Susan Neder

Archive for the ‘Chemo/Radiation’ Category

Emus and Other Natural Remedies

In Chemo/Radiation, Karma / Oprah / & 4-H Animals on January 17, 2011 at 8:55 am

The entire subject of natural remedies and aids to healing can really be a tangled forest of information to find your way through, as I have discovered. For example, one of my cousins, who is very knowledgeable about natural remedies, sent me an email saying that someone she knew had recommended using emu oil on the “nether regions”. EMU OIL? Where in the world do you get emu oil? The zoo, perhaps?

Another cousin of mine who is into this stuff wrote in and said that emu oil could be purchased at health food stores, or one could get their own emu and “render” it at home. I guess you could order one over the internet and have it delivered to the hotel…..First of all, though, I had to be sure what an emu actually was, other than a “crossword puzzle” animal. Sadly, animals like emus and okapis are often relegated to “3 down” or “4 across”. If they are in a zoo somewhere they are “filler animals”. Those are the animals you have to walk by to see the exciting animals – the lions and tigers and gorillas and such.  They never put all the good animals together because if they did, then they’d have half a zoo full of lonely cross-eyed antelopes and animals that look like failed genetic experiments pressed desperately up against the fences looking for human contact or escape.

Anyway, thanks to the internet, it was not too hard to determine, although one of my older cousins who is here keeping me company swore it had hooves and fur and spit and guarded cattle ( she is from Texas and a lot of things in Texas fit that description). I did think briefly about getting an emu and tying it to the bushes in back of the hotel courtyard and having it voluntarily drip oil into small blue bottles from under its wing or somewhere. Then I saw a vision of Mike Neder’s face when he heard about my emu, and I quickly discarded that idea. I also was afraid that “rendering” might mean something more drastic and I have ENOUGH barnyard karma as it is! A couple of my nieces have emailed me some sources for the oil which sounds much easier, so I think I will get some – I am fascinated by emu oil now – I just hope it comes in a bottle that says “no emus were injured in the collection of this oil”.


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!

Lucrezia is back!

In Chemo/Radiation, Lucretia Borgia, Power of Love on December 16, 2010 at 6:00 pm

I apparently had such a good week last week and my blood counts stayed high, so today the doctors decided “enough of that” and hooked me up to my chemo friend, Lucrezia, once again. She will be with me all week, 24 hours a day, until late Friday afternoon. However, after that, I hope to be done with her forever! The doctors lightened the dose a little because she “kicked my butt so hard last time” (their words, not mine – a netherlands cancer pun, I suppose).

Anyway, Lucrezia is more scary to me than radiation, I think because the side effects are so unpredictable and unpleasant. They just pop up out of nowhere. but I will get through this week, no matter what surprises I get, by using the grace of gratitude and the grace of fortitude, and clutching my prayer quilt like Linus clutching his blanket, because I know it is helping.




In Chemo/Radiation on December 13, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Some of you have asked me why I agreed to chemo and radiation instead of some type of alternative treatment, so I will share my thoughts on that.

Before cancer “BC” I was one of those people who, in the comfort of their home, in front of a blazing fire, with a really good glass of wine, would engage in a thoughtful discussion with friends about the horrors of chemo and radiation to treat cancer, and what I would and would not do if I were ever faced with cancer (which, of course, I never would be). It is amazing how quickly that goes out the window when you receive a stage 3 or 4 diagnosis! I don’t think anyone really knows what they will decide when they are really faced with such a decision. In my particular case, the cure rate with chemo and radiations is high, but without them it is not, and requires surgery that seriously affects quality of life. So the decision about treatment was very clear if I wanted to live, which I do, but that does not mean the decision was not tough.

I have a whole shelf of books on alternative treatments and I have so much information that either I have found or others have sent me on natural products that treat cancer or lessen side effects that I now have a looseleaf notebook with dividers (sorry, but I used to teach school). I believe many of these things will help me heal, but right now I can’t do anything that either lessens the effectiveness of the primary treatment, or causes the side effects to be worse, which many of these products do. This is frustrating to me, but I am determined to make these weeks of treatment count; I will have a lifetime to incorporate these other things into my daily practices, once the immediate crisis is behind me. I know I am not the only person who has faced this conundrum, so I welcome the thoughts that any of you who have been faced with this want to share.

Love and gratitude,



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.

Day Six of Chemo & Radiation

In Chemo/Radiation, Lucretia Borgia on November 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Lucrezia and I parted company yesterday afternoon.  I won’t get her back for a few weeks, however the effects of her will continue to be with me – hopefully she zapped a bunch of cancer cells – which would make  the side effects ALMOST tolerable! Yes, it is that time, side effects are beginning to appear.  The Netherlands “fired a shot” over my bow, so to speak, and informed me that they had had quite enough of all this bright light and could they please be left alone ……. it was with great gentleness and sympathy (it would not do to enrage them any more) that I had to tell them that wasn’t going to be possible.  They did not seem to take the news well.

As for the side effects, you really do not want to know.  Let’s just say I have been issued a whoopie cushion and a bottle of odd smelling liquid which is to numb the inside of my mouth and throat. I was asked by a nurse if I still had any taste buds (that does not seem to bode well for what may be coming).

The good news is that my daughter, Cindy, got here yesterday from New York – she will be helping me for the next several weeks, and she is doing awesome things for me already – she cracked everyone up by informing me that she thought I looked “rad” – she was referring to my hair, not realizing she had made a radiation joke – I told her that I was, indeed, “rad” and she might want to stand back a bit!

Love to everyone,


Day Three of Chemo and Radiation

In Chemo/Radiation, Power of Love, Thwarted Sleep on November 20, 2010 at 6:19 pm

This is day three of chemo and radiation – so far all is well, but my sleep patterns are a little wacky -the first two days I couldn’t sleep at all – I was up in the middle of the night wishing for a 24 hour Home Depot so I could go buy a gallon of paint and paint the kitchen. The flaw in that plan is that I am in a hotel – I wonder how long it would take them to figure out the kitchen is a different color? hmmmm………

Today, I feel like I could sleep all day, so who knows what tomorrow will be like? I have decided that any day that something does not fall out or off is a good day – no unreasonable expectations for this roller coaster ride! The staff in the radiation place has started wearing masks around me – this is slightly disconcerting – are they protecting themselves from me, or are they protecting me from them? I must remember to ask. Thank you to everyone for sending picture and emails to me and posting comments – I can’t always answer each one personally, but it really means so much to read them – it always gives me great strength, so please keep posting even if I don’t get back to you right away. You know, the journey of healing is sometimes a transformation ( not too get too serious on you) and I know now that I will never ever again take for granted the power of family and friends and the power of love.



In Chemo/Radiation on November 15, 2010 at 11:18 pm

We are in Denver now, preparing to begin treatment this week.  Yesterday’s meetings with the lead oncologist, who is a very knowledgeable, kind, and gentle man, and the radiological oncologist, who is a very bright, efficient, and no-nonsense type of woman (which I appreciate), had a good news/bad news theme.  The good news, which is the best news of all, is that this treatment has a 70-80% cure rate–awesome!  The radiation doctor had at the job of telling me in gruesome detail some of the short term and long term side affects of the treatment, though (the bad news).  She was very thorough and graphic and when she was done with me I felt poleaxed– a good southern term that describes a state of extreme shock that makes you appear stunned and often involves crossed eyes for an hour or more.  Poleaxed people usually need to be led around until they recover!  If this ever happens to you, I recommend a cosmopolitan in a very classy bar–it did wonders for me.

So Monday morning I get a “port” put in for chemo.  It is something put under the skin, under my clavicle, that they can plug the chemo pump in and out of so I don’t have to have an IV 24/7.  The pump is something I will carry around and I hear it is the size of a video tape.  I can’t quite picture this, so I’ll know more on Monday, I guess.  Chemo is two weeks out of the six continual weeks of radiation, spaced out.  Week 1 and week 3 or 4, but sometimes you need a break because those grisly side affects get to be too much to handle.  But a break just delays things.  I also got 3 tattoos yesterday– guides for the boundaries of the radiation area, and that really hurt.  I don’t know how these kids can stand that pain for a big tattoo.  OUCH!  But now I am a little more “cool”, I suppose, although these tattoos will NOT be shown to anyone I know– only 15 or 20 strangers who work in the radiology department will see them.

One final note:  Just when I thought I was done, a radiation tech came in with a camera to take pictures of the radiation area on me.  At first I thought it was a joke–if I hadn’t been poleaxed I would have broken her wrist, if necessary, to get the camera away from her.  As it was, I could only say two things to her.  First, “you must be kidding…” and second, “I better not see those on the internet.”

I can hardly wait until Monday.

More later.