Dealing With Cancer

Woman holding her head in her handsThe following was written in 2010 when I went through cancer…not once but twice (also an ovarian cancer in 2003). There are no easy solutions.  For anyone going through it now,  my prayers are with you.

I never thought I would have it.  It doesn’t run in my family.  But, I have breast cancer and have been dealing with it for a month now.  July 12th, I have a lumpectomy to look forward to, so my political opinions, will have to be on the shelf for the time being.

For women that have gone through it, you know it is not just a “piece of cake”, but very invasive and almost feeling like being violated.  Today, I had the Dobutamine Stress Echo tests, which took 2 hours at least in the hospital.   I had to have it this way, instead of a treadmill, since I have spine/arthritic problems and osteo.  They say the test is non invasive but it was to me.  The test combines an ultrasound of the heart (an echocardiogram) taken at rest and again at each stage of the medication, Dobutamine.  (Through an IV).  The Dobutamine increases the increase the heart rate similar to the effect of exercise or adrenaline.  This test helps identify the overall function of the heart valves and chambers and areas of abnormal blood flow to the heart muscle caused by blockages in the coronary arteries.  It uses ultrasound or sound waves to produce an image of the structures of the heart.  A technician applies gel to the chest wall, a wand-like tranducer is then moved across the chest creating two-dimensional images of the heart muscle and valves.

Once the intravenous line (IV) is inserted in the arm, ten ECG electrodes will be placed on your chest so that your heart can be monitored.  Baseline ECG’s. blood pressure, and echcardiogram will be done before starting the medication, and throughout the remaining parts of the testing.  If an adequate heart rate is not met during the Dobutamine administration, Atropine may be given.  There is chest discomfort, and could be dizziness or shortness of breath. For me, it was like my throat and chest were swollen and closing up and I started getting tremors and lightheadedness.  It was scary and uncomfortable.

I had yet another uncomfortable biopsy to go through the morning of my surgery as well.  Part of being a cancer patient.   I already have met with a radiation team,
as well as therapy, which I’ll need with my arm after the lymph nodes and cancer are removed in the lumpectomy.  I’ve been overwhelmed with all this information and appointments for the past month…before surgery!!  What they failed to tell me though, was there was another procedure called Brachytherapy, which puts a balloon where the tumor was, so when you have radiation, they insert a tube right to that balloon, and it saves all the other cells in the breast.  Whereby for stage 1, it is not invasive.

For others that have gone through cancer treatments, my prayers are with you, as it isn’t easy by any means.  I have faith, my Lord, and a lot of prayers. With that I’ll keep you all informed if your reading my blogs, and will let you know when I’m back writing again.  If my friend can go through a mastectomy I can get through this. She too, is a light.  A friend I’ve known since we were 5, 66 years ago now!  Plus, at church yesterday, I experienced such a wonderful “sisterhood” of women, that it touched me deeply.   One woman, just had the same surgery I am going to have, and ironically,  has the same surgeon.  She has just gotten through her last radiation treatment.  My daughter, though in NH, had breast cancer 8 years ago, which I always attributed to my Greek ex-husbands side of the family, as I said prior, my English-German family had no cancer whatsoever.

HOWEVER,  I live in a Federally run very beautiful Senior Apartment complex here in NH, that allows smoking.   For nearly fifteen years,  I have been exposed to “other people’s smoking”.   When I first moved here, in 1996, the couple that lived underneath me, having sold their home to live here in retirement, both smoked.  Then the husband,  got sick with COPD and his wife had to stop smoking as they had a huge “no smoking” sign on the door, as he was now very sick, carting around an oxygen tank.    Ah the perils of enjoying that last cigarette!   So help me, I think people that  smoke, are brain dead!    The woman across from them smoked, then also got sick  and went in a nursing home.  This man Henry, who was a friend of mine and helped me for many years, also smoked (although not around me).  And his poor little dog Teddie who must have gotten cancer too.   Henry’s heart started to fail with all that smoking and he too, had COPD.  The VA kept him and he too died 2 years ago in December 08.  He had a wonderful artistic talent and made models of old ships, in a Plexiglas case with a wood base, all from original schematics.  It was very intricate work and when he died, his daughter donated to a museum.  But, the smoke still remains in that apartment two years later, and is in the walls, and wallboard, insulation, and the woman that moved in, says she can still smell it. Paint does not get rid of years of that smoke.  Now I have a nice couple that live underneath me, but he still will not give up those cigarettes.  He even had cancer too, but still has 5 cigarettes a day, although thank God, his wife won’t let him smoke in the apartment.  But, sometimes when he smokes outside, it goes up through my windows, and porch.  Since then a woman in another building had a total mastectomy and the woman smoker across her porch who caused the 2nd hand smoke damage, has since died.

You know what got me?  Here I came home from my echo tests getting punched, so they can get the ultra sound pictures right…So sore…3 hours in the hospital, to go to my outside mailboxes, and give directives to my mailman, when I go in for surgery, and  there are 4 people standing around out there puffing away on cigarettes.   AND I HAVE CANCER!!!   I got this from all of them!!  I know I did.

This is the only senior apartment complex (and others that are run by Rural and Housing Development,  in the whole state of NH that allow smoking), this for people
62 + and/or DISABLED?  Wherefore, I took no time in writing to Washington, through my two Senators in NH.   THE FACTS COME FROM THE SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES!  YET RURAL AND HOUSING (ANOTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCY )SEEMS TO BE IN DENIAL!  These are the facts:




Secondhand Smoke

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or passive smoke. It is a mixture of 2 forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco: sidestream smoke (smoke that comes from the end of a lighted cigarette, pipe, or cigar) and mainstream smoke (smoke that is exhaled by a smoker).

When non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke it is called involuntary smoking or passive smoking. Non-smokers who breathe in secondhand smoke take in nicotine and other toxic chemicals just like smokers do. The more secondhand smoke you are exposed to, the higher the level of these harmful chemicals in your body.

Why is secondhand smoke a problem?

Secondhand smoke causes cancer

Secondhand smoke is classified as a “known human carcinogen” (cancer-causing agent) by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization.

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds. More than 60 of these are known or suspected to cause cancer.

Secondhand smoke causes other kinds of diseases and deaths

Secondhand smoke can cause harm in many ways. In the United States alone, each year it is responsible for:

  • An estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease in non-smokers who live with smokers
  • About 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults
  • Other breathing problems in non-smokers, including coughing, mucus, chest discomfort, and reduced lung function
  • 150,000 to 300,000 lung infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis) in children younger than 18 months of age, which result in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations annually
  • Increases in the number and severity of asthma attacks in about 200,000 to 1 million children who have asthma
  • More than 750,000 middle ear infections in children

Pregnant women exposed to secondhand smoke are also at increased risk of having low birth- weight babies.

Secondhand smoke may be linked to breast cancer

An issue that is still being studied is whether secondhand smoke increases the risk of breast cancer. Both mainstream and secondhand smoke contain about 20 chemicals that, in high concentrations, cause breast cancer in rodents. And we know that in humans, chemicals from tobacco smoke reach breast tissue and are found in breast milk.

But a link between secondhand smoke and breast cancer risk in human studies is still being debated. This is partly because breast cancer risk has not been shown to be increased in active smokers. One possible explanation for this is that tobacco smoke may have different effects on breast cancer risk in smokers and in those who are exposed to secondhand smoke.

A report from the California Environmental Protection Agency in 2005 concluded that the evidence regarding secondhand smoke and breast cancer is “consistent with a causal association” in younger women. This means that the secondhand smoke acts as if it could be a cause of breast cancer in these women. The 2006 US Surgeon General’s report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, found that there is “suggestive but not sufficient” evidence of a link at this point. In any case, women should be told that this possible link to breast cancer is yet another reason to avoid being around secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke kills children and adults who don’t smoke, and makes others sick (Surgeon General’s report)

The 2006 US Surgeon General’s report reached some important conclusions:

  • Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and in adults who do not smoke.
  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. Smoking by parents causes breathing (respiratory) symptoms and slows lung growth in their children.
  • Secondhand smoke immediately affects the heart and blood circulation in a harmful way. Over a longer time it also causes heart disease and lung cancer.
  • The scientific evidence shows that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Many millions of Americans, both children and adults, are still exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes and workplaces despite a great deal of progress in tobacco control.
  • The only way to fully protect non-smokers from exposure to secondhand smoke indoors is to prevent all smoking in that indoor space or building. Separating smokers from non-smokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot keep non-smokers from being exposed to secondhand smoke.

Where is secondhand smoke a problem?

You should be especially concerned about exposure to secondhand smoke in these 4 places:

At work

The workplace is a major source of secondhand smoke exposure for adults. Secondhand smoke meets the standard to be classified as a potential cancer-causing agent by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency responsible for health and safety regulations in the workplace. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), another federal agency, also recommends that secondhand smoke be considered a possible carcinogen in the workplace. Because there are no known safe levels, they recommend that exposures to secondhand smoke be reduced to the lowest possible levels.

Secondhand smoke in the workplace has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and lung cancer among adult non-smokers. The Surgeon General has said that smoke-free workplace policies are the only way to do away with secondhand smoke exposure at work. Separating smokers from non-smokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating the building cannot prevent exposure if people still smoke inside the building. An extra bonus other than protecting non-smokers is that workplace smoking restrictions may also encourage smokers to quit.

In public places

Everyone can be exposed to secondhand smoke in public places, such as restaurants, shopping centers, public transportation, schools, and daycare centers. Some businesses seem to be afraid to ban smoking, but there is no proof that going smoke-free is bad for business. Public places where children go are a special area of concern.

At home

Making your home smoke-free may be one of the most important things you can do for the health of your family. Any family member can develop health problems related to secondhand smoke.

Children are especially sensitive to secondhand smoke. Asthma, lung infections, and ear infections are more common in children who are around smokers. Some of these problems can be serious and even life-threatening. Others may seem like small problems, but they add up quickly: think of the expenses, doctor visits, medicines, lost school time, and often lost work time for the parent who must take the child to the doctor. In the United States, 21 million, or 35% of children live in homes where residents or visitors smoke in the home on a regular basis. About 50% to 75% of children in the US have detectable levels of cotinine, the breakdown product of nicotine, in their blood.

Think about it: we spend more time at home than anywhere else. A smoke-free home protects your family, your guests, and even your pets.

In the car

Americans spend a great deal of time in cars, and if someone smokes there, hazardous levels of smoke can build up quickly. Again, this can be especially harmful to children. In response to this fact, the US Environmental Protection Agency has a special program to encourage people to make their cars, as well as their homes, smoke-free. And some states have laws that ban smoking in the car if carrying passengers under the age of 17.

What about smoking odors?

There is no research in the medical literature about the cancer-causing effects of cigarette odors. Research does show that secondhand tobacco smoke can get into hair, clothing, and other surfaces.

Some researchers call this “thirdhand” smoke. This refers to the toxic particles that are left in the air after you can no longer see the smoke. Over time, they settle on surfaces and can be measured long after the person is done smoking. Though unknown, the cancer-causing effects would likely be very small compared with direct exposure to secondhand smoke, such as living in a house with a smoker. But this is an active area of tobacco research.

What can be done about secondhand smoke?

Local, state, and federal authorities can enact public policies to protect people from secondhand smoke and protect children from tobacco-caused diseases and addiction. Because there are no safe levels of secondhand smoke, it is important that any such policies be as strong as possible, and that they do not prevent action at other levels of government.

Many US local and state governments, and even federal governments in some other countries, have decided that protecting the health of employees and others in public places is of the utmost importance. Many have passed clean indoor air laws in recent years. Although the laws vary from place to place, they are becoming more common. Detailed information on smoking restrictions in each state is available from the American Lung Association at

To learn how you can become involved in helping to promote laws to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, you can visit the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network on the Web at and see what’s happening across the country. The Web site can also take you to your state’s page so you can find out what is going on there. Or you can call ACS CAN at 1-888-NOW I CAN (1-888-669-4226).

Additional resources

More information from your American Cancer Society

We have selected some related information that may also be helpful for you. These materials may be viewed on our Web site or ordered from our toll-free number.

Guide to Quitting Smoking (also available in Spanish)

Questions About Smoking, Tobacco, and Health (also available in Spanish)

Smoking in the Workplace — A Model Policy

Other organizations*

Along with the American Cancer Society, other sources of information and support include:

American Heart Association & American Stroke Association
American Heart Association

Toll-free number: 1-800-242-8721 (1-800-AHA-USA-1)
Web site:
American Stroke Association

Toll-free number: 1-888-478-7653 (1-888-4-STROKE)
Web site:

Quitting tips and advice can be found at or by calling 1-866-399-6789

American Lung Association
Telephone: 1-800-586-4872
Web site:

Printed quit materials are available, some in Spanish. Also offers the tobacco cessation program “Freedom from Smoking Online” at

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Office on Smoking and Health

Toll-free number: 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO)
Web site:
Free quit support line: 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUIT-NOW)
TTY: 1-800-332-8615

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Telephone: 202-272-0167
Web site:

Has advice on how to protect children from secondhand smoke, a Smoke-free Homes Pledge, and other tobacco-related materials on the direct Web site,

National Cancer Institute
Toll-free number: 1-800-422-6237 (1-800-4-CANCER)
Web site:
Toll-free tobacco line: 1-877-448-7848
Tobacco quit line: 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUITNOW)
Direct tobacco Web site:

So, till I’m back giving my opinions and fighting for the America I love, I thought I’d tell you all why I won’t be active in July.  Happy and safe 4th…God Bless America and all of my friends that read what I write.  Thank you for your prayers.”>


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