2007 Breast Cancer 3 Day

Monday, March 29, 2010

What We Learned Today

Today I met with my oncologist to learn more about the cancer that has invaded my body. Unfortunately not all of the pathology reports were in to him yet. This is what we do know. On Thursday I will go in for an infusion of Zometa through the port in my chest. This drug is not chemotherapy. It is basically used to strengthen my bones. Since we know there is cancer in my spine, I need to keep it as strong as possible to prevent fractures in the future. I will receive this treatment once a month.

We also learned that I will be treated with a pill form of chemotherapy. This drug is called Xeloda. It comes with the standard side effects of chemotherapy although most patients don't lose their hair. It comes with diarrhea, mouth sores, nausea and vomiting, nerve pain, and sometimes blisters on your hands and feet. Sounds pleasant, huh? I will take this medication twice a day for 14 days and then have 7 days off of it before we begin the cycle again.

The last thing we learned was that we have to wait on the pathology to determine the last drug choice for treatment. If the cancer has the same pathology as my original cancer then I will be treated with a drug called Avastin. This will be given through my port twice a month. It is not chemotherapy either. It is a monoclonal antibody. The short version is that it cuts off the blood supply to the tumors therefore hopefully killing them.

If the pathology is different, then other drug combinations will be considered. We will know these results Thursday when I go in for my first infusion of Zometa.

So it comes down to this: my liver is very sick. We will be focusing on making it better. The perk is that the other cancer in my spine and lymph nodes will hopefully be destroyed along the way.

There is no magic combination out there that will CURE me. The key now is to shrink/kill the cancer that I have and thus prevent it from spreading further. I will be on some form of treatment indefinitely. There should be times that I will be able to "take a break" from treatment if we seem to have it well under control, but that is quite a time from now.

And so it begins...

Tests and More Tests

This last week has been a bit foggy for me. I thought now that I am coherent, I should document everything that I know happened (whether I remember it or not).

As mentioned before, I had a CTscan which revealed that the cancer had indeed metastasized. I also had chest x-rays. I have since had an MRI of my spine and my brain. We will find out those results today.

On Wednesday of last week, I went in for day surgery to remove the lymph node in my neck that was enlarged. They will use it for the pathology of this cancer. The surgeon also placed a port-a-cath back in my chest for chemo. The anesthesia for this was brutal. I came home the same day, but haven't had a clear head until yesterday (Sunday) and surgery was Wednesday! I know that I talked with many of you on the phone, but I don't remember it. Sorry. It was a strange reaction to anesthesia, but we've come to the conclusion that my liver must have had a difficult time metabolizing the medication since it is already compromised.

Today we will go see my oncologist and hear all of the results of these tests with more detail. We will learn the pathology of this cancer and we will discuss his plan of action to get this cancer under control.

As an afterthought, I will be having a complete bone scan on Wednesday. This information will be important as well, but compared to my liver, the lesions on my bones aren't as urgent. So that is where we stand. I will post again later when we return from the doctor's office.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You Wanna Piece of Me?

I just don’t understand. I did everything that they told me to do. Yet here I sit just 4 days from hearing the word CANCER again. Back pain and the pain/bloating in my liver didn’t give it away. It was tiny little lymph node that just wouldn’t give up. “Here I am. Notice me.” That little lymph node caused me to call my oncologist. The ever increasing back pain made me worry.

Now I know that cancer has made itself right at home once again within my body. This time though it won’t easily be defeated. My spine has numerous lesions, many lymph nodes in my neck and chest are cancerous, but most troubling is my liver. After a CT scan on Friday, we now know that I have EXTENSIVE lesions within my liver. The surgeon explained to me yesterday that there are 8 lobes to your liver and I have cancer in every lobe. Hey, when I do something—I do it BIG!

The many swirling thoughts have begun? How long do I have? What will Ed do without me? The list goes on and on. I am going in for an MRI today to get a better idea of what is on my spine and also to look at my brain. We do not know if the cancer has set up shop there yet. From a symptom standpoint I feel ok about my brain, but cancer in sneaky. It is a tool of Satan. It comes to steal, kill and destroy. My only saving grace and I do mean SAVING GRACE is that I have God on my side. This doesn’t mean that He will heal me (at least not on this earth). It means that He will be with me as I fight this fight. I’m not mad. Not yet. Right now I am just filled with great sadness knowing that my life will be cut short here on Earth and that Emma will have to go through life without me. Even typing those words makes me nauseous. I can’t wrap my brain around that yet. Quite frankly I don’t want to.

So today I will go see if there are any other landmines in my body that I will have to make an attack plan for. Tomorrow they will remove my enlarged lymph node and use it for pathology. We need to know exactly what the enemy looks like in order to beat it. I will also have a port put back in my chest for the chemo that is in my future. Next week when all the reports are in, I will meet with my oncologist to hear my prognosis and learn of the battle plan. I intend to fight. While the prospect of heaven is wonderful, I’m just not ready to go walk the streets of gold yet. I don’t know what the Lord has in store for me, but I know He uses ALL THINGS for the good of those who love Him. There is a purpose in all of this. Good WILL come out of it. While it is hard to see through the darkness right now….LIGHT always defeats darkness. He is my Light, my Saviour, and my Lord.

Let the battle begin.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

You've GOT to be kidding me!

I have happily been able to ignore this blog for many years now. I have given the occasional update about hair growth or medicine changes, but all in all my cancer journey has been uneventful these last 4.5 years.

Everything has changed.

Six weeks ago I felt a swollen lymph node in the lower part of my neck. After 3 weeks it was still there so I made and appointment to see my oncologist. While waiting for my appointment I have progressively begun feeling worse. I am having severe back pain that medicine doesn't help, extreme fatigue and pain/bloating under my right rib (in my liver).

I went in for a CT scan yesterday and they confirmed the worst case scenario for a breast cancer patient. It's metastasized. I have several lesions on my spine, several lymph nodes with cancer in them and the worst is numerous lesions on my liver. At the moment my prognosis is unknown.

I will go in to see a surgeon on Monday. On Wednesday she will remove the main lymph node in my neck and they will use it for the pathology of this cancer. She will also place a port-a-cath back in my chest to make chemo administration easier.

Tuesday I am scheduled for an MRI to look further at my spine and also at my brain. After all of the pathology comes back I will go see my oncologist (probably a week from Monday) and we will formulate our plan of attack and probably hear my prognosis. I am sure we will move quickly as it appears this is an aggressive cancer. I just had bloodwork in December and it all came back normal.

So the big question from everyone is: What can we do? Right now we just need prayers. Until we know how I will be treated and what that will look like we are just in a holding pattern--life as usual.

I will begin updating this blog to keep everyone informed just like the first time around. Please feel free to call, but don't be hurt if I don't get right back to you. I already feel worse than I did the first time around and I haven't even started treatment yet. Your support means so much, but it can be exhausting trying to talk to everyone each day.

It's going to be a long fight. I know the Lord has a plan in all of this. While I don't understand it right now, hopefully someday it will all be revealed to me. We will try to carry on living life one day at a time and enjoying every moment.

Thanks for your love and support.