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, January 15, 2016

Good News...

... But this infection was a hard one to whip!

It is now 8 days since my last post and the breast infection was vigilant and hard to whip into shape. The antibiotics just kept it at bay until the intestinal issues started in at day 25. So after my intestinal flora had been stripped of all its wonderful healthy bacteria, I spent 3+ days near the toilet and dealt with some other antibiotic side effects (you know, ladies) GRRRR. I know TMI, but hey, you came here to read this Blog about cancer, heart failure, and me. So there you have it.

Mind you, I guess I had a good bit of healthy bacteria to sneak by that long, thankfully. As the doctor warned me several times that this might be an issue and that it was typical with this drug. And added that the drug is absolutely the best to fight a breast infection. So when it first hit, I thought perhaps it was from some rich food I had over the weekend. You see, I've been concentrating on a "Good Gut" ever since I read the book this summer, The Good Gut, by Drs. Justin and Erica Sonnenburg. I make my own Kefir and drink a bit of it every day, take a heavy duty probiotic capsule often, drink kombucha, eat yogurt, and try to get in enough good fruits and veggies. This, I believe helped me to ward of the gut problems for so long.

And thank goodness that a fun camping weekend away on the beautiful Mendocino County coast was had before the issues began. So when on Monday I knew there was an issue, I stopped the antibiotics. By Wednesday evening the breast was pinking up again, but I told myself I would give it until the morning. And the next morning, the breast continued to look just slightly pink and was slightly warm, but not alarmingly so. 

Now backup to Tuesday morning when I placed a call into my doctor to discuss these issues. Additionally, I wanted to run by Dr. Shaw the technique of aa warm compress using castor oil, which is followed by very light oncology massage. My good friend and Certified Oncology Massage Therapist, Karen Cahill, CMT of KBC Oncology Massage, had mentioned massage for scar tissue to me and so she did some research and learned of this technique with the castor oil. (Karen has a Facebook Page too here.)

Unfortunately, my doctor's office was swamped this week due to Dr. Elboim's return from a week off due to a family emergency. He was the one I was scheduled to see this upcoming Monday. Rather than get my questions answered over the phone, they got me in to see Dr. Elboim this morning, January 15th. So I was able to discuss everything in detail with him. He was very patient and thorough with us, heard us out completely and gave me options. I like options.


First and foremost, surgery is not urgent.


Second, infection has resolved and inflammation calmed to where I do not need the antibiotics.


I am to continue probiotics for at least another week. Although I will continue my normal regime mentioned above long term. I can choose to do nothing and see how I do. The lump "might" absorb some on its own, but not 100%. Elboim said maybe 25% is more realistic. All the ultrasounds and mammograms I've had since September, and back into May, show no signs of cancer! But should I choose surgery, a biopsy of the tissue will be performed, as in all surgeries (I was told).  Dr. Elboim stated, "This is not IBC (Imflammable Breast Cancer)". He suggested I reassess my situation frequently to see where I am and how I feel.

Dr. Elboim went on to say that breast reconstruction is not really an option for me, due to radiation 4.5 years ago. Naysayers, please don't go there. I had already decided against it. I do not want reconstruction, nor do I want to get my "good" breast involved. End of discussion.

If I decide surgery is my choice, a subtotal mastectomy is probably the best. Elboim can try to save some breast, but to remove it entirely would be best to allow for a best-fitting prosthetic. Why leave a little nub? No muscle needs to be removed, nor any lymph nodes. I would need a drain for 7-14 days. We took home about a 20-page handout on the subject. I think it is similar to the one I received 5 years ago, but will take a peak later if/when I get to that point. And of course there are risks to everything. 

Dr. Elboim thought there would be no harm in the castor oil compresses & massage, provided the compresses are just warm and not hot, and massage is very gentle. So I will consider this and talk to Karen.

There was another technique called fat graphting he mentioned. It is experimental and performed on non-healing wounds, but it really didn't sound like it would be appropriate or effective for my situation. But I will definitely do some research.

So there you have it -- There is hope. And I am feeling pretty good right now. I will sleep on all this, give it some time, and go from there.

Here's to our health...

Life is Good...

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

THANKS for visiting! Comments are good. I look forward to your comments.


  1. Hi Debbie, if you are on Facebook, I recommend the group Flat & Fabulous. They have some great advice and support for anyone who choses to not have reconstruction. I was part of that community until I changed my mind - but I believe strongly that everyone should have the choice and make the one that is right for them. I don't advocation one way or the other ... sending you good vibes for continued healing and good health ... cheers, Becky

  2. Thank you so much for this tip, Rebecca. I had n idea about this group. I will definitely check it out.


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