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.


Thursday, November 24, 2011



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.


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


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". :-)


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


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. 


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


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 !


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


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. 


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


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.


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


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 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.