LIVESTRONG:

What started as IDC (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma) in 2011, then turned into CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) in 2013, probably partially caused by chemotherapy along with a genetic pre-disposition. Here we are now in March 2016 and I am newly diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the left breast and liver (LMBC - liver metastasized breast cancer).


So the focus has shifted yet again, BUT... I continue to THANK YOU for your prayers, love & support. I receive them with open & loving arms. My wish is that I will gain strength from you, will provide helpful information and strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.


I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. I WILL SURVIVE!

Have you or your loved one had their annual mammogram? PLEASE, don't put it off. Speaking from experience, I highly recommend monthly self exam as well. And if you are now cancer free of breast cancer, do everything you can to insist that your doctors follow up with an occasional PET Scan and labs for tumor markers.

WARNING:
Contents may be uplifting, sad, funny, scary, downright depressing ~ THAT IS CANCER .... at it's best, at its worst.

PLEASE ~ Feel free to share this blog with anyone who is interested to learn about my journey. While I welcome their support, I hope that by sharing this experience freely to the universe I may help to support others by breaking down some of the barriers and fear associated with breast cancer and the treatment.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Two Days After Chemo Still Hard...

Two days after chemo are still hard...
Having trouble controlling breast pain, day in recliner and bed, napping, and watching TV show where people buy beach property and the show Weediquette on cancer.

One step... One day... Step by step.

THANK YOU for continuing to keep me
in your thoughts & prayers.


Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!
Life is Good... Most of the time.

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

BELIEVE

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Results from Office Visit Yesterday

Yesterday was chemo infusion number 7; or the chemo A of the two infusions this and next week for Cycle 4. A dear friend, Steve, was my chaffeur extraordinaire for the excursion. He'll laugh at this as he actually does some chaffeuring for his job. Anyway, we found a better seat in the infusion room this time, where my "guest" can sit right next to my chair, rather than across the walkway. Much nicer for conversing and sharing iPhone pics, etc. Thank you, Steve, it was a pleasure to catch up on so much and spend time with you. Thanks for lunch too!!!

My oncologist, Dr. Anderson, is thinking we may need to change up my treatment plans in the near future. Usually the chemo regime I am on takes about 4 cycles to show good results. We did labs for tumor markers yesterday, and those results will be in this week. But he doesn't think they will tell us much, since they were never high to begin with. Usually you look for a drop in tumor markers from a high abnormal range to something lower showing good results from treatment. Since mine were never very high to begin with, this is not expected. But it is still good to run the numbers for a baseline for the future.

I have a CT Scan with contrast early next week, and he wants to see what this shows next Wednesday at my checkup. So unless CT shows something significant, especially in the liver which is number one priority at this point, he may suggest changing to hormone therapy for a while, then another chemo after the hormone therapy, or vice versa. It is all kind of up in the air right now.

If hormone therapy, we are looking at something that combines a pill and shots. Ibrance is the pill and I will take it for 3 weeks, then will have one week off. Along with the Ibrance pill, I will take Faslodex, which is a shot (see below). This is known as combination treatment, and this is the Pfizer Inc. PR on this treatment from earlier this year. This is me exactly -- my initial BC diagnosis in 2011 was hormone receptor-positive (HR+), meaning the cancer fed off of my estrogen hormones, I now have advanced or metastatic BC, and I just went through 5 years of endocrine therapy, meaning a pill to basically strip nearly all estrogen from my body to prevent a recurrence of cancer. Well we can see that the cancer was resilient and slipped right past the Letrozole I took for five years to prevent it from doing so.
Friday, February 19, 2016 - 4:35pm
EST
“Today's news gives more women with metastatic breast cancer the opportunity to benefit from this first-in-class medicine”
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new indication expanding the use of IBRANCE® (palbociclib) 125mg capsules, Pfizer’s metastatic breast cancer therapy. Now IBRANCE also is approved for the treatment of hormone receptor-positive (HR+), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative (HER2-) advanced or metastatic breast cancer in combination with fulvestrant in women with disease progression following endocrine therapy.1
The Faslodex, will be two big shots in both butt cheeks every 2 weeks for 3 times (this is called loading) then 1 shot per month.

This hormone therapy lasts 3 months, and results can be slow. This is why we tried the other chemo first, as it is important to get the liver lesions to disappear or get smaller. We shall see if they did next week when I have the CT scan and get the results back.

If chemo is the next choice, or comes after the hormone therapy described above, the chemo would be Abraxane, which is  given via infusion one time per week, weekly. This will most definitely cause hair loss/baldness. I'm okay with this - been there, done that, can do it again if I must. It may also cause neuropathy - numbness of extremities, along with all the other chemo side effects -- fatigue, nausea, etc., etc. 

And again there might be a clinical trial too, so Dr. Anderson will be consulting with Dr. Milesko of UCSF on all of this. And hopefully the FoundationOne results will be in by then, as it will have been about a month, as this will be very important to give us all a better idea of what is the best plan for me and the cancer cells whirling around my breast and liver.  As a refresher, FoundationOne is a fully informative genomic profile that helps physicians make treatment decisions for patients with cancer by identifying the molecular growth drivers of their cancers and helping oncologists match them with relevant targeted therapeutic options.

Based on conversations with my dear friend, Kate of Paradigm Shift Therapeutics, my cancer expert I can tap into, I asked Dr. Anderson about doing the FoundationOne test via a blood draw or tissue sample, and apparently blood or tissue draws give 99% same results. I guess my tissue samples, even from the liver, had a lot of other debris in there, and not enough compacted cancer cells, or some such thing.

Now this news from Fred Hutch sounds exciting. But then my pea laywoman brain could only grasp a teensy bit of the article. Fred Hutch talks about "Filling in the 'missing biology' of breast cancer". This study demonstrates the important role of proteomics (proteins) in personalized medicine. So much to absorb, so much to feel excited about. Hurry up, scientists and researchers. Keep it up and find all cancer patients a cure soon, or at least a good and easy treatment to help to see us to old ( or older) age.


Drip ...  drip ... D R I P

So today is the day after chemo and as usual, I feel pretty good today. I may even attempt a walk. Wish me luck.


THANK YOU for continuing to keep me
in your thoughts & prayers.


Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!
Life is Good... Most of the time.
Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

BELIEVE

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Chemo Vacation Week Winding Down

I've been having a good week as it was my vacation week from chemo; which is every third week. Today is Monday and I've had a wonderful weekend, but it is kind of hard not to start thinking of chemo coming up on Wednesday already, the grandkids do a good job of distracting me, though.

And then this happened today. A surprise visit from my two cousins from Sacramento, CA, Kathy and Jennifer. We had the best 3 hour visit ever. We talked about all the cousins (were your ears burning you umpteen cousins?) family, kids and grandkids, cancer, hearts, Outlander, cycling, you name it. It was the best. 

Cousins from the Curry Clan, Kathy and Jennifer with a surprise visit today.
Then earlier this week, I was so happy to spend Friday noonish thru Saturday noonish in Davis with the two darlings there. And I even drove there and back on my own -- feeling very proud and accomplished. They are almost 2 and almost 5 and play well together. I'm not sure how my 40+ year old daughter holds it all together with her job as Nurse Practicioner at UC Davis Med Center burn trauma unit, and the kids; but she devotes every moment to them when not working. We had quite the thunder storm Friday night in Davis. Then there is my other grandson in Sonoma who I get to see frequently. He is also almost 5 and such fun. I stopped by his house on the way home from Davis for a visit. Then Sunday afternoon he came to our place for an overnighter. We haven't done that in quite some time, so it has been fun. Then scrambled eggs coated in catsup for his breakfast this morning before momma picked him up for school. Such fun.

Gaige climbing a Sonoma Plaza tree on our walk to the bookstore.
Alura, Nico & Madeleine on way to park. I followed in the car.

Last week, I finally had the energy, and time to vacuum my floors and mopped the kitchen and bathroom. They were quite bad and I was disgusted whenever I looked down; but apparently not to the point of doing something about it. This week off from chemo, and the extra energy I built up, finally gave me the gumption to get it done. We shall see how long it is until I do it again.  :-)

In addition to all the above, I had the pleasure of spending time with Sarah's childhood friend from birth and a wonderful family friend for just as long, Ada. Those two treated me to a pedicure Thursday afternoon, we watched the Preakness together Saturday, and then had another brief visit Sunday when I picked up Gaige so Sarah and Leana, another longtime childhood and family friend, could go to Ada's poetry reading at Gundlach Bunschu. I usually don't get to spend that much time with Ada, and it was so wonderful. She is such a bright light.


Fun visits with Ada and Sarah.
This week I also signed up for the Metastasized Breast Cancer Project (MBC Project).  In doing so, I will be helping to transform our understanding of metastatic breast cancer. This is a nationwide movement of patients, doctors, and scientists, who by sharing tumor samples, medical information, and our voices, together we can speed the development of future therapies.

So tomorrow is my last day to set the world on fire before chemo. Mark and I plan to get out together and play. By then, I'll be ready to hit the infusion room yet again. 


THANK YOU for continuing to keep me
in your thoughts & prayers.


Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!
Life is Good... Most of the time.
Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

BELIEVE

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Finally Getting Into A Routine

I think that I am finally getting into a routine with my chemo infusion cycles.  At 6 infusions done, I am halfway through the current plan of 6 cycles, which is 12 infusions. The first cycle was a lolla paloozer, if you know what I mean. The next cycle was better, but not by a lot. And this last cycle of two infusions was even better. Mind you, this is no walk in the park, and far harder than the drugs I received during chemo 5 years ago; but I think my body is tolerating it all much better and I can kind of plan out my time with the expectations of how I will be feeling. 

It goes something like:

Day 1: Infusion - feeling decent but very fuzzy headed that evening.

Day 2: Steroids kicked in and I feel very fuzzy headed, but can navigate through my day without too much discomfort.

Day 3: Pretty yucky, but the anti-nausea drugs and medical marijuana help to keep me going. It is usually a recliner and TV kinda day, small meals as tummy is queasy, no real brain function for anything like reading or knitting, just hanging out and waiting.

Day 4: I wake thinking I'm feeling better, but by 9-10 am I just want to sleep, sleep, and more sleep. This past Saturday I took 3 good 1.5 - 2 hr naps, so that took up the day for sure. 

Day 5: I awake ready to set the world on fire. But around that same time of 10am I realize that is not so. I am able to get a shower (that then requires a short nap to recuperate), then I might be able to get out of the house and run an errand or take a short walk.

Day 6: If it is on chemo A of the cycle, I am thinking about chemo in two days and just trying to get a little done around the house, etc. My appetite is good and I try to make up for the previous 5 days. If this is after chemo B of the cycle, I am like, WOOHOO, I have another 8 days of feeling kinda okay and time to try to rebuild some of the stamina I just lost over the last two weeks.

Day 7: Is like, welcome back Debbie. What do you want to do with this one day before it all begins again? :-) Or if it is the end of Chemo B, then I have my chemo vacation week before me and that is really exciting.

Today is Day 6 of Chemo B of Cycle 3, and the WOOHOO is setting in. Yesterday I attempted to go to the Sunset Celebration at Cornerstone Sonoma with my sister, Christine. As the morning wore on, and I realized it involved a shuttle, and crowds, and walking, I thought better of it and went into town to visit Sarah and Gaige. We got out for a little walk, I got the car washed, and then stopped by my friend Beverly's on the way home for a brief visit and hug. It was the 3rd anniversary of her husband's death from cancer and I thought she needed a hug. Then home where Mark grilled some delicious Ahi tuna, asparagus, and we had a side of a yummy polenta vegetable casserole Sarah shared with us. All in all a very good day.

Today I have a hair appointment with my friend Susan. It will be great to catch up with her as I had to cancel lunch 3 weeks back at the last minute. I will also finish planting the tomatoes in the galvanized tubs Mark set up for me and maybe find a few more vegetables to fill in a couple of spots. Then there is another triangular bed in the deck Mark filled with soil for me as it had not rotted out all the way through and just needed some nice composted alpaca manure. It is hard for me not to overdue during this week, but my body seems to know how to tell me when it is time to stop and rest. So I will do my best to listen.

Meanwhile, I will close with this PSA from It's About Time, where I am a guest Blogger. Did you know?

30% of people initially diagnosed with early stage disease will develop metastatic breast cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer – cancer that travels from the breast and spreads to other parts of the body – is treatable, but not curable. It affects up to a quarter of a million people in the U.S. every year.[i] Those with metastatic breast cancer face daily challenges, continued treatment regimens, anxiety and a whole host of emotions knowing they cannot be cured from their disease. But their stories remain hidden, or get lost, among the better understood realm of early stage breast cancer. These patients are often left feeling isolated and alone.[ii],[iii]

Despite its prevalence, metastatic breast cancer is still largely misunderstood. A recent national survey revealed that 60 percent say they know little to nothing about metastatic breast cancer and 72 percent believe that breast cancer in the advanced stages is curable if diagnosed early.[iv]

The survey results also show that it’s critical that we expand the understanding of metastatic breast cancer to the larger population. What the average person may not know is that, according to a study published in the journal, The Oncologist, roughly one in three – nearly 30 percent – of women diagnosed with early breast cancer will eventually progress to metastatic breast cancer.[v]

Individuals with metastatic breast cancer face the reality that as of 2014, the median survival of those who receive a metastatic diagnosis is only three years after diagnosis.[vi] They’re up against a clock – hoping for advances in the treatment of this disease and more time to live their day-to-day lives.


THANK YOU for continuing to keep me
in your thoughts & prayers.




Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!
Life is Good... Most of the time.
Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

BELIEVE

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Number Six Behind Me!

Chemo number six complete as of Wednesday. That makes 3 full cycles behind me. YIPPEE! WAHOO!!

Sarah and I had a nice day and were home mid-afternoon. This is the one drug infusion, the easier of the two for me to manage, and it goes quicker for the actual infusion too.

But they always start with a blood draw to be sure everything is aligned for this infusion. Blood counts were good, even the anemia is up in the more normal range than it has been. This blood draw they took 4 full vials. Luckily I had hydrated well, like they recommended, and there was no issues. Due to the FoundationOne draw mentioned in one of my previous posts, it had to be taken via a vein, so we bypassed the Port draw this time.

My office visit with Dr. Anderson went well. The reason the tissue sample was not good for  FoundationOne was that that there was not enough cancer cells in the tissue for an accurate test. So there is this brand new blood test they can do instead, which is still under testing stages, but Dr. Anderson's lab had just gotten in the test kits a day or so before. He explained that because they work with FoundationOne so much, they approved this use for me. That was good to hear. It will take about a month to get the results. In addition, I need to make an appointment with the genetic counselor at Round Barn, Kate Mott, for a separate genetic test we can do on the breast cancer. Apparently there are up to 40 genes they are now testing on breast cancer, rather than just the BRCA 1+2 and the Oncotype DX that was happening back in 2011, which I did not qualify for since the type of breast cancer did not have those types of symptoms, if I'm explaining it correctly. Anyway, more information is better, in my mind. So I am currently canvasing all of my cousins to learn if there are any other cancers I'm not aware of, as there is few in my family - THANKFULLY. And to learn more details, as to specific diagnostics, and at what age. Everyone is being very helpful, as you can imagine.

Then on to the day's infusion, #6, second one of Cycle 3. This should mean I'm halfway there, but I'm sure it will all be determined by the CT Scan with contrast scheduled for May 31, and the Tumor Marker labs (CEA, and CA 15-3) that will be done on May 25th. I will have CT results at my infusion of June 1st.

Infusion went fine, it usually does. Sarah and I had a nice visit and she popped out to get my scheduling for the next cycle of infusions and a sandwich for us to share from the nearby deli. The place (infusion room) is always pretty full mid-morning. And the waiting room is the same. Which is always sad to see. There are those that look so weak and frail, bald patients, you get it. I guess it is just what it is. I am thankful I have someone with me each time to visit with and just make the day go so much better. A dear friend is taking me next time so that will be different, and very nice. I'm looking forward to it. Anyway, Karen was my oncology nurse today and she was very pleasant, as they all are here. Very cheery and visiting with each other, and patients too. They have nice warm blankies for us if need be, hats, snacks, juice. It is full service, I tell ya! The gentleman to my left is someone we saw last time as well and chatted with a bit. He is the one who has infusions twice a week and radiation daily. He suggested we should be able to get spa treatments while there too... you know a neck massage, pedi or mani. Sounds like a good idea to me, but the smell would ruin it for sure.

I tend to keep pretty private with others in the infusion room. I don't feel it is appropriate to compare each other's diagnosis or treatment. But every now and again things just come out. He talked about needing to stay away from someone who was just too active for him at this time, it sounded like maybe his small son. That was so sad to hear, but I can totally understand. I can't imagine having a small toddler/pre-schooler in my house 24/7 while going through all this. I know many do, and I know there is no way around it, but it would be hard on both individuals, not to mention the spouse trying to manage it all. Just saying... we have things to be empathetic about and thankful for in every encounter we have each day. There but for the grace of God go I ... In a moment things can change and that could be us. And then there was the person behind me sleeping like a log, snoring, and sounding like my dear husband. :-)  But as we left, I noticed it was not a "guy" as I suspected, but a woman. I was happy she was getting a good nap. I know I always get very sleepy during infusion and usually take a bit of a cat nap too.

From there, Sarah and I had the time and energy to stop at Oliver's in Rincon Valley. And there was this adorable gift store right next store that we ventured into first and looked around. But Oliver's reminds me of the Nugget stores in Davis area. It has everything you could dream of. A deli and fresh and prepared food section to die for. Cheeses galore, yummy breads, everything. Lots of Organics, vitamins. Anyway, we each purchased some goodies and headed home via Highway 12. Did I say that Wednesday was a beautiful sunny day by now after the overcast and haze of the morning broke? It was! Then it was time for Sarah to head home to her boys and take care of her family.

All in all a good day and I was feeling the usual fuzzy/foggy headedness I get immediately after chemo infusion, but nothing to complain about since I had my driver and lovely daughter at my side.

Thursday came along and it was better than usual for the day after chemo. I do usually feel pretty good on this day, which I attribute to the steroids given during infusion, but this day seemed better than usual. I actually got out and moved the alpacas into new pastures, while Mark was working on moving two new galvanized tubs into place for my "easily accessible raised bed expansion" just outside the living room deck area. Then our dear friends Ed & JoAnn came up for a visit with granddaughter Scarlett. Scarlett loved the alpacas and Tessa and we had very nice visit. 

Ed, JoAnn & Scarlet meet the alpacas
My new, easy to access, vegetable beds (mostly tomatoes)


And by  then,  I was pretty tuckered out and that foggy/fuzzy head feeling had returned so I took a little nap while Mark finished up his project for me, such a sweetheart. Tomorrow I get to plant. :-)



THANK YOU for continuing to keep me
in your thoughts & prayers.




Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!
Life is Good... Most of the time.
Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

BELIEVE

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.





Thursday, May 12, 2016

Metastatic Cancer..... The REAL deal....





This needs to be shared from time to time. The truth as told from one Metster...





THANK YOU for continuing to keep me
in your thoughts & prayers.




Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!
Life is Good... Most of the time.
Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

BELIEVE

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.





Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Chemo a Tad More Tolerable Last Time

It has been 6 days since my last chemo, and things were just a tad more tolerable than the first chemo of Cycle 2,  and for that I am grateful. Sunday we had a lovely Mother's Day with Mark, and Sarah and her family. They prepared a a wonderful brunch of waffles, fruit, and scrambled eggs, and I was able to eat a little bit and enjoyed it. I am using all of my remedies for nausea and stomache quesiness, but there are still a few days where the appetite just isn't there, and that slight quesy feeling is enough to prevent you from risking it. And then a small snack of cottage cheese and fruit for dinner tasted very good. Actually, cottage cheese has been my new "go to" food of late. Pretty boring, I know, but it works.

Mother's Day at home with the G-man.

Then some transformer Lego time (Gaige is so good at dreaming up his own designs already at 4.5 yrs), and a story, and all was good. I went for the rest of the day in the recliner, and later for Mark and I an uplifting movie, and latest episode of Outlander. So the day was complete. Although we missed Alura and her family, who had just returned from a long road trip to Las Vegas for her annual conference so needed some R&R time at their home. But that was fine since I was not feeling all that great anyway.

Monday was kind of an off day again. I had planned to be up and about by then, so that was disappointing. But this game is all about one day at a time, resting whenever my body tells me too, and all things like that. So that is what I do -- follow my body as it directs me.  On Tuesday we made it out to run a few errands and pick up some galvanized troughs that will be used for my tomato plants. Yippee!! It takes me forever to get motivated to go out, but I am so glad I did. Just the drive to Santa Rosa was beautiful on this lovely Spring day. Then this evening we headed down to our local Farmer's Market on the beautiful Sonoma Plaza. Although I had second thoughts about this outing, it was a warm day, and was so uplifting to see friends, talk, laugh, etc. All the heartwarming hugs and inquiries about me are so sweet from this group of dear friends for many years. There were tears as a few of us said goodbye. They know what is going on and are all so loving and concerned. Their support is the best ever. Now we are home and my appetite is still almost non-existent. It's mainly that nothing tastes good in my mouth, and nothing settles well once it is in my stomache. So more cottage cheese for me, as I couldn't really eat any of the tasty treats our group brings each week to share.

Dr. Anderson's office called the other day to say that the tissue sent in to FoundationOne for testing didn't work for some reason, but that they now test via a blood draw, a new process that is brand spanking new. So they will draw this blood on Wednesday before my next chemo infusion, which is tomorrow. This is the company that takes a "fully informative genomic profile that helps physicians make treatment decisions for patients with cancer by identifying the molecular growth drivers of their cancers and helping oncologists match them with relevant targeted therapeutic options." I am excited for this to happen and to learn the results.

I want to close this evening with this very uplifting Supersoul session with Kris Carr. I learned about Kris Carr five years ago from my neighbor and friend Tricia. I then purchased her Crazy Sexy Cancer book. After a time, the book sat on the shelf, as you see, I was in remission and life went back to normal. About a year ago I purchased her cards and have them on a table near the front door. They are so uplifting and beautiful that I love to randomly shuffle through them and pick a new card frequently. Then I happened on this video this morning. As I wrote in a text this morning, this was something "that sure helped me today. So hard to climb outta my hole at times..." I think you will enjoy it. It is only 20 minutes, and well worth every minute for all of us, not just those with cancer.

Wel... I guess I better go hydrate more before bed as they directed for this  FoundationOne blood draw.

THANK YOU for continuing to keep me
in your thoughts & prayers.




Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!
Life is Good... Most of the time.

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

BELIEVE

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.




Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Chemo 5 Complete - Check

Yesterday (Wednesday) I completed my fifth chemo infusion; which is the first of the two infusions for Cycle 3.

I say that with a smile as I've had 15 days since the last infusion. That is over twice as long as normal. And this is because the 3rd week of each Cycle is a Bye (a week off with no treatment), and because I moved from Monday to Wednesday, which gave me the 2 extra days. (A normal time span is 1 week).

These 9 extra days were like Heaven. Oops, that is not my meaning... don't want to go "there" yet. Someday -- yes. Just not quite yet!  Let's just say I had several days of feeling pretty darn good; almost normal, just not quite. But normal enough to have a little fun, drive myself around a bit, get a wonderful oncology massage, get together with family and friends -- did I tell you I walked 2.5 miles on Monday, after breakfast out with sisters, and then I hung with my friend and walking buddy, Beverly, and we watched Episode 4 of Outlander? -- and etc. It was so wonderful. I even completed two of my quilt blocks for the Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt Along I'm trying to keep up with as best I can.

And let me back track slightly because during that break from chemo infusions, I also saw my cardiologist, and had a CT Scan with contrast of the chest, abdomen & pelvis.

My Cardiologist said everything looked good, but to keep vigilant as things could change in a heart beat, literally. He warned us he was watching the transmitted reports from ICD carefully, and that if we heard from him to report to the ER, or call 911, don't hesitate. 

Wednesday's appointment at the Round Barn Cancer Facility was with my Oncologist, It was a long day -- Sarah picked me up at 9:30, appointment at 10:30 for the port draw, followed with office visit with Oncologist Ian Anderson, then chemo infusion. The Port draw was very slow this time. It was not Jill the nurse's fault, but it was me and my blood; we were very sluggish this morning. So much so that after the Office Visit I had to return for more blood to be drawn.

During the office visit, we asked some questions and Sarah took great notes. We also got the report on the CT Scan results. They were positive for continuing with our current regime. NOTE: I didn't stop at the word "positive". That's because there doesn't appear to be much change, but there is ever so slight improvement in the liver. The GREAT news is there doesn't appear to be any decline, but for the two lymph nodes slightly enlarged in the last report, now seemly slightly larger, which seemed somewhat baffling, although I'll explain the confusion here. But the important part of this whole process was to get improvement from the liver, so the shrinkage of the largest of the liver lesions at 3.8 cm liver lesion, down to 2.6 cm, seems like improvement to me.


But for now the important thing to watch, and hope for improvement, is in my liver. But the comparison between the three scans this year, which were all different types of scans, was not the most accurate. You see, the last scan was a Pet Scan, and before that in February when we thought I might have a kidney stone I had a CT Scan without contrast. So this latest CT Scan with contrast was not the exact same thing, it wasn't like comparing apples to apples. Options were discussed after learning that it often takes 3-4 cycles to get the full effect from a specific chemo drug. Option 1 was to stay the course for at least two more Chemo cycles; Option 2 to drop the gemzar and add a different drug to this cocktail (new drug causes hand and feet neuropathy, hair loss, and is taken weekly); Move over to an hormone therapy which is usually slower to get results. He suggested we stick with this plan for 2 more cycles, and I agreed. He also said he will continue to check with Dr. Melisko for any new immunotherapies for breast cancer.

Chemo 5 - Check!

Another CT Scan with contrast is scheduled for early June to see how we are doing after the next two cycles of chemo. Then the comparison should be more defined.

There was no real improvement in the breast. I did ask about the skin formation over the fatty necrosis and the cancer tumor in the breast. It is just so ugly to me; it is dark from radiation 5 years back, but darker now with this growth, it is bubbly and wart like, with the biggest one like the big marble you shoot with, and there is a bit of skin break down here and there. So I asked Dr. Anderson if he had ever seen anything like this before? He looked perplexed, and I said, "Like this growth on my breast, I call it warts". Sarah and I were shocked to learn that he saw a young women of 46 who had lost her insurance and had neglected her cancer for some time. She was finally back for treatment and the growth had covered her entire breast, poor thing. And he went on to say of another woman who had let it cross over to both breasts, and filling the chest  area in between the breasts. I have been documenting my changes since the Fall when this was not cancer, and just fatty necrosis, or so we thought, which I won't share here (I know you are thanking me right now), but I have. We do need to wait until after treatment, maybe the breast mass will shrink down to give the surgeon more skin to work with, and then we can fit a mastectomy in before the next "whatever" begins. That is the plan at the moment, anyway.

Dr. Anderson will followup with FoundationOne since he first contacted them over a month ago. This is the company that takes a "a fully informative genomic profile that helps physicians make treatment decisions for patients with cancer by identifying the molecular growth drivers of their cancers and helping oncologists match them with relevant targeted therapeutic options. Check out the very cool videos at the link." This is very exciting, in my mind.

He will also get me in to see their genetic counselor about genetic testing. When I was first diagnosed January 2011, the Oncotype DX and BRCA testing were not appropriate for me based on my type of cancer. Now the genetic testing can check for over 25 different gene panels for breast cancer.

Our experience, Sarah and me, with my chemo infusion went routinely. Nurse extraordinaire, Jill took great care of me. I've known Jill since she treated me in 2011 along with other staff there. I quickly became Jill's Facebook friend when I found her there, and she has come out to several Sonoma Relay's for Life to support me and our Valley. She is a pretty amazing woman attending fundraising runs and walks all throughout California and Louisiana.

We met a nice gentleman to my right who lived in Sonoma for a time. And a frail young'ish gentleman to my far right who gets two chemo infusions a week, and radiation every day. "There but for the grace of God, go I". Bless his soul.

THANK YOU for continuing to keep me
in your thoughts & prayers.




Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!
Life is Good... Most of the time.

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

BELIEVE

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
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