Saturday, November 28, 2015

Amazing Places to Exercise

If we don't have an exercise buddy, we might skimp on those exercises where we can't go out and show off our aerobics gear.  But just plain standing too long, like in the checkout lane (where they should show movies to avoid rioting) is not good for you.  So you're trapped in the market and know the danger of coming home without peanut butter and scones.  Don't waste those minutes, exercise (watch out for the customer behind you.) Or, for instance:

Waiting in line at the meat and cheese counter.  Excellent place for back and side leg lifts for osteo hip issues and balance issues (watching out for other customers.)  Don't try to lift your foot 18 inches at a time.

Squat correctly with buns protruding:  The part that saves your spine is 'buns protruding' not tucked in.  A friend of mine paid a trainer $300 to learn that one thing.  Okay, you may have to do this in the ladies' room if you're that modest.  But practicing these squats saves people from falling.  So BE DARING , save your spine and squat with buns out instead of bending to reach the no-sugar muffin mix on bottom shelf. This squat can also be done at home when a bunch of blueberries rolls under the edge of the kitchen counter.

Even after my lumbar fusion, when the doctor went overboard telling me not to lift, he did tell me to stretch, and putting a glass on the very top shelf is the #1 stretch.  In fact, I suspect now that I should have been doing a lot more exercises that he didn't seem to allow.

When you get a little more confident on the sideways walk, you can do it a lot in the grocery store.  I do it up and down an aisle,just searching for my favorite food that they've moved.

Waiting in the exam/consult room at doctor's office.  There's a sturdy counter there to help with toe-to-heel, also sideways walk, and other balance exercises.  (Don't skip toe-to-heel.  Remember, if you have a little fender-bender or do something very unexpected in the car, you may have to get out and walk a straight line.)

In horrid staff meetings or conferences where people sit in rows.  The person at the podium is trying to find out who's texting.  Now's your chance to do some seated foot or leg lifts.  At least practice pressing your shoulders to the back of the chair and holding your gut in. Quiet, unobtrusive deep breath or two, and you're caught up on some very healthy moves.

I wish you health.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

LIQUID BIOPSY - No cutting? No kidding?

‘Liquid biopsy’ Promotes Precision Medicine by Tracking Patient’s Cancer says Mayo Clinic News Network

Posted by danasparksWed, Nov 4

"Our findings empirically show that ctDNA analysis from blood samples allows us to detect cancer mutations from multiple different tumor sites within a patient and track how each of them responds," Dr. Murtaza of TGen and Mayo Clinic said. 

The words "of TGen and Mayo Clinic" made me able to rely more on this study (that and the fact it was published in Nature Communications.)  So, can we?  Can we know where cancer has spread (or may spread?

The article emphasized that this technique allows more frequent biopsy.  (And safer.)  

Quickly they taught me a new word: ctDNA:  circulating tumor DNA.

This sort of answers my question from an earlier post about cells escaping from DCIS before "cure."  I don't know when they might start using liquid biopsy that early in the process; it's been the "fashion" to assume we're cured after DCIS is treated, that nothing has spread.  

Your comments are welcome  Here's the link to Mayo News Network. was having technical difficulties this a.m., and I wanted to get this out.

I wish you health.    

Thursday, November 19, 2015

How to Read a Medical Press Release: Part 2 MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

1.  Get a phone number of the person or institution sending the release.  Or if all else fails, get email address.

2.  Insist that terms be defined.  No exceptions.  If a term needs definition, repeat step 1.  Call them.

My personal pet peeve is calling something carcinoma in situ, then telling me it's not cancer.  Let us know what medical lingo you don't trust.

I wish you health.

Friday, November 13, 2015

NEW WAY TO STUDY CANCER DRUGS - Will BC be in Sloan Kettering basket studies soon?

I had never heard of basket studies until I ran into them on Sloan Kettering twitter.See twitter November 4    and click for basket studies and Sloan Kettering. I checked today (Nov 15 already.. It's still available)

Basket studies are very new.  This is the quick description I got from the Thursday, August 20, article on the MSKCC site;  
  • Basket studies focus on a tumor’s gene mutation regardless of type. 

Or:  A clinical trial shows that a drug focused on a single genetic mutation can be effective across multiple cancer types — although blocking the mutation does not guarantee success.

Oncologist David Hyman put it in a way I might remember:  "what works in different tumor types."  

The twitter pictographs shows BC as included in the "basket,"

But the accompanying paragraph indicates other cancers as the ones getting help from the drug in the current clinical trial.

However, the pictograph makes me guess that BC may be in a future basket.  So we need to keep an eye on these basket studies.  .

This is one of many articles and trials that remind me of what Lisa Carey, MD, of Chapel Hill said in Hot Topics BC about some BC cells looking a lot like other cells.. 

I guess we stay tuned for more.  I wish you health.

How to read medical press release

from Twitter: Peter Bach and Leonard Saltz:
if see a press release citing "landmark study" throw in trash - that's for history to judge

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


This material originated with NEJM a week before Guardian picked it up from UP.

Mammograms not catching worst cancers before they spread – US Study

Rate of aggressive breast cancers that have already moved to other parts of the body has not fallen in decades despite screening programmes, study finds

 I had trouble with this article.  Spent a lot of time going over this again and again.  Gave me more questions than answers, of course. But  a quote or group announcement from the three leading MD  study authors  tells us the crux:

“ 'Screening offers hope that cancer can be detected in an early, localised phase when it’s more amenable to treatment,' ” they write, 'but that assumes cancer starts in one place, grows and then spreads. If that was always true screening would reduce the rate of advanced cancers,' " they argue.   

So mammograms are not enough!  Not designed to find the breast cancer that may move to other organs almost as soon as it starts.

 And in that case, the problem is we don't look in other parts of the body simultaneously?  Is that why I've ended up in the ultrasound lab twice? (And even the ultrasound was really working only on the breast.) And tomo,  being just more pix of the breast, does not make a big difference to survival?

I'm going back to my earlier October post on  NIH material - "not a death sentence" : This from study author Steven Narod:

" 'In all, 956 women in the study ultimately died of breast cancer. Of those, 517 never had invasive cancer in the breast after treatment seemed to cure their DCIS. That means that the cancerous breast cells from their DCIS had escaped at some point and survived in the lungs or bone, later developing into a deadly cancer,' Narod explained."   (highlighting is mine) "Seemed to cure."  Pretty damn scary!  So the NEJM study wasn't hot news... 

So these women were living a death sentence they didn't know they had.

What else should we be doing on mammo day?  Is there some kind of blood work that would give us more clues?

Who is researching this to give us a better deal?  Anybody?

And this article had to come out while I'm planning a second-year post treatment "diagnostic" mammo.

I wish you health.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


In memory of Erika E. who died of BC that the mammogram didn't find

Rik and I met one day when two friends and I were on a road trip, and stopped to get a Coke.

Months later I got a new job near the ocean, and moved almost "down the street" from her.  Becoming her friend was a blessing.  We hashed out the common divorced-woman pain, calmed down, and had fun.

One day she called to say she felt something in her breast.  I asked her if she wanted to "wait and watch," but because there was family history of BC, she decided to see the doctor at once.

The months after that are a blur to me now - she had so many tough times.  She had taken a para-legal course, and I believe she got to start her new career.  But almost immediately, she got a new hospital instead.

She spent more and more time in the hospital.  And she told me then about the disc on her chest wall that the mammogram didn't find.  Her roommate was a tireless nurse who was able to be near her in the hospital much of the time.

Years later, I found a note from her in my things:  It said;

"Our friendship is valuable to me.  It may be sorely strained soon."

Before long she was dead.

Now decades later, we are still reading "news" that mammograms are not finding every new cancer.


I wish you health.