LIVESTRONG:

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.

WARNING:
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.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

It's... B. A. C. K. AND I'm Pissed!

... AND I'm not talking a nasty cold, or rash. NO! 

AND, it's very hard to even imagine telling all my dear family and friends this news. So if this is your first time hearing this, my apologies. We called as many as we could, but then that burden just became too big, with everything else on our plates at the moment.

My worst nightmare has come true. Mark and I have spent the weekend trying to assimilate the news, crying in each other's arms, sobbing, talking about things we probably should have before but never hoped to at this point in our lives, and doing this some more with our daughters and their husbands. Then it was time to call each of my siblings and give them the news.
 

Yes, the dreaded cancer has returned.


And just a couple of months and five years past my first breast cancer diagnosis. You'll see from my previous post that I had scheduled a mastectomy for March 14th, but that was for a benign fatty necrosis that just won't go away and is a huge pain in my... well... BOOB!

But this past Friday, February 26th, had this nagging pain in my lower back that got stronger as the morning went on, and concentrated in my lower right back area. I had thought it was nothing at first, and figured it would go away or resolve itself. But by mid-afternoon, I realized it needed attention. My PCP could not see me that late on a Friday, so I called around to local Urgent Care facilities suspecting I had a kidney stone, and learned that they could do X-rays, but not CT Scans, which apparently is what is needed to determine there is a kidney stone. So Mark and I decided the Emergency Department was best, and headed into Memorial Hospital, since it is just as close to us as Sonoma Valley, and they have more services available.

Seven hours later, after a blood draw, urinalysis, CT Scan, and consult with the ED Doc Grundy, we learned that there were NO kidney stones, but I did have a Urinary Tract Infection UTI. But then he went on asking me questions about a compressed T-12 (old injury, thrown from horse at age 16), and then, here it comes, and we both looked at each other, and I said, "You're scaring me here, Doc". Spots on my liver consistent with metastasized Breast Cancer. Can I say FUCK, here? Yes I can... FUCK!!! (my apologies to anyone I may have offended)

During this hospital stay, I was in a lot of pain, so they put me on Dilaudid and an anti-inflammatory. Let me just interject, that Dilaudid is a dream in easing pain instantly. Dr. Grundy wanted me to get admitted and have a PET Scan in the morning. I did not. I had a memorial to attend for my dear friend and cousin, Denise Emery, in the morning. And I figured this could wait until Monday when I could see my oncologist, or surgeon, or someone about this, which it did. Mark and I were in contact with our daughters, Alura and Sarah, during this whole ordeal. And they were the best and so supportive. We had all planned to have dinner this same night and the Barsun family were to stay over so we could attend the memorial, but that was not to be. Instead, Mark and I came home, hugged a lot, and cried, and cried. Then we got up in the morning and readied ourselves. 

We had planned to keep this all between Me, Mark and the girls until we had a definitive answer as to what was going on and could share accurate information. That was hard to do. I ended up telling my sisters and brothers over Sunday and Monday. Of course they were sad, angry, and in shock. Who wouldn't be?

I met with Dr. Amy Shaw on Monday. She knew I was anxious and afraid and offered to have me come in to consult with her, even though things were still up in the air. She helped to ease my mind and better understand the scan from the Emergency Department on Friday. I had been seeing Dr. Shaw and we had scheduled the mastectomy for March 14th, due to a large benign lump, called a fatty necrosis, that had formed at my surgery site from the lumpectomy. (click the "mastectomy" link for more info). But that surgery may be on hold for the moment with this new finding. Time will tell. But Mark and I did learn that this is more than likely cancer in my liver. 

The PET Scan took place Tuesday afternoon. The next morning I got the call from Dr. Shaw to confirm this is cancer with several lesions on my liver and inflamed lymph nodes in the area. The good news is that my lungs and bones are free of cancer. Because there are several lesions, surgery is out of the question. If there was only one, they would remove it; but that is not an option now. 

We have just set up two biopsies; a liver biopsy early Friday morning at Memorial Hospital, and then a breast biopsy a couple of hours later with Dr. Elboim. By taking the sample from the liver, they can target my treatment more precisely and such. I'll be seeing Dr. Anderson again, the same oncologist I saw before. The biopsy is a strait forward procedure, numbing of the area, then a needle through healthy tissue into one of the tumors in the liver, that will be pinpointed with ultrasound during the biopsy. Dr. Anderson is already on standby to get me into his schedule once these tests are done and we have those results. So everyone is moving very quickly on this for me. That is one thing to be excited about.

So I am now Stage IV breast cancer. Sounds horrible, I know, but this Breast Cancer in the liver is treatable, and people can live several years under treatment. Treatable but not curable. Those days are gone! 

Treatment can be on and off as needed, depending on my cancer, and how stable it gets between series of treatments. And there should be a chemo they can use that won't damage my heart. So I'm feeling a little better than I was over the weekend. Mark and I will learn much more in the next couple of days. We just need to try to stay calm for now. 


 
This is a photo of our cancer girls lunch in January at Garden Court Cafe with Denise. Most of us have cancer, or have had recently, or have lost a spouse from cancer. We live in Glen Ellen and Sonoma and have connections from the past. It's so sad to think Denise is no longer with us, but I know she is at peace and out of pain. Her service and the reception following were lovely and very befitting of her. We all give each other continued support. Some of this group are dealing with just as bad as what I am up against, metastasized cancer (Mets), while doing it with grace and dignity, and a bit of laughter. They are my role models as we navigate this road, my worst nightmare, and something I do not wish on anyone.
 
Dr. Shaw, and my dear friend Kate, both tell me that there are some great clinical trials out there and that I may end up going elsewhere for one of these options to get the best treatment available for whatever ails me. We shall see.  But the biopsy will provide information as to the exact type of cells we need to ERRADICATE! -- Note the all caps. :-)

I know I make this sound pretty dire, and it feels that way now. But I also know there is lots of hope and I must make some lemon aide out of these lemons I've been dealt. I also know that I have loads of wonderful family and friends out there to support Mark and I and our sweet daughters during this latest challenge.


Healing laughter with my sisters tonight!
 
Stay tuned...


Life is Good... SOMETIMES

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, no longer a SURVIVOR, 
AND a Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
LIVESTRONG

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting! Comments are good. I look forward to your comments.

10 comments:

  1. Deep breath! I know this is the worst news you might have expected. But you are still here and probably have options. If it was me, I would get a second opinion on surgery options. You sound like you like your oncologist but another opinion could help. I would research the crap out of this as well.

    And remember that there have been a lot of advances in cancer research in recent years and more changes are coming. I know women who are stage IV who have lived 17 years and longer since diagnosis. Finally, find some emotional support to help you. Look online (I know there is a group on Twitter which is pretty active) and off line.

    So hugs to you. Hang in there.

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    1. Thanks Caroline. Taking it one step at a time. Now, after the biopsies, it is nap time.

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    2. When all else fails, take a nap! Absolutely - our bodies need sleep to heal and keep our stresses under control.

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  2. Love you Debbie. I am still in shock and so sad about this. I hope to be in Sonoma again in a coupe of weeks. Let's try another dinner date in Sonoma. Sure wish all the Bobos could be there... One day soon we will do our retreat I hope. You are strong and we are here for you. Unfortunately we know all too well the drill and we will fight together, tooth and nail! Love you, Mark, and the girls!

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  3. Debbie, I'm vowing to work even harder so you and so many other MBC patients can EXPECT to be cured. It is not too much to ask--we must crush MBC.
    peace, love and calm
    Terri

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  4. God can turn this around. I'll be in prayer for you daily.

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  5. Thanks everyone. Loving all the support. Keep it coming.

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  6. Love you guys!!! Sending as many positive vibes as I can (little Nathaniel is too!). Many hugs and I'll let you know if we make it out to CA- long overdue to see my old stomping grounds : )
    Marni, Nathaniel, and Paul

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    1. Thanks so much. We are in the waiting game mode. Hope to get prelim biopsy reports today with something hopeful. Hard not to be down, but this too shall pass once reality really sinks in. Take good care of that sweet little boy.

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  7. Debbie, I just read your post and am shocked!! Nancy did tell me about the cancer returning and the doctors prognosis. I hope they are wrong and that you will beat this and get rid of that nasty cancer!!!! Keep strong and have lots of faith. Hope to visit in the very near future so keep fighting. Lots of love and prayers from Canada. xo

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Debbie