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.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eat Your Greens


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


Monday, July 23, 2012

One of Those Aha Moments

About a week ago I had one of those Aha moments. I'd been having trouble sleeping of late, and had some chocolate before bed that night. So of course I tossed and turned. About midnight I tuned in to KQED and they were airing a show on The Blood Sugar Solution and author, Dr. Mark Hyman.

Okay, I know what you're thinking, and I was too. But this was not one of those late night Infommercials, it was KQED, Channel 9, Public Television. So I started getting all down on myself about how I had let my diet slip right back to pre-cancer casualness. I mean, we do try to eat lots of greens, healthier fiber-rich foods, whole grains, and the such. But that seemed to be fewer and farther between. The program was very similar to many of the nutrition tips I learned in my Nutrition & RRMG Cancer Survivorship Program back in January, so couldn't be all bad. So I decided for me and my own sanity I needed to get better about all this.

So of course I started doing more online research. You see, one thing the Oncologist and Surgeon made very clear at the earliest of my appointments, was that alcohol was considered to be a very strong contributing factor in the cause of breast cancer, and recurrence of breast cancer (which doesn't always come back in a breast). I was told that my wine consumption should be limited to no more than 1-3 glasses a week, or so that is what I heard. That in itself seemed like an impossibility. But back then, I attempted to curtail wine consumption during weekdays. Then Spring came along and our weekly Farmer's Market Group gatherings where we all bring appetizers and wine to share, and have a jolly ole good time catching up with friends from the previous week. But now I was realizing that the week days began to slip away, that is the "no wine" days.

Considering I have a couple of people close to me newly diagnosed with breast cancer or with recurrence of BC after 10 years of being healthy, it gives me great pause as to what I must do to keep this evil lurking killer away from me getting to know my grandsons as they grow into sweet little boys. Then I came across this article that night by Dr. Kathleen T Ruddy, Recipe for Disaster - Alcohol and Estrogen Breast Cancer. And it was like getting hit across the head with a 2 X 4!!!

It all makes very good sense, especially since my type of breast cancer is estrogen receptive.

So here is a bit of a summary of Dr. Kathleen T Ruddy's article:
Alcohol and Estrogen Compete
Alcohol and estrogen are both metabolized in the liver using similar biochemical pathways.  So if the liver is busy clearing alcohol from the bloodstream, estrogen levels will rise as they wait their turn through the liver. Therefore, women who drink regularly, like every day, will have chronically elevated levels of estrogen circulating in their bloodstream.  And since estrogen is the equivalent of light, sweet crude for the breast cancer engine, it’s easy to see why regular alcohol consumption is directly linked to an increased risk for breast cancer.  In fact, there does not appear to be any “safe” level of alcohol use:  even 1/2 glass of wine per day increases the risk for breast cancer.  As a red wine and single-malt scotch lover, this was sad news for me when I learned of it several years ago.
Avoid alcohol if you want to avoid breast cancer.
The preponderance of data confirm that drinking alcohol on a regular basis increases the risk for breast cancer by approximately 40%.  Therefore, my advice is to drink only occasionally and in moderation.  The good news is that by drinking only on special occasions, indulging in expensive wine will be relatively affordable!
Estrogen-positive breast cancer and alcohol are like fire and gasoline.
The link between alcohol and breast cancer is old news, really.  But there is more recent news about alcohol and breast cancer, per se, that ought to set off an alarm down every corridor of preventive medicine: alcohol dramatically increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence in women with estrogen-positive tumors. Here’s the story:
Dr. Li of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center studied 365 women between 40-79 who were first diagnosed with estrogen-positive breast cancer and who were then diagnosed with a second cancer in the opposite breast.  He compared these women to 726 similar patients who had not had tumor recurrence.  Li was looking for differences between the two groups that might explain why one group suffered new cancers in the opposite breast, while the other group remained disease-free.
One thing stood out: having one drink per day increased the risk of a second cancer by 90%.
Another unexpected finding:  the majority of patients with estrogen-positive tumors did not take or complete anti-estrogen therapy (tamoxifen, anastrozole, femara etc.)
In studying both groups of women, Li made a totally unexpected discovery, not related to alcohol, but that should be viewed as a cautionary revelation nonetheless.  Only 39% of patients with tumor recurrence ever used anti-estrogen therapy – although all such women are eligible for this treatment which reduces breast cancer recurrence by 50% – and of the 39% who did use anti-estrogen therapy, only 14.5% completed five years of treatment.
In the 726 women who were used as controls (the patients without tumor recurrence), only 30% ever used anti-estrogen therapy, and of these only 18.5% completed five years of treatment.
Li’s study was not designed to understand why, when 100% of the women enrolled in the study were eligible for anti-estrogen therapy, so few ever used it, and even fewer completed five years of therapy.  But for all women in Li’s study, one thing was abundantly clear:  drinking alcohol was a very bad idea.
Alcohol increases the risk for breast cancer, specifically estrogen-positive breast cancer.  Furthermore, in women with estrogen-positive breast cancer, drinking alcohol increases the risk of a new cancer in the opposite breast a jaw-dropping 90%.
Avoid alcohol – save it for special occasions.
If you have estrogen-positive breast cancer, avoid it like the plague.
And, please, take and stay the course with your anti-estrogen medication (tamoxigen, anastrozole etc.)
This is not meant to scare you, but to keep you informed. We all make choices in life, and for now, my choice is to try to avoid alcohol except for those special occasions. I'm entering my second week so far, all but that "special occasion" when Mark's cousin appeared from Tucson for a very rare visit and I went for a margarita at Mayas. I'm sleeping better, I feel better -- so far so good.

Now if I could just get some energy back and out of the doldrums. But hopefully some revision to our diet is helping. And if not, a short nap in the afternoon is not such a bad thing at my age? RIGHT?

So wish me luck. We shall see how I do on this new journey.


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


Sunday, July 15, 2012


In this year of renewed health and new growth, it is the tiniest little things that but a huge smile on my face.

It was so hard to see when my hair grew back in that it was very very thin and just seemed like there wasn't much there. My scalp was evident, my head would get hot easily, and I felt as though I had to have a hat on whenever I was even close to being out in the sun. Not that this is a bad thing. But it was not the norm for me pre-cancer.

But now I have renewed hope. As I can see this tiny little bit of new growth spurting up all over, almost like a whole new crop is coming in. It's like all of the remaining hair follicles that were sleeping and waiting and renewing, have now come to life all at once... syncronizing; as it once was described to me. There's this half inch growth that's growing in around my scalp and face; and it makes me smile.

I know this may seem silly, and of little importance to others. But when you've been through breast cancer, you look for any little hope of a healthy body and a sign that things are on the right track. And I'll take this is a very good sign


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


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Another Year...

It's almost hard to remember just how I felt one year ago in this post. I had just had my partial mastectomy surgery, finished chemo a month earlier, enjoyed another July 1st birthday, celebrated the anniversary of our country's independence, was getting ready to host a baby shower for "my baby" and was preparing for the last stage of treatment - radiation. I look back at these photos and see the "happy face" I put on, as I thought I was doing and feeling oh so well.

But now, one year later. I DO FEEL SO MUCH BETTER! And I'm happy that the memory is fading of what it was really like. Manageable, but a long, drawn out exhausting process and series of events, and doctors, upon doctors, upon hospitals, labs, procedures, etc. etc. 

In a couple of months it will be one year since my treatment ended, and my two grandsons will be turning 1 year old; Nico in August, and Gaige in October. There really couldn't be a better turn of events in my mind.

But it continues to be sad to see other friends around me be diagnosed with breast cancer, or have a recurrence after ten years of feeling pretty good. It worries me that a cure or prevention still seems so far off. Treatment has come a long, long way; and I'm told, is much easier than it used to be. But..... too many unknowns and concerns to even put into words.

Instead, it is out to the barns to feed the alpacas and dogs, get ready for a vet appointment for the two cuties that will ship to Colorado later this month, squeeze in some time to start the Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt, or work on the Ten Little Things quilted baby book, not to mention my Block of the Month due tomorrow. Oh... did I mention the Oakland Fiber Festival we are vending at this Sunday -- still need to price product and get things all ready for the trip.

I keep busy and that is all good. And I take a little nap when I can force my brain to calm.


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