Mary and Tom. I’m sure Mary posted on the boards that she recently went back to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to be retested because the tests that had been done the past year were incorrect and she was getting the wrong dose of hGh for the past year. In any event, she was tested again on Thursday and then returned home. The above is just a preface to create a time frame of events. It isn’t the reason I’ve come here to ask for prayers for Mary.
This is: Mary mentioned to me last week that she had noticed some blood in her urine. She was going to get it checked. As it were, when she returned from Johns Hopkins, she drove her husband, Tom, to get his regular biopsy for his history of prostate cancer.
While in the emergency room, Mary started having cramps in her stomach and when she went to the rest room, discovered a great deal more blood in her urine. Fortunately, she was at the hospital with her husband when this occurred. The cramps were becoming more severe. The doctors checked her out and they found a tumor in one of her kidneys – the tumor is actually the size of the kidney.
At this point and time, the doctors are recommending removal of the kidney and one of her adrenal glands. One surgeon recommended immediate removal of the kidney. Mary and Tom wanted to first talk with her other doctors and will decide on what surgeon performs the surgery. She never left the hospital where she simply went to take Tom for his test. Instead, she was admitted. She had a great deal of pain last night, but it was helped with pain killers. I will provide hospital details later.
She’s scheduled for an MRI later this morning or early afternoon.
I don’t want to go into much more detail except to say that whatever the condition of the tumor, the prognosis is pretty good.
I know how much all of you love her (as I do), how much she’s done with this site, how hard she’s worked to provide you with so much wonderful information about Cushing’s — plus what a good friend she’s been to so many of you. I also know that those of you who talk to her may want to call her. She needs time to go through all the preliminaries before being inundated with calls.
I will do my best to keep you apprised of Mary’s situation as I receive information. When she gives me the go ahead for giving out the hospital and is ready to take calls, I’ll pass the information along.
Please take a moment to send prayers for {{{{{MaryO}}}}} (she’s “our” MaryO on Power Surge, too) that everything will turn out all right and she will get through this crisis with flying colors.
Dearest
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Alice April 30, 2006
* Addendum: 9:30 AM – made some corrections to the 5 something AM post.
What a beautiful show of love and support.
I spoke to Mary last night. She had the MRI as scheduled. She spoke with her own doctor and they decided on a surgeon, but it means going to another hospital. She said she’d probably be coming home for a day before going in for the surgery.
I hesitated to mention in my first post that the doctors said they * think the kidney tumor is malignant due to it’s size – 5 cm. I’m sure many of you surmised that, or why would the emergency room doctors recommend immediate surgery. However, as I said earlier, Mary and Tom wanted to consult with her own doctor first. She was told that if, in fact, it is kidney cancer and is detected and treated early and confined to the kidney, the chances for a full recovery are good.
Considering what she’s going through, Mary sounded good. Lord knows, she’s been through so much already. God willing, this may resolve some of the other health issues she’s been experiencing.
Knowing Mary, when she returns home for a day before checking into the other hospital for surgery, if she’s up to it, she’ll post here herself and provide you with additional details.
For now, I’ve told you just about all I know.
Keep up those prayers!
Alice
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Alice April 30, 2006
11 AM Update:
Mary had a brain scan this morning. She was supposed to have a bone scan today as well, but they’re doing it tomorrow instead, so they told her she could GO HOME TODAY (until she checks into the other hospital for the surgery)! She’s thrilled to be going home and I’m sure she’ll be here posting to all of you herself. You know Mary can’t stay away from computers very long. I’d venture a guess that if they looked inside, her arteries and veins would look more like computer cables (ducking).
We love Mary – so keep on praying that everything goes well, that the tests all yield good results and that she’ll be getting better ‘n better until she’s finished with this whole ordeal
(please, God!)
Reminds me of the phrase . . .
Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Til the good is better
And the better, BEST!
Alice
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Alice April 30, 2006
Update – 2:15 PM:
Spoke with Mary. She’s home. She’s resting. The brain scan, chest/lung x-ray, abdominal scan all came out clean. The only test remaining that I know of is the bone scan, but it’s excellent that the above tests yielded good results.
She’s going back to the hospital for the bone scan tomorrow and, hopefully, scheduled for surgery ASAP.
Her attitude is very good. She sounds very good and I know, with God watching over her, and everyone showing so much love and caring, she’ll pull through this with flying colors.
It’s easier for me in conveying information to you to do so with an upbeat attitude. I try to avoid thinking of these things as tragedies or things that make me sick. Of course, I’m saddened and sorry that Mary is going through this — and has gone through so much, but such is life. You all certainly know that very well. Nobody hands us a guarantee that life is going to be without problems. And, yes, as the Morton’s salt container says, It never rains, it pours. But my M.O. is to try to keep as positive as possible, especially when in the throes of life’s unanticipated crises.
I believe the expression, “Attitude” is half the battle won.
Mary’s attitude is excellent and I know in my heart she’s going to come through this just fine.
Alice
P.S. An expression I remember my mother using, “The things we fear never happen. It’s the things we never think about that do!”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Alice May 2, 2006
There wasn’t much to add yesterday. Mary was scheduled for a bone scan, but first had to have the radioactive tracer substance injection (I presume it was injected — she wasn’t sure herself). She was scheduled to have that around 10:30-11 AM, ET, and then had to return five hours later for the bone scan.
I didn’t speak with her last night, but she text messaged me around 6:30 that she was finally home and that the surgery had been scheduled for a week from today, Tuesday, May 9th at 9:30 AM.
I’ll post the hospital information as the time draws near.
That’s about it for now. She’s still sounding pretty good and wants to get the surgery done already!
Let’s keep those prayers going!
Alice
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Me May 2, 2006
First off, I’d like to thank you all for your good wishes, support and prayers. I could do the Sally Field thing and say “…and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” but I won’t 🙂
I plan to print everything out and take it with me to the hospital as a cheery-upper.
Alice has been such a wonderful friend through all this, calling, checking up on me, keeping all of you updated on things as they are known right now. Her support and love has been such a wonderful blessing in my life, especially now.
As it is, I’m currently feeling “normal” whatever that is. If I didn’t know I had a problem, I would think that I was just fine.
I am fortunate that I found this out before the tumor could grow any larger. I am fortunate that I was close to the ER, not driving home from Baltimore, or in Baltimore, Oklahoma or on the cruise.
I know that the tumor has been growing for quite a while – it’s very large. I saw the MRI images and even I can tell that it’s not normal. As far as I know now, all the other scans have been fine. I had an abdomen CT, chest CT, brain MRI, chest/abdomen MRI and a full body bone scan.
When I was in the ER Friday, they assumed that it was a kidney stone and did the first abdomenal CT scan looking to see where that was. They came back with the news that yes, I had a kidney stone but that it was the least of my worries at them moment. So, I was admitted to the hospital and had all the other scans except the bone scan. Knowing what I know now, it would have been better and easier for me to have had the bone scan as an inpatient. As soon as I checked out and was out of the system, it was harder to get an “emergency” (not scheduled weeks in advance) bone scan. Oh, well.
My surgery will be next Tuesday, May 9, at 9:30AM at Fairfax Hospital (http://www.inova.org/inovapublic.srt/ifh/index.jsp ). I’m expected to stay there for 3-5 days post op and they don’t anticipate any pesky complications like chemo or radiation at this time.
For now, I’m keeping my normal schedule, avoiding reading horror stories online, eating, sleeping – even napping! – as usual. Sometimes I even forget that I have this little medical appointment next week.
For a non-phone person I’ve talked with so many people these last few days, it’s mind-boggling.
I’m happy to report that all is not lost on the (Cushie) cruise. Someone will replace me – and there will be another cruise later in the year. YEA! My main “concern” on that now is that I’ll lose weight (finally!) post-op and my cruisewear will no longer fit. Yeah, right.
In thinking back, I think it’s a good thing that my arginine test was messed up in Sept of 05. If it hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have redone it on Thursday. I believe that having that stuff in my body was what made my kidneys rebel and act up on Friday. So, without the lab screw-up I might not have known anything for a long time.
So, it’s all good
Thanks to everyone who has called and posted such wonderful things. I cannot begin to imagine what my email looks like…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Alice May 9, 2006, 09:10 AM
I’ve been in constant contact with Mary. Spoke to her at 7 this morning. She, Tom and their son, Michael, were on the way to the hospital. Mary sounded very good as she has all week. She’s going in with an excellent attitude.
She’s probably being prepped right now. The surgery is set for for 9:30 (ET). They anticipate the surgery will last 3 1/2 – 4 hours.
Now, all we can do is pray and wait. Tom will call me after the surgery is over. As soon as I hear something, I’ll make it a point to come back and post what I know.
Your support, love and prayers have been remarkable. Thank you on behalf of Mary. Please keep on praying until it’s over.
God? You listening? You’ve got someone very special to watch over this morning. We’re counting on you!
Alice
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Alice May 9, 2006, 12:33 PM
Mary’s husband, Tom, called me at 12:15
He said it’s going to be another 3 hours – around 3:15 PM – before they’re done. Surgery didn’t start as scheduled at 9:30, but more like 11:30. There wasn’t that much he could tell me except that the doctors said, so far everything is going as expected and Tom said, “so far, so good.”
I hesitate to draw any conclusions from that statement because I’m not 100% sure of what the doctors expected, so it’s a matter of waiting until it’s over.
I’ll keep you posted. Keep praying, please!
Alice
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Alice May 9, 2006, 2:00PM
Tom called at 1:15, but we had a bad connection. We finally connected.
The operation is over. Mary was being sewn up. Tom said according to the doctor, “the tumor and the kidney were removed.” The doctor is calling the operation a “complete success.”
I asked if they saw any signs of cancer anywhere else because Mary had told me originally that they’d said they might remove the gallbladder, too, but they didn’t remove the gallbladder – which is a good sign.
It appears as though everything was concentrated in the kidney.
Thank God. It’s over!
Alice
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Alice May 9 2006, 07:39 PM
Someone said: “… I told her that I would wait until she was home and feeling much better before I talked to her again and she agreed that she wasn’t sure she would be up to taking phone calls. Again, thank you so much for keeping us updated… this way we can know how Mary is doing without her having to take so many calls…”
That’s exactly how Tom and I feel. Tom suggests people not call the hospital. I wouldn’t even call his cell phone all day. I waited for him to contact me. I know he’s also exhausted. I figured he’d call when he was up to it. He called about 15 minutes ago.
It’s important that Mary get all the rest she can while recovering. Yes, everything turned out well, but she still had major surgery, is on morphine and needs her sleep. It’s important that we all allow her this time to rest.
It just so happened she was awake when he called and he turned on his cell phone’s speakerphone so Mary and I could talk for a minute. I was so happy to hear her voice. She sounded tired, her mouth was dry, but she sounded good.
Because this is a public message board, I prefer not to post details of the room she’s in. If anyone wants this information for the purpose of sending something to Mary, please E.mail me from the address you registered with on the board, and please include your user name. Thanks.
Another thing is that Mary has allergies, so for those wishing to send something to her, Tom and I (and Mary, as we discussed before she went into the hospital) agree she’s better off without flowers.
Finally, Tom said the doctor was very pleased with how her surgery went – that her body was quite robust, that there was very little bleeding, so no transfusion was needed, and he was generally very pleased with the surgery.
It’s been a very stressful day. I love Mary like a sister. We’ve been good friends for 11 years. I cried so after he initially called and said everything went well. I know all of you love and care about Mary, too.
All I’ve thought all day is, thank you, God, for watching over MaryO. I know all of you have thought the same thing.
That’s about it for now — she even cracked a personal joke when we said goodbye — she’ll be back to her old self again before too long.
Alice
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Alice May 13 2006, 08:10 PM
Saturday Update on Mary:
When she’s back on her computer, I know Mary will be thrilled to read all your thoughtful, beautiful and caring messages.
She’s doing well. The worst part is the incision which is quite large because the doctors originally anticipated the possibility of having to remove the adrenal gland above the kidney that was removed and the gall bladder as well. However, as I posted earlier, once they got in there, everything was found to be clean so they just took out the tumor and the kidney (as if that’s not enough). So, when she gets up to go to the bathroom, the incision is quite painful. I imagine an incision of that size will take a while to heal. Other than that she says she feels good!!
Additionally, the doctor was awaiting the results of the lymph node biopsy (just to be sure) and he told her yesterday, “everything looks clean.”
She was originally scheduled to go home tomorrow, Sunday, but . . . she went home TODAY!
Spoke to her after she arrived home (sorry I didn’t post earlier, but also have my Web site to deal with).
She sounded great and was glad to be home especially since a new person checked into her room yesterday and Mary wasn’t able to sleep all night.
That’s all for now – and all very good news, thank God!
Alice
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Me: June 17, 2006 post-op:
Thank you all for your prayers, good wishes, cards, phone calls, gifts, general “cheery-uppers”. They all really helped me on my road to recovery.
I do have a ton of thank you cards to send out to lots of people – I’m very slow at that. Under normal circumstances my handwriting is terrible. Now, post-op kidney cancer, I can no longer take my arthritis meds or any NSAIDs and my writing will probably be even worse 😦
I am very nearly better, not much pain anymore, a nasty big scar and my energy levels aren’t so great. Of course, they were awful before. I can no longer take the GH even though I’m deficient. In 5 years (if I survive!) I can take the GH again, supposedly.
I’ve had a lot of time to do a lot of thinking over the last 6 weeks. I know I was extraordinarily lucky to have my tumor discovered before it was too late. The lab reports and my surgeon reported that it would only have been a week or so before the tumor had hemorrhaged and caused major problems. Thank goodness the argenine retest for GH had caused me to bleed – at least I think that’s what set it off. If I hadn’t had all the blood and pain for one day only, I’d have had no clue that I had this cancer and who knows what would have happened in that next week.
I will be getting CT scans every 3 months for awhile to be sure that there is no cancer hiding out.
During my time of thinking, I have also been thinking about making changes to the boards based on what I have heard was going on here. I am not yet sure how these changes will manifest themselves but I do know that bashing others will not be tolerated. More on this later, in another area.
Again, thank you for all your support!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Me July 6, 2006
Since I recently had surgery for kidney cancer, I’ve been looking around for another board to read and talk about this with other survivors (hopefully!) I haven’t found anyplace I’d like to visit or feel comfortable with yet, so I decided to make a new area here.
I know – or I think I know – that no one else here has had kidney cancer, although I know at least 1 other person has had a kidney removed and several others have reported kidney stones and other possible kidney diseases.
I’m sure that my recovery will be much the same as for any other major abdominal surgery, although I’d like it to be faster.
Before my surgery, I didn’t have time really to consider that I had cancer, and what it meant for my life. There was no going from doctor to doctor, running a different test each week, suspecting that maybe… Just boom, there it is. Cancer.
Now that I’m about 8 weeks post-op, I’m thinking more and more about this and how it might affect my future. I know that there are going to be lots of scans, every 3 months, just to be sure that there wasn’t a cell hiding out.
I know I have to be careful with meds – no NSAIDs so my arthritis is worse. No GH – it’s contraindicated for 5 years…assuming I’m cancer free then.
I’m supposed to be eating less protein, more fruits/veggies, drinking more water.
And I’m supposed to avoid playing football and other things that might damage my remaining kidney.
Normally, I know how very lucky I am. I just reread the path reports and know that the tumor was already hemorrhaging around the borders and the cysts contained hemorrhagic fluid. Things could be much worse.
Sometimes, at night when I can’t sleep, I wonder why I was lucky like this. What haven’t I done with my life that I should. Seems to me that I’ve accomplished what I should already.
And, in the night, I worry about the cancer returning, taking my other kidney or worse.
At this time, there’s no standard chemo unless it’s metastasized, although there are some promising clinical trials and radiation doesn’t seem to work for this kind of cancer, so if it returns it’s more surgery.
I suppose I could/should have put all this in my blog, but I put it out here in case anyone else should need this in the future. I hope not!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From me Aug 19 2006, 01:25 AM
Thanks so much for asking!
Unfortunately, I haven’t read the boards much lately – I’m spending most of my online time deleting/banning the InstaChat intruders.
I have been working on the websites, though, and that’s always fun! I’ve even added a new one to the roster and it has some cool stuff on it. New features to be announced in the upcoming newsletter.
I’ve been even more tired than usual now that I’m off GH. I can’t take my arthritis meds, or anything like Excedrin (no NSAIDs) so my joints are nearly always bothering me and I have to wait out any headaches. I’m also just getting over a UTI.
I just had my 3 month post-op CT scans and I hope they come out ok. At first I was grateful that I wouldn’t have to have chemo or radiation come to find out that neither has been discovered yet which works well with kidney cancer. Apparently, it can resurface any time for the rest of my life. I’m hoping that some of the chemo clinical trials show some good results so I can get this thing before it metastasizes somewhere.
I’m having trouble sleeping (1:20 AM here, now) although I’m always tired. My mind plays all kinds of tricks in the night. Those InstaChat people don’t help, either! When I wake up just a little, instead of falling back asleep, I’ll go check to see what they’ve done.
Whine, whine!
On the plus side – I survived the kidney cancer surgery, and it’s almost vacation time!
Even vacation will be bittersweet, though. 2 years ago, Sue went with us on vacation. She had a great time and she had asked if she could go with us again this year. Of course, we had said yes…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From me May 8 2008, 11:07 PM
I am feeling very maudlin, a bit down and depressed. It’s very nearly the anniversary of my kidney cancer surgery. I posted this in my blog a few days ago:

I’ve been feeling weird for about a week now. Last Friday, I went through the whole “Sending Prayers” topic (MKO’Note: this thread) that my good friend Alice started for me.After I read that, I started reliving all the kidney cancer events…again. I know I shouldn’t do this. My counselor says that this is a very stressful thing to do and it’s not good for me, for anyone. But I do it anyway, especially the pituitary and cancer surgery anniversaries. I wish I did this with good stuff, could relive that instead of the scary and painful.
After I finished rereading all that, I went back to my post in the cancer section: I guess I’ve talked about this more than I think! I just wish there was someone I could get answers and support from. I have never met anyone in real life who has shared my particular brand of cancer, haven’t talked to anyone on the phone or emailed anyone.
I even asked at my local cancer support center about support for me – they have all kinds of meetings, mainly for breast and prostate cancer, but other kinds, too. But they said that there weren’t enough kidney cancer people to have a meeting. The one and only book that the library there has on kidney cancer was given to me by the author to donate there.
Lucky me – two rare diseases that no one gets. According to statistics I should be a black man who smokes and works in the iron and steel industry or is exposed to certain chemical and substances, such as asbestos (a mineral fiber that can be used in construction materials for insulation and as fire-retardant) and cadmium (a rare, soft, bluish-white chemical element used in batteries and plastic industry), also increase the risk for renal cell carcinoma. I should have polycystic kidneys and not drink the copious coffee.
So…where did it come from? A mutation of my parents’ and aunt’s colon cancer or do I still have that looming on my horizon?
And the Cushing’s came from nowhere, too. I know that no one knows these answers but I think of them a lot, especially at night.
Although I’m not afraid of death and would like it to be as peaceful and pain-free as possible, I still dream at night that I’m dying or have died. These dreams have been going on since before the cancer and I can’t seem to shake them although I’m taking them more in stride now and can go right back to sleep.
And from last year’s post on this topic, these still concern me:
What if the lung nodules that “aren’t growing” turn out to be something on the next scan? Is the stomach distress I’m currently feeling a cause to ask for my next colonoscopy a bit earlier?
Is the pain on the other side the other kidney causing trouble? Or something new with an ovary?
What if, what if…?
Seems like in my addled brain any new symptom could be cancer, not the simple stomach bug or pulled muscle.
Had they told me in 2006 that I only had a year or two to live, I’d have thought it far too short a time. I guess how long a year is depends on the frame of mind!
I hate going for scans because they could show something but I get nervous when there are no scans because there could be something else! Seems like my mind is setting me up for a lose-lose situation.
I’m sure as I get closer to Friday that other thoughts will come to me. I am so grateful that I’ve had these two “bonus years”. I feel like there is so much still to do with the Cushing’s sites and I will never get them done in my lifetime but I plan to keep trucking along!

And from Wonderful Words of Life…
I’m acquiring the title of an old hymn for this next post.
After I was finished with the long Cushing’s diagnostic process, surgery and several post-op visits to NIH, I was asked to give the scripture reading at my church. The man who did the sermon that week was the survivor of a horrific accident where he and his family were hit by a van while waiting at an airport.
i thought I had written down the verse carefully. I practiced and practiced, I don’t like speaking in front of a crowd but I said I would. When I got to church, the verse was different. Maybe I wrote it down wrong, maybe someone changed it. Whatever.
This verse has come to have so much meaning in my life. When I saw at a book called A Musician’s Book of Psalms each day had a different psalm. On my birthday, there was “my” psalm so I had to buy this book!
Psalm 116 (New International Version)
1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, save me!”
5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me.
7 Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
10 I believed; therefore I said,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
11 And in my dismay I said,
“All men are liars.”
12 How can I repay the LORD
for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.
16 O LORD, truly I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD—
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD.

I carry a print out of this everywhere I go because I find it very soothing. “when I was in great need, he saved me.” This print out is in a plastic page saver. On the other side there is an article I found after my kidney cancer. I first read this in Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul and is posted several places online.

The Best Day Of My Life
by Gregory M Lousignont
Today, when I awoke, I suddenly realized that this is the best day of my life, ever! There were times when I wondered if I would make it to today; but I did! And because I did I’m going to celebrate!
Today, I’m going to celebrate what an unbelievable life I have had so far: the accomplishments, the many blessings, and, yes, even the hardships because they have served to make me stronger.
I will go through this day with my head held high, and a happy heart. I will marvel at God’s seemingly simple gifts: the morning dew, the sun, the clouds, the trees, the flowers, the birds. Today, none of these miraculous creations will escape my notice.
Today, I will share my excitement for life with other people. I’ll make someone smile. I’ll go out of my way to perform an unexpected act of kindness for someone I don’t even know.
Today, I’ll give a sincere compliment to someone who seems down. I’ll tell a child how special he is, and I’ll tell someone I love just how deeply I care for her and how much she means to me.
Today is the day I quit worrying about what I don’t have and start being grateful for all the wonderful things God has already given me.
I’ll remember that to worry is just a waste of time because my faith in God and his Divine Plan ensures everything will be just fine.
And tonight, before I go to bed, I’ll go outside and raise my eyes to the heavens. I will stand in awe at the beauty of the stars and the moon, and I will praise God for these magnificent treasures.
As the day ends and I lay my head down on my pillow, I will thank the Almighty for the best day of my life. And I will sleep the sleep of a contented child, excited with expectation because know tomorrow is going to be the best day of my life, ever!

When I’m feeling down, depressed or low, reading my 2 special pages can help me more than anything else.

March ~ Kidney Cancer Awareness Month

 

Kidney Cancer awareness is very important to me, because I learned I had it in 2006.

I’m pretty sure I had it before 2006 but in that year I picked up my husband for a biopsy and took him to an outpatient surgical center. While I was there waiting for the biopsy to be completed, I started noticing blood in my urine and major abdominal cramps. I left messages for several of my doctors on what I should do. I finally decided to see my PCP after I got my husband home.

 

When Tom was done with his testing, his doctor took one look at me and asked if I wanted an ambulance. I said no, that I thought I could make it to the emergency room ok – Tom couldn’t drive because of the anesthetic they had given him. I barely made it to the ER and left the car with Tom to park. Tom’s doctor followed us to the ER and became my new doctor.

 

When I was diagnosed in the ER with kidney cancer, Tom’s doctor said that he could do the surgery but that he would recommend someone even more experienced, Dr. Amir Al-Juburi.

 

Dr. Amir Al-Juburi has been so kind to me, almost like a kindly grandfather might be, and he got rid of all 10 pounds of my cancer in addition to my kidney.

 

More than 12,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year, according to 2014 statistics.

And although 42% of cases are deemed “preventable”, only 50% of patients survive kidney disease for 10 or more years.  I will celebrate 13 years next month, on May 9!

It’s the seventh most common cancer in the UK and is much more prevalent in males.

But do you know the warning signs of the potentially deadly disease?

Here we reveal the 12 main symptoms of kidney cancer:

1. Blood in your pee  Not until the day I was diagnosed.

You may notice your pee is darker than normal or reddish in color. This could also be a sign of chronic kidney disease and bladder cancer.

2. A persistent pain in your lower back or side, just below your ribs No

3. A lump or swelling in your side (although kidney cancer is often too small to feel) No

4. Extreme tiredness (fatigue) Possibly, although I assumed it was from Cushing’s

5. Loss of appetite and weight loss No

6. Persistent high blood pressure Yes

7. A high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above No

8. Night sweats No

9. In men, swelling of the veins in the testicles Nope

10. Swollen glands in your neck No

11. Bone pain No

12. Coughing up blood No

If you are concerned about any of these symptoms you should see you GP, they will carry out a series of tests, including urine and blood tests, in order to get an accurate diagnosis.

What are the treatment options?

The treatment will depend on the size and severity of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.

These are the five main treatments:

1. Surgery to remove part or all of the affected kidney Yes, all plus some other stuff

This the main treatment for most people

2. Ablation therapies No

Where the cancerous cells are destroyed by freezing or heating them

3. Biological therapies No

Medications that help stop the cancer growing or spreading

4. Embolisation No

A procedure to cut off the blood supply to the cancer

5. Radiotherapy No

Where high-energy radiation is used to target cancer cells and relieve symptoms

For more information go to nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-kidney

The 12 symptoms adapted from http://www.dailystar.co.uk/health/605586/Kidney-cancer-symptoms-treatment-males-females-early-warning-signs

Rare Disease Day 2019

rare disease day

What am I doing for Rare Disease Day?

For me, it’s more that one day out of the year. Each and every day since 1987,  I tell anyone who will listen about Cushing’s.  I pass out a LOT Cushing’s business cards and brochures.

My husband also passes out cards and brochures.

Adding to websites, blogs and more which I have maintained continuously since 2000 – at mostly my own expense.

Posting on the Cushing’s Help message boards about Rare Disease Day.  I post there most every day.

Tweeting/retweeting info about Cushing’s and Rare Disease Day today.

Adding info to one of my blogs about Cushing’s and Rare Disease Day.

Adding new and Golden Oldies bios to another blog, again most every day.

Thinking about getting the next Cushing’s Awareness Blogging Challenge set up for April…and will anyone else participate?

And updating https://www.facebook.com/CushingsInfo with a bunch of info today (and every day!)

~~~

Why am I so passionate about Rare Disease Day?

I had Cushing’s Disease due to a pituitary tumor. I was told to diet, told to take antidepressants and told that it was all my fault that I was so fat. My pituitary surgery in 1987 was a “success” but I still deal with the aftereffects of Cushing’s and of the surgery itself.

I also had another Rare Disease – Kidney Cancer, rare in younger, non-smoking women.

And then, there’s the adrenal insufficiency

And growth hormone deficiency

If you’re interested, you can read my bio here: https://cushingsbios.com/2018/10/28/maryo-pituitary-bio/

What are YOU doing for Rare Disease Day?

 

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Unlucky Women! Belly fat tied to lower kidney cancer survival odds in women

Thanks to Cushing’s, I have (and had!) a lot of this.

Belly fat reduces a woman’s chances for surviving kidney cancer, but not a man’s, a new study suggests.

The study included 77 women and 145 men with kidney cancer. Half of the women with high amounts of belly fat died within 3.5 years of diagnosis. Meanwhile, more than half of women with low amounts of belly fat were still alive after 10 years.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found no link between belly fat and men’s kidney cancer survival.

The findings suggest kidney cancer develops and progresses differently in men and women, the study authors said.

“We’re just beginning to study sex as an important variable in cancer,” study senior author Dr. Joseph Ippolito said in a university news release. Ippolito is an instructor in radiology.

“Men and women have very different metabolisms. A tumor growing in a man’s body is in a different environment than one growing inside a woman, so it’s not surprising that the cancers behave differently between the sexes,” he explained.

Excess weight is a major risk factor for kidney cancer, but does not necessarily affect a patient’s chance of survival. This study suggests, however, that the distribution of body fat affects women’s survival odds. But it does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

“We know there are differences in healthy male versus healthy female metabolism,” Ippolito said. “Not only in regard to how the fat is carried, but how their cells use glucose, fatty acids and other nutrients. So the fact that visceral [belly] fat matters for women but not men suggests that something else is going on besides just excess weight.”

This line of research could lead to better ways to treat women with kidney cancer, Ippolito added.

The report was published online recently in the journal Radiology.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on kidney cancer.

From https://www.upi.com/Belly-fat-tied-to-lower-kidney-cancer-survival-odds-in-women/2511523328151/

New Clinical Trials for Kidney Cancer

Two new clinical trials for kidney cancer are available at Lehigh Valley Health Network through its partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, giving patients options for experimental treatment and participation in research that advances kidney cancer treatment.

The immunotherapy trials test combinations of drugs that cut off blood supply to tumor cells and help the immune system find and fight cancer cells.

A decade ago, late-stage kidney cancer patients had a small chance of living past a year after diagnosis, said Dr. Suresh Nair, medical director of LVHN Cancer Institute.

“The amount of progress that’s happened in the year is staggering,” he said. “Kidney cancer has probably progressed the most among all the cancer areas in the past year.”

On Thursday, about 30 patients made it to their second annual celebration of advancements in kidney cancer treatment. The event, which was sponsored by the Andy Derr Foundation for Kidney Cancer Research and hosted by LVHN and Memorial Sloan Kettering at Lehigh Country Club, also featured a talk by leading kidney cancer doctor and researcher Dr. Robert Motzer, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Kidney cancer research had a major breakthrough in 2006, when a Pfizer drug sunitinib won approval from the Food and Drug Administration, Motzer said. The drug cut off blood flow to tumors and prolonged life for late-stage kidney cancer patients.

Since then, survival rates continue to climb due to new generations of sunitinib, including one used by LVHN doctors called cabozantinib, and advancements in immunotherapy, which boosts the immune system to fight cancer.

But there’s a lot more progress to be made.

“That’s why efforts like your own are so important,” Motzer said at LVHN’s event. “That’s what gets the work done.”

Every year, more than 37,000 men and 21,000 women get kidney and renal pelvis cancers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 13,000 die.

LVHN offers six clinical trials for kidney cancers, including the two newest.

New treatments give patients such as Lackawanna County resident Arlene Townsend a second chance at life. She’s participating in an LVHN immunotherapy trial launched last year.

Before her diagnosis, Townsend, 38, was easily irritated and didn’t have any passion for her job or life.

“It use to be get up, go to work, come home, make dinner,” she said. “It was kind of just going through the motions.”

She had to develop a positive attitude to cope with the physical and emotional toll of her late-stage kidney cancer, which had spread to her bones, lung and the lymph nodes around the heart in 2016, she said. Since her diagnosis, she found a passion for refurbishing furniture, let go of her cynicism and found happiness in life’s small moments.

“If I’m driving — it sounds silly — I notice the clouds,” she said.

“You don’t realize how many great things you have in your life until you think you’re not going to have them anymore.”

The change was so apparent that her husband noticed.

“He thinks I’m much happier,” she said.


CLINICAL TRIALS

Lehigh Valley Health Network and Memorial Sloan Kettering have partnered to bring new cancer treatments to the Lehigh Valley.

What is a clinical trial: A study involving patients who volunteer to receive new medications or treatments under evaluation.

Who may participate: Criteria are unique to each trial but often are based on age, gender, health and medical history. They are designed for participants most like those who will eventually receive the new drugs.

Source: Lehigh Valley Health Network

More information: At lvhn.org, search “clinical trials.”

From http://www.mcall.com/business/healthcare/mc-nws-biz-clinical-trials-kidney-cancer-20180406-story.html