Nov 2014

Glossary - alphabetical
(to be continued, as I think of things to add)
Anemia/anemic - a condition in which you don't have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues. 
Brachytherapy - a form of radiotherapy where a radiation source is placed inside or next to the area requiring treatment.

Ca 125 - The tumor marker for gynecological and some other kinds of cancers. Usually measured from a blood sample, it is not completely reliable as an indicator of what is going on. However, until something better comes along it is being used as one of the tests to see if treatment is working.
CT scan - Computerized tomography (CT) combines a series of X-ray views taken from many different angles and computer processing to create cross-sectional images of the bones and soft tissues inside your body.  The resulting images can be compared to looking down at single slices of bread from a loaf.
D.O. - Doctor of osteopathic medicine. They go through all the same training and licensing as M.D.'s plus training in musculoskeletal manipulation. D.O. training adds 300–500 hours studying philosophically-based techniques for hands-on manipulation of the human musculoskeletal system. Naturally, there will be opinions about this. But it was a D.O. who drilled down on first meeting me to find out if cancer was behind my very generalized symptoms. I asked her later if she'd actually seen something or if she'd had a gut. Her reply, given without hesitation, still gives me chills: "Most of medicine is intuition," she said, "And I had it about you."

Endometrium – the inner lining of the uterus. Sometimes you hear people say "uterine cancer" instead of endometrial cancer. I have to say I don't honestly know if they mean the same thing under another name, or if cancer can grow in other parts of the uterus besides the endometrium, which is the inner lining (that flows out and then renews itself with each period). Either way, there is more than one kind of cancer that can grow in a uterus. Mine was an adenocarcinoma.

FIGO grade and FIGO stage – The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, or Fédération Internationale de Gynécologie et d'Obstétrique in French, is abbreviated as FIGO (based on the French, obviously). It was established in Geneva in 1954 and draws up the guidelines for determining the grades and stages of gynecological cancers. Grades run from 1 to 3, stages run from 1 to 4. Lower is better in both cases, but remember that other things matter besides. Very roughly described, a grade tells you how "much" a cell has turned into cancer and a stage tells you how far it's gotten from its physical location source and travelled in the body.
Hysterectomy – removal of the uterus.  A “radical hysterectomy” includes removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes and, sometimes, the cervix.  If it’s done by hand, it all comes out through one long abdominal incision.  If it's done laparoscopically, it comes out via instruments through one small incision made in the belly. If it’s done by robot, it all comes out through the vagina after being cut loose by robotic arms that go in through a number of very small incisions in the belly. Sometimes, it is necessary to use some combination of the above.
Land line - a phone that uses a fixed dedicated physical cable for transmission as distinguished from a mobile cellular line, which uses radio waves for transmission.  You can actually conduct a clear conversation on one, modulating your natural voice and everything.  No yelling. You can’t play stupid games on them or, you know, use pickup apps.  otoh y waste conversation on a potential d8 when ur only interested in swiping their picture¯\_()_/¯ ?
Morcellation -  can turn a routine hysterectomy into a catastrophe.  Tissue is minced up, or morcellated, into smaller pieces inside the woman's belly cavity before it is removed.  An instrument shaped like a hollow cylinder then penetrates the abdominal wall through which a grasper can be inserted to pull out the now extractable pieces.  If there is any cancer in there before you start, including any that nobody knew about, it gets spewed around in the abdomen as though by an egg beater.  And it only takes a microscopic amount to start cancer growing in new places which is, by definition, metastasis. 
Nadir - Although this word has a general meaning of "low point," it has a very specific meaning in chemotherapy, where it means the phase when your blood counts are at their lowest after destruction by the chemo drugs. It kind of entails both meanings for the patient, because the general unpleasantness of chemo tracks the low blood counts and so you have your most difficult week of the cycle as a result. When your counts bounce back, you do too a little. Then they hit you up again...

N.E.D. – “No evidence of disease.”  This is what they say now instead of remission.
PET scan - positron emission tomography (PET).  This is similar to a CT, but you’ll get an injection of radioactive substance called a tracer that will light up on the scan if there is cancer.  So you may see something strange on a CT scan, and most of us have weird things floating around that are benign, but if it’s cancer it will light up on a PET.
Port - (or portacath) is a small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein.  If you have one put in, they will use it for giving you chemo and for taking blood samples.  It has to be flushed out with saline regularly.
Reflexology - application of pressure to the feet with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques, a foot massage basically, done with the idea that certain places on the foot correspond to parts of the body.  Sometimes it is done to the hand or the ear.
Reiki - a technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.  Sometimes it’s a laying on of hands and sometimes the practitioner just has their hands hover over the body without touching it.  Originally Japanese but since adapted by westerners.  The “ki” in the name refers to the same ki that acupuncture is based on and is tough to translate.  But it’s something like energy meridians, which Chinese medicine holds are the delivery system for the life force.
Steatosis - also called fatty liver. The process describing the abnormal retention of lipids within a cell. It reflects an impairment of the normal processes of synthesis and elimination of triglyceride fat. Simply put, fat forms inside the liver when the liver should be driving the burning of fat outside of itself. And this slows it down from that function. It becomes a vicious circle.