Friday, August 19, 2011


Did you know there is a website that tracks drug shortages?  I stumbled upon this Snapple cap factoid when I was taking a peek at a twitter entry (actually, I do believe that’s called a tweet, duh).  I’m not too sure how I feel about this whole twitter thing, but I am beginning to learn that social networking is a powerful tool.

We can start quite a ruckus right from the comfort (and safety) of our desks.  No need to band together and march through the streets to make a point.  We can make our voices heard by tweeting, retweeting and following tweeters (twitterers?) who share our passions about any given thing.  No chance of the riot policy shoving me behind a barricade or spraying me with tear gas.  My car can stay on the driveway while I stay on the sofa.  (No need to waste very expensive petroleum gas-I use premium and I don’t pump my own gas so my bills tend to get quite pricey).

I must offer a proper thanks to Al Gore for inventing the marvel that is The Internet.  I wonder if anyone in the dark ages of say, the 1970’s could ever fathom the thought that punctuation marks and symbols would become such central pieces of our communication.  Think about it.  Our email accounts require the use of “dots”  ……  aka A Period.  Period.  .  Ditto web addresses.

Many of us utilize our names in our email addresses.  Enter “underscore” as a place holder between first and last names.  Apparently, computer code is such that spaces and certain figures are not properly translated.  The @ thingee which I do believe is the King Of All Symbols in the tech world must have its own name. I remember that “&” is known as an ampersand.  More useless information in the recesses of my brain which is now begging the question, “Does @ have a name, too?”

It’s the end of a long and difficult week so frankly, if you have a burning desire to know if “@” is known as anything other that “that thing above the 2” you will have to do your own hunt.  If you don’t mind, would you share the information with me?  Until then, it will remain the “@ thingee” in my vocabulary.  And in the twitter world, “that thing above the 3,” is another central marking.  Save your time.  It’s the # symbol.  Since I am barely past the chapter on “The Basics of Facebook,” I am not really ready for twitter in any form.

Let me find my way out of the land of punctuation marks and symbols and get back to where I started this sloppy choppy mess.  It was the drug shortages and that website.  It’s not some fact checker site, either. This is straight from the FDA.  (Ed. Note: disregard the parenthetical remark about opening links in their own windows.... apparently, I've learned much and I DID figure out how to fix THAT all by myself!)

Let me see if I can tie this all together.  If you care to check the link (you will navigate away from this page and if someone knows how I can set this up to open up links in their own windows, DO TELL) you can scroll down the list and see that Fluorouracil is “NEW!!” (note the exclamation points, and yes there are two of them and no, I didn’t add the exclamation points, they were put there by the FDA.  Not a new drug-the drug was just added to the shortage list).  Also on this list is another “popular” chemotherapy drug (added last week, also “NEW!!”), Paclitaxel.

Fluorouracil was my central topic on Monday.  Today I see it on the equivalent of an endangered species list…. or a more accurate comparison, as difficult to find as “the must have toy on every kids holiday list.”  My 5FU’ing relationship with that drug is classic Love Hate.  It may be part of the biological basis for CB (Hate).  It is proven to be an effective drug in killing cancer cells (Love).  I find it ironic that I wrote about it on Monday and just 48 hours later, it’s on an FDA shortage list.

(ANNA!!!!!  Help with the choppiness!)

My point?  Early detection is SO important.  Again, without reading enough to speak intelligently, I will refrain from jumping into what appears to be a bit of a fray.  I will retweet (impressing myself with the proper use of the verbage!! And, if double exclamation points is good enough for the FDA, it’s good enough for me, too!!) the opinions of some of my sister survivors regarding the different Pink Pushers.

When I was bouncing around on twitter, I saw a mention of the shortage of taxol (paclitaxel) and then I read a few opinions about Komen “For the Cure.”  I think I am trying to prioritize (for myself) how I feel about the pecking order of research and non profits.  Komen changed the face of breast cancer.  It’s time they step down from the bully pulpit and get back to one of their central messages:  Early Detection.

After all, early detection saved my life.  My early detection with invasive lobular BC, known also as “The Sneaky Breast Cancer” had a very prominent surgeon using words like, “we never find this cancer in such an early stage” and “I’m really puzzled by this” (the discovery at such an early stage) and “you must have a guardian angel” (which is different than, for example, A Patron Saint). 

My treatment protocol, despite the early detection, would have called for chemotherapy regardless of the surgical avenue I chose.  Chemotherapy, in order to be effective, (and in order to appropriately provide any shot at AD life in the land of CB, won’t you be my neighbor?) is given at specific intervals.  This shortage of medication is not good for anyone who is in active treatment.  It throws off their schedule.  That’s NOT cool. 

In my personal experience, early detection was KEY.  Moving beyond a cure is The Future.  Understanding the cause is essential in the push to move beyond a cure.  Moving beyond a Cure=Prevention.  (As long as I’m obsessed with symbols today, worth taking every opportunity to throw them around and that was a perfect place to throw out the Equal Sign.)

The highest rung I can personally reach is A Cure.  The next generation might reach the pinnacle:  Prevention. (At which point Fluorouracil will be abundantly flowing since we will no longer be TREATING breast cancer!!)  I love the way that sounds.  And out of that love, I throw my support behind Dr. Susan Love. 

Please look to the right.  SERIOUSLY…. Shift your glance to the right side of this page.  Read about The Army.  And Join.  It costs nothing.  It asks nothing.  And it IS something.  It’s the future.  It’s a world in which Breast Cancer has the potential to be prevented.  That makes me happy for women (and some men, too) everywhere.

Happy Friday!  Happy Weekend!!

I think I’m coming out swinging on Monday.  I have a soft spot in my heart for “Kites for a Cure”   ……  and before I open my mouth, I will, once again, check my facts for complete accuracy.

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