Today: JParadisiRN On Doctors Radio Channel on Sirius XM 10am PT/1pm ET

Today @ 10 -1030 PT & 1pm ET  I discuss challenges of dating after a cancer diagnosis on Doctors Radio channel Sirius XM. I’ll be speaking from the points of view of both an oncology nurse, and as a cancer survivor.

Oh yes, there will be a blog post in the future about this one!

JParadisi RN Guests on RadioMD.com Staying Well Monday October 15 10:20 am PT/ 1:20 pm ET

Ravens by jparadisi

Today, Monday October 15 at 10:20 am PST/ 1 pm EST, I’ll be a guest on Staying Well hosted by Melanie Cole, MS on her radio program, Staying Well, broadcasted on the national internet station RadioMD.com. Melanie and I will discuss the effects of cancer on relationships. Readers of this blog know I am not only an oncology nurse, but also a thirteen-year survivor of breast cancer.

Topics include maintaining relationships during cancer treatment, how to talk to your children about your cancer, and tips for having the best quality of life during treatment.

I hope you’re able to listen: Staying Well on RadioMD

You Can Find Me Here: New Posts for TheONC

Resurrection Chair by jparadisi

It’s been a busy lately, and when it’s not, I’m  out enjoying the sunshine. Nevertheless, I’m keeping up with new blog posts both here, and for The Oncology Nursing Community (TheONC).

In case you missed it, last week for TheONC, I wrote When a Partner Doesn’t Do in Sickness and In Health, about the painful reality of partners leaving cancer patients at diagnosis or during treatment.

This week, I discuss helping patients cope with cancer in Helping Patients Build a Cancer Toolbox.

TheONC.org is a new online social forum for oncology nurses and cancer care teams where they can leverage their collective knowledge, nurture professional growth and emotionally support each other in a secure environment, as registration is required.

Moderated by oncology nurses and key opinion leaders, TheONC features discussions and commentary covering key issues ranging from symptom management and palliative care to managing ethnic and cultural diversity.

Other resources in the community include:

  • A Library of resources including patient education materials and presentations by community members
  • Clinic Close-Up, where members can view video-based interviews with experts from large group practices, private practices, and academia covering a variety of topics
  • News items relevant to clinical practice
  • An interactive Quiz feature where nurses can test their diagnostic knowledge on a regular basis
  • A Calendar of national and regional events and meetings specific for oncology nurses and cancer support team members

TheONC is like having a weekly national oncology conference conveniently online. A wide range of topics have already been discussed, including Stem Cell Transplant, pediatric oncology, survivorship, nursing while going through cancer treatment, and much more. Once you’ve registered, posts can be saved for future reference.

Follow TheONC on Twitter @The-ONC, and Like us on Facebook.

Race for the Cure

Race for the Cure 2011 Portland, Oregon photo: jparadisi

I’m watching runners, women and men, young and old, Running (some are walking) for The Cure this morning. I’m thinking about the women I knew, patients and friends, who did not survive. I’m remembering that 12 years ago, I went through treatment, and it’s the luck of the draw that I am disease free. Thanks to Komen and other organizations that contribute to making treatment more effective, saving more lives.

Living In Your Body After Cancer is Like Staying With an Unfaithful Lover

Potted Tulips photo by jparadisi

I’m lying prone with my face planted in a holder similar to the kind on a massage table. My left hand holds a soft rubber ball at my side, which I am instructed to squeeze at the first sign of discomfort. My body is swathed in two warm blankets, because the room is cold, and through the headset I wear to protect my ears, the tech in an adjacent room tells me to hold as still as possible. She explains how many minutes each slice will take. As the MRI begins, I will my body to meld into the table and begin a post in my head to distract myself, but the interruption of the tech’s voice between slices makes that impossible, so I begin to count the hammering sounds of the machine instead. Bah-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa-dipa, fifteen rapid blows that sound like a pile driver pounding steel pilings into the ground during the construction of a skyscraper. That noise is followed by the organic sound of a chirping bird, which the tech says indicates the time between the magnetic resonance images. I lie this way thirty minutes, and after each couplet of pounding and bird chirping, the tech tells me I’m doing a fabulous job of holding still. Through the microphone of the headset, I say, “I aim to please,” and she says “What?” I say it again, and this time she laughs.

I am in this position, because late last Sunday night, or maybe it was very early Monday morning, I woke up from a sound sleep caused by a very sharp pain running across my chest. It was so sharp, I said,”Ow,” and woke David from his sound sleep. It hurt no matter which side I lay on, and even lying on my back. By morning I had a low-grade fever, and every muscle in my body hurt. I slept most of the day. On Tuesday, my chest ached rather than hurt, I had a headache, and the low-grade fever, so I made an appointment with my primary care physician and saw her in the afternoon. That’s how I ended up on an MRI table Wednesday morning.

On Friday evening, my doctor called with the MRI results. She said, “Well, the good news is the bad news; there’s no cancer, but there are bilateral ruptures of the implants used for your reconstruction. You need surgery.” I am relieved. Even though no one said the “C” word out loud, we were worried. Living in your body after it tried to kill you with cancer is a little like staying with an unfaithful lover. You might be able to forgive it, but you never forget.

So, I’m feeling like crap from the inflammatory response to the ruptures, waiting for the insurance company to authorize a surgical consult. I’ve been lucky. The expected life span of implants is ten years, and I’m going on twelve. Reconstruction options and issues come with the territory of surviving breast cancer.

The journey continues…

No information provided in this post or on this blog is medical advice. If you experience similar symptoms, or have concerns about your personal health, contact your licensed medical provider immediately. If it is an emergency, call 911.

Thoughts on Cancer Depression

Kaboom (2003) ceramic, raku, glaze Artist: JParadisi photo: David Forinash

      An oncology patient came in on a low ebb last week. His treatment was long, the fatigue bad, and he told me this was not one of his better days, he was depressed. People going through cancer treatment know there are good days, not so good days, and “today I’m going to lie in bed in fetal position with the blankets pulled over my head” days. He talked out his feelings with me, and said he felt better about things before he left.

     Most cancer patients, including myself, chant the same mantra throughout treatment:  “I just want my life back.” Once remission occurs, and treatment is completed, we think everything will go back to the way it was before B.C. (Before Cancer). Later, we realize that our lives, as we knew them, don’t really exist anymore.

     I was in treatment for breast cancer about 18 months. Previously, I’d enjoyed my house, gardens, and my life before cancer.  After treatment, however, I was only partially joking when I’d say, “If I could afford to be frivolous, I’d light a match, and burn it all down.” There was something cleansing about the idea of fire.
     Anyway, because I’m a nurse, and because I’ve watched others go through life-changing events, I waited it out, and stayed in the house for another year or so. When I still felt like burning it down, instead, I gave away or sold most of my possessions, sold the house, and moved into a new, modified version of my life, which I feel expresses the changes I experienced more clearly. Not everyone is able to change their life so drastically, nor should they, but it’s been almost 10 years now, and I have no regrets. I wasn’t experiencing depression after treatment; it was profound introspection, the gift that sometimes comes from having one’s life footing shaken.
     The caveat given to me by another survivor is this: “You are allowed to lie in bed in fetal position with the blankets over your head for 3 days, after that, you have to call for help.”