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, December 15, 2013

Still at Baby Steps

While Mark was out doing chores this evening, it seemed it was time I give you the latest on me. I saw my cardiologist last week and he reminded me that I would be on a heart transplant list already if it weren't that the cancer prevents this from happening -- I must be 5 years cancer free to be a candidate for a heart transplant. Talk about a catch 22 -- the chemo may have tipped me over the edge to the predicament I am in with the heart failure, and it may delay me from getting what I really need. It’s interesting how I forget this part of the equation from time to time -- possibly needing a heart transplant. YIKES!!! I guess I just don’t want to face a heart transplant someday down the road. But I must keep it as a possible reality, as hard as it is to imagine.

Dr. Dhar also confirms that, due to my very weak heart, any kind of cold will most likely set me back as this last one did, so I need to be so careful about avoiding colds, as this has been the most miserable 6 weeks for me! I mean, the word "miserable" has been coming out of my mouth very regularly of late, so if this is any indication how I've been feeling...

The exciting part of the appointment was that it was pretty amazing to see what my St. Jude ICD tracks and how the doc could now see exactly what was happening over the last month to show how I've been struggling and confirm it was from my heart function, and impedence to the heart. Poor baby has been working real hard to do the simplest of things, like digest food. Impedence, like fluid in, around or near the heart – which then prevents my weak heart from dealing with it like a normal heart would. Ugh!!!

And on a positive note, I've been feeling a bit better the last few days, and the report also showed there has been little impedence just those last few days -- pretty incredible information this little friend of mine tracks. The good thing is there have been no pacing or shock treatments, or A-fib or V-fib, since the last ocurrence on 11/2/13. Although, it's been a pretty miserable 6 weeks (there's that word again) and its been really, really hard to stay positive and moving forward. I've had lots of moments, and Mark has been such a trooper for me, being strong, and ready to catch me at any moment. I put on my happy face, or as best I can, the rare instances when I get out in public, as this is what we do. It makes us feel better, and those around us too. But I wanted to be open about just how hard this has all been. Those baby steps are a bitch at times; especially when it feels like weeks since you've been able to take even a tiny one.

So we are slowly increasing the Carvedilol again back up to the max dose. You may recall I had to lower some of my meds after feeling bad in late September. Maybe, just maybe this will help some. I'm finally able to do more than just walk around the circle here by the front door with several stops to catch my breath. I've made a couple of trips all the way to the mail box. Coming back feels like Mt Kilimanjaro, and I stop a lot along the way to catch my breath; but considering I wouldn't even venture down to the gate for weeks, this is a positive step.

I am thankful for my wonderful medical team who I know is doing all they can for me and I trust implicitly. 

So once again, thanks for listening and understanding. It is just hard sometimes when I run into a friend, or talk with someone, and they hear that my ICD implant was successful, and then jump to the conclusion that I am all better now and will be good as new soon. I have to just smile back at that point, cause I don't want to burden them, and figure they really don't need to hear the real details of my situation, or might not understand. The reality is I may not, probably won't be, the same old Debbie ever again. But I can still get out and enjoy life, my family, and keep striving to be as healthy as my body will allow. And that is my promise to myself and family.

So you are all very important to me; and I am sharing all my woes with you, as I have done along the way. I've hit some pretty low points, but hope that they are behind me once again. Cause this girl is ready to spend the holidays with family and friends; and especially those two adorable Grandsons, Nico and Gaige.

Today is feeling like a "good" day, and hopefully tomorrow will be the same. We even had lunch out and did a bit of shopping last week after my appointment. I've been sleeping better and in my bed rather than a chair; at least most of the time. And Dr. Dhar says I am a model patient, losing the weight I should (he said keep it right where it is), following his instructions, watching what I eat, trying to walk when I’m up to it. And I have two beautiful strong daughters, with the most adorable grandsons that give me so much joy. They check in all the time and visit when they can. Sure hope I can get back to helping them in spending one-on-one time with the boys so they get a break once in awhile. 

So, thank you for allowing me to lean on you a bit now and then, and vent and clear out my soul. Hopefully I will be there for you to lean on me from time to time when you need it.

In closing today, I so admire all my siblings. We are an amazing bunch, but we each seem to be going through so many struggles these days. I am so looking forward to starting a New Year, all in baby steps. I'm ready to see 2013 behind me.

B R I N G  O N   2 0 1 4

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!


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