Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Want to Go to Dairy Queen

During my recent visit with the oncologist, we corrected some misinformation in my records. The pathology done after my surgery in November 2008 showed that I had 5 lymph nodes that were cancerous, but a transcription error changed that number to 3 on my subsequent records. My ten-year prognosis had to be refigured based on the correct number, and the outcome was not encouraging. Before the mistake was corrected, my raw recurrence risk was figured to be 60%. The treatments I had received gave me a possible 20 percentage point advantage, bringing my recurrence risk down to about 40%. After the numbers were refigured, my raw recurrence risk is now calculated to be 83%, and with the treatment advantage, as low as 60+%. None of my treatment would have been different with the correct information.

When I talked to the oncologist about the problems I've been having with the Tamoxifen, she was about as blunt as she's ever been. She told me that my decision whether or not to keep on taking the Tamoxifen is basically a quality-of-life choice. She said that since statistics indicate the cancer is almost certain to return, I have to decide whether I want to burden my next years with these side effects or just make those years as pleasant as possible for my family and me. She was not eager to encourage me to drop the medication, but she was not opposed to other "quality-of-life" choices.

I knew my recurrence risk was high, so this wasn't exactly devastating news. I've known for quite a while that a mistake had been made in my records, so I was aware that the statistics I had been given were probably not accurate. And to make the picture brighter, I had recently begun doing more extensive research into alternative methods of reducing cancer recurrence, and the information I came up with was very encouraging.

Back when I first started this blog, I was, frankly, overwhelmed and discouraged with all the information on alternative treatments that I was receiving. But over the past two years, we have had time to sort through information and decide what we found trustworthy and reasonable. For the time being, I have decided to keep up the Tamoxifen while at the same time being very careful with my diet. I am trying to eat mostly raw fruits, vegetables, grains, no sugar, almost no meat. I've added a few specific items to my daily diet that are supposed to be very beneficial.

I'm about a month into this now, and it's becoming slightly easier. At first, all I thought about was food. Although I thought I didn't have a sweet tooth, I was craving Dairy Queen, chocolate, and cookies. I dreamed about steaks and hamburgers. I mostly felt hungry and grouchy even though I was eating nuts, fruit, and salad all the time. A couple of days ago, much to my relief, I finally felt satisfied with my meals. Today, we got coupon in the mail for a Dairy Queen Chocolate-Covered Waffle Bowl Turtle Sundae - my very favorite 1,000 calorie DQ treat. I hope I can get some satisfaction from just looking at the picture. Jon said if I can stick to this diet, maybe he'll get me one on my birthday. That's almost a year away. I'll be so healthy by then, I probably won't want one. I want one now. Right now. (Stomp Stomp Growl)

Has anyone noticed how, even in desperate circumstances, will power is hard to come by?