And in June 2013 we are back in the revolving door of doctors, this time for my heart. So the focus has shifted, BUT... I continue to THANK YOU for your prayers, love & support. I receive them with open & loving arms. My wish is that I will gain strength from you, will provide strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.
LIVESTRONG: I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. WE WILL WIN!
Have you or your loved one had their annual mammogram? PLEASE, don't put it off. Speaking from experience, I highly recommend monthly self exam as well.
WARNING: Contents may be uplifting, sad, funny, scary, downright depressing ~ THAT IS CANCER .... at it's best, at its worst.
PLEASE ~ Feel free to share this blog with anyone who is interested to learn about my journey. While I welcome their support, I hope that by sharing this experience freely to the universe I may help to support others by breaking down some of the barriers and fear associated with breast cancer and the treatment.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Alcohol and Estrogen Compete
Alcohol and estrogen are both metabolized in the liver using similar biochemical pathways. So if the liver is busy clearing alcohol from the bloodstream, estrogen levels will rise as they wait their turn through the liver. Therefore, women who drink regularly, like every day, will have chronically elevated levels of estrogen circulating in their bloodstream. And since estrogen is the equivalent of light, sweet crude for the breast cancer engine, it’s easy to see why regular alcohol consumption is directly linked to an increased risk for breast cancer. In fact, there does not appear to be any “safe” level of alcohol use: even 1/2 glass of wine per day increases the risk for breast cancer. As a red wine and single-malt scotch lover, this was sad news for me when I learned of it several years ago.
Avoid alcohol if you want to avoid breast cancer.
The preponderance of data confirm that drinking alcohol on a regular basis increases the risk for breast cancer by approximately 40%. Therefore, my advice is to drink only occasionally and in moderation. The good news is that by drinking only on special occasions, indulging in expensive wine will be relatively affordable!
Estrogen-positive breast cancer and alcohol are like fire and gasoline.
The link between alcohol and breast cancer is old news, really. But there is more recent news about alcohol and breast cancer, per se, that ought to set off an alarm down every corridor of preventive medicine: alcohol dramatically increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence in women with estrogen-positive tumors. Here’s the story:
Dr. Li of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center studied 365 women between 40-79 who were first diagnosed with estrogen-positive breast cancer and who were then diagnosed with a second cancer in the opposite breast. He compared these women to 726 similar patients who had not had tumor recurrence. Li was looking for differences between the two groups that might explain why one group suffered new cancers in the opposite breast, while the other group remained disease-free.
One thing stood out: having one drink per day increased the risk of a second cancer by 90%.
Another unexpected finding: the majority of patients with estrogen-positive tumors did not take or complete anti-estrogen therapy (tamoxifen, anastrozole, femara etc.)
In studying both groups of women, Li made a totally unexpected discovery, not related to alcohol, but that should be viewed as a cautionary revelation nonetheless. Only 39% of patients with tumor recurrence ever used anti-estrogen therapy – although all such women are eligible for this treatment which reduces breast cancer recurrence by 50% – and of the 39% who did use anti-estrogen therapy, only 14.5% completed five years of treatment.
In the 726 women who were used as controls (the patients without tumor recurrence), only 30% ever used anti-estrogen therapy, and of these only 18.5% completed five years of treatment.
Li’s study was not designed to understand why, when 100% of the women enrolled in the study were eligible for anti-estrogen therapy, so few ever used it, and even fewer completed five years of therapy. But for all women in Li’s study, one thing was abundantly clear: drinking alcohol was a very bad idea.
Alcohol increases the risk for breast cancer, specifically estrogen-positive breast cancer. Furthermore, in women with estrogen-positive breast cancer, drinking alcohol increases the risk of a new cancer in the opposite breast a jaw-dropping 90%.
TAKE HOME LESSON
Avoid alcohol – save it for special occasions.
If you have estrogen-positive breast cancer, avoid it like the plague.
And, please, take and stay the course with your anti-estrogen medication (tamoxigen, anastrozole etc.)
Sunday, July 15, 2012
It was so hard to see when my hair grew back in that it was very very thin and just seemed like there wasn't much there. My scalp was evident, my head would get hot easily, and I felt as though I had to have a hat on whenever I was even close to being out in the sun. Not that this is a bad thing. But it was not the norm for me pre-cancer.
But now I have renewed hope. As I can see this tiny little bit of new growth spurting up all over, almost like a whole new crop is coming in. It's like all of the remaining hair follicles that were sleeping and waiting and renewing, have now come to life all at once... syncronizing; as it once was described to me. There's this half inch growth that's growing in around my scalp and face; and it makes me smile.
I know this may seem silly, and of little importance to others. But when you've been through breast cancer, you look for any little hope of a healthy body and a sign that things are on the right track. And I'll take this is a very good sign