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.

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.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chemo Teach

So today was a good day!     That always feels good to say -- and it's true.

We had most of the morning to do some things around Brookfarm. It is such lovely weather here in Glen Ellen right now. Can you believe 73 degrees, sunny, and all the pastures are full of lush green forage for the pacas. Then I had a farm visit from a neighboring fiber store over West who will be carrying our yarn and raw fleeces. That is always a very good thing. Thank goodness Sarah is coming out tomorrow to help me skirt more fiber and replenish our stock. It will be good to have her company for our "off day" of any kind of doctor appointments whatsoever.

Of course it would be great to be pruning my roses and working in the garden, what with this absolutely gorgeous weather. But I need to take it easy for the next couple of weeks so that my Port settles in nicely and I don't disturb it in any way. Don't want to lose my special powers, for sure:-)

Redwood Regional Cancer Center was pretty swamped when we arrived for my 2:30 PM appointment today. This is probably a good tip to me that morning appointments would be better for my usual chemo treatments after the first one scheduled for this Thursday. But the appointment was pretty much a breeze:  a 20 minute video (kinda of dated and comical to watch), the appointment with the NP Teresa, and a quick tour of the infusion room. Mark was open to tell Teresa they might consider updating their video sometime soon. Teresa fully agreed and said they were already working on it. 

The best news of the day was to learn that all the test performed last week are within normal ranges, and their is no other sign of cancer or any issues whatsoever according to the MUGA, CT, and Bone Scans. Yahoo -- that is a huge relieve!

During my appointment the NP went over all the ins and outs of the two drugs I'll be starting off with on Thursday. She went into the details about side effects and explained that the first hour of my 2-hour infusion will be for anti-nausea medication, and the second half is the cocktail of  Doxorubicin Hydrochloride (Adriamycin) and Cyclophosphamide. These are the two drugs of my three part ACT cocktail. So only two hours each for the first four appointments, which lasts 8 weeks -- one week on, and one week off.  The major side effects are the nausea, fatigue, mouth sores, loss of appetite; amongst others to be sure. Oh, and low blood count. This will be combated with a shot of Neulasta the day after each chemo treatment to help to bring my blood count back up somewhat. That means treatment is actually a three-day process. One day to get the blood work done to make sure I am well enough for the next treatment, then infusion day, followed by a shot of Neulasta on the third day to bring the blood count back up.

I now have all sorts of tips to try to counteract the multiple side effects. of my chemotherapy And I will need to be very careful to stay clear of those who are sick, and bacteria from gardening and working with my alpacas. This is not to say I can't do these things, but I will take precautions with gloves and such, and only do what I feel is appropriate. But the bright side is that this is not the type of chemotherapy that strips your immune system. Yes, it brings it down significantly, but with the help of Neulasta and my bodies own defense mechanism, I should be able to fight off the normal germs around me. AND, I do not have any food restrictions. It is also okay to take my daily multiple and andy additional vitamin D and C. But everything else is off limits until after Chemo. No special herbal treatments, or high doses of other vitamins.

And yes, I'll be losing my hair in a couple of weeks. But Teresa tells me that frequently she sees patients hair return with a beautiful new texture and or color, like curls! Now that could be fun to anticipate. And I now have a beautiful supply of bandannas, courtesy of cousins Paula and Gail.

The NP has also called in 4 prescriptions for me at our local drug store. I'm to bring those with me to the next appointment so they can go over their use, which is mainly to combat the expected side effects. She also provided me with a mouth wash recipe that should help with the mouth sores (Yuck). Did you know you are not to floss during chemo, and can only brush your teeth very gently. This is to prevent any bleeding that can be exacerbated by one of the chemo drugs.

This series of chemotherapy will be immediately followed by a series with Paclitaxel (Taxol). This is the "T" part of the ACT. This infusion is identical in days of treatment (4 series to last 8 weeks), but each infusion will last 4 hours for that series, and there will be some new side effects, which we'll cover later.

So, tomorrow is an "off-day". Off from any kind of cancer appointments whatsoever. Yippee!!! I will focus on me, the farm, my hubby, Sarah's visit, and whatever else good comes to me.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 



  1. A great big hug to you and Mark. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. From Michelle Brauner (Kristine's Mom)

    Debbie, my prayers are with you and your family. Thank you for your writings. You are a brave and courageous woman and also in your own words....a cancer warrior!

  3. You are my hero - go girl


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