Pinky Pie

Gilda Radner & Me

Posted on: September 17, 2009

Picture me in this outfit dancing.

Picture me in this outfit dancing.

Doing the Scan-Scan

Today I begin a two-day tour of heart imaging – what I’m calling the scan-scan dance, but without the frilly short skirts and legs kicking of those world famous scan-scan dancers.

It’s not that my heart is not healthy, but an ultrasound view of the heart is part of the protocol before chemotherapy. I’m not that worried about my heart considering I am walking three-plus miles just about every day with great enthusiasm.

When my breast cancer was diagnosed, I asked if there were any clinical research trials available. As a medical writer I’ve written about research studies that improve care for future patients. I like that.

The arms of most studies are “double blind” (meaning neither you nor the health care providers) know which group of patients you are in. In a cancer treatment study they are not testing which cures breast cancer: chemotherapy or chicken noodle soup. No, they compare the best practice in treatment to the best practice in treatment with a modification.

For the record, I think I’d prefer the chicken soup cure for cancer, but that doesn’t appear to be an option.

In my case, the research study is not double blind and everyone who participates is in the same group. We all get the standard practice of an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) before chemotherapy plus an MRI of the  heart. They want to know which provides the best information. The scans will be repeated after I finish chemotherapy, balder but wiser and healthier, I hope.

The study’s goal is to identify which is better in predicting heart changes  related to Adriamycin. That is one tough drug whose official role is to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells (an excellent idea in my mind.) Adriamycin can also damage the heart but you have to weigh the risks and benefits.

I want to say right now: go cancer drugs. I’m cheering for you. I’ll have four sessions of Adriamycin plus cytoxan, starting September 23, and then another four sessions of other chemotherapy drugs. I say go chemotherapy drugs – and go drugs to keep me from feeling nauseated. I wish these drugs well in kicking the cancer’s microscopic tush.

Wait: what’s this? The dancers are can-can instead of scan-scan? No wonder they gave me a patient gown to wear instead of those red frilly skirts when I had my echo today.

Emily Litella, AKA Gilda Radner, knew how to tell it like it wasn't.

Emily Litella, AKA Gilda Radner, knew how to tell it like it wasn't.

But Gilda Radner, who portrayed Emily Litella on Saturday Night Live, would be proud. As a guest commentator on Weekend Update, Emily expressed outrage about such issues as “endangered feces” only to be told the issues was endangered species. She also was concerned that anyone would oppose “violins in America” only to be interrupted and told the issue was violence in America.

Her response when corrected? “Never mind.”

So this blog post is part tribute to the inspiring Gilda, who was said to keep her sense of humor through her ovarian cancer. That very funny lady died in 1989. You gotta love her spirit.


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