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.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Oncology Office Visit 8/17/16 & Chemo 8/24/16

Today (8/17/16) was just the port draw and office visit. Rescheduling appointments can be most difficult with my oncologist, and since I took today off to get a break from chemo side effects of last week, and help to make our upcoming get-away more enjoyable, I'm doing the port draw and office visit today, then the chemo infusion next Wednesday on August 24th.

These are the topics we covered. Again, Dr. Anderson takes all the time I need answering all my questions.

Dr. Anderson suggests I continue with a 2 weeks on for chemo and one week off, as long as I can tolerate it. If it becomes too hard for me, then I can switch to 1 week on and 1 week off. The plan is to continue Abraxane as long as it continues to reduce tumor size. The main concern, of course, is quality of life.

My question next time will be about the hair loss with the  Abraxane. I guess being bald for long term is manageable, as long as those tumors all shrink or disappear. I'm kind of getting used to the "no hair" look and less concerned to go without a head cover. I mean when this dialogue happened with my grandsons (aged 5 and 4.75 years), I'm all good with it:

(The following week while vacationing with our daughters and their families - I come out in the morning with big silver loop earrings on, no head covering)
Gaige - Those are pretty earrings Grammie. Are they new?
Grammie - No, I've had them awhile. But I think my earrings are more noticeable since I don't have any hair. Some people think I look younger without hair. What do you think?
Gaige and Nico nod their little heads in agreement that I look younger.
Nico - You look like a baby, Grammie
Grammie smiles with great joy and love for these two darling, sweet boys.
Ok, now back to the review from the office visit...

The Hormone Therapy option would be a combo Ibrance and Faslodex, both used for estrogen-receptive metastasized breast cancer. The problem with switching too soon to this, is results are usually slow and we don't want to lose ground. For now my liver is performing normally, but this could change. So this is still on the back burner, for if I am not tolerating the Abraxane well, or it is no longer effective.

Regarding other possible treatments for my liver, we would need to wait until there was one or few remaining tumors. But there are risks that can also do damage to the liver. So Dr. Anderson will continue to consult with UCSF on all of this.

I do need to watch the neuropathy. If I have difficulty buttoning clothes or with balance, I need to let Dr. Anderson know right away. Because if I let the neuropathy get too advanced, it may become permanent. I am finding that doing Abraxane chemo week after week is causing numbness to toes and finger tips and it doesn't seem to let up a few days before the next chemo, as it used to. So I will keep a close watch on this for sure.

My oncologist will order a new CT scan in about a month to see if the tumors are continuing to reduce. He will double check on the lung as well, which had a suspicious area thought to be some fluid or a mild infection. Of course this makes me a bit nervous. But I have enough to think about, so am not really focusing on this at all.

Dr. Anderson will also contact Dr. Elboim's office since he feels that the breast may have improved enough to consult with Elboim about mastectomy surgery. This was in the plans for March before cancer was diagnosed. And if not now, perhaps soon. At least we can begin to discuss options.

The bit of a break I was feeling between chemo infusions each week seems to be disappearing. I was already a day in to what should have been a new chemo, and I was still feeling a lot of tingling and numbness in my toes and fingers; and just a bit of that brain-fuzz I get, sort of a grogginess. So it was good I took this week off to get away with family to Serene Lakes. Then there is the left heal again. I lost a large piece of multi-layered skin off my heal, about 2 X 3". I noticed it after swimming Saturday and then it began to peel off. This is the same heal I had the pain and tenderness a few weeks back. But all this makes me wonder about going forward. I guess I'll just have to take it one week at a time. 

I've also had quite a bit of light headedness, very low blood pressure, and then a more elevated pulse. At my oncologists suggestion, I contacted my cardiologist. After a phone consult, he had me reduce all my heart meds and cut the dose in half to see if this helps. I see him in two weeks so he can interrogate my ICD at that time to see how my heart is doing. I also need to ask when he will request another Echo cardiogram, since I has been a full year since my last one at Stanford. Now it has been a full week on the reduced heart meds and I am seeing a change for the better. So hopefully I can continue on these new doses.

And now it is Wednesday, 8/24/16 and I just finished chemo for this week (Chemo #16 (Carboplatin) & Abraxane #8). I'm feeling well so far, even with reducing the Dexamethasone in half to 20 mg, which is the steroid. So all is good so far. And we get to have dinner out with some dear friends tonight at Yeti. So all is well.

In my next post, I'll give a bit of a review of our fun week at Serene Lakes with our daughters, their hubbies, and their adorable kids, my angelic grand children. What fun it was. Stay tuned...

And Relay for Life is this Saturday at Presentation School in Sonoma from 1pm Saturday until 10am Sunday. I plan to be there most of Saturday. Come on out and walk with me!

Thank you all for your continued support and well wishes.

Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!

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

THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Debbie. Just came across your blog via healthline. Am on a similar quest. Am currently on the Ibrance/Faslodex treatment you mentioned and thought I'd share my experience as you consider it. The first month my numbers came down significantly, but I had excrutiating bone pain likely from the bone marrow suppression aspect. We lowered the dosage by 25 mg, but my numbers crept up, so now I'm back to the higher dosage (just started it) and hoping to manage any pain if it occurs. Otherwise, I'd say its a great combo. I have a friend who was diagnosed stage iv with bone and liver mets who is on the letriozol/Ibrance combo (sp?) and her numbers are back to normal, tumors have shrunk dramatically. Good luck! You're in my prayers. Liz


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