This morning, Mark's mom picked up Natalie and Larissa for Vacation Bible School. Mark and I went to the hospital to feed and hold Olivia. Since my surgery, Mark has been doing most of the driving, but today I drove our Jeep. Mark sat in the passenger seat, pretending to hold on for dear life. He compared me to an addict who needed a fix. I had to laugh with him. I realize he will never experience what it is to be a mother. I miss Olivia so much. I ache to hold her. When she is in my arms, all is right with the world. Today, Olivia's weight is up to 4lbs 3oz. She was puttsy with her feeding. I touch her hands, her feet, her face. I can barely take my eyes off of her. We tuck her in to sleep. Olivia fix- check.
This afternoon, we met my mom at Dr. Laudi's office. I had labs drawn down the hall. As we waited in the waiting room, Dr. Laudi saw us and waved.
"Do you have the baby?" He asked, smiling.
"No, she is still in the hospital, but doing well." I said.
"Yeah," Mark added, "Her first word was 'arividerci.'" (Mark has a standing joke with Dr. Laudi- questioning how I could have possibly become pregnant with my ovaries shut down from Lupron. "Geez, guess you just have to walk into a room," Mark told him. Dr. Laudi is Italian and- thankfully- has a sense of humor).
Our nurse called us back into an exam room. She did my vitals, weight and went through my current meds. When Mark commented, "The only med she needs is named Olivia," she reminded us that she had been an OB nurse for many years. She agreed that moms NEED to be with their babies. She looked at each of us and repeated, "This is a NEED." She acknowledged the hormone fluctuations that occur during postpartum and after a hysterectomy. Since I have had no pain, I also realized I haven't been changing my Fentanyl patches on time and may have had some narcotic withdrawl on top of everything else.
Dr. Laudi loaded my current PET scan into his computer. Active areas light up, bright yellow. Some areas of the body always light up- brain, kidneys, heart, lungs- and this is not cancer activity. My PET scan from last Wednesday shows NO active areas. The masses in my left breast and the one under my left arm are GONE. The masses in every bone- ribs, pelvis, spine, etc.- are GONE and the bone is rebuilding. He put my scans from January on a split screen, so we could compare. The contrast was amazing.
Dr. Laudi said, "Just about one year ago, you were diagnosed with breast cancer. Just to think about this year... You have been through a lot. Now, you have a new baby daughter, who was determined to be here- determined her mother would be here with her. So much has happened. So many blessings. You are in remission."
Remission. The word is intoxicating.
Stage IV Breast Cancer is treated like any other chronic condition. There are meds and tests and doctor visits, but it doesn't have to occupy every thought, every waking moment. My cancer responded to treatment. Even though I have no active areas on the scan, it is possible that there is still a cancer cell wandering around somewhere inside me. Because of this, Dr. Laudi wants me to go back on Tamoxifen- which was clearly working, before I got pregnant.
Here is the plan:
-Tamoxifen, taken every day indefinitely (Even though my ovaries were removed, I still have other sources of estrogen in my body. Tamoxifen binds to cancer cells, blocking estrogen- their food source).
-Zometa every 3 months (to help my bones rebuild)
-Fentanyl patch- reduce dose and wean off. Then, use Vicodin prn.
-Appt with Dr. Laudi in 6 weeks
-PET scan in 1 year
-Olivia Joy 24/7
-Hugs and Kisses to Mark, Nan, Pickle and Amore
-Heartfelt Thanks (and joyful tears) to all of you- I cannot do it
-Live, Love, Laugh... grateful for each moment...