Back On Line

After a week of no computer time due to a broken AC adaptor, the local electronics shop finally called to tell me the new one they had ordered had arrived and was waiting to be picked up. So, here I am again.

The neighborhood autumn festival was last weekend. L and N helped pull a big drum and carry a portable shrine up and down the street in exchange for a large package of snack food. The drum was so big that it set off car alarms with its vibrations as men beat it with what look very much like softball bats (with all the brand names filed off to make it look more "Shinto") while the kids pulled it by. The kids earned their afterschool snacks for this week.

I've been quite social these past weeks, meeting friends for lunch and getting out and about much more frequently than usual. I made it to lunch in Harajuku with some friends from the opposite ends of Tokyo, a book and clothing exchange at a local foreign wife friend's house and lunch with a friend I hadn't met in 13 years within this past week.

I was so pleased with myself for clearing out some space in the closet by taking a box of books to give away but ended up bringing home about three times the volume in children's' clothes and a few things for me to wear. We store off-season clothes in big plastic cases and it's about time to shuffle the summer and winter things around again. Hopefully we'll make a little more room then...

The friend I hadn't seen in 13 years and I talked so much that I hope I didn't make her late for work after lunch. She insisted on treating me and I enjoyed rosemary chicken, mashed potatoes with garlic and salad at a downtown restaurant. The portions were big and I ended up leaving a little, which is a first for me. It was so nice to see her after all these years!

On the way home yesterday, I slipped on the wet steps at the station and now have a very dark and large bruise on my backside. I was glad that I didn't knock my head on the steps. It hasn't been this painful to sit since I fell out of the cherry tree onto a railroad spike and needed to get a tetnus booster in the other "cheek" about 36 or 7 years ago. Ouch! It is not so bad today though. I'll have to refrain from posing nude this month.

Feeling sorry for myself wouldn't fill the refrigerator, so I took my sore anterior out to buy some milk and other provisions only to have my back bicycle tire loudly pop halfway to the store in the cold, wet night, bursting my hopes of a comfortable ride home with my groceries. I took the bike through the back employees' entry and up the freight elevator to the cycle service desk on the 4th floor where an itinerant bicycle repair guy will be working on Saturday so I have no wheels for a few days.


Another Nice Neighbor

When my British neighbor learned that the nice septuagenarian Japanese cancer survivor in my building wanted to come along with me to my next oncology appointment, she offered to give us a ride to make things easier all around. It is very comforting to to have these helpful people around.


September Checkup

Today I took a neighbor with me to my oncology check-up. She is a 30 year survivor of stage IV breast cancer and alive and well at 74 even after the cancer had spread to her bones. She went through 3 years of chemotherapy treatments about 20 years ago even though her doctors gave her 6 months to live. She said she decided to do all the things she liked to do and that's what keeps her going to this day. She was the dean of nursing at a medical school for much of her career (years and years ago) and, after hearing of my concern about a spot that showed up on my right lung in a CT scan, she decided she wanted to accompany me and see and hear more about the situation to decide if I should go to her oncologist at the National Cancer Center in Tsukiji.

She was impressed at how direct and open my doctor was and said he seemed quite sensible. This was encouraging to hear after going solo for so long. I had a little more courage than usual due to her presence so I asked outright if he (my onc.) thought that the spot was definitely cancer. He gave me an apologetic "yes." Sigh. I kind of thought so too. This edges me into stage IV. Feh! A number. He did say that it is much smaller now after the last part of the chemotherapy and that I should get another CT scan with contrast on 10/4 to monitor it.

He said I should continue with the hormonal therapy he prescribed (which I'd understood to be mainly for post-menopausal women). I'll also need to begin getting monthly shots of Zoladex to shut my ovaries down as the chemotherapy apparently didn't shut them down. He reitirated that an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) would have been the best option before Zoladex became available but that 2 years of Zoladex would be much kinder to my body.

It will be a little expensive as my 30% of the Zoladex will cost about $300 a month. (How can a syringe full of liquid cost $1,000?!) The daily pills of torifimene will only be $50 a month. I guess I'd better start working more or learn more frugal ways to live because we'll need about $300 a month per child to pay for high school when that time rolls around. (Even the public high schools are not free.)

If 10/4 CT scan shows that the spot is smaller or even the same size, then just continuing on the hormonal treatment should be OK. If it's bigger, I may need to break out the wigs again. The neighbor wants to come with me again to the 10/10 appointment and ask if I should get a lung biopsy or go for a second opinion at the National Cancer Center. She seems quite excited about being useful but I do have to be careful to give myself a little extra time to get the hospital and back without rushing her.

Today's good news:
1. I feel fine.
2. My last blood test results were fine and, in spite of my appearance, I have very low cholesterol.