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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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Chemo 5 Complete - Check

Yesterday (Wednesday) I completed my fifth chemo infusion; which is the first of the two infusions for Cycle 3.

I say that with a smile as I've had 15 days since the last infusion. That is over twice as long as normal. And this is because the 3rd week of each Cycle is a Bye (a week off with no treatment), and because I moved from Monday to Wednesday, which gave me the 2 extra days. (A normal time span is 1 week).

These 9 extra days were like Heaven. Oops, that is not my meaning... don't want to go "there" yet. Someday -- yes. Just not quite yet!  Let's just say I had several days of feeling pretty darn good; almost normal, just not quite. But normal enough to have a little fun, drive myself around a bit, get a wonderful oncology massage, get together with family and friends -- did I tell you I walked 2.5 miles on Monday, after breakfast out with sisters, and then I hung with my friend and walking buddy, Beverly, and we watched Episode 4 of Outlander? -- and etc. It was so wonderful. I even completed two of my quilt blocks for the Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt Along I'm trying to keep up with as best I can.

And let me back track slightly because during that break from chemo infusions, I also saw my cardiologist, and had a CT Scan with contrast of the chest, abdomen & pelvis.

My Cardiologist said everything looked good, but to keep vigilant as things could change in a heart beat, literally. He warned us he was watching the transmitted reports from ICD carefully, and that if we heard from him to report to the ER, or call 911, don't hesitate. 

Wednesday's appointment at the Round Barn Cancer Facility was with my Oncologist, It was a long day -- Sarah picked me up at 9:30, appointment at 10:30 for the port draw, followed with office visit with Oncologist Ian Anderson, then chemo infusion. The Port draw was very slow this time. It was not Jill the nurse's fault, but it was me and my blood; we were very sluggish this morning. So much so that after the Office Visit I had to return for more blood to be drawn.

During the office visit, we asked some questions and Sarah took great notes. We also got the report on the CT Scan results. They were positive for continuing with our current regime. NOTE: I didn't stop at the word "positive". That's because there doesn't appear to be much change, but there is ever so slight improvement in the liver. The GREAT news is there doesn't appear to be any decline, but for the two lymph nodes slightly enlarged in the last report, now seemly slightly larger, which seemed somewhat baffling, although I'll explain the confusion here. But the important part of this whole process was to get improvement from the liver, so the shrinkage of the largest of the liver lesions at 3.8 cm liver lesion, down to 2.6 cm, seems like improvement to me.


But for now the important thing to watch, and hope for improvement, is in my liver. But the comparison between the three scans this year, which were all different types of scans, was not the most accurate. You see, the last scan was a Pet Scan, and before that in February when we thought I might have a kidney stone I had a CT Scan without contrast. So this latest CT Scan with contrast was not the exact same thing, it wasn't like comparing apples to apples. Options were discussed after learning that it often takes 3-4 cycles to get the full effect from a specific chemo drug. Option 1 was to stay the course for at least two more Chemo cycles; Option 2 to drop the gemzar and add a different drug to this cocktail (new drug causes hand and feet neuropathy, hair loss, and is taken weekly); Move over to an hormone therapy which is usually slower to get results. He suggested we stick with this plan for 2 more cycles, and I agreed. He also said he will continue to check with Dr. Melisko for any new immunotherapies for breast cancer.

Chemo 5 - Check!

Another CT Scan with contrast is scheduled for early June to see how we are doing after the next two cycles of chemo. Then the comparison should be more defined.

There was no real improvement in the breast. I did ask about the skin formation over the fatty necrosis and the cancer tumor in the breast. It is just so ugly to me; it is dark from radiation 5 years back, but darker now with this growth, it is bubbly and wart like, with the biggest one like the big marble you shoot with, and there is a bit of skin break down here and there. So I asked Dr. Anderson if he had ever seen anything like this before? He looked perplexed, and I said, "Like this growth on my breast, I call it warts". Sarah and I were shocked to learn that he saw a young women of 46 who had lost her insurance and had neglected her cancer for some time. She was finally back for treatment and the growth had covered her entire breast, poor thing. And he went on to say of another woman who had let it cross over to both breasts, and filling the chest  area in between the breasts. I have been documenting my changes since the Fall when this was not cancer, and just fatty necrosis, or so we thought, which I won't share here (I know you are thanking me right now), but I have. We do need to wait until after treatment, maybe the breast mass will shrink down to give the surgeon more skin to work with, and then we can fit a mastectomy in before the next "whatever" begins. That is the plan at the moment, anyway.

Dr. Anderson will followup with FoundationOne since he first contacted them over a month ago. This is the company that takes a "a fully informative genomic profile that helps physicians make treatment decisions for patients with cancer by identifying the molecular growth drivers of their cancers and helping oncologists match them with relevant targeted therapeutic options. Check out the very cool videos at the link." This is very exciting, in my mind.

He will also get me in to see their genetic counselor about genetic testing. When I was first diagnosed January 2011, the Oncotype DX and BRCA testing were not appropriate for me based on my type of cancer. Now the genetic testing can check for over 25 different gene panels for breast cancer.

Our experience, Sarah and me, with my chemo infusion went routinely. Nurse extraordinaire, Jill took great care of me. I've known Jill since she treated me in 2011 along with other staff there. I quickly became Jill's Facebook friend when I found her there, and she has come out to several Sonoma Relay's for Life to support me and our Valley. She is a pretty amazing woman attending fundraising runs and walks all throughout California and Louisiana.

We met a nice gentleman to my right who lived in Sonoma for a time. And a frail young'ish gentleman to my far right who gets two chemo infusions a week, and radiation every day. "There but for the grace of God, go I". Bless his soul.

THANK YOU for continuing to keep me
in your thoughts & prayers.




Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!
Life is Good... Most of the time.

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

BELIEVE

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

2 comments:

  1. Keeping you in my thoughts, Debbie. Go, girl, go!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow so humbling Debbie . . . especially when you talked about the other patients there. Praying for God's full recovery for you and amazed at the new diagnostic technology. I think they are getting closer to finding a cure . . . or at least I hope so!!!

    ReplyDelete

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Debbie