Tag Archive: Cancer

Health note

Well, I’m still not sure when they’re sending me home of if they are. My family practice doc was in  today, and says 6 to 12 months of life left. I saw the attourney today to draw up a will, power of attourney and health directives My first priority is getting the trilogy to iUniverse, so the blog is going to be a very occasional thing. I’m going to start jumping ahead in Jarn’s Journal, so you an see where the Jarnian confederation got it’s name, and why all of us have a little bit of Jarn in us. I will try occasionally to get on WWW, too, but that’s about all. Does anyone know about literary executor?

As some of you know, I live alone. They won’t let me go home to that. For one thing, I still can’t use the walker without help, for another I will need oxygen for the immediate future, if not for the rest of my life.

Sorry, but at this point it’s hospice and palliative care. I just hope I can get home to my regular computer. I hate the touchpad on the laptop.

WildRose 6:23:13The longest day – and the shortest night – of the year are over. On June 21 the sun rose at 2:58 am and set at 12:47 the following morning, for a night just 2 hours 11 minutes long. It’s not much longer today – 2 hour and 13 minutes, with sunrise at 3 am. Between Cornell, Cambridge and Anchorage I haven’t been home much – but it’s been hot. Highs in the 80’s have not been uncommon, nor have daily temperatures 10°F above normal. It was so cold in May, however, that the wild roses are still blooming. (They hadn’t started when I went down to Anchorage June 11.)

TameRose 6:24:13As regular readers of this blog probably know, I’ve been in the hospital for unexpected abdominal surgery. I may say more after talking with the doctor here next week, but it looks like chemo is ahead. The pathology looks negative so far and the grade was low, but it seems I had a very aggressive type of cancer and they want to play it safe. I’m pretty short of energy now (they just took the staples out Friday), and I have a feeling that blogging during chemo is going to be way down the list of priorities. I’m going to do my best to finish the blogathon (my energy should still be on an uphill curve for that) but from then on I’ll be lucky to keep up with Monday weather updates, Wednesday quotes, and Weekend Writers.

I had to skip what would have been my first Kachemak Bay Writers’ conference, but the way the surgery turned out I’m glad I didn’t postpone it to July so I could attend. I’ll probably skip the creative writing at the Summer Arts Festival for the first time since it’s been offered, too, though I hope they’ll let me drop in if I have a good day. I hope I have energy enough to be able to work on the editing of Rescue Operation; I talked to my editor last week and I think I finally have the plot arc working.

Meanwhile, enjoy the roses, wild and domestic. It was 86° yesterday when I took the photos, and the mosquitoes were out in clouds.

Don’t retire from – retire to!

Sue Ann Bowling

I spent most of my life as a researcher in atmospheric sciences, teaching atmospheric science and physics for non-majors (mostly astronomy.) I did research, wrote scientific papers, and for a while even wrote a popular science newspaper column published throughout Alaska. And I read – and made up my own – science fiction.

I didn’t seriously think about changing careers, primarily because I had excellent health insurance and retirement benefits and I knew that as a Type 1 diabetic changing jobs would not be simple. Besides, my specialty of ice fog and urban weather in a cold climate was not very portable. But I loved to write for non-scientists, and I loved to make up stories. Eventually, during the last decade of my employment, I began going to local writers’ conferences, taking classes in fiction writing, and writing down some of the stories that filled my head simply to get them out of there!

Fourteen years ago, the university was pushing early retirement. I’d contracted a common diabetic complication, diabetic retinopathy, and I was having severe trouble driving. The bus line in my area had been eliminated, and taxi fare to and from work was prohibitive. I was mostly getting rides with others who worked at the university, but things were getting difficult enough that I decided to retire early and write.

The writing started out just because I enjoyed doing it. The first two books started as one, became three, and finally became Homecoming and Tourist Trap. The first drafts were definitely written while I was still working, but at this point I can’t even find some scenes I later eliminated in the drafts on my computer. I’m sure some were eighteen years ago, and probably twenty years and about five generations of computers was more accurate.

I continued to make up stories in my head, but couldn’t get everything to come together for another novel until I realized that my stories would go together just fine if I changed the sex of one character. Eventually that group of stories became a trilogy. Over the next few years I sent the first two books out to several publishers, collecting rejection slips while writing the first draft of the trilogy.

Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I’m not very good at sending things out, and the cancer and a session on self-publishing at Festival of the Book made me realize that if I ever wanted to share what I’d written I would have to self-publish. I published Homecoming through iUniverse, with the help of the editor who I’d worked with me on the Alaska Science Forum. It received 5-star reviews and took second place in science fiction in one of the contests I entered. The sequel, Tourist Trap, not only took first place in science fiction a year later in the same contest, it won best fiction book of the year.

I have to admit that I enjoy writing a good deal more than I enjoy marketing. And I’m not making any profit at all. But I still get a warm feeling from hearing from people who love my books, and I’m still hoping to publish the trilogy and possibly another novel, now in the planning stage. A second act? Not a very profitable one, but very fulfilling.

Oh, and all the indications are that we caught the cancer in time.


One of the things I blog about is health and health care. Here are links to posts on this topic. This post will be linked from the Index page, and I will add new posts as they go live.

A Pain in the Back 8/12/11
Pain Gel 10/1/11
The Cost of Health Care 10/8/22
Cranberry Recipes 11/24/11
Three Approaches to Health Care 1/21/12
Vitamin D 10/4/12

Breast Cancer part 1 2/12/11
Breast Cancer Part 2 2/19/11
Breast Cancer 3: Mammograms 2/27/11
Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer 3/12/11
Chemotherapy and Quilts 8/6/13
A Chemotherapy Fashion Show 8/15/13
Chemo, Hair Loss and Wig 8/22/13
Happy News: CT Scan 9/24/13
A to Z Reflections 5/8/14
Cancer Survivor 6/14/14
More cancer 10/6/14

Insulin Pumps 5/20/10
Cataract Surgery Complications 1/29/11
Diabetes and Blood Sugar 2/5/11
Complications of Diabetes 5/27/11
Diabetes: What’s in a Name 7/15/11
Conversation Piece (fiction) 10/20/11
Measuring Blood Sugar 11/12/11
Your Mileage May Vary 11/26/11
Continuous Glucose Monitors 12/3/11
Award and Medicare 3/3/12
Meals With Diabetes 5/19/12
Diet Sleuth: A Useful Meal Planning Tool 5/26/12

Breast Cancer 3: Mammograms.

I meant to cover radiation therapy this week, but I was tripped up by a blizzard. With 18 inches of fresh snow in the driveway, I couldn’t get out for the mammogram (X-ray of the breasts) scheduled Monday, and the radiation oncologist needed that before he saw me Thursday. I wound up getting the mammogram Friday, and have a new appointment with the radiation oncologist next Thursday. I hope I can get a photo of the radiation machine to use with the blog next week.

Business all over Fairbanks sponsor ice carvings as winter outdoor sculpture. The hospital imaging center has this skier, complete with goggles.

There are two types of mammograms: screening (to see if anything looks suspicious enough to look further) and diagnostic (once something else looks suspicious or worse.) Once you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, all the mammograms are diagnostic.

Three years ago, I got a diagnostic mammogram (which confirmed my doctor had indeed felt a lump), a biopsy (which involved shooting a sampler into my breast) to confirm that the lump was cancerous, and then surgery to remove the lump and the “sentinel node”—the lymph node most likely to be cancerous itself. If the sentinel node had been positive, all of the lymph nodes would have been removed. I was lucky; my sentinel node test was negative. But since I had chosen a lumpectomy rather than a full mastectomy, I had to follow chemotherapy up with radiation therapy.

Mammograms are uncomfortable but not really painful. Nipples and scars are marked with band-aid-like beads and tape with a metallized line. You stand next to the machine, your breast is squeezed between two plates, and when you are positioned to the technician’s liking you are told to hold you breath for a couple of seconds while the x-ray is taken. Generally they take one picture with the breast squeezed horizontally and one with it squeezed vertically. I think the most uncomfortable part of the process is getting my arms, chin, shoulders and ears out of the way and holding them there. I always finish a mammogram with a stiff neck.

They don’t have to develop film any more. The mammogram comes right up on a computer screen, and can be read at once. When I had mine done Friday, a couple of whitish areas showed up on the good breast, which led to a repeat of the X-rays with a different and smaller compressed area, and a few moments of worry on my part. Turned out to be calcium deposits that had been there all along. And this time I was told to come back next year, instead of 6 months from now.

I still wish Roi (one of my Homecoming characters) was real.