Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween and PET/CT scan results

Halloween Day.

Costumes planned.  Party planned.  And a ghostly monster, named Cancer, decides to rear its ugly head... again.

At my appointment this morning, Dr. Laudi said the MRI confirmed that my L4 tumor was bigger and I had 3 small, new tumors in my liver with the largest measuring 7mm and so close to a blood vessel that biopsy is not possible.  We discussed my treatment options.  Without a biopsy, we don't know how the cancer cells may have mutated.  Though my original cancer cells were Estrogen+  Progesterone+  Herceptin-, over time and after exposure to all the drugs and chemos I have had, these can change.  I still have a page-long list of chemo options, some of which can be caustic to skin and tissue if they infiltrate a peripheral IV, so we had long discussion of what to do next.  I feel resistant to getting a central line, like a portacath which is surgically implanted under the skin and threaded into a large blood vessel.  When it needs to be used, it is accessed with a needle and covered with a sterile dressing.  Blood can be drawn from it and fluids and chemo can be infused into it.   In the hospital, we see many kids coming in with these central lines infected.  My mom cautioned me that this is a skewed picture and encouraged me to check into the infection rates.  She said she respected my decision.

For now, I don't want a port.  Plan to start a new chemo on November 18.

I dropped off pictures at the Funeral Home for my Grandma's service next Tuesday.  I picked up last minute costume items and pizza for the party. 

We had a fun night together...

Halloween 2013
Spooky Decorations

Getting ready for Trick-or-Treaters.
Olivia loving a new baby.
Ashley and Amore.
Cancer is frightening, but so are we!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

PET/ CT scans and Stress Test

I woke up early this morning and went for my PET scan and a CT scan.  I had a couple hours until my stress test, so I stopped at my parent's house.  My sister, Ashley, had just flown in the night before for our Grandma Joyce's Funeral.  Ashley and her fiance, John, are expecting their first baby in March.  I was excited to see my sister and her growing baby! 

I was having shortness of breath this summer occasionally when I did yard work and Mark mentioned that to Dr. Laudi at my last visit, so he ordered a stress test. 

He asked, "Do you run?" 

I said, "Not unless I have to."

I had dug out my "running shoes."  I showed Ashley and our Mom what I think was old chicken poop- from our visit to Ashley's farm sanctuary in May- still stuck in the tread and grooves on the bottom of my shoes.  We giggled at the thought of me running for 10 minutes on a treadmill.  They offered to come along, so I could pretend to chase them.

Little did I know I would have to run for closer to 15 minutes... without a bra! 

Dr. Laudi called this evening to say the L4 tumor appeared brighter than it did on my last scan just 8 weeks ago.  There were also 3 small spots that weren't on the previous scan.  Was this cancer?  Maybe artifacts?  Dr. Laudi ordered labs to draw tumor markers and an MRI to check.  I had these done this evening.  Now, to wait. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

We will miss you, Grandma Joyce...

This past week has been very hard for our family.  Last Spring, my Grandma Joyce, my Dad's mother, had a hernia repair and her gallbladder out.  Then, she had a stroke and has been ill ever since. 
On Friday, October 25th, with all her family gathered around her, we said goodbye to my beautiful Grandma Joyce. I have so many wonderful memories of her.   She will be greatly missed. Please say a prayer for her twin sister, Joann.

Aunt Joann, Olivia, Sarah Joy, Grandma Joyce, Natalie and Larissa at Joyce's and Joann's 83rd Birthday on November 25, 2012!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stinky Pinky

October is here. As everyone jumps on the Pink bandwagon, I just need to get something off my killer-boob chest...

Cancer is not a "normal" thing. While some types of cancer are more common in certain genders or at certain ages, cancer is still not a "normal" condition.  Breast cancer is not "normal."

I have Stage 4 Breast Cancer. I was diagnosed when I was 28 years old.  At that time, I was a wife and the mother of two young daughters. I am so fortunate to have my husband, my mom and my sister by my side, so fortunate to have wonderful friends and family.  To learn at 28 that breast cancer will most likely be my cause of death feels surreal and sad.  Sometimes, it feels so hopeless.

I cannot help but feel, by PINKing everything, we are being fed a message that cancer is normal.  Cancer is common. Cancer is OK.   I have learned NO PINK MONEY goes to Stage 4 Breast Cancer.  It seems, I am not worth trying to save.  Remember, there is no Stage 5.
I am here to tell you cancer is NOT normal.  Cancer turns lives upside down. When cancer strikes a young adult, that person is just starting to build a life.  There is little money in savings accounts or retirement accounts, little money in home equity. 

When cancer knocked me to my knees, I was about to go back to college full time and my husband had started a business just a year and a half before. We both worked and we had money to pay our bills.  We had two young daughters.  We had our own home and a new puppy. The first year with cancer was very hard.  We felt like we gave up a lot in terms of our future dreams.  We were forced to live in the moment, which is all any of us ever really have.  Yes, cancer is a brutally hard teacher.  Yet, in my darkest days there was a twinkle of light.  Even when I couldn't see it- it was there.  I cannot think of cancer today without feeling grateful, too.  Cancer has blessed me in many, many ways.  Cancer blessed me with OLIVIA JOY and she blesses me over and over and over again.

When I think of PINK, I think of sweet newborn babies wrapped in soft, pink, fluffy blankets.  I think of a popular singer- Pink. I think of a Victoria's Secret clothing line- Pink.  I think of pink bubble gum and pink cotton candy and glittery, pink nail polish and pink lipstick kisses... but I don't think of cancer.

I see all the PINK things out there and I can't help but feel cynical.  From my heart, I want to save ALL women from breast cancer!  All women with no exceptions.  At Stage 4, I am banished to a place outside the PINK-hoopla-party-zone.  From outside looking in, I wonder... What is the message?  All the pink- ribbon-wearing people, all these pink products and walks and social events may generate a lot of money.  Money to pay scientists and drug companies, but what about those of us in the trenches... holding on by a thread. What does it mean to support the "awareness" of something?  It means nothing, unless that awareness moves a person to act on it. 

I have Stage 4 Breast Cancer.  All the PINK in the world is not for me, not for the people fighting the fight of their lives, not for the people not expected to survive breast cancer. 

There is some serious stinky in the pinky!  So there!
Stinky Pinky
Stinky Pinky Breath

Stinky Pinky Gas Station Restroom

Stinky Pinky Walking Path
 Stinky Pinky Pens
Stinky Pinky Jumbo Lint Roller