Monday, January 25, 2010

Mind over Matter

I had that exam (that I blogged about in my previous blog) today, and another ultrasound.  Still looked like the moon, but at least this time the doctor explained what I was looking at.  These aren't the kind of exams that you look forward to, well then again what exams are?  I haven't heard of anyone I know looking forward to a pap test or any other kind of similar test.  The doctor put me at ease right away.  He said he hoped that I spoke to him after this procedure. Apparently I have a uterine polyp.  The doctor asked what I should name it. Trying to make me laugh.  That is a good one, usually I am the one who is the class clown. I named it Fred.  Don't ask me why.

Then came the biopsy.  Now the whole exam, biopsy and part where they keep you there so you don't pass out lasted about an hour. Now I am not going to tell you what the procedure entailed, but I can tell you this: When you are actually having a procedure done time stands still.  I know it didn't take that long because I brought my ipod.  Something to focus on while they are doing whatever they need to do and getting whatever they need to get.  It only took about 3 songs for the biopsy to be done. It was pretty painful.  At one point I recall making a fist and really wanting to punch someone. When the doc was over I asked him if he was going to insert any other major appliances in there.  He and his nurse laughed.

Then they make you lie down so you don't have a vasovagal episode.  Medical term for passing out. So I laid there. Got thirsty asked for water.  Got water. Lights were bright.  Nurse turned the lights off.  Ok.  after a little while I decided I wanted to go.  Got up started to get dressed.  I am not sure if the room spun or if I did but I decided it was a good idea to lay back down.  Nurse comes back in.  Told her I got dizzy.  Raised the seat up so I would be sitting, she thought that was a good idea, that would make it so I would be less dizzy.  Sat there for a while.  Now during all this time my radio show was going on and I was missing it.  I do have a puritan work ethic, I don't like missing work, but obviously this was an important reason to miss it.

So there I sat.  Waiting for my dizziness to subside.  I looked at my watch and it said 11:15.

I actually thought to myself. "This is bullshit.  I am a cancer survivor and a hockey player.  I need to suck it up and go." 

I finished getting dressed.  Opened the door.  The doctor and I exchanged pleasantries, he said I looked good standing up.  Funny guy.

He said not to be too concerned about the polyp.  He didn't think it was cancer.  Ha, I have heard that one before.

I don't feel as nervous as I did before I had the test.  I am cautiously optimistic that Fred is benign.

Results will be in in a few days.

Again I wait.

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty show. Listen live Monday-Friday 10am-Noon eastern time on

Check out my podcast available on demand now on and on itunes.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Deja-Vu all over again....

Definition of Deja-Vu by Free
Noun- The experience of thinking that a new situation had occurred before
an experience that causes you to remember something

I recently found out a survivor friend of mine had a new cancer.  Not a recurrance, but a brand new cancer.  The drugs they give you to get rid of the cancer that you have can cause more cancer, and even different cancersPretty ironic.  That is one scary part about cancer.  You can feel totally fine and it can sneak up on you.

I had an ultrasound the other day.  A pelvic ultrasound.  Normally these tests don't worry me, but for some reason this one really got in my head, don't ask me why.  Maybe it was just the culmination of stress from everyday  life that manifested itself into this one test.

 I am used to tests, it gets to be kind of routine, part of your daily life, unfortunately.  I am always interested in watching the screen when I get a scan.  Not like I have a damn clue of what I am looking at now, white with a lot of dark spots, looks like the fucking moon, ok is that good or bad?  Tech doesn't say, can't say, not allowed to.  (Remember I have already gotten one tech in trouble so my chart is probably flagged like Elaine's chart was in Seinfeld, labeled a trouble maker)

I remember looking down at the shirt I was wearing. Life is Good.  God it would be so ironic if this was the day they scanned me and I had more cancer.

So the test was on Thursday.  Wait for the results.  Over the weekend, oh yeah a holiday weekend.  72 hours to have all sorts of  thoughts run through my head, none of them helpful to me or my health.  Just breathe, it will be ok, I am thinking, what if that black spot is a tumor, what if cancer is back? How do the techs and radiologist tell what all that stuff is?  It looks like a picture of the moon to me. Shit, I want to have a good weekend, but I couldn't get it out of my head.  I am my own worst enemy.  Try to be happy, not think about it.  I can't always be happy.  Thinking about the possibility about having another cancer doesn't leave you with the sunshine and puppies feeling. The whole 3 day weekend goes by and its Tuesday.

Call the doc, leave a message.

No response.

The universe has its own timetable.  As much as I would hope that my pelvic ultrasound of what looks like the sea of tranquility will be read by the radiologist before anyone elses I know that is most likely not the case.

I think to myself, don't they know how stressed out I am about this?  How could they honestly?  I try to avoid the doctor as much as I can.  Not that I am not grateful for what they have done for me, but the less I see them the better I feel.  As a patient I am proactive, but I also realize that sometimes I am a pain in the ass. (first step to recovery is admitting your problem)

Wednesday.  Call the docs office, instead of going to voicemail I get the office manager Carla, tell her I would like the results of my test if they have them that would be great because, as I have written before, I am not a patient patient, I hate waiting, despise it I hate being late to things, even by a few minutes.  I believe it is some kind of ocd with me. Carla puts me on hold.  The doctor picks up the line.  No masses, good I think to myself, I really shouldn't look at ultrasounds again, looks like the moon, might see Neil Armstrong on there.


There is always a but.

Since the one of the drugs I take stops my period, a side effect I was happy to have, the endometrius builds up, that is basically the blood that you would have shed if you had a period.  That is normal.  No period.  Stuff stays somewhere.  They want to biopsy it just to make sure.  Tamoxifen can cause endometrial cancer.  Anti cancer drugs that cause cancer.  Still want to pick and choose my side effects.  So she explains to me about what all is involved in an endometrial biopsy.  It is pretty much like a pap test only they take a part of the endometrius.

So why is it deja-vu all over again.  I think back to my friend, the breast cancer survivor.  I just saw her in October at a cancer society fundraiser. Three short months ago. She looked great.  Now she has a new different cancer.

Monday I have my biopsy.

Then once again.  I wait.

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern time on

Check out my podcast available on demand on and also available on itunes.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Can't Find Your Words? Say Chemo Brain.

Another guest blogger

By Idelle Davidson
You know it's just on the tip of your tongue.  It's a word that has a "ka" sound in the beginning and a "tah" sound somewhere at the end.  And you can almost see it, but then darn, it's gone.  Perhaps later, when you're rushing to slap dinner on the table, that stupid word, so maddeningly elusive just hours before will pop right into your head, as if it were all just some silly misunderstanding between you and your brain.
I'm guessing that if you've had chemo and have experienced the fog that often follows, then you know what I'm talking about, right?  It's not that you can't comprehend language, it's that you can't retrieve it.  It's like the arcade game where you maneuver levers to grab a prize.  You just can't get the prongs low enough or tight enough around that plastic key chain before it slips away.
In a 2006 study of the side effects experienced by 26 women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, language (including fluency, verbal repetition, reading, and writing to dictation) was the most severely affected cognitive function, followed by memory. (Source: F. Downie, Psycho-Oncology 15 -2006: 921-930).  That's not entirely surprising considering that chemotherapy not only may affect language but the speed in which we process information.
One woman I interviewed for "Your Brain After Chemo" had this to say: "It is painful when people look at me with confusion while I am trying to talk.  I know that I'm not making sense, and I don't know how else to talk.  When it happens I die a million deaths and feel very dumb."    
Have you experienced word retrieval problems during or following chemotherapy?  Have you found ways to compensate?  If so, please share what has worked for you.

Bio: Idelle Davidson is an award-winning journalist, a cancer survivor, and co-author (with Dr. Dan Silverman at UCLA) of YOUR BRAIN AFTER CHEMO: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO LIFTING THE FOG AND GETTING BACK YOUR FOCUS (available in bookstores and on].

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen Live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern time on

Check out my podcast available on demand now on itunes and

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Return

Most people don't understand why I play hockey.  It is mostly a guys sport. When I tell people I play they just give me "that look"  you know the one, oh right YOU play hockey, you must get in a lot of fights on the ice.  I never have, actually I am rather mellow, besides, we all have to work the next morning so..

I got started playing hockey because of a vendor of mine in Los Angeles.  He gave me free tickets to see the Kings play at Staples Center.  I was immediately hooked.  I was looking to get in shape and I figured if I learned how to skate and bought all the equipment I would have no choice but to play.  Hockey is an expensive sport. 

I started playing co-ed hockey in Burbank, CA.  Burbank Bruins.  There were two other girls on the team.While we had fun, our team was in last place.  Did I mention the other two girls just started playing too?  I had so much fun.  I still have the puck from my first goal I scored.  Somehow I ended up on my ass perpendicular to the goal.  I looked over and it just barely crossed the line.  I was stoked.  We lost the game, but I still remember that moment.

Cancer took a lot from me.  Playing hockey today gave me some of that back.

I am tired, I am sore, my muscles ache.  But I haven't felt this good in a long time

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty Show Monday~Friday 10am-Noon eastern standard time.  Listen live on

Check out my podcast on available on demand now

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Keeping your Mind and Body Healthy

Another guest blog.  Enjoy

Everyone knows the basics: Eat Right. Exercise often. Don’t walk through fields of radioactive dust, or dance in acid rain. The following 7 suggestions are great new ideas to keep your chin up, stay healthy and live life to the fullest.

1. Write. This isn’t writing an email to your boss. This is deep, soul searching and honest writing. When you face a stressful situation, particularly a difficult decision, write. Putting thoughts on paper helps you work it out, which reduces stress, thereby increasing your health.

2. Go to a comedy club, an improvisation group, or an Off-Broadway comedy. The laughter, with the socialization and environment will do your body and mind a world of good.

3. Go Shopping, but not for yourself. Instead, pick a friend. Think about them and where they are in life. Consider their needs and desires. Go out and buy them something amazing. Then give it to them anonymously. It will feel great, especially if you are asked to help figure out who it was.

4. Go Curling. Curling is a crazy sport, with strange and unusual rules. Not only is it entertaining, but it is also a great physical activity, and provides social interaction, too!

5. Restock your first aid kit. You never know when you’ll need another dozen alcohol pads and that giant knee bandage you used last summer. This allows you to take stock of where you are, and be more prepared in the future.

6. Dance. Whether it is a partner dance like ballroom or square dancing, or an individual dance like hip hop or belly dancing, these activities are physically amazing, and increase self esteem as well.

7. Make a list of 10 things you’ve always wanted to do. Set these as goals, and find ways to work toward them. Making and achieving goals is crucial to living happily.

 About the guest blogger:

We've got everything you need to know about arthritis. But if there is a question unanswered, send us an email and we will answer your question to the best of our knowledge, or at least will give you the resources to help you reach your goal. We are a group of caregivers whose family members are suffering from arthritis. This condition is a very common disease and has caused much distress to their victims. Nearly 1 in 5 adults have some form of arthritis. That's 46 million Americans affected. Americans age 65 and over are most likely at risk, but two-thirds of the cases are under 65. Women are more at risk than men. Please help us spread the word for prevention.

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty Show 10am-Noon Monday-Friday eastern standard time.  Listen live on

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior available on demand now on