Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Boobs in the News

Last Thursday, Lindsey Seavert, a reporter from WCCO news and Dave, a photographer/ cameraman, came to our house to interview me and my family about breastmilk sharing. I had spoken to Lindsey weeks before on the phone as she had been trying to get approval for the story. Tonight, it aired on the 10pm news. Maybe the Star Tribune story paved the way?

I thought the story was well done, even though the news anchors oddly referred to breastmilk sharing as a "Black Market" and they ended with the usual FDA fear factors. The true heart of the story was Christa Johnson, a breastfeeding mother who read about my need for milk on the "Human Milk 4 Human Babies" Facebook page and felt compelled to help. Tears filled my eyes when Christa said she felt "honored" to help me feed Olivia. I am so grateful to Christa and the other breastfeeding mothers who share this precious gift...

Personally, I found it amusing that Lindsey interviewed a Lactation Specialist at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis- since I work at Children's, Olivia was cared for in the NICU and the Special Care Nursery there and it was from the NICU at Children's (where her premature daughter was being cared for) that Christa contacted me about sharing her breastmilk.

Everyone agrees that breastmilk is the best nutrition for babies, especially premature babies. This is reinforced time and time again, but little is said about the mothers who are unable to breastfeed themselves. A short news segment cannot possibly go into all the issues involved. Remember, the Denver Milk Bank cut off our supply of milk without a warning. The mothers donating milk to milk banks- out of the goodness of their hearts- may not realize that after "processing" their milk is sold for $3-5.00 per ounce and few parents can afford it. The "processing" itself destroys some of the unique qualities of breastmilk.... Human beings are the only species that routinely consumes the breastmilk of another species... I could go on and on... :)

If you missed it, the story can be viewed on the WCCO website:

Monday, March 21, 2011

PET scan

This morning, I had a PET scan. You know the drill. A radioactive-sugar combo is injected into my vein, then I clear my mind and lie still- with my arms extended over my head
for 45 minutes- while this substance travels throughout my body. Then, for 22 minutes, my body is scanned to show where the sugar has been distributed, revealing cells that are more active.

This afternoon, Dr. Laudi called me after reviewing the scans. He said the scans showed active areas in my spine. I haven't seen the scans myself yet, so I don't know if these areas correspond to areas where I have back pain or even how much of my spine is involved.

This means I am no longer in remission. For today anyway. Remember, Stage IV Breast Cancer is treated like a chronic disease. When a particular treatment stops working, then I move to another treatment. Dr. Laudi took me off Tamoxifen and has ordered Xeloda, which is a chemotherapy pill. I will take 3 pills twice a day for 2 weeks, then have 1 week off. The side effects include the usual GI stuff, like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and mouth sores. There can be fatigue, weakness, and possibly "hand-and-foot syndrome" in which a person's hands and feet become painful, red and swollen. Hair loss, skin issues, even insomnia made the list, which is unfortunate, because sometimes sleep is a refuge, a healing place.

If you google "Stage IV Breast Cancer" you will be assaulted by words like "incurable" and "terminal." You will learn there is no Stage V.   Fear may come, sniffing around, looking for a place to dump its load.... but remember, cancer is my teacher.

The last time I was told my treatment wasn't working- Olivia appeared and blessed my life in ways I could have never foreseen or imagined. She takes her place in my life, in the world.  She is my sunshine.  She takes her place among the flowers and butterflies, among the people and the animals who bring their light to the world... who care about me, stand by me, make me smile, pray for me, and give me hope...

Cancer is my teacher still.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"What's the kindest thing a stranger has ever done for you?"

Aimee Tjader, with the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, wrote a story about milk-sharing that was printed in the Lifestyle section of today's newspaper. She interviewed me for the story and Elizabeth Flores, the photographer who came to our house, took pictures of me with all my girls. (Nan and Larissa are home on Spring Break).

I love how the story starts:
"What's the kindest thing a stranger has ever done for you?..."

To Olivia's many Mothers,
Thank you for sharing your precious gifts.
We are forever grateful.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Olivia loves Dr. Laudi

Dr. Laudi wanted me to continue Zometa infusions to strengthen my bones, so today I went to the infusion center at the oncology clinic. Since the infusion is less than an hour, I took Olivia with me. My IV was started and Zometa was dripping in, when nurses and the receptionists asked to hold Olivia who was smiling at everyone. So off she went- from person to person- making her rounds through the office, smiling at all the people who helped her get here safe and sound.

Later, Olivia reappeared in Dr. Laudi's arms. Smiling, he said, "She just wanted me."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Birthday Surprise

Mark surprised me for my birthday and arranged to have my sister, Amy, watch Natalie, Larissa and Olivia overnight and my parents watch Amore, then he and I drove up to Duluth...