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I've had a pretty hectic past 3 weeks, much of it made hectic by my own choices.

So last week I was in Seattle all week. It was a trip that had been planned for about 8 or 9 months, so it's arrival was not unexpected. The trip was originally planned around a trip that Adam and I had won. Round trip airfare and hotel to Anaheim CA. Of course we figured we'd go to Disneyland the one day we were there. But the trip ended up having a dual purpose which was to try and see my mom (see the earlier post about her having just been diagnosed with breast cancer not too long ago). I wanted to go over and see her for 4 of the 7 days I was in Washington, but it ended up not happening. I had so much work to do for school last week that I just couldn't justify adding in another trip. I eventually decided not to buy the extra plane tickets becuase my mom was doing so well and I'm going to be home for a few weeks during May, so I figured I'd actually be able to see her and be able to help out with stuff, rather than be like "hi mom, excuse me while I go work on this paper on the computer" :-)

Mom started chemotherapy yesterday. So far she's feeling fine, but they told her it would take about 24 hours until the steroids they gave her wear off and then she will probably start to feel yucky. She's taking all of the anti emetic drugs, but I guess they work differently in different people, so hopefully hopefully she is one of the people who they help alot. I think the part she is most afriad of with the chemotherapy is the nausea. She'll be on 4 doses (8 weeks) of AC chemo, then 4 doses (8 weeks) of Taxol, then 6 weeks of radiation, then 5 years of tamoxifen. So she'll be done in about six months probably (end of September, beginning of October-ish). So anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing her in a few weeks.

With all of this happening, it's been pretty hard to concentrate on school. Though I think I've been doing a pretty decent job of keeping up with my school stuff during all of this. My professors have been very understanding and flexible. At this point in the semester there are just a handful of things left to do, but when you write it all down it still looks like quite a bit

School stuff
Biostats homework
Epi homework on questionnaire design
2 postings left for online ethics class
some question postings for Cancer epi
Cancer epi take home final
Epi final
Biostats final

Other stuff
Friend coming in from out of town on May 1st
Work DFA planning meeting on May 7th
Attend cancer summit on May 8th
Help out at commencement on May 14th and with all of the pre-commencement activities over the weekend.
Head home to Seattle on May 17th or 18th.

I don't really feel overwhelmed with school at all right now. I feel like everything left to do is pretty reasonable and have pretty much felt that way about most of my first year of graduate school here at the U of M


Hihi, I've been searching on the web for more info on colorectal cancer and I came to your blog. Very nice of you to share the info about breast cancer and everything here. We are suspecting my mom having colorectal cancer and still waiting to see the specialist in few weeks (we are in Canada, have to wait for everything in the health care system). I would appreciate if you can give me any advices!
thanks a lot in advance!

Hi Monique,

I'm sorry to hear that your mom might have colorectal cancer. I really hope that after she sees the specialist they will find that either she does not have it at all, or that it is an early stage cancer and therefore very treatable. Having a family member go through a cancer diagnosis was really difficult for me, but I found great strength in my family and friends as a support network. The best advice I have heard and will pass along to you are these.

-Don't panic (this is an important #1)

-Keep in mind that even if she has cancer, it is not a death sentence, there are many forms of treatment available for cancer these days.

-She should start making a list of things she wants to ask the doctor and take that list with her to the doctor’s appointment. That way they will be sure to address all of her questions.

-Make sure someone goes with her to ALL of her doctor’s appointments. Someone who she trusts, someone who is calm, and who can take notes for her about what the doctor says. It may all be a blur to her and she might not even be able to remember all that was said! At least that is how it was with my mom.

-Learn all you can about colon cancer. Read up on the basics at a reliable website like either of these listed below. Knowledge is power, the more you know, the more you will understand what is happening with your mother’s diagnosis and treatment. And once you know the basics you will have an easier time understanding the research that is happening around colorectal cancer.

-Don’t forget to keep eating and drinking LOTS of water! A dehydrated brain has a hard time making good decisions!

-And lastly, now is a good time to try and get all of your family current on their cancer screenings. I’m not sure how old you are, but as you get older, make sure to let your doctors know that you might be at higher risk for colon cancer.

I know that in your healthcare system there are often long wait times for procedures. In fact, I’m not even sure exactly how the Canadian cancer screening system works. If you want, please feel free to post a comment in my journal about your experience with your health care system, which parts you like and which parts are not as good.

Best Wishes,


Good success on your final for the end of this year!!!