Susan Neder

Archive for the ‘Cancer of the “Netherlands”’ Category

Integrative Treatment – you are doing WHAT with greek yogurt?

In Cancer of the "Netherlands" on December 30, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I have discovered that there is a difference between “alternative” treatments for cancer and “integrative” treatments for cancer. “Alternative” treatments often refer to treatments that are a substitute for traditional chemo and radiation, while “integrative” treatments refer to treatments that are in addition to chemo and radiation, many of which reduce side effects.

This cancer center is a big believer in integrative treatments and recommends certain ones, such as meditation, massage, reflexology, reiiki, and acupuncture. My daughters both know massage, reflexology and reiiki, and the reiiki is especially helpful for sleeping. The funniest integrative treatment recommendation came from my radiation oncologist, who told me to get greek yogurt (plain – no sugar or fruit) and slather it on the “nether regions” to help with pain! After we all stopped laughing she told me it really works. My lead oncologist, who is a guy, loved that so much and laughed so hard that he had to lean against the wall until he stopped laughing so he could see the next patient with some amount of dignity.

He told me later that this information made his day – he said he laughed all afternoon, especially when he thought about us marching into Whole Foods and asking for “topical yogurt” and trying to explain what we were going to do with it! Another integrative treatment that I have always had good results from is Dr. Walt Moore’s Quantum. I can’t explain how it works, except that it reads your energy and adjusts it on many complicated levels. I know many of us don’t believe in stuff we can’t see or understand, but all I can tell you is my personal experience with this. Several years ago I had a very large, very serious ulcer. The doctors said it had to be operated on because it was such a bad one. Walt directed his Quantum on it and when I went back to the doctors to schedule surgery, the ulcer had disappeared. The doctors said that was impossible and reran all the tests but finally said it was some kind of miracle because there was no way it would have disappeared like that. Now, the only treatment I was getting was the Quantum so you tell me; I don’t understand it, but I do think the Quantum was responsible.

Since then, I always want Walt and his Quantum on my healing team! The fact that he is such a kind, sweet man is just a wonderful extra.

Love,

Susan

P.S. Yesterday in the hospital they gave me a blood transfusion to raise my red blood cells and a shot to raise my white blood cells. The shot usually takes 2 to 3 days to work when the white blood cells are a low as mine were. This morning I felt much better and my white blood cell count was high enough that they let me be discharged, though they had said I would be in the hospital another 2 to 3 days at best. They were very surprised that my white blood cells went up so fast, but I knew that Walt put his Quantum on my white blood cells all last night. Did the Quantum help? You can decide what you think, but me, I am glad Walt and the Quantum is helping me!

Smiles and Frowns

In Cancer of the "Netherlands", Power of Love on December 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm

A few of you have asked me if I am always “up” –  is everything always funny?  Do I ever get down?  The answer is yes, I do get down.  It is seeing the humor that pulls me out of that thought, and sometimes it takes me a day or two to get my sense of humor & balance back.  So for those of you that may also be going through some of this yourself, please know that I do know and acknowledge the awfulness of this process, but I think this could swallow  person up if they let it get the best of them, so I am making a conscious choice to not let that happen, but every day is a different fight.

The other day was a case in point for me:  in addition to the other side effects I am dealing with, yesterday I learned that the skin in the “Netherlands” is literally melting off now because of radiation.  The doctors told me not to let plastic too near the “Nether regions” because I am putting out so much heat that the plastic would melt and stick to what skin I have left and pull it off.  This really shook me up and nothing was funny yesterday.  To have said I was cross would have been an understatement.  I was angry and scared… I think that it is important to acknowledge those feelings and not stuff them, but let them pass over me so I don’t get stuck in them.

What pulled me out of that ( I had to kick myself in the butt, which isn’t as easy as it sounds!) was going into the treatment center and seeing so many people much sicker than me that are probably suffering worse than me and some of those people were all alone.  When I thought about all of the family and friends that are with me providing love and support, I felt so lucky and so blessed that I couldn’t stay down.  I wish I could have gone up to some of those people and give them a hug and a warm cookie or something, but that would have probably gotten me arrested, so I decided to settle for smiling at everyone– did you know it is almost impossible to feel bad when you smile?

Love,

Susan

A Trip To the ER…

In Cancer of the "Netherlands", Chemo/Radiation on December 27, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Tis the day after Christmas and unfortunately, I had to go to the ER in the middle of the night (I had fever and fever is an emergency with chemo).  My white blood cells and platelets are way down again- lower than last time, so they are looking for infection and I am almost in isolation –  people can come in if they have no symptoms of anything but they have to wear gowns & gloves & masks, so it looks like a bad episode of Grey’s Anatomy in here. One thing about all this is that every day is a completely new day- just when you get used to things being a certain way, they change!

The two biggest downsides to this latest development are that radiation is delayed again until those blood cells come back up and I absolutely can’t be around children, so thank goodness I had so much fun with Reid & Henry Linck, because I won’ t be able to see them before they go back to Arizona on the 28th.  Oh well, that is what Skype is for!

Update From the Trenches:

In Cancer of the "Netherlands", Lucretia Borgia on December 18, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Update from the trenches in the battle of the Netherlands: Lucrezia is gone, hopefully forever!

Unfortunately, Lucrezia is “the gift that keeps on giving”, so even though she is no longer plugged into me (does that make me “Susan, Unplugged”?) she is still doing her thing with the side effects. It is very hard to talk or swallow (two things I love to do!), and, thanks to the raging forest fire in the nether regions, it is also hard to sit down. The doctors have also told me to keep my legs and feet elevated  – come on guys, how do you do that when you can’t sit down? I am trying very hard not to be cranky, being that it is Christmas week and all, but it is probably good that I can’t get my hands around the doctors’ necks right now.

I better go meditate on gratitude now, but this little duck that accompanies this post kind of sums up my mood today!

Love,

Susan

Hedgehogs

In Cancer of the "Netherlands", Chemo/Radiation, Hair Today/Gone Tomorrow on December 7, 2010 at 7:06 pm

After almost three weeks of growth on this haircut, Cindy told me I was beginning to resemble a hedgehog (don’t you love kids?). At my look of consternation she quickly assured me that she did not mean all of me, just my hair.

When that did not seem to console me, she rattled on about how wonderful and cute hedgehogs are. She then insisted that I look at pictures of hedgehogs on the internet. After looking at 25 pictures of hedgehogs, I found one that looked sort of cute, but the rest were alarming looking. Cindy is now trying to convince me that hedgehogs are good “totem animals” for fighting cancer – they persevere and are impervious to poison, etc.

I am not convinced….I tried using mousse to plaster my hair down, but she said my head looked like it had been licked by a large cat.

I think I need a haircut.

Glub…glub…’s

In Cancer of the "Netherlands", Taking on Water on December 6, 2010 at 8:09 pm

It is the end of the second week of my “DC” adventure in Denver (funny how it feels longer than that!). This has been a frustrating week, because my white blood cell count and platelet levels fell so low that I could not have radiation. I have been getting those daily shots and they finally began to work yesterday, but slowly. By the way, I now know what it feels like to have your bones hurt. It feels like you’ve been run over by a truck. However, I have learned that the more it hurts, the more it is working, so I am not complaining.

I am not allowed to go anywhere near groups of people because when your white cell count is too low so is your immune system, and they told me to stay away from sharp objects because my platelets are so low (that has to do with an ability to clot), but it does make me sound a bit mental, doesn’t it? The doctors say that lots of water helps the side effects, so I am now taking on more water than the Titanic on that fateful night – 100 oz or more everyday. The way I am managing that is to drink 8 oz of water each hour I am awake. It is not overwhelming that way and it works. I will keep that up “AC”…glub….glub…..

If you have any spare white blood cells or an overabundance of platelets, please send them up here.  Every day I can’t have radiation just prolongs the process and I am NOT a fan of that!

Monday After Thanksgiving

In Cancer of the "Netherlands", Not a Diet Plan I'd Recommend on November 30, 2010 at 7:41 pm

The Monday after Thanksgiving: The “Netherlands” enjoyed their 4 day break form the “radiation riviera”, but we are all back at it again today. The mouth and throat sores are more manageable now since I have something the doctors call “magic mouthwash”. It numbs your entire mouth and throat, which isn’t a great feeling either, but MUCH better than the alternative!

The lesion on my eyeball is troubling to the doctors, so I am being sent over to an eye doctor. Maybe he has “magic eyewash”. This thing on my eye does not hurt, but it feels like there is something in your eye that should not be there, which is, of course, the case.

They also aren’t pleased that my white blood cell count is down. After much mumbling together, they produced a shot that is supposed to tell my bone marrow to make more white blood cells (their words, not mine). I resisted the urge to suggest that perhaps they could just open my mouth and shout down loudly at my bone marrow. They said the shot might make my bones hurt. What? What does that feel like? I suppose if it happens, which it hasn’t, I’ll recognize it, having been forewarned.  But still……

The doctors were also cross because I lost 8 lbs since last Wednesday. Talk about sucking the joy out of every little thing! That was the one tiny little spark of light and happiness in this whole dark cloud and they fussed about it? What is wrong with you silly people? On and off for over 50 years you have peered over your collective glasses at me and suggested I think about losing weight.   Now here I do it, obedient little me, and you gripe about it? ( I wanted to say that, but I didn’t – don’t upset people  holding needles is my motto).  But come on – allow me a little joy here – if I really get skinny (yeah, right!) then you can threaten me with milkshakes and IV feeding tubes, but for now, BACK OFF.

Thanksgiving

In Cancer of the "Netherlands", Power of Love on November 30, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Thanksgiving will never be the same holiday for me again. I always (BC) liked Thanksgiving. I considered it a “Day of Thanks” of course, and at my house it has always been about family and friends, wonderful cooking projects, and football ( the Texas Longhorns always play on Thanksgiving). Having taught history for several years, I always got into the pilgrims and Indians thing. I also considered it a kickoff for Christmas, so as soon as Thanksgiving dishes were done, out came boxes of Christmas decorations. I MIGHT be a bit of an “over-decorator” at Christmas, but I do love it!

This year, of course, is very different; this year I felt really serious gratitude.  Not that fleeting, general gratitude, and I felt it in my heart, not in my head, as usual. I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but those of you who “live in your head” will know what I mean. I got so many lovely messages from from friends and family and I started my morning with them. My friend, Terri, sent me a short video on life that was so beautiful that it moved me to tears (good ones). This year my daughter-in-law, Libby, was the lead cook with Emily and Cindy in supporting roles and she did an awesome job! This was her first Thanksgiving as the lead cook and I couldn’t eat much because of the mouth sores, but the food was all great.

This year it was not about the food for me anyway – it was about being with family and being grateful for so much right now; my family, my friends, the people at the cancer center, the treatments themselves, being alive, and a lot more. So I hope I never again get caught up in the “doing” that was Thanksgiving and will always celebrate it with “being” reverence and gratitude as it’s own day, not the gateway to Christmas.

Thanks guys.

Love, Susan

Pics

In Cancer of the "Netherlands", Hair Today/Gone Tomorrow, Power of Love on November 18, 2010 at 11:21 pm

A few Pics from the period of the first few posts.  The night I got all the news (while I’m singing “If I were a Rich Man” with Andy W.), a visit to the Brown Palace, and some shots of my new haircut in the Brown Palace.

Young Ladies of Quality….

In Cancer of the "Netherlands" on November 6, 2010 at 3:58 pm

This is not really day one – day one was the day that the doctor said I had a squamous cell carcinoma – Oct 19 – I was sad and then I got really angry – and then I got scared – you name it, I felt it. But I think of day one now as yesterday. Me and Farah Faucett – I think the people who are identified as “at risk”  are girls who went to UT and had big frosted hair in the late 60s, and gay men. Oh well – being a southern young lady of quality – having “unmentionable cancer” is cancer that I prefer to think of as cancer of the “nether regions” – those private areas – my son , Will, pointed out that that type of cancer does not have its own ribbon – it is not an “acceptable” cancer, like breast cancer – I mean what color would the ribbon be? brown? No. So, cancer of the “nether areas” should use the colors of the flag of the Netherlands – so we have ordered lapel pins of the Netherland flag to wear – then people can ask, how are your “Netherlands” and I can answer appropriately or not, but it is not quite so awfully tacky –  I have been told that the next step for me is chemo and radiation together everyday for 4 weeks  but I will let you know when I know for sure – but I think head scarves and wigs are in my future. Thank you for your support – Love, Susan