Friday, August 28, 2009

Up and Around; My Photo of Dr. Lele

John and I will be returning to Vegas/Henderson tomorrow (Saturday about 5 P.M).
I went with Nancy Tobin to a movie this afternoon, then finally met her lovely grandchildren, Adam (8) and Abagail (5). "Paper Heart" was a movie fun to see. Then we went for a delicious Farewell Buffalo dinner at Siena's with Ray and Sergio Fornasiero, and Pat Schichtel joined us for drinks first. I'll be back to Buffalo in 3 months for the doctor check-up, and after the 3 weeks of radiation treatments.

I am feeling pretty good, considering the operation was on August 12th a little over 2 weeks ago, and I'm certainly "up and around". The gash down my belly will be the reminder of how blessed I am to be healed.

Here is the picture of the surgeon, Dr. Lele. He let me take it yesterday. Love his tie and smile.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Answers to Questions

Questions for Dr. Lele
Today I get the lymph node report. NEGATIVE FOR CANCER cancer was contained in the uterus. "It is all out!!!!!!!!
1. Any need for chemotherapy? Nooooooooo Yeah!
2. Will my upcoming radiation treatments necessitate staying away from others? No, I will not be radioactive. 3 treatments locally one week apart.
3. Can I slow/smooth jog after today, now the staples are removed? Not for about 4-6 weeks Should I be aware of adhesion complications.
4. Do I need to know anything about keeping the vagina clean and any caveats or stipulations to learn about having intercourse? There is nothing other than vinegar douche, if needed. Vit. A & D ointment.
5. Will he recommend a physician, or somewhere in Las Vegas/Henderson that I should see for the rest of my treatments? No, but it's pretty standard. Vaginal Brachy therapy- 3 times. See doctor in 3 months; then 6 months thereafter.

HoneyBees and Dr.Lele Appointment

Up until 4 A.M. last "night" watercolor painting flowers. Don't know why flowers, don't know the name of the flowers, but I like the honey bees in it, and like it more than the flower I painted last week.

Questions for Dr. Lele
Today I get the lymph node report.
1. Any need for chemotherapy?
2. Will my upcoming radiation treatments necessitate staying away from others?
3. Can I slow/smooth jog after today, now the staples are removed? Should I be aware of adhesion complications.
4. Do I need to know anything about keeping the vagina clean and any caveats or stipulations to learn about having intercourse?
5. Will he recommend a physician, or somewhere in Las Vegas/Henderson that I should see for the rest of my treatments?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Enjoying Each Day-BRAT diet's workingso

Banana's and Rice (applesauce and toast would have worked too) did the trick.

Celebrated Pat Schichtel's Birthday in Buffalo on 8-22-09

Received a wonderful and warm blanket from the hands of Sharon Sullivan in Bakersfield. Perfect for the cool Buffalo nights, and will leaving it here in the northeast for granddaughters' next trip.

Nancy Tobin and I (husbands too) at the Taste of India (all one can eat) Buffett. I am cursed with an overeating habit. My daughter (in-law) said it all once: 'I've never seen anybody eat so much'. I was in such pain in the stomach area last night that we "ate and ran". A tum helped, although I wish I could self-cure my eating too much when it tastes good. It seems I've tried everything to limit food. I wish someone could suggest something I haven't tried that would work. The best I've been able to do (and it HAS kept my weight normal) is to have a once a week "No Eat Day". I've been doing that since about 2004.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Frequent bathroom trips

This year, Julianna Fiddler-Woite published, "Snyder New York- A Brief History". Annie Kozlin gave me said book, and it has occupied me with increasing interest each day during each frequent trip to the "restroom". I have to talk with Dr. Lele on Thursday about the state of my bowels. The assistant dr. told me he had to move the large intestine during the operation. But "He put it back." However my habits are very different, loose, and I get too little warning. Not good. Sorry, if you noticed the title, you could skip today's blog. John went out for bananas, and I plan to eat a lot of rice tonight, when we meet Nancy Tobin and David at "A Taste of India" tonight.

Monday, August 24, 2009


This morning I remembered the word "J'arming", and tried it. I found a fast tune in my memory bank and flailed my arms around to the beat. While not quite the aerobics of jogging and elliptic training that I've been doing since 1980, I was forced to breath rather deeply after a few minutes. I made myself do 3 sets of 5 minutes each. For now that's enough. (J'arming articles can be found on Google. It was intended for people in wheelchairs, etc.)
But Covert Baily- my initial exercise guru says daily 'do at least 12 minutes of non-stop aerobics at 80% of your maximum'. Tomorrow I'll try to stretch it out without the breaks. Who knows, perhaps it will hack away at my aging chicken wing sagging arms. I'll push myself for a month on it and see if arm fitness becomes an extra benefit.
John is ready to go back to Nevada. I got a call from a friend there this morning and she couldn't believe we're still in Buffalo. I kind of like the routine I've developed here over the last 2 week, and the cool feel of oxygen-filled summer air. However, our host would surely like his home back for himself. He deserves a lot more than thanks!!!!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Husband Reprieved

My husband is finally getting a reprieve as I can do almost everything for myself now. However, I was told I can't drive so he still drives me around, quite willingly, so I'm a lucky wife. I expect to be able to drive after Thursdays Dr. Lele appointment, and then we might start fighting about who gets to use the car.

While I can do "everything", I do it in very slow motion. It reminds me of when I was a Tomboy and played baseball with the neighborhood boys. They used to yell at me, "Get the lead out of your pants, Drina!"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Just the Facts

I get the impression that there's no need to say anything. Cancer is being cured.
The questions asked of me are "How are you doing?"
The answer is, "Thanks for asking. I'm doing as fine as expected. Perhaps better than expected".

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fame so elusive

Being the only granddaughter of Taylor Caldwell has left me with a problem. (Whiningly, I say, "I wanna be like her.) She was one of the strangest people, but I loved her.) Her last husband took all her millions- the lothario married her when she was 78 years old and he was about twenty years younger than she. She also had had a stroke, was deaf, and couldn't talk or think like before the stroke. He got her to ADOPT his then teenage son. Then he distroyed her will that was leaving just about everything she had to my mother, plus a few thousand a year to me. He had another will drawn up, sold her best jewelry and property, AND MANAGED TO ABSCOND WITH ALL THE RIGHTS TO HER 33 BEST SELLING NOVELS. What am I doing getting myself all worked up again over something that happened 25 years ago?
Well, anyway, the following might seem irrelevant, but is not:
I sent the links from the Las Vegas newspaper to my son, Mark, and he replied.
From: "Mark Fornasiero" <>
Date: August 21, 2009 6:09:51 AM PDT
Subject: RE: Links below to Las Vegas Journal and Las Vegas City Life regarding the Art Show - Celebrating Life! 2009

Thanks for passing these on mum. 99% of it is praise, which is a pretty good ratio to me. You’re now in good company with all the great artists, which receive both praise and criticism. The point is, your art is getting noticed!
Making my son proud had better be good enough. It is very good.

Possible Tip for You on Sneezing After Any "Innards" Operation

The first time I sneezed after my operation, it was an explosion of pain at the incision. The second time I even clutched my stomach to support the tissue so it wouldn't hurt. Not much better. While the metal staples didn't burst, I was not looking forward to more sneezing.

I hope you'll pass this solution on, or use it yourself if you ever need it: It's easy in retrospect, and all you need is a HANDY TISSUE, Kleenex or even a hanky or napkin. Caveat, you only have a second or a few seconds to do it! What to do? Blow your nose gently. For me it immediately STOPPED the sneezing reflex cold.......Oh, you might say you knew this already. Well I didn't.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Links to Las Vegas Journal regarding Art Show - Celebrating Life! 2009

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeanne L. Voltura [mailto:jvoltura@LasVegasNevada.GOV]
Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:05 PM
Subject: Celebrating Life! 2009

Hello all,

I am resending the press release for the Celebrating Life Winners Circle at the Bridge Gallery in City Hall because I recently added many of the participant’s emails to the distribution list. Also, there are two articles out right now about the exhibit and you can go see them at the links below. The exhibit will be up through September 18 if you get a chance to see it; it’s got quite a bit of diversity in medium and idea, well worth the trip.

Thank you,
Jeanne Voltura

Eat Dessert First and Shoe Store Radiation Machines

My friend, Terri Metz, forwarded me an e-mail today that started out "
One day I had a date for lunch with friends.. Mae, a little old "blue hair" about 80 years old, came along with them---all in all, a pleasant bunch. When the menus were presented, we ordered salads, sandwiches, and soups, except for Mae who said, "Ice Cream, please. Two scoops, chocolate..... The e-mail continues inspirationally about living life fully. Please read it all if you get it. My reason for mentioning it is that while I have been known often to started meals at restaurants with dessert, to my husband's embarrassment, my "scientific" rationale is that the sugar dessert sets up a desire to eat more- so then I have the healthy meal after the dessert, and hope to end up not eating too much. If I have sweets at the end, then I leave kinda craving more. Also, others order more cocktails in the beginning, and ....Let me eat cake instead of alcohol while they're drinking.
AND .... the highest bidder on yesterday's flower was Annie K., with 2 books I love, one magazine containing an article from Roswell Park with a story about Dr. Lele, 3 homegrown cucumbers, and a half gallon of her delicious bean pasta vegetable soup. I got the best deal, and I didn't even have to mail it to her. Of course I hope she eventually gets the best deal with my original. But with millions of artists out there, it is very very unlikely.
I am sooooooo ready to have these stiches out!
I am so scared of adding new radiation to my body for 5 weeks after: taking X-Rays for 4 years while I was a dental hygienist in the 1960's- with dentists who said "Don't worry. Just stand behind the door". AND does anybody know the details of those 1940's or 1950's X-ray machines they had in Shoe Stores, where I, for one, was mesmerized while taking my time looking at the bones in my feet while I wiggled my toes....Looking, looking, looking? How long before they removed those machines, and how many little kids watched as I did entranced?

Watercolor and white pastel painting today

Spent most of the day doing this about 5"X7" watercolor (and also I used some white pastel). I hope you see it's flowers, but I don't know what kind. I wanted to paint BEAUTIFUL flowers.
Some people suggested that I paint out my pain. I couldn't paint a uterus anyway, which other than a chart in the doctor's office I have no idea what it looks like. But our psyches have a way of winning out. This does have a dark value look to it. Of course it's for sale to the highest bidder, no matter how low.

I got up so late,(around 3:30) and now it's 5:30 A.M. and I'd better think of going to bed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This is the most delicious edible bouquet ever! I was going to add a third picture of me before the new dress, and chowing down on one of the fruit and chocolate pieces. However, it was NOT cute.
Me, in my new loose fitting dress, admiring the beautiful bouquet of flowers from 6 of my most favorite KHSD former colleagues.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Best Day Since the Operation

A Bakersfield friend/former colleague and temple goer (and former Buffalonian) e-mailed me today about a co-worker in the Kern High School District who had melanoma which had spread to 2 or 3 lymph nodes. She was treated and has been cancer free. And that was 15 years ago. What further gains in cancer treatment have there been since then? Personally THIS BLOG has been most helpful to me, by keeping me informed as to people who have themselves and known others loved who have overcome cancer. For that I'm SO grateful.

This blog medium is so new that they didn't have the benefits of not feel relatively isolated during their ordeal. Is that why today was so good? Well in a way yes, because the soothing of the mind is so important for wellbeing. ....HOWEVER....Today's also about what came through the door:
1. from John's sister and her family....YUM - EDIBLE fruit bouquet with "tons" of dark chocolate on pineapple, orange, and apple slices; on grapes and strawberries; and mmmmmmm white chocolate covered banana chunks (you all gotta try this someday if you haven't ...and please don't wait to be "ill" to do it.) I'm thinking that's why I only needed 200mg of Ibuprofen once all day- I think the chocolate took the pain away.
2. A fun visit from one of my longest-time friends. Since clothing buttoned around my waist hurts, she shopped at TJ Max and chose about 6 or 7 dresses, with the idea of also matching my chartreuse Crocs and tote bag. As bad as chartreuse Crocs and chartreuse tote bag sounds, she managed to make me feel feminine and cute. We then went out for - I had Chai tea, and NO aching torso. Nancy chose so well that I'm keeping 4 of those outfits. This evening the parents of my Bakersfield friend, Holley, (from the first paragraph above) came over to where I'm staying, to chat, to share some chocolate covered fruit, and with make-up on and one of my new - reduced to $7.00 dresses, I felt (almost) great.
3. This afternoon, beautiful flowers from dear Bakersfield colleagues arrived. I edited some photos of these and the chocolate fruits (which I'll try to get into this blog), and am thinking about starting back at art tomorrow- maybe a watercolor of orange and yellow flowers. That would be traditional; OR should I turn the fruit bouquet into a watercolor? Wouldn't the French painter, Paul C├ęzanne (1839-1906) have done that with his still lifes if the franchise "Edible Arrangements" had been around then?- barring the cost of such a luxury!

Monday, August 17, 2009

John saw the incision, was a bit shocked

In slow motion, I took out my trusty Quik Sew measuring tape. 6.5 inches total, starting straight down from below the belly button, meandering around it and continuing up about 1.5 inches above my new now "outtie" belly button. He comforted me (actually himself) that there are products, noninvasive, that can mitigate this ugly gash, starting after the staples are removed next week.

Regarding where to get radiation treatments- so far 3 lead possibilities for me to research.
1. Got a call from Etel Surany about a renown doctor professor writer friend of hers at UCLA Schlomo Ras, M.D.;
2. Roe Gruber's friend in Las Vegas, Karen Fleisher, suggested a Vegas doctor: Dr. Camille Falkner GYN oncologist (702) 739-6467
3. My new internist, Lisa Hohl, MD, referred me ultimately to the Woman's Cancer Center, Nick Spirtos, MD.

Interesting to me is my daughter's concern regarding radiation proliferation. Apparently during and after 5 weeks of radiation treatment, I could put our granddaughter, Mia, at risk -- as well as our pregnant Nicole with the new baby. So I won't be traveling as prior planning from November 28-Dec.15th. Now I'm hoping for Cleveland or Hoboken, wherever Mark and they are. I want to be a help to them in their time of need.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Incomprehensible pounds- How much does a uterus weigh? Nothing?

Maybe it was all the love and prayers that did it! Yesterday I left the hospital one day early.... We went directly to the great Buffalo Wegman's food shopping store (for a prescription too), rested a bit, out to dinner with family and a new friend, up and down a few stairs, and — new for me - bed early.
One barely comprehensible thing: I had parts out, didn't eat anything solid from the night of August 10th until August 15th, and what did I get?- about 2-3 inches of greater girth and I PUT ON about 4-6 pounds! What is that? Only thing I can imagine is that they infused me with lots of glucose and water while on IV, and my 45 minutes of daily jogging ceased after the 11th. They won't say when I can start exercising again. I tried stopping pain pills today but went back on (I refused their darvacet), and did do Ibuprofen, which has almost always done a good job for me. Today was a good day until after lunch because my very helpful sweet son and family got in the car to go back to Hoboken, New Jersey. I'm beginning to think some people unconsciously take a looooong time to recover because their family stays with them for as long as they're ill. But I'm a counseling psychologist and I can't deny my unconscious mind ....
I'm better, and grateful for that. Not looking forward to 5 weeks of radiation treatment though, and I want to hear that the cancer isn't in the lymph nodes, 'cause I think that means no metastasizing, and no chemotherapy. But I'm not sure. I'll find out on August 27th.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A New Woman After Tube Removal

This morning at 4:30 A.M. I felt pretty bad- mostly congestion in and around the intubation tube. Breathing only by mouth is very uncomfortable as anybody with a BAD cold will say. While they promised to take it out on Friday, 4:30A.M. wasn't Friday to them, and they said the doctors do the rounds at 8A.M. Paraphrasing Einstein, 'A minute with your hand in a fire seems like an hour, and an hour with your love feels like a minute". So time inched by and at 8:15A.M. I felt terrible. Then the doctor came; she took out the offending tube from my nose to my stomach (yuk); I blew my nostrils out; I was a new woman....So much so that by the afternoon they took away the glucose infusion, the bandages, and I was walking the halls with my son (with pain medication still being infused every 6 hours), discussing all the Charles Burchfield art on the walls, and he was giving me his opinion about which of the photos I've taken this week might make good embellished fabric collages. At 4:30P.M. Dr.Lele came by with his student entourage, asked some questions and then said ....."you're ready to go home tomorrow". As I said before, I'll apparently need 5 weeks of radiation treatment because the muscle around the vagina was ...what's the word...cancer infected? Still haven't heard about the lymph nodes, but will look forward to there being no cancer intrusion there. Anyone who comments or reads this....
Love and thank you for being there for me,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Operation is Completed

Out are the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and most importantly- the uterus; along with some lymph tissue and some muscle tissue. The doctor thinks the lymph tissue looks okay, but the muscle tissue might show some cancer and then - at least preventively I'll need 5 weeks of radiation treatment. It was quite an ordeal, but no more than anybody else has had with the same operation. Still have the intubation tube in, which I find a BIG irritant.
While I don't gotta go, this is tiring, and I hope I feel like blogging tomorrow. 3 bouquets of flowers brighten the room.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's 2:30 A.M. and I'm ready for Roswell Park

Finally I got the bowel prep out of the way; now for showering and to sleep. Check-in is tomorrow at 10:30 A.M. How I dread the needle(s) in the arm (painfully dripping things in), and the catheter in the ...., (dripping things out).

Great Distraction- Interviewed by Las Vegas Journal

Still no bathroom action, BUT at 8:15P.M. I got a phonecall about being interviewed for an article in the Las Vegas newspaper. The reason: "Tranquility-Red Couch"an embellished fabric collage of mine won Best of Show in an art contest last May, and is now at the Las Vegas City Hall in the winner's circle Bridge Gallery until September 17, 2009. I hope I interviewed well with the reporter, Sonya Padgett. Will I ever get to see the article? She's from Alabama; hardly anybody has been born in Las Vegas, it seems. The interview was a wonderful distraction from tomorrow's operation for me.

It's Like Watching For A Pot to Boil

Stopped eating last night. Drank clear broth and green tea for breakfast, lunch. I took 4 oz. of Magnesium Citrate at 4P.M. as directed, and put on one of those new adult diapers, just in case. I forbade my husband to use the downstairs bathroom. Now it's two hours later .... waiting, waiting no action. ....Drank a lot more green tea, essentially for dinner. Now it's 8.P.M. nothing, so as directed I'll take another 4 oz. ....and wait....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Liquid Diet and jogging while on the cellphone

Dr. Lele from Roswell Park Cancer Institute said I can jog up until the operation this Wednesday, so I am. Usually do non-impact using elliptical trainer, but here in Buffalo I've had to return to street jogging. I fell while talking on the cellphone today. Great talking to others, makes the run go fast, but gotta watch out better. Sores on one knee and arm bled a bit, but I'll heal fine. Just trying to be in as good health as possible. Today is clear liquids only, all day until midnight; with 8 oz. of Magnesium Citrate midday and yuk.... stay near le toilet....

If anybody would like a coupon to create a photo book of their own, follow the link. If you also would like to look at mine-
artbydrina 1999-2009; After you follow the link to mypublisher, go to MyBookshelf at the top rightish, and use the ID drinafried and the password auto96265. The last posted ID and password was incorrect.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Drina - Goal- Get life off hold

On July 26, 2009 I found out that I have stage 2 to 3 uterine cancer. John and I had moved to the Las Vegas area in March, 2008 to expand my art career ( [ Go to MyBookshelf and put in ID drinafried; password auto96265]). My husband also thought the air would be better than in Bakersfield, California.

I told friends about "my bad news". I plan to post daily unless or until I can't, or until I am found to be completely better.
  • Two asked if there were any symptoms. Below was my response, even though I suspected it might be more info than they wished. Cynthia H. e-mailed me back, Are you kidding? Not at all "too much information". I hung on every word. It is important to know. Thank you for sharing that with me.
Beginning in early March, 2009 I started to get a vaginal discharge, kind of golden- sometimes golden pink colored. Now, know that for 16 years I've been menopausal, so the discharge was immediately noticed to be a problem by me. But I didn't think cancer....then. I had had dental work followed by an antibiotic, so I wondered, but hoped that self treatment with monostat would take care of it, though it wasn't "cheesy". Monostat didn't touch it. My dentist suggested "alternative treatment" so I went online, bought, and downloaded 3 Days to Permanent Vaginosis Relief. After reading about vaginitis, I tried douching twice a day- first a bottle of tea tree oil (nope); then a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, which also didn't work. I sitz bathed in vinegar, changed my diet to be less acidic, and inserted Vaginal Acidophilus. (So don't waste too much time in self treament if it doesn't work RIGHT AWAY). It was then early June, and I started thinking I gotta rule out cancer. I made an appointment in Bakersfield with GYN Todd Andrews, who couldn't see me for 3 weeks. I asked if they would do a lab test in the meantime, if I would provide a sample of the discharge. But no, "Just keep your appointment", they said. THEN 2 days before the appointment THEY cancelled saying the doctor was going out of town. I WAS furious. When he would be back I had to be heading back to Henderson. Back in Henderson I finally tried to find an internist physician. Getting an appointment took another few weeks. By then there was unmistakable though erratic bleeding mixed in with the golden discharge. By then I had gone through 4.5 months of wearing pads and I was thinking I should buy Kotex stock. Then my internist referred me to an OBGYN clinic, and the physician's assistant they had me see decided my problem might be needing premarin cream vaginally put 2-3 times weekly. The premarin cream resulted in heavier bleeding still. I was (finally) allowed to have an ultrasound and a biopsy. She said the results would come in a week or 10 days. Two days later I got a call saying stage 2-3 uterine cancer. Since I was leaving for Buffalo, I mentioned this to an old friend there. She suggested I go to Roswell Park Cancer Institute. I was given a Dr. Lele who is quite reknown in the east, and after much arranging and pre-op testing, on Aug. 12, 2009 he will perform a hysterectomy with uterine, overies, and fallopian tube removal, and examination of the lymph tissue. He said he was so busy that if I didn't take that date, the next date would be on August 29th. I hope he will not be canceling.
Most friends and family thus far have told me that I will be okay.
On August 11th I do the bowel prep, (so if there is any problem when the uterus is removed and the colon is affected, fecal material will not be present to infect the area.) Oh, I wish they could do a colonoscopy that day while I'm under (I'm told I need one) as I will have done the darn day of prep and evacuation.....

I have so much more art I want to do, and in November my only child and daughter (-in-law) will be having a second grand(daughter)child to meet. So God willing maybe someday I'll be one of those very happy cancer survivors, and all my lovely prognosticating family and friends will be correct.