Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Paget's Disease of the Breast Update #2

I hope my little posts are giving some of you hope out there. Here's my latest update. It's been about a year and a half since my surgery for Paget's Disease of the Nipple. I've recuperated completely. I go in every 6 months for mammograms, blood tests, and a visit with the oncologist. I've graduated. My next visit is with the nurse practitioner. No problems so far.

I did just have a breast reduction done on my right breast so my breasts would be symmetrical. I debated about doing it, but finally decided to. I knew it would bother me  that one breast was much larger than the other for the rest of my life. It made it hard to get a bra to fit well, and I was always self-conscious about it showing when I was dressed. So, my insurance covered the surgery and I did it. 2 weeks ago. There was very little discomfort and I only took pain pills for 3 days, then stopped so I could drive. I'm still supposed to take it easy, but I'm back to all social activities. The plastic surgeon is even more careful than the original surgeon was. She doesn't want her great surgery messed up, so I'll do as she says. I'm VERY glad I did it. I walked out in a tank top this morning and my husband said, "Wow. They really did a good job". That's good enough for me.

So ladies, vanity is fine. It's hard to go through a cancer diagnosis and anything you need to do to feel better about yourself is worth it as long as it isn't going to further damage your health in any way.

Monday, June 6, 2016


I was just talking with my husband tonight about a new diagnosis of his, and I recommended he look for blog posts. Then I realized I haven't posted since my diagnosis more than a year ago! Shame on me. So, here's the update and it couldn't be better.

I had surgery, basically a lumpectomy with removal of the nipple. Once it had completely healed (and it healed really fast) I went for 27 radiation treatments. No chemotherapy needed. The radiation treatments were relative easy and were prescribed as preventative measures only. I was tired, and in fact, it was probably 6 months before I got all my energy back. My skin got slightly burned during the final treatments, but that went away quickly. Overall, it was really easy. I still have to go for mammograms every 6 months and I see my oncologist every 6 months. This will go on for 5 years. I don't think it is necessary, but I will do it anyway. Better to be on the safe side.

Today they called me from surgery scheduling to schedule a breast reduction for the other side. Medicare mandates that when you have breast cancer surgery, you are also covered for plastic surgery to "even things up". I've thought about not doing it, but I'm only 68 and I don't want to live the rest of my life having to deal with clothing problems. I'm uneven, so that limits my choices in what I buy to wear, and I don't like having to "stuff" one side of my bra. Swimsuits are another issue, and I live in California. We swim here! So, I will go confidently into surgery in September to get things fixed. Hopefully I'll remember to update.

Funny, but when I first got my diagnosis it seemed earth shattering. Now it's just something I'd like to forget about and move on. I hope that will be the way it is with you, too.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


PAGET’S DISEASE OF THE NIPPLE: is a rare form of cancer and found in less than 5% of breast cancers. 90-97% of cases of Paget’s also have underlying cancer in the breast. Paget's disease causes the skin on and around the nipple to become red, sore, and flaky, or scaly. At first, these symptoms tend to come and go. Over time, symptoms of Paget's disease usually worsen and may include:

  • itching, tingling, and/or a burning sensation
  • pain and sensitivity
  • scaling and thickening of the skin
  • flattening of the nipple
  • yellowish or bloody discharge from the nipple
Because Paget's disease of the nipple is rare, doctors often mistake it for eczema (severe skin rash and inflammation), an infection or injury, or some other skin condition. For many people, it can take several months to get a correct diagnosis. If you have any of the above symptoms and they persist in spite of treatment, get them checked out by a breast specialist. In most cases, Paget's disease affects one breast, not both.
KATHY’S STORY: In August 2014 I first notice a scaly spot on my left nipple. I scratched at it with my fingernail and when I took my bra off that night there were spots of blood on my bra. From then on I watched the spot closely. It didn’t change. In September 2014 I had a mammogram which was completely negative. I continued watching the spot and trying various creams on it. It would sort of come and go, but never went completely away. I tried hydrocortisone cream but it didn’t help. I’d read about Paget’s Disease some time in my nursing career and began researching it. Something told me that’s what it was. In December I had an ear infection and went to my primary care doctor. She is very proactive and I’ve heard through the grapevine that she’s had breast cancer. I showed her the spot and she was concerned. She had me make an appointment with the dermatologist. I was going on a trip to Asia so I made an appointment to see the dermatologist right when I got back. By that visit, the nipple was now changing. It was a bit larger, red, and had a tiny crevice in the middle that had a bit of fluid in it. The dermatologist thought I might have an infection so prescribed an antibiotic ointment. After three weeks with no improvement I emailed her and said I thought a biopsy was in order. She agreed. In early March 2015 I went in and had a biopsy done. A week later I received a call from general surgery saying it came back positive for Paget’s cells. An appointment was made with the surgeon. Because the disease is so rare and there haven’t been many studies done, it took a while to decide the best course of action. I had a special MRI done with dye injected and didn’t get the results for over a week. The MRI was negative for cancer inside the breast. The only spot that “lit up” was the nipple. At first the surgeon thought the best course of action would be a mastectomy. I didn’t want that because of the reconstruction surgeries I would need to do afterwards, but was willing to do whatever it took to be cured. The day of surgery, he came in and told me he’d been reading more literature and the most recent studies showed breast conserving surgery was just as effective as mastectomy, so that’s what I had done. No cancer was found anywhere else in the breast or lymph nodes. Just the nipple. I will have radiation follow-up just to make sure all the cells are gone. I’m fairly sure I’m cured of cancer.


Thursday, July 24, 2014


I bought Buddy a harness. Does that make him a service dog? Actually, I bought him a harness because he slipped out of his collar when we were walking this morning. He wanted to go visit a dog friend and I didn't want to go that direction, so he backed up and it came off. Anyway, that's not the point of this blog--Fake Service Dog Certificates is the point.

Sometime my MOUTH engage before I really think things through. You all know I'm a dog lover. I went to Costco to get the stock stuff. A 30 something couple, very healthy appearing, were inside with their small chihuahua/terrier dog. As I walked by I wondered how they'd gotten in with a dog on a leash. Shortly after that, I happened to pass by them again just as I hear the woman say, "Hurry, he has to go..." Just then the dog took a giant dump (for a small dog) on the floor. I said, "And that's why dogs aren't allowed in stores that sell food." I walked on and the young man said, "Excuse me! He's a service dog." I then said, "Oh? Did you buy it on line?" He then said, as he pulled out his wallet, "I have the certification right here." I said, "I'm not the police. I don't need to see it. I think it's tacky that your service dog took a shit in the middle of the floor in Costco." I know, I know, I should have kept my mouth shut. I shouldn't have judged them. Maybe it was a service dog? However, I don't believe for a minute that it was. It, and they, didn't behave like a well trained service dog does. Aren't they trained not to eliminate inside? I would think so.

My intuition told me they did buy a certificate online. I googled Service Dog Certificates and numerous money making sites popped up. All I had to do was send a picture of Buddy with my information and money, and I, too could have a service dog. While I was shopping, Buddy was happily at home sleeping in the air conditioned house. I don't think he even cared about going to Costco. I've seen other people sneak their dogs into stores and I never said a thing. They usually took precautions like wrapping the dog up and putting them in the basket like a baby, or, had them in a small carrier or purse. And I really don't care if you take your dog in other stores, but food stores? No! And if your dog isn't housebroken, then DON'T LET IT DOWN ON THE FLOOR!

Seriously now, is this fair to the people that are truly disabled and have well trained service dogs? I think not. Actually, it's also very dishonest and does more harm than good. BEHAVE people!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


This is Buddy, my new dog. He never tires of playing fetch, as you can see. He's waiting for me to throw it again, one more time. I've had a lot of dogs in my life and now that I'm older I really like adopting an older dog. I wish more people would consider adopting these sweet old souls rather than getting a puppy. I grew up with dogs and they all started out their life with us as puppies. When I married and got my first dog, I got a puppy. She lived with us 17 years and drove me nuts most of the early years. There was a lot of digging, escaping the yard to roam the neighborhood, and I seem to remember torn up screens when she was trying to get in the house. Our next dog was a Golden Retriever and we got her as a puppy. GR's seem to remain very puppyish for much of their life and ours was no exception. During her puppy years she tore up our wicker lawn furniture, chewed all the sprinkler heads, ruined every throw pillow I had, ripped down a bamboo shade from the patio cover, and ate quite a few of my children's socks which I would find later while cleaning up dog poo from the yard. We had her for 131/2 years and when she died, I mourned for her terribly. I didn't want another dog. I didn't want that heartache again. Then, about 2 years later, I started missing having a dog around. I decided to get an adult dog, one that had already been through the puppy years. I contacted the Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles Rescue and applied for adoption. After having a home check done, we were approved and Willie came into our lives.

Willie was a 7 year old male Golden Retriever. His owners were going through a divorce, had to sell their home, and re-home their 9 dogs. For me it was love at first sight. "The Boss" and I drove down to Coto de Caza to meet Willie. The first thing the dog did was stand on his hind legs-all 90 pounds of him-and put his front paws on my shoulders. Following the "new family picture" he hopped into my car for the ride home. We had him until he was 13 1/2 years old. He came to us fully housebroken. He understood many commands and was easy to teach tricks to. He learned to shake, roll over, sit up, and high five in no time. He and I walked every morning. He loved everyone and was the official greeter when people came to visit. He was the sweetest and most loveable dog I'd ever owned and when he died of a brain tumor I was broken hearted again. I swore I was finished with dogs. No more broken hearts over a dog. Almost 2 years went by before we got the bug for a dog again. I wanted an older one again. Also a smaller dog that wouldn't be as difficult to hold onto while walking (Willie wanted to chase cats and squirrels and 90 lbs. is a lot to stop when the dog is determined. "The Boss" wanted a smart dog that would play fetch with him and was sweet. Knowing Border Collies are among the smartest dogs and are smaller than Goldens, I looked on Craigslist and up popper Whiskey/Larry/Jack/Jackson, an 8 or 9 year old Border Collie being fostered in the Palm Desert area. And, this dog loved to play fetch! I told "The Boss" it looked like we'd found our dog, and the next thing I knew, to rescuer was driving in with the dog to do a home check and let us meet him. She left him with us that day. His name is now Buddy.

Buddy is very, very smart. I know Border Collies can be a challenge when they're young, but getting one that's older means the dog has calmed down a lot. He's also very affectionate and loves everyone he meets. We've met other dogs on our walks and he's okay with them, too, but not as interested in dogs as he is in people. We've seen cats on our walks and he could care less. A Mallard duck walking down the street didn't generate much interest, either. He's only barked a total of 8 times in 2 weeks. Not much of a watch dog, but I put up beware of dog signs anyway. You never know. He might surprise me. He loves to play fetch and looks longingly at the spot where his fetch toy is kept. He would play non-stop, but I know he's got some arthritis so I make him stop when I think he's tired. He's completely housebroken. We can leave him inside for several hours at a time without a problem. He's been trained to stay off the furniture, and he doesn't beg (two things my other dogs did that were pretty annoying). I've signed him up for a basic obedience class because I can tell he's a thinking dog and needs something to do. He's already learned "sit" and "down", "out", and "No". When I feed him, he watches me and waits until I give him permission to eat before he chows down. The laundry room is also his bedroom. His bed is in there and I close him in at night with a child's gate over the door opening. He's very contented to stay in his room. He's an extremely sweet, well behaved dog and has very soft fur! I love to pet him. For those that don't know, when you pet an animal, it releases the hormone oxytocin and makes you more relaxed. It also relaxes the dog, too.

To sum up, I'd like to encourage anyone out there who's thinking about getting a dog to get an older dog. Maybe you won't have it as long, but you'll have lots and lots of quality time! Oh, and I'd like to put in a plug for the Central Coast Herding Dog Rescue organization who listed Buddy on Craigslist. I'd also like to thank Jann and Kitty for their wonderful care of him. He's a great dog.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Discounted Art4Healing Workshops for National Nurse's Week

Photo: Salute to all nurses out there!

In celebration of National Nurse's week which begins May 6, 2014, I'm offering discounted Art4Healing workshops to all my  fellow nurses in the Orange County, California area. Instead of $50.00 for a 2 hour workshop where you complete three canvases, I'm offering each workshop for $25.00. The next workshop will be held Sunday May 18 from 2-4 PM. Please call: 714-402-8535. Hurry! Space is limited to 10 participants each workshop.

Mission Art Center
1730 N. Tustin Street
Orange CA 92865

Each two hours workshop presented by me,  teaches you how to express feelings with colors using the Laurie Zagon Art For Healing method. Participants will process their feelings abstractly on canvas while learning about colors, composition, and other elements of art.

At the end of each session, participants will have 2-3 completed canvases to take home with them. All supplies are provided. No prior art experience is required. In fact, many times some of the best paintings are done by people who have never painted prior to the workshop. It isn't about talent; it's about the process and what you learn about yourself while doing the painting.

Come join a group and see for yourself just how creative you can be!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Art For Healing in North Orange County

First a weight loss/giving up wine update. Yes! The weight is slowly melting off! Today I tried on a dress I bought about six months ago that didn't fit me when it arrived. It fits now! I have a new dress for the wedding I'm going to next weekend. Yay.

Okay, the real purpose of this post is to promote Art4Healing in North Orange County. Come try it out! It's relaxing, meditative, and fun. You don't have to be an artist. I'm doing classes on Sunday afternoons from 2-4 and I plan on adding classes on either Thursday afternoons or Thursday evenings, depending on interest.

Here's the information: Call Shany at Mission Art Center to sign up.

For Registration Call 714-402-8535

These two hour Workshops teach you how to express feeling with colors using the Art For Healing (r) method created by Laurie Zagon. Participants will process their feelings abstractly on canvas while learning about colors, composition, and other elements of art.

At the end of each session, participants will have 2-3 completed canvases to take home with them. All supplies are provided by the instructor for a nominal fee. No prior art experience is required. In fact, many times some of the best paintings are done by people who have never painted prior to the workshop. It isn't about talent; it's about the process and what you learn about yourself while doing the painting.

Come join a group and see for yourself just how creative you can be!


Most Sunday afternoons from 2-4 PM Call for dates

Mission Art Center
1730 N. Tustin Street
Orange CA 92865


Art For Healing in North Orange County Healing Workshops

Kathy Pratt Kathy Pratt RN, BSN, PHN Art4Healing®Certified Facilitator

Kathy has worked as a nurse for many years. She's found that a wonderful way to reduce stress is through art and creativity. A few years ago she began taking art classes at the Mission Art Center concentrating on painting with oils. A friend introduced her to Art4Healing, a method of supporting emotional healing through art and creative expression using color. She attended a workshop, joined the women's guild, and was hooked.

The next step was taking the Art4Healing® Facilitator Certification program so she can now give back and share the experience with others. Now she is able to offer workshops at the Mission Art Center in Orange, where she is still taking art instruction as well.