Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bone health after breast cancer

I attended a session on Bone Health - informative for all women. It was done by a physiotherapist, a nutritionist and a pharmacist. It was on how to decrease your chances of developing Osteoporosis (a disease that makes bones thin and weak, meaning you are more susceptible to fractures).

We are done building our bone strength around age 18. We maintain it during our 20's, and start to slowly lose it in our mid-30's. Women start to lose it rapidly at menopause because of the drop in estrogen levels. There are lots of major and minor risk factors - but the one that stands out for cancer survivors is early menopause (before age 45, typically caused by chemo).

What to do? Make sure you are getting enough Calcium, Vitamin D and exercise. The amount varies depending on your age, but a post-menopausal woman should get 1500mg Calcium and 1000 IU's of Vitamin D each day.

Your body makes vitamin D when you are in the sun, but apparently you need your arms and legs exposed, no sunblock, for 5-20 minutes, between the hours of 10 and 2. Not many of us Canadians can do that year round. Most people need to take a mulit-vitamin or supplement to get enough.

The physiotherapist was there to tell us that physical activity helps to keep bones strong - both weight-bearing exercises like walking and running, and resistance/strength training like free weights and push-ups.

They didn't recommend any specific multi-vitamin, just had us all bring whatever we take so we could see how much was in it and think about how much we're getting in our food. My multi-vitamin has 400mg of calcium and 200 IU of Vitamin D. I drink 2 glasses of milk a day, but that still doesn't get me there. I'm going to look for a different multi-vitamin or take some extra calcium and vitamin D...

Monday, April 19, 2010

7+ Months post-chemo

I had my 6 month follow-up today and all is good. My bloodwork is 100% back to normal (finally!!) My oncologist will continue to monitor me, he'll see me in 6 months and do bloodwork again. He ordered a bone density scan (I have never had one yet). I'll have annual mammograms. And just keep my fingers crossed.

Here's my hair - I'm going to keep it this short through the summer and then we'll see. This is my natural hair color, but I'll probably get some highlights soon. It sure is easy!

As for side effects, I still have some numb toes, but not all 10 anymore. They do drive me crazy some days. It still hurts where the original surgery was, but I've stretched enough that my fingers don't fall asleep or get numb anymore. My taste buds are pretty normal, although coffee has never been quite right again. I've pretty much given up on it and mostly drink green tea now.

My eyebrows didn't come back the way they used to be. They're very light and patchy, but that's what eyebrow pencils are for!

My port incision is healed, but still is sore to touch. It took a long time for the last little stitch to come out.

I still have an ache in my lower back and my right hip. It's faded, or I've just gotten used to it. But if I think about it, it's there.

I've been back to work 7 weeks now, full time for the last 3 weeks. I'm tired in the evenings (so are most working people!) It's manageable. I'm enjoying being back, its gone a long way to making me feel 'normal'.

That's all for now. Take care...