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.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chemo #10 in the Books

I'm up to chemo infusion number 10. Hard to believe I am here already!

I'm always a little reluctant to report too soon about how I am doing right after chemo. The moment I say I am feeling great, then some side effect kicks in and I'm feeling pretty crappy, or at least not "great". so this is more about the happenings of the day.

I saw Nurse Practitioner Mortensen again today and our appointment went well. The FoundationOne test results are in and I am hopeful. I learned that...
FoundationOne is 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.
So basically it tests the pathology of the tumor, or in my case, the cancer cells in my blood, since the tumor tissue was not useable for this test for some reason. Unlike the breast cancer genetic consult I had on Monday, where they will be testing a group of my genes to see if there are any mutations known to cause breast cancer. The possibility there, if a mutation/variant is found, will be that it will provide information for my daughters for screening and such, and for my sisters as well. And there may also be some treatment considerations for me as well. We will know more about that in a month.

For now, the exciting news (I think) is that there were three variants (genomic alterations) found in my tumor type. Two have no FDA approved targeted therapies at this time, but one does!!! So there are some clinical trials for the KRAS Genomic Alteration (see below). And although they are all out of state, my understanding is that we can still do the same thing here at my clinic. I will be meeting with my oncologist next week to discuss in further detail and make a plan of attack. My guess is that they will want to continue with a few more chemo treatments of Abraxane and Carboplatin, to give this cocktail the time it needs to do its job in kicking the cancer cells butt, and then we go from there. Again, one day at a time...

FoundationOne Tumor Test Results

Did I tell you I am shrinking. Heavenly Father above, how can that be? On Monday at the genetic counseling appointment, they weighed me and checked my height. Mind you, I've always been 5'4". But then my mother and I would quibble over that fact as she claimed she was 5'4" and I was most definitely not quite as tall as her. Really, Mother??? I've recently resorted to being 5'3.5" over the last year or so as it keeps coming up there. But yesterday, SADLY, she said I was 5'2.5" NOOOOOOOOO. Well I guess it is a good distraction. And the report rounded up to 5'3". It's all so trivial, isn't it. I guess if I can be bald in a month, I can be a bit shorter too.

I digress.... I am a bit anemic for sure. My hemoglobin was 7.0 a few weeks back right before the blood transfusion, then 9.2 right after the new blood was infused. So today it is 8.9. They predict I will need another blood transfusion in a week or two. I asked about a shot or something else that might be available. There is something available, but in clinical trials it was known to cause blood clots and showed some cancer progression. So I will stick with transfusions.

We also talked about me needing IV diuretics with infusions and transfusions, per my cardiologist, due to my Congestive Heart Failure. I presented the NP with my prescription from said cardiologist and so they added in 10 mg lasix today based on the amount of fluids in my total infusion. So all good there.

Did I tell you that Sarah ventured out to get us something new for lunch. There is a Vietnamese Noodle place very nearby, and when I asked my Oncology Nurse, Tami, about it, she loves the place. So we tried some yummy stuff,  Bahn Mi sandwich, shrimp with noodles, and a fresh veggy wrap. Very good.

My reading for this excursion. I did not open Ply yet, iPad was barely cracked, but I studied the FoundationOne report and texted details to family members wanting to know, and browsed the MBC booklet. All in good time.

Although I am very hopeful. If a genetic mutation for breast cancer is found in my genome from the Invitae lab tests, then it will be recommended that our daughters get tested, as well as my sisters. And perhaps we'll be able to target my treatment more directly with any new knowledge we gain. But data shows that many of these genetic tests are inconclusive, meaning that either no variant is found, or one may be found that there is insufficient data on yet to be of any help. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We should have results within a month. I was impressed with their brochure and invite anyone interested to browse it here. Please scroll down to near the bottom of the page under the "Learn More" and then click on the link to download "Patient Guide: Understanding Genetic Testing for Hereditary Breast Cancer". I promise you won't be disappointed.

Lastly, as I know I am rambling, but so much is transpiring these days it is hard to keep abreast of it all. And if I don't share now, then I get on down the road and it isn't relevant, or some other thing crops to the top of the important to share list. So I just received my saliva swab test kit for the MBC Project, Metastatic Breast Cancer Project. You may recall I mentioned connecting with them and allowing them to have access to my tumor tissue. This now will give them what they need to compare the normal DNA that they can get from the cells in my saliva to the DNA in my stored tumor samples. This will allow them to better understand unique DNA changes that happen in metastatic breast cancer. Isn't this cool? I sure think so, and will do everything I can to help further research and hopefully get to a cure of breast cancer, and hopefully all cancers one day. It is my way of doing my little part with this data they can use.

My tumor and medical records could unlock discoveries! Won't you participate too?

That's it for now. We shall see how the next few days go into the weekend.  Happy Hump Day, everyone.

REALLY... 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!!!


THANKS for visiting! I look forward to your comments.

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