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.

*****************************************************************************************

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Here's to a New Year of Health, Happiness, Prosperity AND Grand Babies!

Who would have guessed that one year ago I would be where I am today? 

It was one year ago on 12/27/10 when I had the ultrasound and was anticipating the breast biopsy scheduled for 1/6/11. Then the news, You Have Cancer, arrived on 1/10/11. So the year that started out, and continued for many months, as The Lost Year; was not to be.

Because, shortly after those three bolded words above were heard; the far outweighing, uplifting, and joyful words were sounded, You Are Going to be a Grandma!

So we are grateful for all the love and support of 2011, and so looking forward to 2012 and all the joy this Grammie will give and receive to two of the most precious men in her life. (Mark understands).

Glorious Grandparenthood (Mark and I with Gaige)




New mommas on Christmas morning (Nico, Alura, Sarah, Gaige)


Grandpa made us Farm Waffles


Happy New Year from Nico and Gaige

Here's to a New Year of Health, Happiness, Prosperity AND Grand Babies!
 
Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas My Friends

Wishing you all the merriest of Christmases, and the most healthy and Happy New Year ever! That is my plan for sure too.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfVDM0z14T4&sns=fb


Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Makes You Think and Wonder

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtjvbE9w58A&feature=share


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-aYxu4Uys0&feature=related


Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Last Doc Appointment of the Year!!!

  CHECK...

Phil and I are both very happy that today was my very last doctor appointment of the year!

Me and Phil, aka Neutrophil

I met with Dr. Cindy Scharfen, my radiation oncologist, as a follow up for radiation that ended late September. While the treated breast is still very dark and leathery looking, she says I am on track and that the skin should look much more normal within a year. She has now turned my treatment and follow up back over to my oncologist, Dr. Ian Anderson.

So that it is it for 2011. And that feels so good.

It was December 2010 that this whole saga began. I found the lump and went through several diagnostic tests all in that month. Then in January I received the dreaded call.... "You have cancer".

So I am very thankful and happy to be moving on to 2012 very soon, to a healthier year, one filled with the joy of two adorable grandsons, getting back into our farm, and just saying good bye to the "Lost Year". And while I will never be free of cancer and what it has brought to our lives, I will be stronger, wiser, and hopefully a better person from it all.

And in the meantime, I will enjoy every ounce of this Christmas season.

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Monday, December 5, 2011

One Year Ago

It was one year ago, almost to the day, that I found a lump in my left breast. A lump larger than the mammogram found five years earlier, which was benign. So of course I was hopeful this would be too. I mean, you have to be positive, even after diagnosis and during treatment. Because the other option is not a good one.

So after a month of keeping it between Mark and I, and going through the steps one by one -- exam, mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, -- the diagnosis came back, IDC, Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma, and I thought my world would fall apart. Well, it did, kind of, for a bit!

But with the love of family and friends, an excellent team of medical professionals, the "lost year" is nearly behind me now.

Here is to a joyful holiday for us all, a New Year of 2012, and a life of getting to know my wonderful two new grandsons!

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Guess What Cancer Gets You?

Can I cry right now? Guess what cancer gets you, an increase of $107/month for Blue Cross Premium. So it is now $806/month - AND THAT IS JUST FOR ME. Seems criminal to me!!!! 57 years of good health, and one crappy year and they send you to the poor house.

Oh, and did I mention the deductible is a mere $7,500. :-(

And don't respond that they've plunked out a ton of money this past year, because I've carefully reviewed the EOB's and they pay a mere fraction of what they have been billed.

THIS SUCKS!!!!!

Merry Christmas to you, too, Anthem Blue Cross.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mammogram Clear!

Well, I met with Dr. Elboim yesterday, my surgeon and breast specialist, to followup on my mammogram of last week and my overall breast cancer treatment. I'm thrilled to report that my mammogram looks A-okay, and everything is on track and I am cancer free.

Yippee! Yahoo!! Heals Clicking!!!

And I'm kind of liking this new hair do too.  :-)

February 2011; just before chemo
November 30, 2011; After mammo

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR

AND YES, I AM SHOUTING!!!

I've known this throughout my life, but more especially with this year. And as Dr. Amy Shaw reminded me at my appointment yesterday, my cancer was so invasive that it would have surely killed me without treatment. Not all breast cancers are as serious, but some, and the kind of breast cancer that thought I would be a warm and cozy host, was.

So, I have so very much to be thankful for.
  • The most loving, caring, supportive, and patient husband in the world. I love you, Mark Emery!
  • Two of the most kind, wonderful, supportive, giving daughters in the world. I love you Alura and Sarah!
  • Two of the most understanding, kind, and loving son-in-laws. I love you Stephan and Chris!
  • The best siblings a sister could ever ask for; ones who are there for you, keep in touch, coordinate meals, travel across the country to be with you; and who still have very busy demanding lives, jobs, and families of their own, and some with their own health issues to contend with. I love you Donna, Dan, Nancy, Christine, Eddie, and Matthew!
  • The best ever friends, neighbors, friends of friends; those who I have always been close to, some who have come back into my life after being away for a spell, some nearby, some not so nearby; all very loving, caring, supportive... You know who you are and how instrumental you have been in my healing, and support to me and Mark during this journey ~ I love you ALL!
  • The "A Team" of excellent and caring Doctors, Oncologists, Radiation Oncologists, Surgeons, Nurses, Technicians, Support Staff ~ As Dr. Amy Shaw reminded me, "I do have the "A Team". Thank you all for your tender loving care throughout this year and into the future.
  • Other supportive cancer patients and their family members I have met along the way; from dear friends who have gone down this road before me with breast cancer who shared wigs, scarves, books, tricks and tips; to those I met while undergoing chemo infusion, or in the radiation waiting room (Paul and Kathy, to name a few); I admire each and every one of you for your strength and hope, and wish you speedy recovery and continued good health, as well as the love and support of your family and friends.
  • To a God I know is there for me, watching over me and my loved ones, ALWAYS!
  • Sarah & Gaige, 3.5 weeks
    Alura & Nico, 3 months
    And last, but not least, to the two brightest stars in my life today, Nicolas & Gaige. You may never know what hope in the future you give both your Grammie and Grandpa, how you make us smile, how proud we are of your mommas and poppas as we see them grow into the challenging, demanding, yet loving role of parent. We wait with loving anticipation for the day when you are running around Brookfarm helping Grandpa with chores, filling water buckets, climbing on the tractor, being chased all the while by Grammie with a gigantic smile on her face. We will always be here for you, for anything!!!

Today, on this Thanksgiving 2011,  as tears roll down my cheeks, I/we have much to be thankful for, and we say it with a very happy heart. And I wish for you, all my loved ones, family, friends, clinicians, fellow friends who are or have dealt with cancer; that you enjoy this day giving thanks and enjoying the love of your family, friends, and those close to you.

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mammogram and Survivorship Program

This week I had two important appointments and milestones:

  • My first mammogram on Monday
  • A consultation with Dr. Amy Shaw dealing with "cancer survivorship".
Both appointments went well. I'll meet with Dr. Elboim next week to review the mammo and have my first follow-up with him post-treatment.

I really like meeting Dr. Amy Shaw and am excited to take the nutrition class RRMG is offering in January and have already enrolled. She was very personable, and had done her homework. Now I need to read the hand outs she sent home with me and see how I can put it all into place for a "better me". :-)

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Friday, November 18, 2011

No Port For Me

Well, at least not a Bard Power Port.

Back on my post of February 4, 2011, I reported all the details about the procedure to implant the Bard Power Port into my upper chest, just under the skin. And today I had it removed. This is a very good sign, as you can imagine, because it means I no longer need this for chemotherapy infusions. 

Now the port did come in handy from time to time for blood draws, and for that I will sorely miss my Power Ranger, oops, I mean Power Port.
RN, Ann, showing me what was just removed.
     
And today was a perfect example. We arrived at 9:00 am for the 11:00 am surgery. We expected two hours to prep, one hour for surgery, and 1-1.5 hours in recovery from the sedation. As the nurses were getting me prepped, one put an IV into my right hand and attempted to draw blood for some labs they wanted to run. My last lab report on November 1st showed I was a little anemic so they wanted to be sure it wasn't any worse. But she had no luck drawing from the IV. She assured me it was fine for the IV purposes and called the lab for someone to come and do the blood draw. And of course, I was stuck first in my right arm inside the elbow where only a few drops could be drawn. Then the lab tech went to the same spot in my left arm and had success. As I already knew, my veins are tiny and deep and very hard to access. When the Port was inserted, they needed a portable ultrasound to come to me so they could find a vein for the IV. Now, someone remind, why am I having this Port removed.  :-(
 
By now I had found a problem in the baby sweater I brought along to knit on during any spare time ,so decided to send that away with Mark so I didn't screw it up any further. Best to fix an error when thinking clearly and this was not the place for that.  He headed out to run some errands and return just about the time the procedure was over.

At about 10:45am Jared came to get me and roll me into the procedure room. He is quite the comical guy, and was the same Nurse I had when the port was inserted. And his counterpart was pretty funny too. I guess you have to keep things light in this line of work. Besides, it sure helped to relax me too -- that and the nice warm blankets they brought to help ease the chill of the sterile room. Jared explained that the Port removal was not as complicated as Port insertion and I could opt to do it without sedation, which would get me out of there earlier. I thought about it, had him explain a bit more, and thought I would go for it without sedation. After all, I'm a brave girl. They promised they would numb the area thoroughly and would be prepared to offer me sedation the second I changed my mind since my IV was all set up and ready. When the surgeon, Dr. Conway, arrived, he also gave me the same option. Apparently there is no need for the nick in the skin at the upper neck, as is done with the port insertion. Once they remove the Port, they pull the tube out easily right from the port sight. 

So onward and upward we went. They put on some classic rock music for me, draped me well with my head turned to the left (Port is in my right side), and away we went. It took very little time. I did feel a bit of tugging as the surgeon was suturing my incision back up. By the way, the incision is in the exact same place as the incision from the port insertion, just a tad longer.

I was back in recovery at 11:15am. Nothing to it!  :-) So the nurse called Mark and caught him just before he ordered himself a burrito, as he was starving by that point. I was too, for gosh sake, I was the one who had to fast from midnight the night before. He was so surprised I was ready to go; and returned to the hospital quickly.

There was a touch of bleeding at the incision, but not bad; and a slight bruise up on my neck where the catheter tube was pulled from. Other than that and an allergic reaction I keep having to tape, it was not difficult all.

We headed out to Dierck's Parkside Cafe for lunch to celebrate. After a few days of keeping my incision dry and not doing anything too strenuous, I'll be good as new. And I'm looking forward to wearing necklaces again since they will no longer rub over the bump in my neck created by the catheter tube under the skin, which is connected from the port and goes all the way to my heart.
 
Looking happy 15 min. after Port removal. And I do enjoy drinking Port!

After the procedure was over, the RN said I should always let them know I am a difficult blood draw and they will have the ultrasound done at the onset to save both me and the RN the challenge. This I will most surely remember and do from now on. And I was told to also let them know about the allergy to tape ahead of time. Geesh; all these things to remember. ;-)

Now on to my mammogram next week and then a follow up with my surgeon. Need to make that appointment for my annual pap smear too, so as to get it under this years deductible, which I have already met for the year, go figure. Actually, I met my HUGE deductible in January of this year. 

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Buh Bye Power Port

This next few days/weeks are filled with follow up appointments and Port removal. I guess it is time to say goodbye to my Power Port. I'm sure it will all go fine tomorrow. Heck, maybe I can keep it and wear it as a pendant. :-)

The port removal is followed with my Mammogram next week; the first mammo post cancer treatment. And then there will be the follow up appointment with my surgeon, Dr. Elboim, the following week. I feel very positive about all this, but will be glad when it is all behind me. And then there will be the holidays to spend with my sweet grandsons, and wonderful family.

L I F E   I S   G O O D !

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Predicting Breast Cancer Survival Rate

Computer Program May be Able to Predict Survival Rate

Breast Cancer News

News and information at The Breast Cancer Site

A new computer technology may be able to identify the survival rates of those who are diagnosed with breast cancer, and it possibly could so better than pathologists, according to USA Today.

The computer model, called C-Path, looks at thousands of cell factors to predict survival in the patient, and the researchers were able to narrow them down.

"We found 11 [factors] ultimately that showed the most robust association with survival," lead author Dr. Andrew H. Beck and assistant professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, told the news source.

Beck added that he doesn't see it replacing pathologists but just becoming an added tool to help them diagnose patients, the media outlet reports.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during her lifetime. Not only is this disease the second most common form of cancer among women behind skin cancer, but it is also the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women, following only lung cancer. 

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I am Thankful

I am here having finished all the major treatment and a couple of weeks into Letrozole, yet I find it hard to make the changes in my life which I think may improve my cancer risks going forward. It is easy for me to blame others, but it really all falls back on me. I saw my oncologist last week, and he has made a referral for me to see Dr. Amy Shaw, who is new in the RRMG practice and is putting together a survivorship program. My hope is that the program will help me to make little changes in my diet and activity level to ward off this evil C from ever taking over again.

They say we are allowed to play the "cancer card" whenever we need it. And I'm finding that now that I am through with treatment, people "see" me as looking and feeling well, like everything is back to normal and full speed ahead. Sleeping till 9 to 10 am each morning tells me things are not back to normal. And preparing for my first mammogram in a couple of weeks also puts the fear back in me. Not to mention a dear friend, who has been breast cancer free for ten years,  may now have a recurrence.  That really puts the fear in me. Are we ever normal again? Maybe not. But we are stronger. AND we are here. I guess there is not much more we can ask for.

As another breast cancer warrior's oncologist reminded her, "She HAD cancer". There was no evidence of any more cancer in her body, like me. So.... I HAD cancer. And for that, I must be thankful.

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wise Words from Maya Angelou

In April, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday. Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older. And, there on television, Maya Angelou said it was "exciting." Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every day......like her breasts. They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist, first.

The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such a simple and honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words!

Maya Angelou went on to say:
'I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.'

'I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.'

'I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.'

'I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a life.'

'I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.'

'I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back...'

'I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.'

'I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.'

'I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back....'

'I've learned that I still have a lot to learn..'

'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'

So I thought this was worthy of sharing with you all.

Hugs,

Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Blessing in Our Lives

I've been a bit distracted this weekend and haven't gotten around to posting as I had wished. But I have a very wonderful excuse.

Gaige Maxwell Emery


Sarah, with Auntie Alura holding Gaige

Daddy and Me

This is our newest grandson, Gaige Maxwell Emery. He just arrived in the wee hours of the morning of October 30th, 2011, weighing in at 6 lbs and 10 oz, at a length of 19 inches.

Mark and I are very blessed and soaking it all up.

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Friday, October 28, 2011

31 Days: Letrozole ~ Reduces Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Today is Day 28 of my 31 days of breast cancer awareness.


YEAH!! THANK YOU, Rob, for sharing this information with me. This is just what I needed to hear and am happy to share with other BC peeps.  :-)

The breast cancer drug letrozole reduces the chances that a woman’s cancer will return and improves her odds of survival to a greater degree than tamoxifen, a widely used estrogen blocker, according to a new analysis.

Read the entire NY Times article here!

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

31 Days ~ Beyond The Shock

Today is Day 27 of my 31 days of breast cancer awareness. 

 

Inspiring Hope ~ Beyond the Shock of Breast Cancer

Beyond the Shock is a a website where you can learn about breast cancer, ask questions and get answers, hear real stories from people.

  • Watch up to seven video chapters that explain the types and stages, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer.
  • Browse for answers from medical experts, survivors and patients or ask a question of your own.
  • View real video stories from people that have been diagnosed, received treatment, and survived breast cancer.
The introduction is a really cool video explaining how each of our lives is a story. It talks about how we journey along a road of experiences and emotions, passing significant milestones along the way. And then sometimes suddenly, the road beneath our feet takes a sharp turn, breaking from what was once certain. And as some of us have learned, breast cancer causes this break. Perspective ruthlessly shifts; we and our loved ones see the road differently than before.

The first educational video is a very comprehensive, yet a short one on the anatomy of the breast. Even I learned something here.

I encourage you to visit this site. It is colorful and very well designed. I think you will find it entertaining and educational; and yes, we all will learn something from it.

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

31 Days: Fight Cancer Together

Did you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? 
31 Days of Breast Cancer Awareness... Today is Day 25.

You know, just because I have finished the chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, does not mean that breast cancer goes away forever and I am free to not think about it ever again. Often times people will come up to me with a huge smile and say how happy they are that I am through with treatment. Well, I'm not really through, although I sure wish it was all that easy. The Aromatase Inhibitor  pill, Letrozole (generic for Femara) is expected to be necessary for the next five years. And while I hope it is an easy ride with few if any side effects, it is still that reminder of what I have been through. But on the positive side, it is a wonderful reminder of what is ahead of me -- lots more time with two wonderful grandsons; one just having arrived two months ago, and another to arrive late October (the first grandchildren for Mark and I), an amazing husband and two of the most wonderful and supportive daughters and their hubbies, a wonderfully large and loving family of siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews and in-laws, AND a huge support group of friends near and far, to name a few. They have all been here all along this ordeal to help support me and help me to fight cancer.

And then there are all the doctors, nurses, support staff, and other patients I've met along the way who are positive and caring and always wearing a smile and asking how I am. I mean, that has got to get old for the clinicians who are dealing with disease every work day, over and over again. But they never seem to waiver from their positive attitudes.

So the only way I think we can bust down the walls of cancer is to fight it together. AND FIRST AND FOREMOST, is by early detection by breast self-exam and annual mammograms. Next on my priority list would be to find a cure.

But a very important step is by supporting each other and also by supporting many of the wonderful organizations out there doing so much for research and providing resources. By attending Relay for Life events, and other such events that not only raise funds, but also provide a supportive environment for survivors and their families, or families of those who have lost the battle.

So join me in checking out and hopefully supporting one of these  wonderful organizations during this month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness month ~ Savethetatas.org and Savethetatas.com.
 
And did I mention, I've been invited to be a guest blogger at www.savethetatas.org, a special group which commits 5% of every sale to the Save the ta-tas® Foundation. This includes any product sold on savethetatas.com, at any of their authorized retailers and all of their licensed goods. This special group calculates their donations by the actual sale price, not the profits made. From 2004 – 2010 this translated to roughly 50% of their profits. Click here to learn more about the group.

And as a guest blogger, I'm offering a free Save The Ta-Tas item to one lucky person who subscribes to my blog, and comments on this blog post. Please see contest guidelines below. This is one of my favorite items and you could own this too:  Stargazer V-Neck.

TO ENTER THIS CONTEST

1. Become a follower of my blog (on the right side of the page).
2. Leave a comment on this blog entry telling me how we might all fight cancer together, and include your shirt size and an email address where you can be contacted. (ONLY ONE COMMENT PER PERSON)

This contest ends in one week and the lucky winner will be notified by email soon thereafter.

GOOD LUCK! Save The Ta-Tas

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Monday, October 24, 2011

31 Days: Is it the Letrozole ?

This is Day 24 of my 31 days of breast cancer awareness. 

 

I am on day 3 of Letrozole and am wondering if all the fatigue is from the drug, or am I catching something.

This morning I slept in until 10:00 AM. I have been sleeping longer since radiation began and finished, but never this late. And now it is only 9 pm and I've been yawning and very tired for the last couple of hours. I guess the next few days will be tell tale.

Be sure to check back tomorrow. I have been asked to be a guest blogger for Save The Ta-Tas. And you can win one of their Tees. Just check out tomorrows post and follow the instructions there.

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

31 Days: Femara/Letrozole & The Cancer Journey, A Day of Healing

This is Day 23 of my 31 days of breast cancer awareness. 

And yes, I missed yesterday and one other day so far this month. It can be a challenge to have something to post each and every day of 31 straight days. But I feel good about where I am on this challenge I set for myself.

 

So today I am focusing back on me. Partly because my radiation ended late September and I've been feeling really good since a week or so after that. But mostly because I have some new stuff going on about me to share with you.

Back on September 26th, in my post First Party of the Year, I talked about some fears with the upcoming 5-year prescription for Femara, a hormone therapy/chemo since some of my cancer is estrogen positive. There were lots of scary side effects about this drug, as well as the Tamoxifen that is the other option. Of course, I'm trying not to concentrate on the negative, instead on the positive fact that I am not Triple Negative after all. Whew! Dr. Anderson also helped to quell my fears when I met with him last and scheduled a bone density plan to help with that worry. So I had the bone density scan, results are back, and my bones are good and strong. So the worry of the bone fractures that can happen with Femara is behind me now. That feels very good. Next week I will meet with my Oncologist, Dr. Anderson to review the results and get a follow up with him.

Meanwhile, it was time to get the Femara prescription filled. My hope was to get this on a three month mail prescription plan. I mean, five years of going to the pharmacy every month, come on. But Express Scripts did not list a generic for Femara, my copay would have been nearly $50, and then I would still owe the balance to nearly $500 total, PER MONTH!!! So I immediately drove down to my friendly Rite Aid and checked for a generic version of Femara. And of course, now I remember, it is called Letrozole. So prescription in hand, I returned home and scanned the side effects. One of the not so frightening ones is drowsiness, so I've decided this will be a night time med and I started it that very night. I have taken it for two nights so far, and so far so good. Other than some achey hips the first morning (arthritis-like symptoms can occur), I survived.  :-) And may be sore hips are from my weekly Hula classes. Yes, I'm getting out and doing some fun stuff finally, and one of those is Hula for Fun with Betty Ann at Hula Mai. And I'm loving it.

And now I will call back to see if Letrozole is on my Formularly with mail prescription and get a new written script next time I see my oncologist. 

While on the phone scheduling the followup with Dr. Anderson, I also scheduled my annual bi-lateral mammogram for mid-November and then a followup to the mammo with my Surgeon, Dr. Elboim. Both of those are a bit queasy to think about. I mean, the wonder will always probably be there of, "Has the cancer returned?", "Will the Mammogram be clear?". But we must put one foot in front of the other, take it day by day, and move on. So that is what I will do.

Dr. Elboim's Breast Care Coordinator is also going to look into me being seen by Dr. Amy Shaw, who is now in the Redwood Regional Medical Group, and specializes in cancer/breast cancer survivorship. I'm excited by the prospect to meet with her and see how I might best be living my life to continue to be cancer free. And hopefully I can take part in this wonderful program she will be speaking out soon: The Cancer Journey, a Day of Healing.

On a final note this lovely Fall morning, please keep my brother Eddie in your thoughts and prayers. He recently was struck with an acute diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy, and the young age of 48. After about 2 weeks in the hospital, he may be discharged soon. He has a very long road to go, and lifelong meds are probably a must for his heart and lungs to work as optimly as possibly. Even more sever procedures are still on the table, should that be the case. So my 6 siblings and I have gone into high gear to visit him at California Pacific Medical Center, support him as best we can, and make a plan for his discharge for him to stay in the North Bay rather than return to Crescent City. We are trying to make it possible for his daughter, Charlotte, to make a visit. I know that would really brighten his spirits and give him a more positive outlook. 

Get well sweet brother. We are all pulling for you!

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Friday, October 21, 2011

31 Days ~ Cal Fire Wears Pink

This is Day 21 of my 31 days of breast cancer awareness. It is also my sister, Donna's, birthday. Happy Birthday, sis! Thanks for all the support you have given me over the last 11 months. I love you!!! 

 

There is something about a man in uniform; and a firefighter tops the cake, in my mind. Of course that may be because I've been married to one for 38 years now. Buyt a man in uniform and in pink... Now that says volumes!

 

CAL FIRE Cares Enough to Wear Pink

 

Firefighters wear pink shirts to show support for cancer research


Sacramento - Californians across the state may notice something a little different when they see CAL FIRE firefighters this week. That’s because firefighters, dispatchers and other employees of the state’s fire department will be showing their support for the battle against breast cancer by wearing pink T-shirts on duty. Like fire departments across the country, CAL FIRE is participating in the 2010 national “Cares Enough to Wear Pink" campaign taking place October 25 - 27, 2010.

Over 900 Fire departments and emergency response agencies across the United States are participating in the “Cares Enough to Wear Pink" campaign, which raises money and attention to cancer. The campaign is part of October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when wearing pink signifies support for breast cancer research. 

“There is a proven correlation between cancer and our chosen profession, but cancer, in its many forms, also affects millions of people worldwide and I hope we can help raise funds to find a cure and send a strong message of hope to those suffering from this disease,” said Chief Del Walters, director of CAL FIRE. “CAL FIRE is one of the largest fire departments in the nation and I believe the over 8,000 men and women of our department have an opportunity to make a significant contribution to this worthwhile effort by voluntarily joining me in "caring enough to wear pink" during this campaign,” said Walters.

100 percent of the proceeds from the T-shirt sales generated by CAL FIRE’s employee's voluntary participation are being donated to cancer related non-profit organizations.






For more information contact Department Information Officer Daniel Berlant, 916-651-FIRE (3473)

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Days: Reese Witherspoon on Breast Cancer Awareness

Today is day 20 in my 31 days of Breast Cancer Awareness for the month of October.


"Every three minutes a woman is diagnosed, and that's just unacceptable." 

This is how Reese Witherspoon speaks about breast cancer, a disease that more than 200,000 women in the U.S. were diagnosed with in 2007 alone. On Oct. 16, Witherspoon joined more than 3,000 men and women at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City, raising more than $8.4 million for breast cancer research and care -- just one of many events held throughout October, also known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Learn more about breast cancer and the stories of eight other brave and courageous women here ~ Reese Witherspoon speaks out about breast cancer

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 Days: Busting Breast Cancer Myths

31 Days of Breast Cancer Awareness during the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. ... Day 19.

Guliana Rancic goes to LA to bust some of the breast cancer myths.

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

31 Days: California Cancer Research Act (CCRA)

31 Days of Breast Cancer Awareness during the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
 ... Today is Day 18.

The following is a message from Tim Gibbs, American Cancer Society Grassroots Coalition Director

Dear Friends,

Volunteers recruited nearly 4,000 new supporters for the California Cancer Research Act (CCRA) during Saturday’s Day of Action.  We'll need them all to fight Big Tobacco. 

They spent the week telling voters how the CCRA will Protect California’s Kids. Big Tobacco loves our kids too, but for a very different reason: child smokers become very profitable lifetime smokers. 

That's why Big Tobacco responded to the Day of Action by dumping another $700,000 into its campaign war chest to kill the CCRA.  


California faces a massive battle to pass the CCRA on June 5, 2012. California wins when we match Big Tobacco’s millions with thousands of volunteers that money just can't buy. Please spread the word today.

Thank you for your continued support,
Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

31 Days: I'm Gonna Love You Through It

For Day 15 of my 31 days of posting to bring awareness to breast cancer, I'm reposting an entry from September.

No explanation is necessary. The lyrics of this song by Martina McBride, and the music video, say it all. Thank You, Debbi, for sharing this with me.


 


I'm gonna love you through it!

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Friday, October 14, 2011

31 Days: Oasis of Healing

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And I'm posting on each of the 31 days as my way of doing something to bring awareness. Today is Day 14 and I am featuring the Think Pink special section on breast cancer awareness featured recently in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. This next article talks about...

Integrative Program Offers an Oasis of Healing

Support center providing restorative therapies poised to expand at new site
By JANET PARMER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

As a wife, mother, and attorney, Tiffanie De Liberty of Santa Rosa had a full life. But she was forced to carve out time for intensive treatment when she was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. The Integrative Health and Healing Services program in Santa Rosa is a cherished oasis for De Liberty during recovery, and the program is poised to significantly expand later this month when it moves from donated space at the Integrative Medical Clinic on Concourse Boulevard to the second floor of the former

The cancer support program, sponsored by Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, offers women massage, acupuncture, nutritional counseling, jin shin jyutsu (an acupressure treatment), and an expressive arts program known as Crossroads. IHHS is open to any woman regardless of her ability to pay. The program accepts donations from those who can afford it, and is free for those who meet its low-income criteria. Volunteer practitioners come on Saturdays to give individual treatments, and on a typical day 25 to 30 women participate in sessions. The new facility will allow IHHS to gradually add to its services; program coordinator Pam Koppel said the program will eventually be open several days a week.

Please click on the link above to read the complete article and learn more about this wonderful program.

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

31 Days: Telling the Whole Story

Did you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? 
31 Days of Breast Cancer Awareness... Today is Day 13
And Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

I find some of my blog content out there in the world, like on Facebook, especially this month when I am posting about awareness on each of these 31 days of October. But it can be challenging to write a well written post each and every day. Today, I must thank The Army of Women for making me aware that today is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

As I read Dr. Susan Love's well written, and thought provoking post on Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness, there was no way I could summarize it and still get her message across. Please read below the entire article, and think about these 150,000 women living with breast cancer mets in this current world of pink haze, living in pain and fear in 3 month bouts from scan to scan, hoping to hold out long enough for a cure... or that family vacation... or milestone in their lives. Why not reach out to just one, if you can. And then go further to learn more about Metastatic Breast Cancer yourself.

Dr. Susan Love runs the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, which works to eradicate breast cancer and improve the quality of women's health through innovative research, education, and advocacy.
 
And her phone book size Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book has been my bible from the moment I was diagnosed. It was suggest by a friend with BC before me and has helped me to navigate each step of my treatment when I was ready to read on to the next section as it approached for me. It is an excellent resource explaining in depth for all to understand each type of procedure or surgery, each stage and type of breast cancer. A must read for anyone with BC in their lives, either their own or a loved one.


Metastatic Breast Cancer ~ Telling The Whole Story
By now you have noticed that it is October, and that a pink haze has settled on the land. The message of “early detection saves lives” has been broadcast on every form of media available. But there is a part of the breast cancer story that is less “feel good” and less frequently mentioned– woman living with metastatic breast cancer.

Have we gotten better at detecting breast cancer? Yes. Have we gotten better at treating this disease? Yes. But we haven’t gotten good enough. Despite doing everything that we now can, about 25 percent of the women who are diagnosed with and treated for early-stage breast cancer will later learn that they have metastatic disease. An additional 4 to 6 percent of all breast cancer cases will be in women whose initial diagnosis is stage IV, metastatic disease.

Right now, about 150,000 people in this country are living with metastatic breast cancer. At this stage, the cancer can be treated–and women can live for many years with stage IV disease– but it is not considered curable. These women connect on websites like BCMets.org, AdvancedBC.org and BrainMetsBC.org to find support, get the latest research information, and to share their hopes and fears as they try to embrace what many refer to as “the new normal”–living with metastatic disease.

These women, as Roni Caryn Rabin wrote in the New York Times, “…are not [leading] pink-ribbon lives: They live from scan to scan, in three-month gulps, grappling with pain, fatigue, depression, crippling medical costs and debilitating side effects of treatment, hoping the current therapy will keep the disease at bay until the next breakthrough drug comes along, or at least until the family trip to Disney World.” Some will live for years; others won’t be so lucky. Elizabeth Edwards comes to mind.

October 13 is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, and I can’t tell you how important it is that there is at least one day in October that is dedicated to acknowledging that not everyone is cured and not every cancer is found early. We need to stop congratulating ourselves on our progress and start focusing on figuring out why these women have not benefited from all the money we have raised. Reach out today to someone you know that represents the other side of breast cancer, the one that is not so pink. We will not have accomplished this goal as long as one woman dies of this disease!

You can learn more about metastatic breast cancer as well as find a list of resources and programs for women with advanced disease here at www.dslrf.org.

Follow Susan M. Love on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrSusanLove

Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer? We need you! Learn about this new study here:
http://blog.armyofwomen.org/2011/10/living-with-metastatic-we-need-your-help/
Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

31 Days: Local Market Supports BCA Month

31 Days of Breast Cancer Awareness... Day 12

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a part of this awareness, I am bringing awareness with each and every post of the 31 days of October.

Our local market, Glen Ellen Village and Sonoma Market, is supporting breast cancer awareness. Go into the store and buy a Pink Ribbon Icon. All proceeds go to City of Hope (a research, treatment and educational institution dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of cancer and other life-threatening diseases). For more information, please visit their website at:


Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

31 Days: Not More Pink Stuff


31 Days of Breast Cancer Awareness... Day 11.

Oh Puhleeze.... Not more pink stuff. Well, okay.... maybe a pink guitar is okay.


Raffle to Benefit Sutter Pacific Women’s Health Center in Santa Rosa, CA

In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Sutter Health and Tex Wasabi are raffling off a pink acoustic guitar signed by George Strait, donated by Wrangler. Tickets may be purchased in person at Tex Wasabi's by credit/debit cards only and are $20 each or 6 for $100. Raffle tickets are available at Tex Wasabi’s, downtown Santa Rosa (Su-Th 11am-10pm, F-Sa 11am -1am).

The drawing will be held on November 1 at Tex Wasabi's. Winner need not be present to win.

All proceeds benefit the Sutter Pacific Women's Health Center, a not for profit 501c3 organization, and are tax deductable as allowed by law (ID 94-2948131). 
And there is also a "Drink Special": Pink Sweet Tart – a portion of the proceeds will benefit the cause! Raffle Drawing is Tuesday, November 1st at Tex Wasabi’s, 515 4th Street, Santa Rosa, 5-7pm.

Click here for details

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Monday, October 10, 2011

31 Days: Early Screening...

Starting breast cancer screening as early as age 25 may help women who carry a genetic mutation linked to a higher risk of cancer live longer, suggests a new study.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Thu Oct 6, 2011 -
Early Breast Cancer Screening May Help Some. Researchers looked at which breast cancer screenings -- mammogram or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) -- were effective in women who carry gene mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2, known to increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. They looked at women aged 25, 30, 35 and 40 years.

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

31 Days: Young Survival

Did you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? 
31 Days of Breast Cancer Awareness... Today is Day 9.

Did you know, breast cancer can be inherited from both your Mother and Father's side of the family? Learn more about breast cancer hereditary here: http://www.youngsurvival.org/31days

Often times women will only ask their mothers about family cancer history. But we need to check in with the fathers side of the family too. Check out this article from Young Survival for more information.

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

31 Days: Then What ~ After Cancer Treatment

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And I'm posting on each of the 31 days as my way of doing something to bring awareness.

Today is Day 8
This weekend I am focusing on the Think Pink special section on breast cancer awareness in last Sunday's edition of the Press Democrat. As you probably know I' was not a huge fan of pink until recently. But I'm following the crowd for the moment -- So, Think Pink it is. 

In this article I was surprised to learn about a wonderful resource I plan to look into:
After cancer treatment, then what? 
‘Survivorship’ program focuses on maintaining patients’ optimum health.
One of the biggest challenges of surviving breast cancer is not the physical recovery, but recovery from the experience of having cancer. (Amen to that statement) It can last years after everything has healed in the body. An emerging area in the health-care field is “cancer survivorship,” a treatment approach focusing on a patient’s overall healing and not solely on getting rid of the cancer. Dr. Amy Shaw explains, “A survivorship program partners with a patient’s primarycare doctor and is the bridge between the cancer world and the rest of your life.” Shaw, formerly medical director of Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation’s Women’s Health Center, joined Redwood Regional Medical Group in Santa Rosa in June and has created its new Cancer Survivorship Program. The goals of the Cancer Survivorship Program are two: staying well during treatment and strategizing what to do to achieve optimum health afterward. Shaw is helping coordinate care for people who have finished treatment and is doing ongoing evaluation for treatment side effects, including late-onset problems such as heart disease or skin disorders that may surface several years after surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
I'll be calling Redwood Regional Medical Center on Monday to look into this program for sure.
Have a great weekend!

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Friday, October 7, 2011

31Days: Chemo Before or After Surgery?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And I'm posting on each of the 31 days as my way of doing something to bring awareness. Today is Day 17

Thank you to Komen.org for this informative piece:


Giving chemotherapy before breast-conserving surgery is as effective against breast cancer recurrence as giving chemotherapy after breast-conserving surgery. These results were presented at the 2011 Breast Cancer Symposium.

Breast-conserving surgery (also referred to as lumpectomy) involves removal of the breast cancer and some surrounding normal tissue. For some women, giving chemotherapy prior to surgery can shrink the cancer and make it easier to remove. There’s been some uncertainty, however, about whether chemotherapy followed by breast-conserving surgery is as effective against local-regional recurrence (cancer recurrence in or near the breast) as breast-conserving surgery followed by chemotherapy.    

To evaluate whether risk of breast cancer recurrence varies by timing of chemotherapy, researchers collected information about roughly 3,000 women who underwent breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy between 1987 and 2005. Roughly three-quarters of the patients underwent surgery first and the remaining patients underwent chemotherapy first. Women who received chemotherapy first tended to have cancers with worse prognostic features.   

Factors that were linked with an increased risk of breast cancer recurrence were young age (less than 50 years), clinical stage III cancer, grade 3 cancer, cancer that was estrogen receptor-negative, and close or positive surgical margins (cancer at or near the edge of the tissue that was surgically removed).

After accounting for tumor characteristics, risk of breast cancer recurrence was similar among women who underwent surgery first and women who underwent chemotherapy first. These results suggest that tumor characteristics—rather than the timing of chemotherapy—influence risk of breast cancer recurrence.     
Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

31 Days: Think Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And I'm posting on each of the 31 days as my way of doing something to bring awareness.

Today is Day 7

Think Pink, the special section in the Sunday edition of the Press Democrat, focused entirely on breast cancer awareness. Now, most of you know I'm not a huge pink fan, I mean I rarely wore the color until this year, but sometimes you just have to cave and ride the train. I mean, millions are doing it -- Right? So, Think Pink it is. 

Check out this link to view a digital copy of this Think Pink edition. It is well written and I've even learned about some new resources I was not aware of. There is an article about a Healdsburg woman, following her mother's footsteps (both are breast cancer survivors) of treatment into a healthier lifestyle of diet, yoga and meditation. She mentions and organization she is now involved in, “SCRAPPI — Sonoma County Risk Assessment Program Part I — offers genetic-risk assessment so that these factors can be taken into consideration by doctors,” she explains. “When women go to certain medical facilities — Redwood Medical Center, for example, and Healdsburg Hospital — for a routine mammogram, they can, if the elect to do so, learn about their genetic risk for the disease.” There is a nice mention in this article of Dr. Charles Elboim, who is my surgeon as well and quite well known in our community and the cancer community at large.

Another piece talks about how mammograms are using less radiation, giving sharper results, and doing a lot for early detection. (Just scroll down to the bottom of the page on the previous link to access this article)

I will focus on the Think Pink section in my posts over the weekend.

Hugs,

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!