Friday, June 28, 2019

Not Particularly Radiant!

Today, Friday 28 June, I'll be undergoing the third session of my course of radiation. I'm not yet sure exactly how long the full course will be, but the schedule I've been given covers the next four weeks. Perhaps there'll be more - don't know - nobody has told me. I do know that next week's sessions will be limited to 3, due to Independence Day on Thursday, and presumably the departmental staff having a long weekend added to that. In a way this is good for me too - it gets me started, limbered up hopefully, on two shorter weeks, which have to feel easier than the usual 5-day week of treatments.

What I'd been led to believe, during the run up to undertaking the radiation course, has been proved wrong. It was along the lines of, "Oh, radiation is easy, it'll take you longer to get undressed than the actual treatment will take - it's virtually in and out of the treatment room". Nope! In my case it isn't! My treatments take between 25 and 30 minutes - even longer than the PET scan I had recently, and are more uncomfortable. I have three sites needing treatment, left chest wall (behind the mastectomy site) and both hip areas. My treatments take much longer than those of the average patient with a single treatment site. I'm not happy about it, but I'm stuck with it. Lying on the very hard plank for an extended length of time is terribly uncomfortable for me, and if I happen to move just a teeny bit the operators are not pleased with me - I understand why, but.... Ah well, I guess I can take it for a few weeks, maybe it'll get easier when the pain begins to recede in my legs and hips. At present, after Dr E's procedures the other day, I'm in quite a bit of pain. Whinge whinge. There - I needed a good whinge!

You've gotta larf! No pillows available for me - best I got were two small facecloths under my tailbone.

I've started the Ibrance tablets course, and am drinking lots of fluids, including lots of extra plain water to stave off nausea.

Do I see application for a "weed" license on my horizon? Maybe. It would probably be $100 well spent. There's an outlet in our town, even! Oklahoma has surpassed itself - at least on the medical marijuana front if on nothing else.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Update - Procedures with Dr. E.

Yesterday I had a 12.45 PM appointment with the radiologist, Dr E. for some 'local' bone cancer treatment on the lesions on specific bones in my pelvic area - better known to me as my hips. These have been increasingly troublesome lately, pain-wise. Instructed to take no food or drink after 5 AM (other than sips of water with necessary blood pressure or pain medications), I set my alarm for 4.30am, so that I could drink part of a bottle of high protein shake to "keep me going". Then it was back to sleep for a while longer.

The procedure was a little more complex than I had imagined, but Dr E. explained very clearly what it was all about. He also assured me that the PET scan I had last week showed no signs of my breast cancer having spread elsewhere - just to these two bones in my pelvic area. That was a relief, my imagination had run riot during past days!

These procedures necessitated some anesthesia because fairly thick "needles" are inserted to...well...I don't want to think about that! Once clad in hospital gown, lying on a trolley with iv inserted, I was wheeled into the designated operating area. The procedure room had a CAT scan machine all fired up. After the usual, rather awkward and painful shuffle from trolley to hard plank linked to the scanning machine, the anesthetist chatted with me for a while. He asked if I needed some pain medication - to which I nodded - that pesky plank was decidedly harder than the trolley's soft upholstery and my tail bone was hurting already. Soon after that I must've just drifted off without warning.

The next thing I knew was trying to open my eyes to see the clock on the wall opposite, in the room where husband was waiting. I couldn't see the time, mainly because my glasses were in my handbag! It was "3 something" - don't clearly remember, nor does anyjazz. Dr E. came in to talk to us before we left, assured us that all had gone exactly as planned. He said that after a day or two I should begin to feel the benefit: some residual pain from the big needle injections at first then, I'm hoping, less pain than before. I am to take it very, very easy, on my left leg especially, for a day or two - no exertions. The doctor emphasised that the main work, the "heavy lifting", of zapping the malignant cells will happen during the radiation course I'm about to begin; that will be later today, I think, and will be in charge of Dr. K. I'm to report to the Cancer Center at 2 p.m. Also there's the issue of those expensive pills - probably I'll begin the first 21 days of those today too.

We got home from the Imaging Center at around 5 PM, after a quick stop at McDonald's for an iced caramel coffee for me, parched as I was, having had nothing to eat or drink since 5 AM; then a wait at the pharmacy while the pharmacists checked, and double checked, with both involved doctors, that some slightly stronger pain pills prescribed by Dr E. (bless him!) were in order.

So, the beat goes on.....

Saturday, June 22, 2019


My April 27 post took my breast cancer story up to the point when, after some time had passed following my left breast re-excision mastectomy, the drain tube had been removed, followed later by all the stitches. All my posts relating to breast cancer, by the way, can be accessed by clicking on "breast cancer" in the label cloud - in the sidebar, below and to the right.

Story continues: I saw the oncologist, on May 29 - she whom I hadn't seen since November 2018 - when all had seemed to be going so well, around six months after my lumpectomy. Oncologist appointments scheduled after that had had to be cancelled as things began to move on quickly.

So...on May 29, the oncologist brought herself up to date on newer developments, on the breast cancer's possibility of metastasis, taking into account my weight loss during past months. I'd attributed this loss mainly to the lymphocytic colitis I had been found to suffer from, following a colonoscopy; she was unaware of this. Anyway, she referred me to the radiation department for an assessment, ordered a CT scan, and prescribed another course of estrogen-blockers (the pesky tablets I had to stop taking early on in my tales of woe). This time she prescribed a lower dose and different generic type as a starter.

A CT scan was carried out the next day. This showed that my early stage breast cancers had indeed spread into some of my bones (apparently a favourite place for spreading BC to roam into). In my case it has roamed into left femur and right hip. I'd been having problems, and pain, but had put it down to arthritis or side effects from other medications. I'd had other things, such as surgery, on my mind for some weeks!

During an interview with the radiation oncologist a few days later, he told me that bone cancer is treatable, can be controlled quite well by various means. He set me up for an appointment to plan a course of radiation on my chest wall, and on both hip areas. This was done, on Thursday this week, by simulating the radiation I shall need, using a special machine to make a plan of how, when, where and for how long radiation will be focused. For this planning session we had to travel to a nearby city (40 minutes distant) because the required machine is not available in our hometown. Fortunately, the eventual daily radiation procedures can be done in our hometown. Radiation oncologist also advised me to have a PET scan; the other oncologist had also recommended this. A PET scan can show any other tiny lesions lurking throughout the body (excluding brain) and give detail on how one's organs are working. I was not keen on lying on a hard, flat board for 25 minutes in an enclosed space, but did so, earlier this week - I think it was Tuesday. Days and dates have morphed into a blur, it began to seem as though a ton of bricks had fallen on me from a great height! Setting out the order of things here is proving helpful to me so, dear reader, please feel free to skim or move to the last paragraph should things become too wordy by half!

I didn't enjoy the PET scan but it was not as difficult as expected. It was carried out, quite unexpectedly to me, using a travelling PET scanner. The machine, situated in an area within the trailer of a huge truck, was in town that day just for yours truly, at 8 AM, and for one other lady afterwards. One technician and a driver/assistant made up the crew. The truck would later be on its way north, to Kansas and beyond hauling its precious cargo, stopping at hospitals here and there to carry out its helpful business.

Another layer of treatment from the oncologist is still to begin : a second set of pills to go with the estrogen-blockers. These tablets are going to be ridiculously expensive, even with all kinds of discounts deducted from the price. Ibrance is the name of this ultra-expensive medication; its purpose is known as "targeted therapy", rather different from chemotherapy which is an all-encompassing zapper. Ibrance targets only specific types of cancer cells. There will, inevitably, be side effects, some of which could pass me by, but my immune system will be weaker, so avoidance of bugs and germs will be the order of the day from now on. Ridiculously expensive, I said ? With no discounts or insurance the current price is, I've been told, between 14 thousand and 15 thousand dollars per 21 days. The pills are taken for 21 days of each month with 7 days off. Obviously, nobody could afford those prices - per month!

Medicare has accepted an Ibrance prescription for my treatment, as has our supplementary insurance. The pills can only be supplied by specialist pharmacies. I'm dealing with such a one in Austin, Texas. The pharmacy people have been working to secure discounts for me from various sources. So far they have a single $5,500 donation from the PAN Foundation, to be used as the pharmacy sees fit. My Medicare, and the medication supplement side of Medicare will cover some part of the first month's cost; some of the $5,500 will be used to cover the rest, the pharmacy has told me. So, initially, for 21 days' pills, I'll pay nothing. Once I've accepted the arrangements and am "in the program" the specialist pharmacy tell me that they will work on securing more discounts. I've been warned that co-pays, from then on, could still be high - between $300 to $700 per month. Sigh. We'll cover what we can for as long as we feel it reasonable to do so, and IF the tablets are shown to be zapping the nasties after several months. I shall be tested routinely and regularly to ensure blood counts don't go too low, as well as to discover what improvements have occurred - if any. It's said, online, that this medication has been found to be quite powerful and very successful in many cases. I won't know if I don't try. There is no generic version available. The Ibrance pills for the first 21 days were delivered yesterday (Summer Solstice) via FedEx. I shall not begin my course until Wednesday next due to other procedures scheduled for Tuesday, about which, please read on, if you have the patience.

Something more was fixed up just two days ago. As well as the multi-week radiation course being planned for me, the radiologist at our local hospital is going to do some "local treatments" on the lesions in my left femur and right hip (iliac bone I think). This will take place on Tuesday next (25 June). I'll be under light anesthesia during the procedures (similar to the level of "knock-out" used during a colonoscopy). The radiologist will put an injection in one side (left femur, I think), and perform an "ablation" on the iliac on the right. I think that an ablation is a kind of very strong electrical zap to deliver a mighty blow to the malignant cells, hastening relief from pain. I've only a sketchy idea about these procedures though, haven't yet been told about them in detail.

At the age of 80 + years I'd have limited time on Planet Earth in any event - with or without latest health-related developments. If I can retain a reasonable quality of life while taking the recommended medications and treatments, and it helps me to spend more time with my husband - who is now 82 - I shall count myself very lucky indeed.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read version):Breast cancer has spread from left breast (now fully removed) to the bones in my left femur and right iliac. A variety of tests and treatments are available, some have been already undertaken others are still to begin. I'm 80 years old so I do not expect miracles, but a little more time would be good - as long as quality of life remains reasonable.

Saturday, June 15, 2019


Learning Curve OTE will remain on hiatus for a few days more, pending clarification of the state of my continuing medical issues. Once I know for sure what's what I'll "journal it" here. For now, all I'll say, regarding my state of mind, is something I heard during an episode of "Third Rock from the Sun", a night or two ago - declared by "Harry" played by French Stewart (my favourite character in the programme):

"When life gives you the damn lemons!"

Monday, June 10, 2019

Has America "fallen out of love with itself"?

"Has America fallen out of love with itself? In the 60's I think we all loved America and its cars and its landscapes and its dance and its music. Has this ended for good?"

The above question, posed at Quora, proposes an interesting concept. I wasn't in the USA in the 1960s. From my home in the UK I had no knowledge of how the people of the USA were feeling, in general, at that time.

Perhaps, if the USA has "fallen out of love with itself", that is part of the process of a new country struggling to grow up. I suspect that there's still a long way to go before full maturity sets in for the USA. Even when maturity is reached, sometimes a country can begin to slide back into a period of decline and incompetence - take, for instance, the current Brexit debacle in the UK.

Here are snips from three answers with differing points of view on the Quora question, though these do not fully answer whether the USA has really "fallen out of love with itself". Has it? Perhaps more eyes have been opened courtesy of the internet. People now have access to much more information than they had in the 1960s. Wool can still be pulled over eyes, manipulation and propaganda still take place - for sure - but there's more opportunity for critical thinking and in depth research than there ever was in decades past.

Part of answer by Robert Martin Pollack
Yes it has. What you witnessed in the 60’s was one last outburst of creativity fueled by people who grew up in the twilight era of the republic. It was an era where people could still connect with each other and it was safe to interact with others. Hitchhiking was relatively safe and it was even possible for girls to hitch rides without being molested or raped. One could go to concerts and hear great music and see light shows for a reasonable amount that was affordable to just about anyone. This was still a wealthy country and people had disposable income so there were large numbers of places that had live music and where you could dance. Since then everything has become very atomized. All the places where people used to go to enjoy themselves and relax have been driven out of business. The few that remain are so expensive they are beyond the reach of the average person who now just barely has enough money to survive. If you ever take public transportation, everyone has the same bristly attitude - don’t you dare try and talk to me.

Ross Driedger answered:
Wait, what?! Are you kidding me? There were protests against the war in Vietnam, one of those led to the shooting deaths of four students by the Ohio National Guard (Kent State shootings). Woodstock was decried as immoral by many social conservatives (all that rock music, nudity and free love — Damned Hippies!). Racism was systemic, overt and rampant, even more than it is today.
People were terrified that the Soviet Union could, at any moment, launch a nuclear strike against the USA.
And Evelyn Elwell Uyemura wrote:
Maybe your memory is a bit hazy.
In the 1960s there were riots in many major American cities, Civil Rights and anti-war demonstrations on a regular basis, and an entire “counter-culture” that rejected all the values and trappings of American life.

(And much of the most popular music was British, not American!)

Thursday, June 06, 2019


Apropos of nothing at all, husband "Anyjazz" came up with the following the other day, so I have taken the liberty of borrowing it.

Many years ago I read a piece about intuition and premonition that made a lot of sense. It basically said that the brain is working all the time, collecting things. The background sounds and changes in color and temperature, movements of things around it and general details that are of little or no use to the person at the time, are none-the-less stored in the memory in a just-in-case file. We don’t realize the brain is doing that for us but running our body and consciousness is only a small task for it, so it gets bored and collects things.

The writer said that this collection of details may be at least part of things like déjà vu, clairvoyance, premonition and what we call intuition. We are unaware of it, but the brain knows. Sometimes it realizes it can be a help, and slips in a few details of knowledge we didn’t know we had. We don’t know where it originated.

Think of those crime stories where a witness is placed under hypnosis to reveal details they were unable to call up for themselves. The details were there, the witness just didn’t know it.

There are stories of people who made hard choices based on “gut feeling” or “what was in the heart", or whatever the popular phrase is now. Then it turns out the choice was right, in the face of all the opposition. The brain knew and gave them subtle advice.

Imagination is probably supplemented by these sub consciously collected details. A child is particularly good at it because a child’s brain is collecting things at an enormous rate. The child has no idea of the meaning of most of the world around it but the brain stores everything anyway.

Many dreams may be like this too. During sleep, when duties are at a minimum, the brain is at least, partly awake. So, it plays. It assembles interesting things and plays with them, based on what it knows. Sometimes it brings out some of those things it collected that you ignored or missed at the time.

Wish I had kept the article.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Carpe Diem (in case the future sucks!)

Trying to predict the future, by whatever method, often turns out to be what's commonly known as "a mug's game".

I have a very old copy of Pathfinder Town Journal, dated December 1953 - picked it up in an antique store on our travels many years ago. When the magazine was published, topics were much the same as we find in magazines and on the internet today, but many steps back: the atom bomb, elections, new car models, black and white TVs, cookie recipes, weather and more. No astrology column. There's a paragraph in a piece titled Looking Ahead asking : "What will the US be like in 1963?" John E. Haines, VP of Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co. predicted that in 10 years from 1953:

Planes will fly round the world non-stop in less than 18 hours.
Rockets will reach the moon.
Residential air conditioning will be as commonplace as automatic heating is today.
Houses will be built of plastics.

Not bad! He did rather well, I thought. I wonder, though, did anyone see the hippie culture coming? It took over more or less where the "Beat Generation" left off, a year or so later than 1963 though. Did anyone predict it? I suspect not.

For a smile or two in much the same vein, pay a visit to the illustrations at
A 19th-Century Vision of the Year 2000.

Now.... I asked in a blog post here, in late 2012, what might the USA be like 10 years from then? That'd be 2022/3. Ten year spans don't always see major differences occur on a national level - on a personal level, yes, certainly! Just for fun, I said in 2012, let's haul out the ol' crystal ball. As there was more than enough doomladen commentary and fiction around, I decided to aim for a somewhat brighter version of 2022/3. However, due to my rose coloured glasses approach, I have become the personification of that "mug in the game". It's almost seven years on now - do any of my intentionally starry eyed predictions look any nearer to coming true? Not a chance! Here they are, or were.

The USA has, for 5 years, had benefit of a very efficiently run national system of health care, with state of the art hospitals and clinics available to all, financed by a reasonable level of contribution by all citizens and residents, at a rate according to their earnings level.

A simply administered cure for some types of cancer has been discovered.

A completely biodegradable material invented to take the place of plastics in most applications.

The US Constitution, after years of struggle, updated and amended in two areas: corporate personhood rescinded, and the Second Amendment re-written and clarified.

All US military occupation abroad terminated in 2021, surplus weaponry still being destroyed and materials re-cycled. Currently in process of finalising nuclear arms agreements worldwide. A small but efficient military force remains in place in the US. The majority of military personnel are employed in a range of capacities updating, re-building and extending a variety of public transit networks, nation-wide, and running them efficiently on behalf of the government.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Can the Corporations Ever be Corralled?

Among the archives at Daykeeper Journal, website of the late Maya del Mar, astrologer, I found this article which, though written in 2002, is even more relevant today. We are now just a year or so away from that key date mentioned in her last paragraph: 2020. The "democratic movement" has shifted towards the left in recent years, but the establishment, corporate Democrats will be loath to let go of the reins and allow such candidates as Bernie Sanders to take over. I suspect a few more years will still have to pass, after 2020, before the final exit of the corporate Democrat clan.

Why Corporations Rule the Nation
Ms del Mar began thus:

"Corporations provide the matrix for our lives.

Our lives are shaped and governed by corporations. The consumer culture, the sea in which we live, is run by corporate image-making, advertising, and media control. Corporate values become cultural values. Corporate politics become government politics. Every area of our lives is fashioned by the dominant corporate culture.

The corporate movement grows implacably, like a giant amoeba, and threatens to take over the world, and destroy it in the process. As it grows, it shuts out democracy and effective decision-making. It is no wonder that people have quit voting and quit paying attention to civic life. We feel disempowered—and in many ways we are.

How can astrology shed light on this growth of corporate power?

She explains the cycles of the outer planets and the relevance of those current at the time of writing. She then goes on to look at the chart for the birth of the USA using 4 July 1776 at 5:10 PM, Philadelphia.

The United States has a lucky chart. The U.S. Declaration of Independence chart (7-4-1776, 5:10 p.m., Philadelphia) is blessed with a grand earth trine, which means material success comes easily to this nation........... We have the resources to enable us to develop models for harmonious, bountiful living.

However, this great gift of earth energy has been co-opted by corporations, and much of it transformed into toxins and garbage. The early idealistic political vision of Americans has been gradually subverted by the corporate bottom line of making profit for the corporation. Earth, tangible goods, is also the raw material of corporations.

The U.S. chart is also fortunate in having a Sagittarius Ascendant. This makes Jupiter the chart ruler, governing all U.S. expression of energy. Jupiter is the greater benefic, and shows good fortune and expansion. It is also especially associated with corporations (and old boys’ groups).

20-year Jupiter-Saturn cycles show the social-business character of our everyday lives...........For most of this nation’s history, we have had Jupiter and Saturn joining every 20 years in earth signs.... This earth phase really went into full gear in 1842, as the Civil War was building up...... We have just experienced our last Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in earth signs for the next 600 years, in May of 2000. This one was at 23 Taurus. Taurus is the most fixed, determined, and possessive of the earth signs. It is loathe to let go. The last conjunction in Taurus was in 1881, which began the "gilded age," the time of millionaires, consolidations, mansions, and high living. Corporations came into their own then.

Now we are closing the long earth cycle with Taurus. Will corporations extend their power, as they have in the past? Will we, the people, look at their excesses and corruption, and decide to take charge of them again? Will we reclaim democracy? Or will it be that the 200-year earth period was the time for corporations to grow into ruling the world — regardless of who and what gets hurt and destroyed?

This last Taurus conjunction in May 2000 ties in very nicely with the U.S. chart. It helps U.S. corporations move ahead with the steamroller effect until 2020, when we begin the air cycle in Aquarius. In the meantime we can begin to rebuild a democratic movement, and be ready to emerge with some sovereign infrastructure by 2020.