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, August 7, 2014

Stanford Cardiology Checkup

I took my first solo trip to Stanford Cardiology yesterday on August 6th. The drive there was uneventful. I usually drive down through the East Bay to meet up with Alura, who has come with me to each Stanford appointment. But with an eight day old infant, it was not practical for her to make the trip, and Sarah and Mark also had other things going. Besides, it was time I venture out on my own. So I drove down 101 through SF to 280. Piece of cake!

Stanford Hospital & Clinics entrance is just beautiful. Next time I'll do a picnic lunch here.

I planned well and arrived near the hospital 1.25 hours early for my 2:30pm appointment, plenty of time for some lunch. A quick stop at a nearby Starbuck's for a quick restroom stop was in order (their bathrooms are always very clean and easy to access). While there, I noticed they had a decent pre-made turkey sandwich, at a good price, that appeared to be healthy. Besides, a moment to "check-in" via my iPad was also in order. I enjoyed the quiet break after the long drive, but was oh so disappointed to notice that my sandwich contained 940 mg of sodium, but not until it was nearly consumed. You really cannot get anything these days that isn't laden with sodium. I'm glad that we (our country) are starting to look at this, especially after learning that the sodium content of some restaurant foods can be in the 2500 - 3500 mg range. That is just criminal.

I had a 2:30pm appointment, which I knew meant the possibility of an even later visit with Dr. Fowler. We've always been able to get late morning appointments before, but not this time. My fear was for the drive home. So after some knitting and checking devices, it was my appointment time. Soon the nurse took me back to take my vitals and explained they did not have a room for Dr. Fowler yet. So after a very good pulse, BP, AND weight, it was back to the waiting room for a bit. I just love the Pioneer Woman with Ree Drumand, and so was easily placated since this was playing on the TV in the waiting room. Then 15 minutes or so later I was taken back one more time so that my ICD device could be checked. Again, all good numbers -- battery good for another 7-8 years, no events, all ranges looking normal. More good news! Then back to the waiting room. Again, I didn't mind.

It was about 3:15 pm when Dr. Fowler's nurse brought me into an exam room and went over all my meds and such. She apologized for the long wait, but said I could stay right there and I was next on the Doctor's list of patients to be seen. Whew.

Dr. Fowler arrived at about 3:45pm. He was very pleased that I've been feeling so good. He explained that it was not yet time for another Echo cardiogram, and besides -- it was only a number. The most important part was that I am doing well. Especially when I shared the cost of the Echo, which he says he does not receive any of that info, that there was no reason to do another one at this point.

I shared how I've been out walking every week, enjoying friends and family, and especially the newest member, an 8 day old granddaughter. He too has a new granddaughter this year, so we shared our happiness on this topic. He said that even if the Echo remains bad, I would not be a candidate for heart transplant at this point (THANK YOU VERY MUCH, as I want to avoid this like the plague, if possible), and that if I were, the LVAD would most likely be the first step to put me in line, so that the most needy get transplanted first. This is all great for me. 

It appears I will be on these medications for the remaining of my years, that they are not caustic, like cancer meds, that my diuretic dose is still a very low dosage. It is likely that I could dip again in my wellness as well. I know this all too well after getting acquainted with a new "heart sister" whom, like me, had Adriamycin as her chemo drug, and has a family history of Cardiomyopathy with other siblings, but not she. One year after chemo, she fell into heart failure (deja vu, here). She rebounded slightly with an EF of 35% for nearly 10 years, and then things turned for the worse again. Just weeks ago, she received a new heart after 7 months on the wait list. This friend is about 5 years younger than me, so went through all of this at about age 45. Whereas for me, I was 58 when diagnosed with cancer.

I talked to Dr. Fowler about sodium intake, as now I am feeling better, I am eating out more, and feel as though I am not quite as careful as I was a few months back. He did warn me to continue my diligence, and make good choices when eating out. But followed up that as I am today, right then and there during the exam, I was doing good and should continue what I am doing.

Originally, we expected that Dr. Fowler would "fire" me today, meaning turn me back over to my local cardiologist for only his care. I do see Dr. Dhar regularly too, but for now will continue to see Dr. Fowler. So we shall visit again in December.

But for now I am living life to the fullest. Loving my family, spoiling the grand kids, playing with fiber all the time, having lunches and spending time with sisters and friends, and just remembering that today is today, yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come.

P.S. Here's a little update added today, 8/10/13, since a few have asked and I actually planned to include this initially:
     The drive home was a bit longer, 3 hours rather than the 2 hours it took to get there. Dr. Fowler actually apologized as my visit with him finished up. After remembering where I was driving home to, through the South Bay and then the North Bay, right at commute traffic, and realizing I had waited some time to see him, he was suggesting places I could stop and while away some time rather than jump into hours of slow moving traffic.  I thought the drive would be horrible too as I approached the freeway from Stanford. Traffic was backed up just trying to get on 280. But once I did, things eased up, and with a couple of slow spots along the way, things were moving pretty good. Then I got to the bridge on Hwy 37 (the one before you get to the Lakeville Rd intersection), and traffic was a parking lot, practically. But no worries on my part, I was re-listening to the audio book of the first series of Outlander as a refresher for the new series that started Saturday. Yes, I was tired when I returned, but all in all it was a good day.

Life is Good...

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

THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.


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