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.


Friday, May 13, 2011

I Never Did Like Roller Coasters...

And I'm not real fond of this one right now either!

Well Friday has come and I have this darn nasty cold. Or is it the residual of the cold that has been lingering for a month. I only have myself to blame. I mean, I've been traipsing around in public and out to cold Farmers Market nights, acting like I am a normal healthy woman, rather than the cancer patient with the blood count that fluctuates all over the place from day to day and week to week depending on my treatment. But I just want to be that normal woman. Mark says it feels like my treatment has been flying by. Well... Uhummm... I on the other hand feel like it has been dragging on. I started out this year anxious for it all to be over so I would be past my treatment and into survivorship. Then I found I would be a grandma to two wonderful babies due late this year, one from each of our two daughters, and this gave us both much to be hopeful and thankful for. So that is still where I am now, anxious for the Fall to arrive, have treatment almost complete and grand babies to bounce on my knee, spoil, burp, change a poopy diaper, kiss and hug!

Mark and I got through both appointments at RRMG Fountaingrove after three and half hours. I just wish I was as excited as I was earlier this week. The cold, cough, congestion has a lot to do with it; but there is more...

The first appointment was my initial consult with Dr. Scharfen, the Oncology Radiologist. What a delightful, focused, thorough woman. She took all the time with us we needed, seemed interested in who we were as people, our interests, and even shared a bit about herself. She had the breast MRI results and we discussed all the particulars of the radiation treatment and process, which will last 5.5 to 6.5 weeks depending on whether I have a mastectomy or lumpectomy, five days a week for about 15 minutes each session. The radiation will begin about two to three weeks after surgery, once I have recovered from surgery, and once the initial radiation appointments take place to get all the measurements to direct the radiation to just the right spot.

We finished up about 2 hours after the appointment began with Dr. Scharfen, and returned to the front reception desk to check in for my usual blood draw to check blood counts, and subsequent appointment with my Oncologist, Dr. Anderson.
My  blood work was good; but like us, Dr. Anderson was concerned about my cold, and the 100.7 temp I was running by the time I saw him. When you are going through chemo, they warn you to notify the office if your temp is anything over 100.5. My lungs and chest appear to be clear, but if this thing does not clear up before Chemo, we will need to check blood work again and possibly postpone my last chemotherapy. So he prescribed an antibiotic called Z-Pak to help zap this thing and get me back up on my feet. Thank goodness, because by the time I returned home I continued to cough and sneeze, and just feel all over cruddy.

So the "there is more" is that while the MRI came back that the tumors have shrunk by 80-90%, (YIPPEE), and both doctors were very excited by this result, the mass is still possibly long enough that I'm not quite as excited that a lumpectomy may be possible. It was originally 7.9 cm according to the first MRI and is now 6.3 cm. When I heard 6.3 cm from Dr. Scharfen, my heart sunk. What happened to the 1 inch (2.5 cm) that the doc estimated on Wednesday when I was ready to do the Happy Dance and shout out to the world (Oops, I think I did that already). 

Guess I will find out if the boob is still there when I recover from surgery, which will take place some time in late June. Damn boob... One minute I don't care if it is there or not, the next I'm relieved not to have to make all the choices that come with mastectomy... Lop it off and leave it alone, or reconstruct. GRRRRRRR!!!!! But I will have another appointment with Dr. Elboim in a week or so to review the MRI results.

So Dr. Anderson helped to put it into a positive light. Mind you, all these tests and exams are not exact rocket science... Oh how I wish. What is it that they say about doctors practicing. I guess their predictions are better than the weather people. :-)

An MRI can overstate and understate what it reports. Until the surgeon gets in there and takes and tests tissue samples of the area, he will not know what is actual active cancer cells and what is dead tissue left over from the cancer or even the biopsy. So it is still a wait and see situation. 

A good thing, I hope, is that this latest breast MRI again shows no sign of lymph node involvement and both doctors could not feel anything upon physical exam. But, I remind you, this is still not definitive. A Sentinel  Lymph Node Biopsy will also be performed during surgery.
A sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) is the first lymph node to which cancer is likely to spread from the primary tumor. The sentinel is identified with special dye and contrasts during surgery. Cancer cells may appear in the sentinel node before spreading to other lumph nodes. In some cases, there can be more than one sentinel lymph node.
A SLN biopsy is a procedure in which the sentinel ;lymph node is removed and examined under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present. SLN biopsy is based on the idea that cancer cells spread (metastasize) in an orderly way from the primary tumor to the SLN(s), rather than to other nearby lymph nodes.
A negative SLN biopsy result suggests that cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes. A positive result indicates that cancer is present in the SLN and may be present in other lymph nodes in the same area (regional lymph nodes). This information may help the doctor determine the stage of cancer (extent of the disease within the body) and develop an appropriate plan.

That's it from my perspective on a Friday the 13th. As Mark reminds me, I am joyous to be alive!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Huge Hugs....

Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!
Sonoma Relay for Life Team (8/6/11) ~  Debbie's Blasting Crew.



  1. Thank you Debbie for keeping us posted. I will continue to lift you up in prayer. And Mark too!

    John Nordstrom

  2. Debbie, I'm here for you. Do you know everything that you have been through, decisions you have had to make, trying to handle things that are out of your control and the UNKNOWN, the dreaded have handled it with courage, hope, and an amazing attitude.

    A cold can really get one down but hopefully you are feeling better today and Z-Pak will kick it out of your system. I think a big bowl of warm chicken soup is in order (if only I lived closer). Continue to drink tons of water, get plenty of rest and you will be feeling better in no time. I'm sending positive and healing energy your way.

    You are spectacular, Debbie!

    Hugs and prayers, ~Michelle

  3. Thanks for the update sweet sister. You are an incredible warrior and we will win together!

  4. Your experience brings back all the ups and downs we went through when my sister-in-law went through her breast cancer journey. She's been cancer-free now for nearly 10 years post diagnosis, treatment, mastectomy, and more treatment. Peter & I are praying for you and your family that you will again be that "normal" woman you want to be (whatever "normal" is!) very very soon!
    Peter & Carol Lundberg

  5. Hey Deb,
    I'm reaching out to say hi and empathize with you. At least the steps are all forward! The uncertainty of the MRI results is a but a thorn on the rose, right?! I hope your cold is ebbing and you're on your way back to feeling great. I'm sure a little sun and warm temperatures will do wonders (yeah, for all of us.) Take care, and continue to LIVESTRONG.

    Deb K

  6. HEY BOBO SEESTER. Have they scheduled the surgery yet? I love you.

  7. No date on surgery yet. Doc has requested an ultrasound for next week first to hopefully get a better idea of status of active cancer cells, if any.


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