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, October 12, 2016

Cardiology Yesterday, Oncology Today

It's been three days of medical stuff. It all started on Monday, spending most of the day in San Francisco at the hospital with a loved one who was having surgery. It was a long day, getting home at midnight; but thankfully all went as expected and healing and recuperation seems to be slowly progressing as of today.

Tuesday morning I had my checkup with my cardiologist. All seems good on that front. the interrogation of my ICD (pacemaker/defibrillator implanted in my chest and heart) tracks all my heart functions and there was little to no record of issues with my heart, or declining health. That is always such good news. At my last visit, about six weeks ago, there were a few times of heart failure, so this is an improvement. 

One issue I learned about during my cardiology checkup is that I need to watch for a premature battery failure of my St. Jude ICD. Implanted defibrillators are powered by lithium-based batteries. Deposits of lithium, known as “lithium clusters,” can form within the battery and create abnormal electrical connections leading to rapid battery failure. St. Jude Medical has reported that in some cases, full battery drainage can occur within a day to a few weeks after the patient receives an ERI alert (a vibratory alert from the ICD). They tested my ICD in the office to show me what the alert would feel like. It is a vibration, that is almost audible. It isn't painful at all. I'm so glad they showed me what it would feel like. Apparently it alerts for a few seconds, then repeats continually until it is replaced. Unfortunately, it will require surgery to replace, but hopefully that will not be anytime soon.

As of a couple of days ago when this news was announced, of the 398,740 affected devices sold worldwide, 841 were returned for analysis due to premature battery depletion caused by lithium clusters.
  • 2 deaths (1 in the U.S.), have been associated with devices that could not provide needed shock therapy due to premature battery depletion.
  • 10 patients (9 in the U.S.), have reported fainting from devices that could not provide needed pacing therapy due to premature battery depletion.
  • 37 patients (30 in the U.S.), have reported dizziness from devices that could not provide needed pacing therapy due to premature battery depletion.

Since I do not have a high likelihood of requiring life-saving shocks and am not pacemaker dependent, at least at this time, both my cardiologist and I are not too concerned. Currently, my ICD battery is expected to last another 5+ years.

So I will return in another six weeks for another checkup. They are keeping a close eye on me because of all the chemotherapy drugs changing frequently, and just all of the side effects from the cancer treatment. And I am so thankful for that. 

Chemo #22, Abraxane Infusion #14,
Week 3 of Xeloda Chemo Pills

Mark came with me to chemo today. He rarely goes, as Sarah has been my chemo companion, so it is always hard on him to be there in that room. But he was a trooper and got some good time in on a new book. 

Dr. Anderson was thrilled with how breast looks and is feeling that the Xeloda pills are working well. He expects if is working well on the liver too. After this week currently on the Xeloda pills, and if no reaction on my "off" week, then he wants me to up the Xeloda to 3 tabs am and pm. 1,500 mg each, morning and night; which is an increase of 500 mg per day. After my infusion today, I called and scheduled my CT Scan for October 28th. I will make a follow up appointment with breast surgeon, Dr. Elboim for one week following the scan. 

Dr. Anderson is thinking that we may be able to stop the infusions soon, if the scan looks good, and give me a break from the weekly visits. This would be nice and would give us the opportunity to get away now and then. But it will all be determined by the results of the scan and at keeping the cancer in check or at bay.

It took a while for my labs to come back, but they checked my tumor markers this time and the CEA (Cardinoembryonic Antigen) is within normal range. It has always been for me, for some reason, so I am glad it is still good. My liver functions continue to be in the normal range. Thank goodness! My RBC (Red Blood Count) is just a bit low, so good for now. So I was able to have my infusion for today.

I went in to this appointment, as in most, feeling very chipper, as seen in this photo of Mark and I in the waiting room.

In the waiting room.
After infusion, where I surfed the web, read a bit, and tried to catch a nap, I was pretty tired. It was a hard day for me. Not only did we watch as another patient seated near us had a slight anaphylactic reaction to his infusion (they paused and then stopped it all together before it was too bad), the infusion room was VERY busy and the nurses were very active jumping from one beeping infusion pump to another. They are all so good at what they do, and keep a positive attitude and smiles on their faces. And then I learned of a young man in Sonoma who's cancer has returned. He is just a few years out of high school and dealt with the devastating disease during those high school years, and I thought he was doing well now. But No! this news brought tears of sadness to me, for him, his mom and grandma (who I worked with at Sonoma Valley Bank and are both cancer survivors themselves), and all his family and friends. It is making my blood boil now as I sit here typing about it. It is just so unfair. Thinking of you Mikey, Kelly and Molly; and your entire family.

So we left the cancer center around 4pm and headed over to Rosso Pizzeria for some well needed, and delicious, nourishment.
Heirloom tomato piadine & basil risotto with prawns - YUM!

I will close for today with this...

Do you have Metastatic Breast Cancer? Something as simple as spitting in a tube could help you, and many others like you. Join the MBC Project today to learn more. 

Peace and Love

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. So great to hear you are not declining. Thank you once again for the wonderful update :)


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