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.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

More on the Biopsies

Friday, March 4th, was a long day. I had two biopsies; a CT Scan guided liver biopsy at Memorial Hospital, and a breast biopsy at Dr. Elboim's office. In general, all went as expected. And we had time for a lovely breakfast in between at Parkside Cafe ~ Mark, Alura and I.

But, man, they were not a piece of cake. Immediately after the liver biopsy, I started to get this right shoulder pain. At first I thought it was from keeping my arm raised over my head during the scan and biopsy. So when I got to the recovery room and told them I had this pain, they gave me something for it, and explained how it was referred pain, a term I had never heard. The link does a good job of describing it. But essentially, in laywoman terms, the brain gets confused and sends a signal to the wrong area. Liver pain is often referred to the right shoulder. I knew if this pain had been from keeping my arm raised over my head a bit too long, as my shoulders can be sensitive, it would resolve as soon as I returned to a normal position. Well, this did not. It lasted most of the day, and Tylenol helped when I got home, but it never disappeared. The liver and ribs continued to be sore for some time too, as the Dr. used a needle to go between two ribs to get the biopsy. And by the time I laid down in bed last night, the shoulder was very uncomfortable and my liver would spasm every minute or so -- NOT FUN! It finally subsided and I slept well.

Now it is 3:00 am and the breast biopsy sight is very sore and uncomfortable. Another tylenol in, and it is the wait for relief. The breast biopsy was performed with a a bit of local pain relief with a needle, as was the liver biopsy. The breast samples were taken through a small incision and then this gun like tool that was pushed into the incision and moved into about 7 different areas to get 7 different samples. Then there is a pop and slight tug, and the tool grabs a piece of tissue instantly. There was no pain during the procedures, as they numbed me up real well. Alura was there with us during the breast biopsy and we were all chatting away. 

It is now Saturday evening, and the liver is feeling better now and the shoulder is back to normal. Thank you, brain!

Let me back up a bit to say, the liver biopsy results should be available Monday, as well as the breast biopsy. Then Dr. Shaw will also present everything to a tumor board on Tuesday and about 30 specialists, doctors, oncologist, radiologists, etc., will review 3 or so tumor cases to discuss. Were excited to get to this point in time and then meet with my oncologist, Dr. Ian Anderson, and see what the recommendations are. We've been told about so many different things that might need to take place for treatment, but all will depend on the types of cancer cells found in the liver. And so far the breast looks as though there is no cancer there, but remember that huge ugly fatty necrosis I've blogged about, and the upcoming mastectomy. Well the plan was to biopsy the breast well before the liver issues surfaced, just to be safe. Since the type of mastectomy surgery would change somewhat if there was cancer and Dr. Elboim needed to be sure before surgery. So if there is cancer in the breast, is it the same cancer as in the liver? So many factors for them to consider!

We had a very thorough discussion with Dr. Elboim, and then later with Dr. Shaw when she popped her head in before we left that day. Alura started out by asking, "How did we get here?" Meaning, I've done everything they asked of me, all the followups, all the mammograms, taking the daily Letrozole to prevent recurrence since my breast cancer (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma) was estrogen receptive. The Letrozole strips nearly all estrogen from my system to prevent something for the cancer to feed on and recurrence. Dr. Elboim is as baffled as us. He told us about the breast cancer treatment standards not requiring followup pet scans or labs for cancer markers, something I asked about shortly after finishing my treatment and getting the same story from my oncologist. He said it was very strange for someone so healthy as me to have so many lesions on my liver. He seemed as sad and worried as we did. I asked if I should be working and my bucket list, and he said "yes". He said, and I guote, "Mets to the liver are bad".

But then Dr. Shaw followed up telling us about the tumor board meeting, and of some patients in similar situations who have gone years on treatment, one with no evidence of cancer for several years. But once Stage IV, always Stage IV.

So for now, I'm feeling kinda cruddy with a tummy ache and an angry boob. BUT, we are welcoming all the love and support from family and friends. We are taking it one day at a time and trying not to focus too much on cancer. We are enjoying this lovely and much needed rain. And we are spending time with family and friends, those we love who lift us up and make us smile and laugh. 

On that note, I will share a couple of pictures from today. Grandkids with their parents, as we were not together today.

Me & my sweetie, lunch in Suisun today
 Fun rain puddle pics of the grandkids with their parents today:

Stay tuned...

Life is Good... SOMETIMES

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

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

1 comment:

  1. Debbie - I've followed your blog ever since my diagnosis in 2011. I don't blog much anymore but do check in on your blog and couple others from time to time. I am shocked to read your latest updates. I know you have a wonderfully supportive family, skilled medical team and lots of friends who are keeping you in their thoughts and prayers - myself included. I know you are strong and one helluva fighter. I'm in your corner with you! Hugs - Jen


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