Saturday, June 21, 2008

Steroid-Fueled Round Up (Blog Bonus: Compelling Lead In)

So many accomplished writers, despite lauded and prolific careers, were tortured by demons that challenged and shaped their work. F. Scott Fitzgerald had his booze (and a few heart attacks); painful illnesses led Hunter S. Thompson to take a gun to his own head; crushing depression drove Virginia Woolf to laden her pockets with rocks, slog into the River Ouse and drown herself, to name but a few.

Certainly, I do not place myself in their elevated realms of accomplishment or in their desperate depths of despair. But I do wonder if steroids inject not just a jittery, bi-polar, plumpness into me, but also a jolt of inspiration to my creativity and writing. Such as they are.

My head is brimming with thoughts and I need to siphon them off. I want to siphon them off. Figured I share them all with you.

Women Living with Cancer Study
Being at the advanced stage of disease that I am, after being so heavily treated with, what, nearly ten different chemos? Plus having brain involvement, I am not the ideal clinical trial candidate. More precisely, I am not the ideal Phase II or III study candidate. I would be limited to Phase I studies where the key objective is to see if the potential treatment in question does or does not kill the patient. (Pass.)

But I am eligible for other forms of studies and I just joined one that I am very intrigued with. It focuses on exactly what I asked every investigator I spoke with at the YSC Conference earlier this year: who is looking at long-term metastatic breast cancer survivors? How are they coping? What more can be done for them as they live longer without ever being cured?

UCLA's Jonnson Comprehensive Cancer Center is conducting an extension of the Women Living with Cancer study (no link to be found?!) under the direction of Dr. Annette L. Stanton. The purpose is to learn more about the experience of women who have been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. The anticipated benefit: Information gained from the study may contribute to understanding how women live with and adjust to having Stage IV breast cancer and may guide the development of supportive interventions for women with metastatic cancer. Yippee!

As a potential participant, I filled out an initial questionnaire about my health history, mood, coping behaviors, social relationships, personality, sleep quality and physical symptoms. I also collect saliva samples twice a day over three days. Now that I've been accepted, I am being asked to think about my experiences living with breast cancer and write about the topic for 20 minutes on four separate occasions that I will schedule with the study coordinators. I received a packet with four sealed envelopes containing the topic I need to consider and write about. I cannot peek until I schedule. Three months after completing my writing assignments, I am going to complete another questionnaire, similar to my initial questionnaire and collect saliva samples again.

I'll be visiting this topic again once I start my writing sessions. Oh, I forgot to mention, I get $80 for completing the study. What do you think: shoes or shoes?

Please pass this information along to any other Stage IV breast cancer women who may be interested in participating. The project coordinator is Carissa Low and she can be reached at carissal at ucla dot edu.

Happy Thoughts
As previously mentioned in this blog, The Kid turned nine last week. Every year for his birthday, I put a cute (to me, anyway) message on his cake. For example: "What Fun, The Kid is One!," and "Yahoo, The Kid is Two!" You get the picture.

This year, The Kid and I went to Coldstone to get his cake and when I was asked what to put on the cake, I paused. I hadn't even really thought about it. No worries, though. Without missing a beat, The Kid chirped up and said, "What a Time, The Kid is Nine!" I nearly shed a tear on the spot. My big boy. A small gift I'd been giving him his whole life, and now he is my accomplice in the project. I am still smiling.

My Love is a devout admirer of the day lily, the bright orange summer perennial that lines many of our rural roads. We had some at our previous home, but we also had a lot a deer. Deer are also devout admirers of day lilies and they never failed to eat the buds before we ever saw a bloom. Now that we are country gentry and the deer tend to stay away from our open yard, I gave a small gift to my Love. Last year, I dug out all the plantings and rocks around our mailbox and planted day lily seedlings there. Now when My Love leaves and returns home, he is greeted by his own garden of day lilies. It's a small gesture, but I know it makes him happy.

I leave you with this. Don't pay so much attention to the video. Just, you know, listen to the music and lyrics and go with the Universe. It's all good.


Sarah said...

Reading this made me happy today. You have pretty cool powers like that.

(Also, I prefer the Steve Maddens.)

Anonymous said...

Happy reading today! I like that! :)


Anonymous said...

Luv Barenaked Ladies! Forget the shoes, it's Summer, go barefoot. I suggest a really good bottle of wine (or 2. Love 'ya, AJ

Anonymous said...

I 2nd the idea of bare feet. Perhaps a toe ring instead? ;)

- Suzanne

Anna Cluxton said... that song!
Nice to hear you are blogging Tracy!!
Anna C from the YSC

Anonymous said...

go with the Steve Madden Reily, definitely! xox -Mia