Traffic Ticket…

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At 5:23 pm today, I  was pulled over near my home by a motorcycle Sheriff by the name of A. Ramirez.  On most days,  I spot motorcycle sheriffs in this spot (intersection of Del Obispo and Camino Del Avion, hiding at Dana Mesa street) waiting to pull some over or see them in the act of having someone pulled over.  So today, as I approached this area (as the light was turning red), the car in front of me slowed down abruptly at the Dana Mesa Street which forced me to change lanes fairly quickly.  That is when I noticed the deputy with lights on!  Initially I thought he was pulling that car over, but when he came behind me, I was confused.  I thought did I violate some rule by moving over without giving a signal?

Once the light turned green, I crossed the intersection, and pulled over.  Right from the beginning he was aggressive, didn’t respond to my greeting or took off his mirrored sunglasses (even though I took mine off out of respect to authority).  He told me did I realize I was going fast? and that he clocked me 55mph in a 40mph zone and he did so by seeing how fast I came up on the car ahead of me.  I was quite perplexed as I had a very slow commute home, not only it was the office rush hour, but I encountered  multiple red lights, closed train crossing, waving candidates (who hoped to be elected during the upcoming elections), etc, all slowing traffic plus this area was also a school zone!  I told him that he must be mistaken, I wasn’t going fast.  He continued to ask me in a taunting tone”why were you going fast?” I told him yet again that I wan’t going fast.  However he continued with the same line of questioning, I told him that I wasn’t going fast but if he thinks I was, I apologize for that. It felt everything fell to deaf ears but he remained persistent.  Having no experience with law enforcement before, I didn’t know what answer he was seeking.  Also, I started questioning myself, if my disease or treatment was causing some lapses!  I told him that I had and was being treated for 4th stage metastic cancer, and it appears that this information is what he needed to continue with is taunts.  He lectured me on if I was taking medications or treatment that has me dizzy, then I should have been pulling over and not speeding!  Also, when he asked for drivers license, car registration and proof of insurance information, he was okay with 2013 car registration information (as that was the first paper I pulled from the glove compartment) but wanted the latest proof  of insurance.  He didn’t wait till I could locate it, instead that he will be right back.  He returned a few minutes later handed me the ticket and stated ” here’s your ticket for speeding and I have also added inability to show proof of insurance”,  and made me sign the wireless device.

I thought we are done and he was doing his job, he wouldn’t let me go and in his sarcastic/taunting voice stated that you stated you are not feeling well, should some be picking you up?  I told him I am okay, I can drive,  He continued with his jabs again, should you not be calling ambulance?  These jabs were very disturbing to the point that I had to curtly state  “Sir, you have already given me the ticket.  And you obviously can see that I am okay.  If there is nothing else, you need to let me go”.

The ticket does not have me as perturbed as my interaction with him.  This officer’s demeanor, lack of tact and professionalism, goading someone’s illness, etc. did not leave a good impression!  I am debating whether to file an official report with the OC Sherrif’s office.  Will keep you posted!

Zometa Infusion & Ibrance

My oncologist was elated with my progress.  He was amazed at my bodies positive response to Letrozole therapy, how the cancer spots in my ribs and in adjoining lymph node were clear, and he he was confident in calling it resolved (in my chest area).  However, he was unable to discern if the spots in my spine were cancerous or scar tissue!  Taking no chances, he decided to add two additional therapies – 1) Zometa infusion every three months (to rebuild my bone so that future problems or breaks can be mitigated), and 2) start Ibrance oral chemo to augment Letrozole therapy as studies have shown that women with advanced breast cancer who take both Ibrance and Letrozole lived about 20 months without their cancer getting worse, compared to about 10 months for the women who received letrozole alone!  He did, however, warn of the drop in blood counts (both red and white) seen with Ibrance and asked for greater vigilance around infection, fever, anemia, fatigue, weakness, nausea, etc.

My appointment for Zometa came first.  I was given Zoledronic Acid 4 mg in Sodium Chloride 0.9% 100 mL IV at the infusion center.  It was a short session and the nurse upon my discharge went over the potential side effects but mainly that I will experience flu-like symptoms, fevers and chills.  That night and the next morning were was pretty uneventful, however, that was short lived!  I started spiking a fever of 102.8F, then the chills came and my joints very achy.  I piled couple of blankets despite being a hot summer day (with no air conditioning given the proximity of my place to the beach).  It totally felt like I was having a bout with flu!  Also, internally, I was feeling that I was burning up.  I drank a lot of fluids (a lot!) but my month and my body felt parched.  Tylenol (like the nurse suggested) did break the fever to 100.3 but the low grade fever continued.  By the second day, my teeth were chattering as it does in winter time and despite being under layers of blankets.  However, on the third day, I was back to normal with no fever, chills, or weakness, go figure!

Pilates, Work & Two Trips…

In my treatment journey, one of the things that I am very proud is that I have remained diligent about has been my exercise regimen (thru good and bad days).  Before this relapse, I was not consistent with any exercise and most times found excuses to not do them. The term ‘Coach Potato’ fit me to a T! Now with a weakened spine, I knew having a weakened core would not work.  Also, many exercises would not work especially the upright ones (treadmill, cycling, Zumba, etc.).  In came ‘reformer Pilates’ as I knew it would support my back and not put pressure on it.  So as soon as my neurosurgeon okayed it for me (which was March), I found a wonderful trainer Sara who worked on me 1:1 and we set course to strengthen my core three days a week.  We worked a lot on legs, arms, abs…everything!  There were days I dragged myself out of her studio and was done for the whole day!  Now 6 months later, I feel stronger, in shape, and getting my energy is back!  Thanks to Sara.

Also, in March I returned to work.  It was hard!  I didn’t have the energy, got tired and drained fast, and office setting especially the chairs didn’t work me (my doctors didn’t want me sitting but standing or lying instead but with weak legs sitting was the only option in the work setting).  There were days (which were most days), my boss would send me home or allowed me to telecommute from home, which I was so grateful for.  Interesting part is that my 1.5 commute didn’t bother me, and I attribute that to the car chair which enveloped my back and I could change its angle.  Initially, I had to ensure that my exhaustion didn’t cause me to fall asleep on the wheel!  However, as time passed, my energy got better and now I am at work full-time and fully functional 😊

Lastly in July (over July 4th holiday) and last week (over the Labor Day holiday), I took two trips to see how I would handle long distance travel.  The first trip I took was to Seattle and Vancouver BC.  I flew into Seattle where my Uncle and Aunt came to pick me up, and then they drove me to their house in South Surrey. It was a great getaway and my body could only handle small treks.  We also drove to Victoria Island and went to Butchart gardens (which was the fastest trek I took as my back bothered me) but overall it went well.  Over this past weekend, I took a road trip where I drove to Oakland.  This trip was part business and part pleasure.  I went for an interview and then visited family and friends in Orinda, Hayward, and then drove to Clovis (Fresno) to visit family with a stopover at Bakersfield to visit more family.

I am thrilled, happy and excited to report that I am starting to feel the old me again.  Although the treatments are aiding in fighting the disease and continuing to heal me, I feel that being diligent with core strengthening is also allowing me to function as normally as possible.  I am so looking forward to other adventures…. Yeeha!!!

John McCain…

The news of his passing hit me like a ton of bricks!  I don’t know why but I feel a deep gut-wrencing loss even though the news is not a surprise, Is it because the finality of death? Loss of a noble soul (which these days we don’t see many good examples of)?  or is it disease itself (cancer and it hit home)?

Regardless, the biggest loss is loosing such a honorable man; a man of principles, integrity, resiliance, humility, and grace.  I consider him my hero and role-model, and one what I will honor him is to stand for what’s right even when its unpopular or when you may be the lone wolf!

RIP John, there will be not another one like you!

 

 

 

 

Oncology f/up

Last week, I saw my oncologist for my 6 month followup.  Overall the visit went well, he added Palbociclib (Ibrance) to be more aggressive with my treatment.  According to him Letrozole by itself was the treatment a decade ago but now with all the advances in breast cancer research, adding newer meds like Palbociclib have shown to increase life expectancy.  Plus he ordered Zoledronic Acid (Zometa) infusion every 3 months to build bone!  He also ordered a bunch of other tests, such as, blood-work panels to check my liver and kidney function, STAT CT and Bone scan.

The biggest concern I have is from starting Palbociclib (Ibrance) as neutropenia and lowering white blood counts (WBC)!  Does that mean I am going to be prone to infection/ other diseases?  One of the things I was looking forward was to traveling to India to see my sister (who’s visa got cancelled) and see family and friends.  I know I can build the red blood counts (RBC) thru food and supplements, but what about the  WBC?   Needless to say I am bummed but I guess this means more research (before this special ordered medications comes).