Cancer Journey/ HEALTH

A Health Update — Blood Test Results

I just got results back from 2 blood tests and I am feeling great about them.

The first blood test was taken at my Oncologist office, a standard blood test that I have every six months.  My results looked really good, my white and red blood cells counts were normal. The blood tests shows that my liver and  kidneys are working well with no damage, and certain mineral levels (like potassium) are back where they should be, thanks in huge part to the supplements I take.
This blood test is always reassuring to me, and it has been fun to see my numbers normal!  During chemo treatment my numbers were not normal, so staring at the familiar results paper & charts and seeing normal numbers is such a gift!  It is also a big deal to look so healthy on paper since I had 3 surgeries in 3 months and an infection from one of those surgeries.  It is amazing how quickly the body can heal and jump back from trauma like that.
The second blood test was taken by my OB/GYN who has been keeping a close watch on ovarian cysts and the process of shutting down my hormonal system via Lupron Shots and Arimedex.  This process is a new one for me the last 3 months, and is going as well as can be expected.

As I wrote about in detail here, the cancer drug Tamoxifen was no longer an option for me, as it was causing me to sleep my life away.  I made it 2 1/2 years on that drug.  I do not miss it!

I’m doing ok on the new meds, but the side effects are not a walk in the park.  I have pretty extreme joint pain in my hips, ankles, and spine. We are removing estrogen with meds, and estrogen keeps tendons & ligaments & joints lubricated and flexible.  I feel like the tin man on the Wizard of Oz, who really needs my oil can to work.  Right now, yoga, glucosamine and turmeric is keeping the pain bearable and is my oil can, but aching is now a part of my every day life, and probably will be for the next 3-5 years.  Better than sleeping all day…for sure!  I hated missing out on life by sleeping it away!
Back to the blood test results, it showed my “estrogen and progesterone levels were appropriate for one in pre-mature ovarian failure” YAY!  That is what we want, as estrogen and progesterone both fed my cancer.  They also tested my CRP levels, as there is a cyst hanging out on my ovary that they wanted to make sure was not anything to worry about (ovarian cancer.)  My CRP levels were low, which really makes me breath easy.  CRP levels show if there is any inflammation in the body, so an overall CRP level tells you my heart & organs are working well and is a good sign that there is no cancer growing in the body.  Yippee!
The last level they checked for is Vitamin D.  Mine is 56, which is considered great for the average person. He would like to see mine up in the 80’s due to my cancer history, but above 26 is what most physicians want.  I am taking 5,000 IU’s a day, and Doc is confident my Vitamin D will just keep going up.
Having adequate Vitamin D levels is super important for anyone with cancer history, and is really great for immunity.  I have all 3 of my girls taking Vitamin D with their multi-vitamins, it is important to me as most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D.
Click here to read more about the importance of Vitamin D.
Click here to see the brand of Vitamin D I take.
I am feeling a big sigh of relief.  Not too big, as my lung is still giving me issues when I breathe deep. Pretty sure this is due to radiation damage, but I hardly notice it and it has not gotten worse.  I said no to a chest X-ray, as it seemed stupid to add more radiation to the area.  Radiation is accumulative.  If the pain got worse, I would give in and do it.  My Oncologist felt fine letting me take the “wait and see” road. So far so good.
I find myself super excited for spring weather.  I also feel very motivated to get in shape after being in bed so much with healing.  I am doing yoga using my favorite yoga app, and am trying to walk at least 30 minutes a day.  Small steps!
Joint pain is not the only side effect of instant menopause and cancer meds.  I also have hot flashes, (so much better by taking extra Vitamin E as suggested by my Oncologist–400 IU’s  in the morning and 400 IU’s at night) and the dreaded weight gain–a lovely 10 lbs!  That is frustrating especially when I eat so healthy, but I am confident that consistent exercise will help.  I refuse to get caught up in weight numbers, and will just continue to do my best to live a healthy lifestyle.  I get that when weight gain is part of a medication side effect, there is only so much I can do, and I will accept that, all the while working hard at health.

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  • HagerGirl
    March 7, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I have learned so much from your blog. I am so glad I found it. I’m almost 40, youngest of three girls (also have two brothers), I have four children ages 6-14 (all of whom I breastfed over a year each). I was diagnosed just over a year ago with Stage 3 ductal carcinoma and in 7 out of 15 lymph nodes. Mastectomy, no reconstruction, yet. I am in my 6 month of taking Tamoxifen. I am noticing more side effects lately. I just sat down in my recliner to read this post with my laptop on my lap as I am sooooo sleepy! Just had to read this post before my nap. 🙂 Thank you, thank you for blogging your journey. God bless YOU!

    • Amy Bowman
      March 8, 2014 at 1:50 am

      Hi! Thanks so much for telling me a bit about your story. Your thankfulness toward me and the blog really touched me. Super encouraging!
      I so understand your sleepiness, mine just got worse and worse the longer I was on Tamoxifen, but I have read of some women side effects getting easier as time went by. My naps were getting to be hours every day..3-4 hours. I hated missing out on that time with my kids! I am not sleeping like that anymore, maybe one or two naps a week, but definitely feel more joint pain now.
      I noticed in your profile you are an ex hairdresser. I gasped, as I have met so, so so many ex hairdressers that got breast cancer. I did hair professionally for years. When I went to my “professionals only” supply store wearing my head scarf during chemo, the check out lady said “oh no, not you too!” Makes one wonder…huh? Anyway, so glad to meet you and thank you again for reading.