Surviving Cancer Not So Simple

When the cancer doc says, “you’re cured, go home,” it’s not the end of the story. In about a year, roughly eight years out from my year-long, every-three-week Herception treatment that targeted the over-expression of a certain protein in my tumor, doctors will start monitoring my heart. Why? Because the same drug that may be saving my life right this very minute, also has the power to compromise heart function after about 3,000 days. (oh, and the chemotherapy drug Adriamycin that I received via dose-dense infusion on four separate occasions can also cause heart damage.) (dose dense means given every two weeks instead of three.) (oh, and the radiation that zapped the breast right over my heart every day for 30+ days can also cause heart...

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Julie Clark: On Cancer and Making Kids Smile

Tell us a little about your life at the time you were diagnosed? I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, at the age of 37. My life was stressful, but terrific. I had sold Baby Einstein to Disney and was financially lucky, and I was in the midst of filming a video for my new company, The Safe Side. I was raising my daughters, and I was happy and healthy. I ate well and worked out most days. Can you share a bit about your diagnoses and treatments? When I found the lump in my breast the first time, I was ‘lucky’ because the disease was stage 1. The tumor was under 1cm in size, and it had not visibly spread to my lymph nodes. Though a lumpectomy was recommended, I opted for a double mastectomy. I was devastated by the cancer, and wanted to assure...

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Surviving Cancer — and Its Side Effects

I went for another cancer check-up this morning, the first since my 5-year cancerversary. Mostly, everything is A-OK — so well, in fact, that I now get to see my favorite doctor once a year instead of every six months. But with the happy hooplah of surviving cancer for a good amount of time comes the fact that I need to start thinking about surviving the side effects of cancer for a good amount of time. There are certain issues that come with life after cancer. For me, it’s mostly heart stuff. Three things that might affect my heart: the chemo drug Adriamycin (I had four doses), radiation (it was delivered right on top of my heart) and Herceptin (the wonder drug I received for one year). All three of these life-savers can compromise heart function over...

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It could be worse

Joey's new mantra: It could be worse. He uses it to excuse his questionable behavior—like when he was playing at the dinner table recently, waving his arms all around like we tell him not to do, and he knocked over his cup of milk. "It could be worse," he announced after locking eyes with my frustrated gaze. Not exactly my preferred response—"I'm sorry, mom, I know I shouldn't have been horsing around and it won't happen again" would have been my pick—but hey, the kid is seven. How much can I expect, really? Besides, he's right. It could be worse. Sometimes Joey is wise beyond his years. The kid always gives me something to think about. Once Joey told his dad about the grandfather he never knew (he died before...

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See my boobs

See these boobs? Protruding outward in all their glory. Pushed up in a fancy bra, positioned under a tight pink shirt, pointing right at you as you read this post. These are the very boobs that threatened to take my life almost four years ago. Well, the cancer inside the boob—just the left one, to be exact—is what made the threat. The boob was simply the packaging for the tumor that presented itself underneath my fingertips on that horrible November day, in that hot, steamy shower where I thought I would merely wash my body, not find a cancerous mass. A mass I did find—a mass a surgeon removed, an oncologist poisoned, another oncologist radiated, and the first oncologist targeted with the glorious drug Herceptin. Thanks to these two men and one...

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It’s a wrap for Herceptin

No more Herceptin. No more infusions. No more pink chairs and chemo nurses and my favorite pharmacist who mixed my drugs with me in mind. No more hours spent waiting. No more hours spent visiting, hours spent observing, hours spent thinking. No more personal retreats to a place that became home. No more powerful potions saving me from cancer. No more bald head. No more sprouts of short brown curly hair. No more every-third Wednesday. No more. No more. No more. It’s only me. And my port that I will keep. Just in case. And a stop every month to keep it clean. And one scan of my heart. To check for damage. And periodic follow-ups. And longer brown curly hair. Long enough to pull back, straighten, style. And memories of a place that took cancer away...

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