Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Update and great news from Kim

I am always amazed at how much time flies by between my blog posts!

I have now had 3 doses of Avastin. The infusions have been every 3 weeks. Around day 3-4 I get a severe migraine headache accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Once it hits me, I am unable to keep any by-mouth anti-nausea or pain meds down, so my poor husband has to give me a Phenergan suppository, so I can then take something for the pain. My "stash" of pain pills (Vicodin) is what's left of my post-op prescriptions from over 4 years ago! I am prone to migraines, but usually only have 1-2 per year. With the Avastin, they have been predictable a few days after the infusion, and sometimes another time or two in between infusions. This has not been good. In bed for 1-2 days in pain or sick. Still, I am alive, and what's one day every few weeks, right?

I continue on Xeloda tablets, 4 in am, 4 in pm, one week on, one week off. My hands are not better, and perhaps a little worse. The tenderness is unbelievable. I am able to type and do anything requiring only light touch -- which is great, because if I couldn't type, I couldn't work at all. But anything that puts pressure on my fingers and palms, hurts. Things such as: opening milk, jars, containers, etc. in the kitchen; opening or packaging boxes at work; grocery shopping (yes, believe it or not, placing things in the cart and then taking them out, and then loading up the van with the bags, hurts and leaves my hands even more tender!); carrying a heavy tote bag using my hands on the handles; pulling up and zipping/buttoning my pants; putting on and tying my shoes; blow-drying my hair; and well, you get the sad, sad point here. You just don't realize how much you use your hands! My hands are also sensitive to very hot or very cold water, so when washing my hands or bathing, I need to take care that the water temperature is just right. Another odd side effect I'm having, related to the hands, is that my cuticles are rising up onto the nail, and they are tough and firm and can't be pushed back! Not attractive, at all! I am not really one to do my nails regularly, so it's not that big a deal to me, but it's really ugly. And lastly, my tops of my hands seem to have more "spots" than usual. Freckles, nevi, whatever they are, they weren't there before. Weird stuff. And also not attractive!

Also, my feet have now joined in with the side effects! The bottoms of my feet are red and are intermittently painful/tender. I am only wearing tennis shoes now to try and be as comfortable as I can, which has helped. A crazy thing that has happened with my feet are that my toes are all messed up. Danny has always suffered with ingrown toenails and pain/tenderness/swelling/drainage at the corners of his nails. I have never, ever had trouble with my toes. Well now we're in the same boat. All of my toes -- every one of them -- are red, swollen, and tender at the sides of the toenails. I treat them kindly by just wearing tennis shoes, and I think that's about all I can do for them.

Thankfully, I have had no more mouth sores. Not sure if it's because of the lowered Xeloda dose or the dietary changes I've made. Probably a combination of the two. My lips remain sensitive to heat. Still using Kids Crest and keeping my spicy food intake down (which is really a sacrifice for me!) I do still get some burning on my lips, inside my mouth, and down my esophagus when I eat even mildly spicy foods, but it's something I'm willing to tolerate once in a while to get some flavor in!

OK, I realize that I've done nothing but complain, complain, complain! Now for the great news. I saw Dr. Green a couple of days ago. She was just giddy with excitement when she gave me the wonderful news that all of my test reports were glowing! On ultrasound, they could NO LONGER FIND the nodules on my back! The chest CT scan showed that the left pleural effusion has "nearly completely resolved," the left lung's upper lobe's metastatic lesions and the chest lymph nodes show "marked improvement," and the mass in the lower lobe of my left lung has "resolved!" The CT of the abdomen showed that enlarged lymph nodes in my retroperitoneal area have "resolved," and it showed "no metastatic lesions in the liver!" My tumor marker (CA 27-29) is 28, down from 41, and now within the "normal" range. This is the most awesome news I've received about my cancer in a LONG time! Even Dr. Green was surprised at the extent of improvement in such a short time period! It's nothing short of a miracle. Evidently, God isn't finished with me yet! Makes all of my side effects very much "worth it" to know that the treatments are doing such a number on my cancer.

The plan is now for me to remain on Xeloda and Avastin for as long as they are working. Hoping and praying that that's a very long time!

I also voiced my concerns to Dr. Green about remaining on Zometa indefinitely, since I know that it stays in the bones forever and can actually cause bone brittleness with long term use. Although I am now getting it every 3 months instead of monthly which I was on for 3 1/2 years, it still concerns me. Mostly because of my age and activity level. Well let's just say my desired activity level! lol. Since there are no studies on Zometa beyond 2 years of use, I, and many other breast cancer patients still living with bone metastases, are living, walking guinea pigs. The last thing I want or need is to start having pathological fractures as a result of my cancer treatment, and not the cancer itself. So Dr. Green is taking me off of Zometa altogether for now, and we'll see how it goes. She said she was perfectly fine with that, and she did not expect any sudden flare up of bone mets issues.

Interestingly, on the way home from this terrific MD Anderson visit, we heard that Elizabeth Edwards had succumbed to breast cancer. She was diagnosed with a stage IV recurrence around the same time as I was, about 4-5 years ago, so it really hit home. Talk about being brought back down to reality! I know everyone's cancer is different, but I also know how fortunate I am to be doing so well.

I guess that's about it for now. I promise to "try" to blog more often, and also to post more about my life outside of cancer. There is more to me than that, but while trying to document my cancer battle, it appears here that it's all-consuming. Well it's not, at least most of the time!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kim's progress

I need to post more often, because I can't keep everything that's happening in my head for too long!

As mentioned in my last post, I was started on an oral chemotherapy agent called Xeloda a few weeks ago. Two weeks on, two weeks off. Even though Dr. Green seemed very thorough about what to expect as far as side effects, I forgot to ask her when these side effects would appear. So the first week, I felt fine, having only the occasional softer stool. Which turns out to be fine, since I normally tend toward the other end of the spectrum (tmi, I know!) I ate some really hot baked potato soup and burned my tongue, or so I thought. But that feeling of having burned my tongue wouldn't go away. It was like a mild numbness of the end portion of my tongue. My lips feel a little chapped, and they have a strange light-purplish tint to them. Regardless, I'm thinking, I. am. awesome. I can SO handle this. Maximum dose, no problem for me. The energizer bunny in me can keep a-going and going!

And, after only ONE week on Xeloda, I can swear that the palpable tumors on my left flank are smaller. It's amazing and hard to believe, but they really feel smaller already! I have Danny check, and he says "maybe." But I can tell, since I'm the one checking them way too often! I am naturally encouraged by this. It is awesome, and to me, miraculous! How can a drug kill cancer cells, and yet I am still living life as usual?

Second week, still doing pretty good! I can feel some mild discomfort in my hands, mostly in my thumb and fingers. Not so much the palms, which is where I had read it would be. Totally tolerable, though, and the skin on my hands & fingers is intact, but just a little dry. My feet are fine, no problems there. Near the end of the 2nd week, I am noticing some increasing sensitivity in my mouth and lips. I have to switch to Kids Crest, because my regular minty grown-up toothpaste feels too harsh. I notice that carbonated beverages are starting to irritate my tongue and lips. Dr. Green had instructed me to call and stop the Xeloda if I have more than 4 BM's over my usual daily number. I happen to reach that lovely milestone on my last day, but it's time to stop the Xeloda anyway, so I am not concerned.

I have now reached my "off" week, after taking Xeloda (4 tablets, twice daily) for 2 weeks. The night after my last dose, I go to a football game with my kids and have my usual game snack of nachos & cheese. I am shocked at how much burning this causes in my mouth, and even in my throat as the food & drink goes down! Understand that I pretty much live for spicy foods! Usually things can't BE too spicy for me. The Diet Coke I got with the nachos is now seriously burning my lips, tongue and throat. Clearly I have to make some changes!

I am now thinking "whew!" I have survived the 2 weeks on Xeloda and surely the side effects will be getting better during this one-week break. But this doesn't happen. I avoid too-spicy foods and carbonated drinks. I still use Kids Crest. I am unable to smile fully because when I try, it feels like my lips might rip apart. They are tight and discolored, and I notice some ulcers forming just inside the lips. Nothing a bit of lipstick can't conceal, right? I am having to constantly moisturize my lips with Vaseline Lip Therapy or ChapStick, but nothing seems to relieve the dryness. The ulcers are causing an increase in salivation which is just plain annoying. And when you think about your mouth watering, it makes it water even more! Trying to psyche myself out of this vicious cycle, and I'm feeling like a crazy person. Don't think about it, so it will stop. You are making it worse on yourself since now you are tensing up your mouth which is causing more irritated areas inside. Relax, Kim. Relax your lips and mouth. This seems to work. By the end of my "off" week, things are looking up, somewhat. I have a small crack in the skin of my thumb, which I have self-treated with Neosporin and a band-aid, to prevent infection.

It's three weeks since I started Xeloda, and it's time for a check-up. I first meet with Dr. Green's nurse, and I tell her of all of my side effects. She totally nixes the Neosporin/Band-Aid fix, and recommends Udder Butter, or something similar, for my hands. The idea is to prevent skin breakdown before it happens, by using this cream originally intended for use on a cow's udders. Lovely! The nurse also recommends that I use a baking soda & water solution before and after every meal in order to neutralize the acids in my mouth and prevent irritation and discomfort. By this time, though, I am feeling a little better and I don't think I need the baking soda swish at this time. Too bad I didn't have that information after the nachos & Diet Coke incident!

I see Dr. Green, and we discuss side effects, drug tolerance, and of course, the fact that my tumors are palpably smaller. She looks and feels, and agrees! We are all (Dr. Green, Danny and I) very excited. My blood counts are good. When we ask Dr. Green about my tumor marker levels, she say's "They're cooking." Oh my god! Danny and I completely deflate, thinking that she meant they were way-outta-sight high! She immediately clarifies that she meant they were not yet available. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster!

We also discuss the treatment plan. I ask if she still wants to start me on Avastin (an IV chemo agent) since the Xeloda seems to be working so well. She does. She explains that studies have shown them to work really well together. I'm all for it, of course. She's the doctor and I'm at MD Anderson, and I will do whatever they tell me to do. She wants to lower my Xeloda dose to try and moderate its side effects to a more tolerable level. While in my head I don't want to lower the dose, since the drug is working so well, my body is saying, yes, let's try the lower dose. I feel like I have failed at some level. I want the maximum dose, I want the cancer to die and die big-time. I think that Dr. Green can sense my feelings of inadequacy. She explains that she hasn't yet had a patient that could tolerate the max dose of Xeloda. Guess I won't be the first!

I had my first dose of Avastin and all went well. It's causing some mild fatigue, but I don't have time to stop everything in life. Too much to do with the kids and the business. I am finding that I am tired much earlier in the evening than I used to be, so I'm trying to get to bed at a more reasonable hour than usual. This is not always possible, but at least I am sleeping good when I do sleep.

A new side effect that has popped up is eye watering. Can't tell if it's from Avastin or Xeloda ... who knows? My eyes feel a little burny and watery. I've never had allergies before, but I do have a very mild runny nose, so I suppose it may be allergies since there's a first time for everything. I take Benadryl and it doesn't help. I take Claritin and it doesn't help. I try Zyrtec and it helps a little, but not completely. Will have to remember to mention this to Dr. Green. Don't like it -- makes me look sick! It still amazes me that I have this evil disease inside me and no one can tell! But the eye watering, which then causes me to blink more often, is making me appear sick. Maybe not "cancer" sick, but not well nonetheless. Hope this goes away soon.

My new Xeloda dosage regimen is 4 tablets, twice a day, one week on and one week off (instead of 2 weeks on, 1 week off.) Yesterday was my last dose of the one week on. I have 2 blisters on the inside of my lips, and the lips feel tight. I continue to avoid spicy food and carbonated drinks. Kids Crest is still working great. Still haven't felt the need for baking soda swishes -- guess my dietary changes have helped with the burning. My feet are now very sensitive and somewhat painful to walk on. My hands are tender. It's hard for me to open bottles, packaging, etc without having discomfort, so I ask for help a lot with those things (since I am rarely home alone!) I am using Udderly Smooth (similar to Udder Butter) on my hands at bedtime, and this has helped keep my skin intact, although my hands remain pretty dry throughout the day. It's hard to keep your hands constantly moisturized when you're working, typing, etc and washing your hands all day long. All in all, I think things are going well. The way I feel at this time, is that I can tolerate this new dosage... if things don't get any worse. We'll see what this next "off" week brings, and the following week "on."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Love every minute of life!

My name is Mary, I am 46 years old. In Dec 2009, I felt a small lump in
a week, I went for my Mammogram on Dec. 30th, 2009. They took a lot of
pictures, I was moved from the big waiting room to a room by myself. I had
a feeling it was bad but still remained optimistic. They wanted to do the ultrasound. The Radiologist said she was done with the armpit but wanted to look at the one in the breast. I didn’t know there was anything in the breast. She showed
me the difference between the armpit and the breast. She said the armpit looks
Fibrocystic but the breast has characteristics of breast cancer. I left and came back 3 hrs later and did a needle biopsy on both areas. On January 4th, 2010 (had to wait 5 days because of New Years Eve) I got the call that the armpit was a cyst but the Breast was cancer. I couldn’t believe it I did not have breast cancer in my family. The next few weeks were a blur, surgeon consult, MRI, lumpectomy. I went for Surgery Jan. 15th 2010, it was a lumpectomy. The tumor was only 6mm and all margins were clear, no lymph node involvement. We were all very excited until a few
Days later when I realized I have triple negative breast cancer. Triple negative is a rare Sub type of breast cancer that only affects 15% of breast cancer diagnosis. It is very aggressive, high recurrence rate, and usually happens before menopause. When I realized my only options were chemo and radiation, I decided to do both. I did 4 rounds of chemo starting with T/C. I had a bad reaction to taxotere and had to stop getting it. I started taking A/C for 3 more rounds. Losing my hair was very difficult for me. I didn’t realize how vain I was till I was bald. Chemo was very difficult and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. However, I still worked fulltime and stayed very active with my 3 kids (14, 10, 6) and husband. I ended chemo April 1st and started Radiation May 3rd and ended June 18th. Radiation was much easier than chemo but it still burned the skin and brought on fatigue. I am currently still working fulltime and keeping busy with my kids sports activities. My husband of almost 19 years was so good to me and stayed positive. Some of the things I learned are: stay current on checkups, you must become your own advocate, surround yourself with wonderful, caring people, love every minute of life, appreciate the help that is offered and take it, look at things with a whole
new perspective. I had a hard time watching the people around me at infusion and
Radiation so sick, it broke my heart. Just live life and go get mammograms!!!!!


We all deserve to have a beautiful life

I´m a 33 year old Colombian and my story began last year on July 09 . I was diagnosed with a uncertain behavior tumor (possibly cancerous) on my right breast and doctors were so afraid because my mom died 11 years ago because of breast cancer and the genetic component is important, that´s why they suggested a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy because I didn´t accept to submit to the chemotherapy. My breasts were removed on January and I was reconstructed with implants and bilateral dorsal muscle flap. Unfortunately, my body rejects the implants and I got an infection with a bacteria called staphylococcus aureus that causes a capsular contraction, one month ago the implants were removed and now I have nothing than my skin and muscles in my chest. I have to wait for a year at least to have a new reconstruction. Today I´m a better person, I learned to look at me in a different way, to look at myself as a great person no matter how everyone else see me. I´m eating healthier and I´m taking all good moments with the people around me. We all deserve to have a beautiful life no matter if you have big or small breasts, if you are black or white, tall or short, thin or fat...all that counts is what you have in your mind and in your heart and the way you live your own life. WE ARE ALL FIGHTERS AND WE DESERVE TO LIVE BETTER.
In loving memory of my MOM...

Friday, October 8, 2010

A recent diagnosis...stay strong!

Thank you for reaching out to us. I know a diagnosis like this is not easy, especially at your age and when you have a large family. You will endure and get through this and be stronger. Your kids will help keep things normal for you and love you unconditionally. Prayers to you and your family.


My name is Amber and I am 25 years old. I was diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago tomorrow (08-05-10).. I went for my yearly exam and my GYN found the lump. I have seen so many doctors in the last two months that I am tired of them. I had a lumpectomy on Aug 31st and I am doing okay so far. While I was in surgery they tested and removed all of my lymph nodes under my right arm. Later at my post op visit I found out that the cells that the Pathologist saw in my lymph nodes where not cancer cells. They looked a lot like cancer cells but where not. I have had a very hard time dealing with the fact that I am going to have to have chemo. The only reason that I am being as strong as I am, is because I have 4 wonderful kids that I want to see grow up. It’s hard to believe that I am only 25 years old and I have cancer! Sometimes I do cry and ask why me, what did I do to deserve this? I do know that I will make it through this and after I am finished with chemo and radiation I will look back and say that it is ALL worth it. To those of you out there that are going through the same thing, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted by Amy at 8:21 PM 0 comments
Labels: chemotherapy, lymph nodes, pathologist, radiation
Living proof that early detection and mammograms save lives!

Your grandmother is living proof that early detection does save lives. I am so glad to hear that she is doing well. Cancer effects not just the patient, but the entire family. Congratualtions on her good results!


My stepmother of over 10 years was diagnosed with breast cancer just a few
days before Christmas. She had no symptoms or signs. The cancer was not
found by self examination but from a yearly mammogram. At the beginning of
the year (2010) she went in for a lumpectomy to have it removed. Luckily
it was caught in time before spreading to her lymph nodes! The doctors
thought they had gotten it all but they didn't and she needed another
surgery to have the rest of the cancer removed. Since Jan of 2010 she has
been cancer free!! I'm so proud of her for fighting this battle. Nobody in
our family has experienced anything like this before. It was so sudden and
heartbreaking to find out the news! Our family is now closer than ever!
Thank you for allowing me to share this story.


Monday, October 4, 2010

How Kim kicks off breast cancer awareness month...

It's somewhat ironic that I would be kicking off breast cancer awareness month with the start of new chemo. Here is an update on what's been going on with me.

This week I had my repeat CT scans, ultrasound, and tumor marker levels done to evaluate the effectiveness of Faslodex injections, which I've been on for about 8-10 weeks. What I already knew before this week was that the tumors that have been palpable on my left back have grown. In addition to feeling them with my fingers, I can now "feel" them when I lay down or when I sit with my back against a chair, seat or sofa. Also I've had a mild cough that seems to be elicited by my turning onto my left side. And lastly, I have been frequently failing my own "lung test," which I have been doing regularly ever since I was originally diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2006. (At that time, when I laid on my right side, I was unable to take a full deep breath in. I found out shortly thereafter that my left lung had a "moderate" pleural effusion, and that that lung was restricted down to about half its normal size due to the fluid buildup around it.) In the months following my diagnosis with stage IV, the treatment regimen I was put on was very effective, and all of my metastatic lesions, including the pleural effusion, cleared up. I had no further difficulty in taking in a deep breath, but I always "tested" myself just to self-monitor (I can be psycho like that!) Anyway, lately, I couldn't always get a deep breath in. It wasn't consistent, but it seemed like I had to be in just the right position to make it happen. I knew something was up, especially since I had already gotten my tumor marker results 2 weeks before my scans: they had again drifted upward, this time up from 32 to 40 (normal range is 0-38.)

Thursday was my appointment with Dr. Green to get the results from Tuesday's chest/abdomen CT, chest x-ray, ultrasound of back chest tumors, and labs. As I waited with Danny in the exam room, I told him that I did not have a good feeling about it. Unfortunately my gut feeling was right.

The ultrasound showed that the largest of the three back tumors had grown. The other two had not changed much, however, Danny and I both thought, after seeing them on the screen during the ultrasound procedure that they looked much more prominent and visible than on the first ultrasound... but what do we know?!

The CT scan of the chest showed "an enlarging left pleural effusion which is now moderate in size. The underlying pleura appears thickened, worrisome for malignant effusion with pleural metastasis." So the fluid around my lung is back, which explains my feeling of being unable to take in a deep breath. Additionally it showed enlargement of the chest (mediastinal and hilar) lymph nodes, and also a "new skeletal metastasis in T12" -- the spine. Great.

The CT scan of the abdomen showed some new lymph node enlargement in the retroperitoneal area (back of abdomen,) the same new bone mets @ T12 seen in the chest CT, and the real kicker: bilobar hepatic metastasis. I now officially have breast cancer metastasis to the liver. No longer can I say "Well at least it's not in my liver." All I can say is, THIS REALLY SUCKS!!

It was like I was punched in the gut. Dr. Green took a lot of time explaining what the new treatment plan would be, and she showed us the CT findings on the computer. The plan is now for me to discontinue all anti-hormonal therapy. No more Faslodex or Zolodex. I will continue on Zometa for the bone mets.

I will go on chemotherapy, which I haven't had since my original bc diagnosis in 2000. However, this one, Xeloda, is an oral chemotherapy agent. Great, I get to poison MYSELF, at home! I've read about it already, since Dr. Green had told me earlier that the next step would be Xeloda. I've read that it's an easy chemo, as compared to the big ones like I received 10 years ago, but it's not without side effects. I can expect some diarrhea and most likely "hand and foot syndrome" which is burning/redness/pain of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. I will not lose my hair, thank goodness for the small things! The dosage is highly individualized. Dr. Green starts near the maximum recommended dose and will lower it gradually based on my tolerance of the side effects. I am to take 8 (gigantic) tablets a day -- 4 in am, 4 in pm. Two weeks on and 1 week off. After the first cycle, I will see Dr. Green to discuss side effects and possibly change the dose. After the second cycle (in 6 weeks,) I will be re-scanned and re-labbed to evaluate effectiveness.

Dr. Green also wants to add Avastin, another chemo drug, to my new treatment regimen. The FDA has recently decided to remove Avastin from the market, which has started a whirlwind of controversy among breast cancer patients who are taking it and having positive outcomes. I can only imagine being on a drug that's working and then having the government step in and say No, You can't have this anymore! The FDA's decision was to be made any day now, so Dr. Green wanted to wait before scheduling my infusion to make sure that they weren't going to pull it. Their decision turned out to be to postpone their decision until December. This is good for me! I am now scheduled to receive my first dose of Avastin at my 3-week checkup.

Avastin is given IV, and it also doesn't cause hair loss. It's not that I'm afraid to lose my hair. It's just that without hair, one truly LOOKS like a cancer patient to rest of the world. Right now, unless I tell people, no one has a clue that I am battling stage IV cancer!

I read some of Avastin's literature tonight, and I must say, I am scared to death! Nosebleeds, headache, high blood pressure, inflammation of the nose, too much protein in the urine, taste change, dry skin, rectal bleeding, tear production disorder, back pain, and inflammation of the skin are the most common side effects. One serious potential side effect is GI tract perforation!! Oh. My. God. If the cancer doesn't kill me, maybe the treatment will!

I pray that I have no serious side effects, and that these drugs will stop the progression of my cancer. Lord, please help me through this. My biggest fear is that something bad will happen, suddenly, and that my life will be abruptly changed for the worse. At least the cancer hasn't spread to my brain...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The right support will get you through...learn to accept help.

Thank you for your honesty and sharing your story with us. Learning to accept help can be difficult, but it is a time in your life when you really need support.

It was a routine trip for a mammogram procedure. The radiologist found a white spot that looked concerning so off I went for a biopsy. That was pretty scary, as I was not really sure what to expect. The doctor had done his best to prepare me but nothing can actually prepare someone unless they are going through it. After the biopsy I went home and waited for the results. 3 days later the call came it was DCIS, Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, the physician assistant went on talking about what it was, where it was and that we need to get a surgery date set up right now, the more she talked the faster her words came. I told her to wait, that I was not going to do anything for 2 weeks, I needed time to digest everything and that I had a zillion questions and I had people I needed to talk to. My sister, mother and a very good friend are breast cancer survivors so I got on the phone with them and explained what was happening. They were very supportive and gave me advice and the types of questions I need to ask and also told me to look on the Internet for more information and also call a cancer center near me and talk to them. I did all this and the more I searched the more information I found the more confusing I became. Not sure what to do next, I called my primary care physician and set up an appointment with her and shared with her what I knew. She was encouraging and let me know that it was OK to take some time. And that I need to keep a notebook and write down my questions and the answers I received, she also advised me to either take a friend or a tape recorder and let it record the entire time I am visiting with the doctor because later I will have questions and I need to remind myself what the answer was.

After the 2 weeks I set up my appointment for surgery, once the surgery was done and I got home, I did what I felt like I could do. If I couldn’t do it or didn’t feel up to it I didn’t do it. The hardest part was asking for help and then letting them do it. I sit here now, the night before my doctor’s appointment to check to make sure all is healing well and then in 2 days I go and visit with the oncologist to set up my radiation treatments. They want me to go everyday Monday through Friday for 6 weeks.

During and up to this point in time, my emotions have run amuck. Thoughts of suicide, thoughts of not going to the radiation treatments, thoughts of going back to work and then taking on a 2nd full time job, thoughts of my body is deformed and that I am no longer attractive not even to my husband, thoughts of what did I do in my life that caused God to hate me so much that He allowed this to happen to me. And thoughts of if I survived this, what is going to hit me next. And then let’s talk about the tears; at first they never came, I had to help my husband deal with this so I had to be strong. Once he got over the initial shock then it was my turn to fall apart, I have actually cried twice. I didn’t have anyone that I could call and talk to at that moment so I had to let the tears flow and then pull myself together. I feel better after letting the tears out, but feel worse because I cried you know the headache and puffy eyes that follows.

Cancer is a word that scares the bejebers out of people but with the improvements in modern medicine it doesn’t have to scare us. The best advice I can give you is to gather people around you who you trust and know will be supportive and let them help you. Either make meals, clean the house, or cry on their shoulders. We need the release and love that women can give each other.

I know that men need it too, but I am not sure where they can turn to, I wish I had some answers for them.

Love your fellow cancer survivor
Kim F.

My cup is 1/2 full!


You have such a positive attitude and this is good medicine! You inspire others with your story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!


My motto has always been "my glass is half full". April 27th I discovered my lump it’s the size of a golf ball. May 12, I saw my OBGYN and June 1, I was diagnosed with triple negative invasive ductile carcinoma. I am 34 years old. Tuesday July 6, I had my surgery to remove my lump, (who I have named Elvis) and I meet with my Oncologist on Monday. Now my motto is " my cup is 1/2 full". LOL! I started a site on so that my friends and family could see that cancer was not something to be sad about. it was not going to ruin my day. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and life is filled with reasons to smile. Dr. Brown told me I would lose my long hair, that was the only time I cried. I had donated my hair 4 times to locks of love. Now I will get to do a fifth and final time. hair will grow back it will take 4-5 years to get this long, but it will grow back. I have received tremendous support from my co-workers up and down the east coast. As far away as Baltimore to Greensboro North Carolina. The boss even bought me a new touch pad for my computer when she heard I couldn't use my right hand for the mouse. I have gone to the ACS relay for life every year for 4 years with my friend Jen. My husband the manly construction worker pretended to be an Italian hairstylist while he washed my hair in the sink because I couldn't do it. He makes me laugh randomly and often. My Best friend Joy has gone to every appointment, stood by my side for my biopsy, bought me anything she could find that was pink and cleaned my house. Both my sister-in-laws took care of my beloved dog, sent me literature in the mail, and found beautiful jewelry that had pink ribbons on it. My estranged father now wants to be friends on SKYPE. So I ask. Why be sad? Why cry? Why waste a beautiful day worrying about something that I did not cause to happen? I have a wonderful support group, even the children of my friends have brought me pink flowers, made pink candy, and plan on participating in the race for the cure in October. I have no reason to be sad, no reason to cry, because my life is surrounded by love, friendship, hope and support. Cancer will not ruin my day, because this is the only July 17th, 2010 that I will ever have, and I plan on enjoying it! Remember laughter is the Breast medicine, and Elvis has left the building! Live each day with no regrets, smile at a stranger. have faith in humanity. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Save your energy for something fun don’t waste it on little things. I may live for 30 days I may live for 15 years, but I plan on living, laughing and loving as much as I can, while I can, because my cup is 1/2 full!
Thank you for letting me share my abbreviated story and I hope it will encourage others to look on the bright side.

God bless my mom...

Thank you for sharing the story about your mom. Early detection does saves lives! Listen to your body.


I would like to share the story of my mom, Yolanda.

My beloved mom felt a lump in her left breast, she did not pay much attention and a couple of months later it became a little harder and her skin became like a little hard black and blue. She went to Mt. Sinai Hospital, Miami Beach, Florida to see Dr. Juan Paramo (God bless him) and in a matter of three weeks, we sadly found out she had breast cancer in her left breast (where the little hard black and blue was), also in her right breast (noticeable through mammogram only) and in both glands under her arms.

It has been such a horrific roller coaster ride: in less than a month! My mom is so in shape and so active that she was still working from 7am to 12pm a part-time job in a beautiful restaurant in the heart of South Beach, after work she will work on Lincoln Road (beautiful outdoors mall in South Beach) and almost everyday she will run from the South Beach heat by entering Macy's and as feminine and girlie as she is, she would always find something pretty on sale to buy.

My mom is loved and care by my dad Luis, my son and her only grandson Richard(Richie) and myself. My son is on vacation and my dad is retired and I returned to work Tuesday July 20. She has a nurse that comes every day to cure her wounds and her drains (she has four).

My mom is so brave, so courageous, so beautiful. We love her and we pray for her speedy recovery.

Her doctor, Dr. Juan Paramo, tells us that since it was total amputation of both breast and all cancerous tissue, she will not need radiation nor chemotherapy, so she is happy.

For now on, I will help as much as I can for cancer research because we need to find a cure.

Cancer is an ugly thing and I have faith in God that we will find a cure soon.

Thank you very much and God bless my mom.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cancer has made me fight for what I want!


Thank you for reminding us that sometimes a "lump is just a lump". Yet other times it is not. It sounds like you have a great group of doctors that treated you, but also a great group of friends that supported you as well. It is what gets us through.


My name is Cindy, I am 48 years old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer October of 2004. In 2003 I had a lump in my breast, I had a lumpectomy, and it was not cancer. Almost one year later, I had another lump, I did not think anything of it, because I had a lump a year ago, and that was nothing, the lump was getting bigger, I went to see the ARNP, she sent me for a mammogram, and then for a ultra sound, they did not think it was cancer, I went to my surgeon, Dr. Renz, he looked at everything, and did not think it was cancer, he took a biopsy, and gave me some antibiotics. That next week they called me and told me that it was cancer, Dr. Renz wanted to see me that day, that was Wednesday, we were going on Vacation on Friday, we had to cancel, I was having surgery.

I had surgery on Friday, and 2 weeks later, I went to see Dr. Ghosh, and started Chemo the next week, I wanted to get this done, and get back to the “new normal”! I had chemo treatments every other week, 8 treatments in all. I started radiation before my last chemo treatment was over, I went to radiation 5 days a week for 6 weeks.

The American Cancer Society is great, a volunteer came to see my in the hospital, she brought me information, and sat and talked to me, I knew that I was not alone, there was someone there to help support me, when I need it. I went to Look Good Feel Better, and the American Cancer Society helped me with a wig, this is a great program, I try to volunteer when I can, I want to give others the hope I was given by everyone I met

I knew that I could not let this beat me, my husband and I had only been married 3 years, and we really enjoy being together, and I was not going to miss out on any of our time together. I can say that I never thought my husband would have to shave my head, and I know it was not what he signed up for!

My daughter and son are my everything, and to this day, I can still see their faces when I told them, it brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it. I have 2 step-children that I want to see grow up.

Seeing how it hurt my parents, I can not imagine your only child telling you that she has cancer.

My Granddaughter turned 1, the week after I had surgery, I want her to know me, and to have a close relationship with her, like I had with my Grandpa.

Cancer has made me fight for what I want, and I want to enjoy my family and friends!

I have been touched by so many friends, my girlfriends from High School (Zelda , Connie, Cecilia and Alicia) the day I had surgery, and came over when I got home, Zelda had Kolaches for me, she knows that they are my favorite! Debbie and Lisa would come over to see me, and call, Debbie would send me a card every time I had a treatment. Lisa started the Schlitter Sister’s, we walk every year at the Especially for you Breast Cancer Walk. My co-workers at Paetec were GREAT, they had a plant waiting for me when I got home from my first appointment. They would send me get well cards, phone calls, and gift cards just out of the blue. They are very special friends. I have a scrapbook with cards, and pictures of my “adventure”, they are very special to me.

Special Thanks to Dr. Renz for taking time to care, and take a biopsy, Dr. Ghosh, Dr. Merfeld for answering all of my questions, every nurse and staff member that was there for me, to Leza for being able to get that IV in there! To My husband has been to every chemo treatment with me, he would let me squeeze his poor hand , while they were trying to put the IV in me. He would do anything for me, he was always there for me. My kids and Granddaughter made me want to go on to the next day. My parents and in-laws for calling and seeing how things were going. There are so many that have cared, and made a difference, they are all special to me.

It has now been over 5 years and I have seen my son get married to a great girl and they adopted the sweetest little boy! My daughter is doing great raising her daughter on her own and she is going in to first grade. I sometimes cry when I realize that I could have missed this!

I cannot imagine going through this without everyone that has been there for me.

Cancer has made me realize what is important in life, we need to realize this before it is too late, and we cannot make up for it later!

Cruise for the Cure


I understand your feeling of wanting to do something. Big or small we all can do something to promote breast cancer. Thank you for organizing an event in your area that promotes awareness.

Amy A.

When I was younger, I remember my grandmother going through her 2nd chemotherapy treatment back in 1991, and later lost both of her breasts due to Stage 3 breast cancer. Not only was she going through it herself, so was her younger sister who is now a survivor of 50 years as well as her cousins on her mother’s side.

While receiving tremendous support from both family members and friends, I decided to organize "Cruise for the Cure” in South Florida after I had a mini scare with breast cancer in February of 2008. Over these past decades, a few of my family members, and friends were diagnosed with breast cancer. I know the feeling when you know that there is nothing you can do, but go to the doctors, do treatments, and wait to see how you’re feeling days later after you get treated. It’s very hard to watch someone go through this for many years, and watch them suffer from this awful disease that attacks both women and men of every age group.
I finally decided to do something to help support both Women and Men with this disease. Last year, “Cruise for the Cure” was held at WAHOO’S of Lighthouse Point, Florida. Together we raised over a thousand dollars with a total of eighty-seven cars that entered this event, and was escorted by Broward Sheriff’s Office down A1A, 14th Street Causeway, and then met our final destination down Federal Highway at WAHOO’S in less than a month notice. With this event, my goal is to raise three times as much as I did last year. For our 2nd Annual “Cruise for the Cure”, on behalf of the Pink Piston’s - We would like to share this exciting memory with HOOTERS of Boca Raton on Sunday, October 10th, 2010 in memory of some of our families and friends, as well as one of the HOOTERS Calendar Girl’s that fought this disease; some winning the battle, and some not. Together we can help support Breast Cancer Awareness for the one’s we love around us, the women and men of our community, and to show HOPE, COURAGE, and FAITH for them.


Friday, August 27, 2010


Hello all!

My appointment with Dr. Green went well. Armed with my handwritten list of topics to discuss and questions needing answers, she patiently listened and answered and addressed all of my concerns. I must say that I feel much more at peace than I did before. I guess you could say that my pity party is officially over! For now, anyway! You know, sometimes having cancer just gets you down. The living with uncertainty, the fear of what's to come with your next scans ... its gets to be too much sometimes, no matter how much you busy yourself with life.

I informed Dr. Green about the side effects I'm experiencing from Faslodex: "faslo-breath" and chemical-smelling uring and sweat. I mentioned that in my research, I had not come across any mention of these side effects, to which she replied that I was "special." Figures! Anyway she said that she had not heard of anyone else having those side effects, and she thought it may have to something to do with the solution that the Faslodex is prepared in, and not the Faslodex itself. I must admit I have my doubts about the accuracy of this explanation. I said to myself, "I guess we'll see if I am having absorption issues with the Faslodex if it ends up not working." I really need to learn to trust my doctor, trust that I was led to MD Anderson and trust that I am in the best place receiving the best care in the world. Based upon my experiences with my health care issues, however, I am always on alert, questioning everything, and receiving all information with cynicism.

I asked about the Faslodex dosage issue: 250mg/month vs. 500mg/month. She explained that there was only one study indicating that 500mg/month was more beneficial than 250mg, and that more studies needed to be done before the dosing recommendations would change. Additionally, she said that many insurance companies are not covering the higher dose, and the cost is significant. So for now I remain on 250mg injection per month.

I also mentioned my anxiety about being able to feel my "metastatic deposits" that are in the subcutaneous tissue on my left flank, and feeling like they were growing. She said that they may indeed be growing since I am off of my previous medication, Aromasin, and while we wait for Faslodex to begin working. Since the Faslodex takes at least 5-6 weeks to be at full therapeutic levels in my system, it is really just now getting in and having the opportunity to take effect. Oh the patience required of us cancer patients!

Dr. Green's feeling were that we have not given Faslodex enough time to work. She asked that I sit tight and give it a little more time. I am scheduled to have more scans and a repeat ultrasound of the latest lesions at the end of September. I can do this!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Who inspires me...


Thank you for sharing this story about your dear friend Dorothy. We all need people in our lives that inspire us. Also, thank you Dorothy for sharing your life story with us.


In the beginning............... In 1953, at the age of twelve, I was diagnosed with a severe endemetriosis and prescribed a medicine that the family doctor felt confident would correct the problems I was experiencing. Later, determined to be massive daily doses of estrogen administered orally. I remained on this medicine until I was 29 years of age. In 1966, when I was 25, I came to live in America from England. In 1970, two weeks after my 29th birthday, and in the midst of a very abusive marriage, I discovered a lump in my right breast very close to my armpit. It did not hurt at all. I decided I would ignore it, assuming it would go away, and I continued to enjoy my stage work as a dancer. I believed that if it did not hurt, it was not serious. After about two months, I was encouraged to consult with a doctor who almost immediately referred me to a surgeon. After a thorough examination, I was advised that without immediate surgical intervention, my life expectancy was 3-6 months at the most. This particularly aggressive cancerous growth had presented very close to my right lymph gland. So at 29 years, I received the surgery to hopefully save my life. I was offered two options for surgery, one less invasive, which would require chemotherapy and radiation. The other option was more invasive surgery without chemotherapy and radiation. I selected the second option, as I wanted to keep my ankle length hair, which was a very important feature for my stage work. I had recently been offered an opportunity to perform in a nightclub every Saturday night. Surgery was performed, and it was found that the cancer had spread. The removal of 24 lymph nodes was necessary (20 of which were found to be positive) together with the right lymph gland and pectoral muscle. I had eight hours of surgery, 78 stitches and three weeks in the hospital. My surgeon felt confident that they had “got it all” but that a ten year waiting period would now be in effect for any re-occurrence. Whilst recovering, I became curious and needed to look at my body. Indeed it was not a pretty sight and one I will never forget. However, the doctors were confident that the surgery was successful and that my young life had been spared. I was told whilst in the hospital that I (at the time) was one of the youngest women on record to have this dreadful disease. During the course of my recovery, I was introduced to the “reach to recovery” programme and a wonderful lady whom I shall call Claire. Claire represented the American Cancer Society, and it was her job to visit people like myself and guide them into the use of the breast prosthesis. Which she did so very well. A very important part of the psychological healing and adjustment required to “face the world” so to speak. She assisted me in finding the correct style for me, and then proceeded to teach me how to re-use my arm. Because of the guidance and support given to me by the American Cancer Society (Claire), I gradually gained confidence in the knowledge that an artificial breast can look and feel perfectly natural. I could once again face my world on stage and off. Learning to re-use my arm was a serious challenge because the surgery was so extensive. However, I was determined to do so, I redesigned my dance wear and some time later (three months), I resumed my stage work once again. It was not revealed to me, but to my husband, that because of the type of cancer I had (aggressive and feeding off of my ovaries) I must have a total hysterectomy as soon as I was strong enough, in addition, under no circumstances was I to become pregnant. Although 24 lymph nodes were removed, and the last four were negative, if there was one dormant cancer cell remaining, it could and would revive, multiply through my ovaries and the cancer would reappear. In consequence, an unborn child and I would perish. Sadly, some time later a pregnancy occurred as previously stated, not having been made aware of the facts, I consulted a gynaecologist as I was not feeling well. My remaining left breast was extremely enlarged and very painful. The gynaecologist/surgeon discovered the 11th week pregnancy and requested a thorough physical. Upon examining my upper body, he was profoundly disturbed by the recent radical/radical mastectomy. He immediately ordered copies of, any and all, reports. I was subsequently told that an immediate therapeutic abortion was necessary to be performed, followed six weeks later by a total hysterectomy. My life was once again in jeopardy. It was explained to me that this procedure would put my body into an immediate surgically induced menopause. I was reminded that without this surgery, I would once again face certain death. I was unable to accept the fact that at 30 years of age, not only would I lose the foetus in my womb, but I would never be able to bear a child of my own. Acceptance was an unbearable thought, and with that in mind, I consulted several other gynaecologists/surgeons who sadly gave me the same response, with the exception of one. This particular specialist had a very different “solution”. Because of his religious beliefs, he explained his alternative to me in the following manner: I would be monitored closely during the course of my pregnancy. In the eight month, I would enter the hospital, wherein, the unborn child would be removed from my body and I would eventually pass away from the effects of the cancer. In the interim, I would be encouraged to seek and select the adoptive parents within the realm of the surgeon’s religious community. I would be permitted to name the child and choose the adoptive parents. It was also explained to me that I would prepare for my funeral as I would not survive a full term pregnancy. That is why the unborn child would be removed from my womb at eight months. After many connecting moments with my conscience, I came to the very sad conclusion that I wanted to live. Carrying the knowledge of the threat attached to my pregnancy, I proceeded with a therapeutic abortion. Seven weeks later a total hysterectomy was performed. My consolation for this life saving procedure (mine) was in the thought that I could eventually adopt a child. I was supported by friends to think in this direction, which did indeed give me encouragement. The challenge of being unable to bear a child began to invade my mind. So I began extensive enquiries about a future adoption. Once again I am challenged with the same response from the various agencies through which I made enquiries. Because of the severity of the cancer, I was too high a risk to allow any adoption. After receiving this news I was in a state of despair and feeling myself fading away. I consequently and eventually consulted a psychologist. During the course of my visits with, her, the doctor guided me very gently and one day said “What would you like to do with the rest of your life?” I answered, work with animals. This ultimately led into buying my first Yorkshire Terrier from England. I did not know it then but this Yorkshire Terrier would be the beginning of the rest of my life.
In the year 2000, I became aware of an unusual feeling of discomfort in my remaining breast. This obvious change in my body compelled me to seek medical attention. The initial examination did not reveal anything, but my sense of urgency remained. I persisted in my pursuit to discover what was ailing me, and eventually, with the help of an enlarged ultrasound (mammogram did not reveal anything) two tumours were discovered in my breast. Both were of the aggressive type, one was attached to my rib and the other floating in the main breast area. Needless to say, another mastectomy was performed and once again my life had hopefully been spared. Six lymph nodes were removed, four of which were positive, and the last two were negative indicating that this time the cancer had been hopefully stemmed early.
I recovered to resume my journey through life. I had entered one of my Yorkshire Terriers in the Kennel Club of Philadelphia dog show, and determined not to be deterred by being breastless, and encouraged by my dear friends and colleagues, in the breed, I did in fact show my girl. Holding her lead was painful and difficult, as I had not regained full use of my arm, but I persevered. I now did not have any breasts at all and was acutely aware of their absence. However as the saying goes, “Stiff Upper Lip” I eventually ordered two full breasted prosthesis, slightly larger than my natural breast size (WHY NOT)!!! I have been cancer free (in remission?) for almost ten years.
It should be well noted that, at no time did I receive any chemotherapy or radiation, treatments. I had planned to do so when I had my ankle length hair cut off in three stages and sent to Locks of Love in Florida. But I changed my mind. My life today at 68+ is full. Breeding, exhibiting, and more recently, provisionally approved to judge my beloved Yorkshire Terriers, AND, for the sheer joy of doing it, I am also an accomplished ballroom dancer presently at silver level, with aspirations for top level which is gold.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The latest on Kim

Hello all,

The pathology has come back on my left flank nodules as being "metastatic deposits." This new area of cancer is unchanged from my previous tumors: ER+, PR+, HER2-. So I remain on anti-estrogen therapy. I am now on Faslodex injections.

I received my first dose over three weeks ago, 500mg, in two 250mg intramuscular injections to the back side. I received a 250mg injection two weeks after that. I am to receive another 250mg injection next week, and then I'll get a 250mg injection every four weeks after that. The injections weren't that bad at all! I had really worked myself up into a tissy (sp?) because I absolutely hate IM injections. I'm used to the IVs at this point, and I've even grown used to my monthly Zolodex injections into my belly fat, but IMs usually hurt! I am happy to say that evidently I got a nurse with good technique because it didn't hurt at all. It was odd, though. I must say I've never got an injection quite like it. It took about 30-45 seconds for each syringe to be emptied into me, all the while the nurse was massaging the muscle. It was some thick stuff! Dr. Green had told me it was going to be z-tracked (a technique used on some medications,) but this was definitely not any z-track technique that I'd ever seen or learned about in nursing school. I'm growing weary with always critiquing every aspect of my care ... at this point I was just glad it didn't hurt... at first. Shortly after the injections I could feel the injection sites getting sore. The soreness was pretty intense for a few days, but tolerable.

I developed an unusual chemical-like taste in my mouth and subsequent bad breath (which I've dubbed "faslo-breath") about 30 minutes after the first dose. My urine had a similar peculiar odor to it, and after one of my very few workouts of late, I noticed that even my sweat had the same odor! How lovely!!! These symptoms lasted for about 4-5 days and gradually dissipated. The second dose, which was half the dose of the first loading dose caused the same side effects only slightly less intense than the first dose had.

Of course I have to look up whatever I can, so I did some Googling on Faslodex and its side effects. Wanted to make sure that the side effects I was having wasn't something really bad like it was overwhelming my system. Isn't that so medical-sounding ... not! Nowhere did I find any mention of the side effects that I was experiencing. Just great! I did find lots of reports of injection site soreness, which seemed to be the worst of most women's side effects.

In my searching I had stumbled upon a forum-message-board-type site called, in a "community" called "Advanced Breast Cancer." There were many posts that mentioned Faslodex, and there were also many discussions going on about all aspects of womens' stage IV breast cancer journey: emotional, physical, medical, etc. What I really liked about it was that it was active and current, and so relevant to what I'm going through. As I've said before, there are way too many of us out there! I read a lot and posted/responded some myself, and went way beyond just looking up Faslodex.

However, what I did find out about Faslodex was somewhat disconcerting to me. I read that just last year, a four-year study was completed that showed that giving Faslodex 500mg every month instead of 250mg was more beneficial to the participants. Specifically, it extended life. I read about several women whose doctors had upped their dose after learning of these study results. It was a few women's understanding that the new "standard" Faslodex dose was 500mg per month instead of 250mg regularly prescribed before the study. My doctor had not told me of the study, and my plan of care was to get 250mg a month.

I then specifically looked up the study. I read all of the results, and I discovered that the higher 500mg monthly dose of Faslodex extended life by one month! hmm, I thought. Two IM injections a month vs. one a month and all I get is one additional month to live?! Totally not worth it!

But I quickly came to my senses, and realized that the one month was the "median" in the results. Meaning that some women may have lived much longer than that and some women probably didn't respond at all. I tell myself that I could possibly benefit from the new dosage for many, many months or years! So armed with that information, I called to schedule an appointment with Dr. Green to discuss the new dosage recommendations. She couldn't fit me in for two weeks. :( I must wait and be patient.

Meanwhile ... In my research I also learned that Faslodex can take 3-6 months to work. Okaaaaaay-eeee. That seems like a long time to me. Especially since I am able to feel the "deposits" on my back myself. At any time. Very often. And especially since I can feel them growing. Not sure if I can feel them (more than one) because I know there are more than one now, or if they are actually getting bigger. They feel like they're getting bigger to me, which is worriesome, of course. And I am feeling some other changes, although none are severe. I feel a heaviness in the middle of my chest when I lay on my back. I feel some discomfort in the same area when I inhale deeply, from any position. Sneezing is also uncomfortable.

So needless to say I am really anxious to see Dr. Green and discuss all of these things. The growing deposits, the Faslodex dosage issue, the changing feelings in my chest. I would feel much better if she would send me for scans and bloodwork. If she does decide to, it will be more waiting, as the tests are never ordered for the same day and then it takes a few days to get the results. I am also going to ask her if I she thinks I could benefit from Xeloda while we wait for the Faslodex to kick in. I am willing to take both at the same time! I am simply not comfortable with waiting 3-6 months for the Faslodex to work while I can feel things growing in me! With being able to feel the lumps growing and also having the changing sensations in my chest, it makes me wonder what is really going on inside. Is it the chest lymph nodes? Is it my lung? Will my tumor marker level be rising? Too many questions, too many worries ... must get answers!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Support and encouragement make a difference...

Thank you Trish for sharing your story with us. Congratulations on being CANCER FREE! Celebrating life is what it is all about.

Bless you,

My name is Trish and this week, I am one year cancer free. I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in April, 2009. On May 7, 2009, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy with a TRAM flap reconstructive surgery. Six weeks later I started my journey through eight chemotherapy treatments at Duke University in Durham, NC. With those treatments came the hair loss, weakness, and severe bone pain. My husband, four children, other family members and friends were right by my side through the entire journey, lifting me up and continuously encouraging me. I could not have made it without them. My hair grew back very slowly, but finally, on May 31, 2010, I took off my wig and am now celebrating a life free of cancer.

Continue with follow up...


You have so much courage. Thank goodness you were doing your monthly breast exams and you found your lump. You took control. We are faced with making difficult decisions about our health. Bless you on your journey. You are a survivor!


I was told back in 2002 that I had breast cancer (ductial) and had a lumpectomy done at that time. This was followed by mamo's every 3 months for a year. Then they told me that all was fine and I should have a mamo done once a year. Well this year, February 2010, I found a lump in my left breast and went in for a mamo, this lead to a digital mamo followed by a surgical bio. after all of this they said my cancer was back. I was told I could do nothing and wait it out or I could have a total bilateral mastectomy. And put an end to this cancer business. So on March 24th I had both of my breast removed. My path report stated that in fact I had ductial cancer in both breast not just the left side. I feel very lucky! Now I must make the choice or rather to have reconstructive surgery or not. I'm still healing from my surgery but have to say I'm glad that My fight has been won.


My conversation with Abby...

Currently going through the motions of breast cancer at times can be hard. It has been over 6 months now with many tests from mammograms, x-rays, MRI’s and 3 Biopsies. Still not knowing and not being treated promptly. I see how other women young and old can get very frustrated with the way things are handled.

I just turned 45 July 1st. I have a 7 yr old boy and 5 yr daughter. They are the reason I fight and continue to fight this cancer that is now plaguing my body. Now being told I will have to undergo a mastectomy is even more icing on the cake.

Both times I was told I had breast cancer over the phone at work and what I needed to do. Still I’m in shock and it seems so surreal to me that it is even happening. Which, I know now many have felt the same way and it is heart wrenching to say the least.

All I want to do now and always have is to let others be aware how important it is to go do the check ups. I did just one yr I had skipped due to moving over 3 times it was chaotic. Now just trying to deal with what news I’m to expect next you know.

I’m writing just to say how I appreciated your web site and the on going support and wiliness to continue to help others out there. Not only you your family, friends and co-workers are affected.

My god! I never knew how loved I was until this terrible cancer attacked me.

My next step is a visit with an oncologist and I hope a plan to save my life.

How do I let others know other than web sites how important this is I know you have ribbons and about the ribbons how do others use them. My day care made me a ribbon and they put the name of all the kids on it. It was breath taking.

My son wrote me a special note. Then I lost it.

One day I hope to share my story with other women and help them fight this Breast Cancer. I fought many things this has got to be the most challenging one but I’m a good fighter! I fight for my right to stay alive for all of mankind to see we women can beat this.

Take Care, Keep up the Good Work!


Thanks for taking the time to write! I appreciate your kind words.

It is so important to be an active advocate for your own health! I have a LOT of experience dealing with the medical establishment, and believe me, I know to stay on top of things. If something doesn't sound right or even feel right, you must question and get 2nd 3rd, etc opinions. No one at any hospital or clinic can know everything about you as well as you! I wish you luck and prayers on your journey.

In my opinion the pink ribbon campaign is multi-faceted. In one respect, it's a way for friends and loved ones to show support of someone going through the breast cancer journey. In another, it's a bridge to reach out to others to increase "awareness," so women take better care of themselves so that cancer is detected earlier and hence their chances of survival are increased.


Yes, you are absolutely right! So, many women really need to take control and value the seriousness in this cancer. You certainly do have my permission by all means. We meaning women/men young and old need to know we are not alone on this journey to survival and a helping hand is just a second away.

God Bless you and taking the time to read my story! I’m sure the next will be a positive one for all to see!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

News from Kim

Hello all,

Another update on my stage IV breast cancer journey. Monday I received mixed results from last week's scans. A couple of chest lymph nodes actually decreased in size, while a nodule in my left lung increased slightly. My tumor marker (CA 27-29) remains somewhat stable at 32 (1 up from 31 2-1/2 months ago, yet still within the normal range of 0-38.) Dr. Green deemed the results not conclusive enough to move on to the next level of treatment. Not significant enough growth to discontinue the use of my current med. Once we put a drug behind us, there is no going back to it. And the more drugs we put behind us, the less there are in front. Once you've used up all available treatment options, well ... clearly it's not good.

However, Dr. Green was very concerned about the marble-sized lump I discovered a couple of months ago on my back left rib. We looked at it on the chest CT scan and yep, there it was, between my skin and ribs. Not on the ribs. There was no mention of it in the radiologist's report (x-ray and CT scan) -- quite disconcerting to me, especially since I had mentioned the finding to both the x-ray technician and the CT technician. I had also specifically requested that the CT scan tech place a note on my chart/films so that the radiologist reading the scan would be aware of the new issue and could take a closer look (to which she replied "Oh they look at everything.") I said that regardless, I would appreciate it if she would put a note or mention it to the radiologist, since it was new and I was concerned about it. Evidently, either she didn't do as I requested (bad enough,) OR, the radiologist didn't pay attention to the note. In any event, the radiologist failed to notice the nodule. There was no mention of it in the CT scan report. Thankfully, it was palpable enough and slightly tender so that I found it myself and reported it to Dr. Green.

Dr. Green felt the lump and was definitely concerned. She recommended an ultrasound with a possible fine needle aspiration (fna) biopsy. She said that if the lump was found to be more cancer, then she would definitely change my medication from Aromasin (daily by mouth) to Faslodex (an injection, not sure how often,) and it was scheduled for 3 days ahead, which brings us to today.

Today I went for an ultrasound of the nodules on my left flank area (a much more medical term than left back rib area!) First the ultrasound tech simply scanned the area while I laid on my stomach. The bad news was that she actually found 3 nodules instead of 1! One large one, one medium, and a third that she said was small and "indistinct." She left to show the radiologist the ultrasound results, and returned to inform me that yes, a biopsy was definitely indicated in this case since the nodules appeared to be solid. Okay. Danny wasn't allowed in the ultrasound room with me, but when the tech left to prepare for the biopsy, I texted him and my sister to keep them up on the latest news, and also so I wouldn't just lay there and cry. My last needle biopsy was not pleasant, but this time I wouldn't be watching the screen like last time. I told myself I would never do that again, as it was really traumatic to watch while feeling it too. The radiologist came in and explained what was going to be done. I asked her what other conditions the nodules could be if they weren't cancer. She said that if they were closer to the skin, they could be neuromas, but they weren't close the skin. She said that her list of things it could be besides cancer was short, but there was a slim chance that it was something else (but she couldn't name anything.) I said "What, some new disease that you can put your name on for discovering it?" which got everyone in the room to laugh. Back to the business at hand ... first she numbed the area with lidocaine, an anesthetic that is injected into the tissue. THAT hurt! Then came the needle to actually perform the biopsy, which wasn't so bad but for a few brief, painful moments. Unfortunately she did not get enough tissue during the initial FNA and had to do it again! Ugggghhhh! It was nothing nice! After that, Danny was allowed into the room, where we waited for the pathologist to return with some "preliminary" results from the cytology lab. Not surprisingly, based on my earlier conversation with the radiologist, the tissue was confirmed to be malignant -- what she called "metastatic deposits" in the muscle. Very disappointing, to say the least! They will run all the usual pathology on the tissue, including ER, PR, and HER2 testing. I will see Dr. Green next week, when we'll discuss my next treatment options. I suppose that will ultimately depend on what the pathology report says.

I am glad they will be running more of my tumors through the pathology process. An estimated 20% of HER2 negative tumors will convert to HER2 positive at some point in the metastatic disease process. Not sure if convert is the right word to use, but what I'm saying is that since my cancer was HER2 negative before, there's a 20% chance it may be positive now ... Which, in my opinion, may be helpful in that there would actually be more treatment options for me than strictly the estrogen-related ones. More options sounds good to me!

Well, that is all for now. Another setback, but again we are waiting for more test results before we'll know what's next.

Thanks for reading, and for the prayers.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kim's update

Time is just flying by! Can't believe it's been over 2 months since my last update. In my last post (April 7th) I was awaiting test/scan results to evaluate the effectiveness of my new med (Aromasin) and also to check my femur's stress fracture.

So, here are April's results: First, the femur showed MUCH improvement, and did not "light up" on the bone scan at all. MRI of the femur also showed much improvement, which Dr. Lin (orthopedist) said confirmed that it had indeed been "just" a stress fracture (as opposed to a new metastatic bone lesion.) Yay! What relief! Not wanting to risk another fracture, or any kind of bone damage, I was prepared to stop running, and I admitted this to the doctor. Although previously Dr. Lin had said that I could possibly begin running again (very slowly and on a soft surface -- not the streets where I am used to running) if I showed healing and was feeling no pain, he now seemed to agree that not running would be best. I say "seemed" because he really didn't comment when I said I would not run any more. But he didn't dispute it or tell me it was okay, either. At the time, I was okay with the new plan. I fully intended to pursue other avenues of getting fit, such as swimming, power walking, dancing, and exercise classes. Back to that on a later date.

Although my femur was sitting pretty, sadly, the same could not be said for the rest of me. Dr. Green informed me that some of the lymph nodes in my chest had grown slightly, as had some of my lung nodules. Not a good start for my new med, Aromasin. Additionally, my tumor marker had risen yet again, to 31 (normal range is 0-38.) Here's my previous discussion about it from earlier this year:
Also, Dr. Green said that my tumor marker (CA 27-29) was within the normal range (0-38,) so that was good. She was right that it was in the normal range -- it was 18. BUT, in looking back at (well, studying) all of my previous CA 27-29's, it actually is a little elevated. At my first visit to MD Anderson in 2006, it was 70-something. A month later, 50-something. Three months later, 37. All since then have been below 12! So since early 2007, my level has been holding steady at less than 12. Now it's 18. Very disconcerting...

Dr. Green was not concerned, as 31 was still in the range of normal. I was VERY concerned! She thought that the ever so slight growth seen in my chest could have been simply due to the location of the CT's "slices," so she wanted me to stay on the Aromasin to give it more time, and she recommended that I be re-scanned in 2 months...

Which is where we are today. On Friday (2 days ago) I had my repeat chest x-ray, CT scan of the chest, and blood work, including tumor marker level CA27-29. Tomorrow I am scheduled to see Dr. Green to get the results. I try not to think about it. It's been a long 2 1/2 months of waiting. In the meantime I have discovered a small marble-sized lump on a left back rib. Hoping that is nothing, but I did mention it during my CT and x-ray to make sure it got its picture taken.

On a lighter note, Danny and I went kayaking for the first time last weekend! We also spent two nights tent-camping in a Texas state park. It was so relaxing .. the kids were away at camp, so it was just the two of us. A much needed break from it all. We found that we actually do still like each other!(ha) which is sometimes questionable when our life with 3 active kids is so hectic, stressful, and hurried.

Thanks for reading ... could use some prayers for good test results and a peaceful heart and mind.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dealing with reoccurence...


You have so much courage. We wish you a speedy recovery to your recent surgery. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Your testimony will save lives.


I was told back in 2002 that I had breast cancer (ductal) and had a lumpectomy done at that time. This was followed by mamo's every 3 months for a year. Then they told me that all was fine and I should have a mamo done once a year. Well this year In February 2010 I found a lump in my left breast and went in for a mamo, this lead to a digital mamo followed by a surgical bio. After all of this they said my cancer was back. I was told I could do nothing and wait it out or I could have a total bilateral mastectomy. And put an end to this cancer business. So on March 24th, I had both of my breast removed. My path report stated that in fact I had ductal cancer in both breast not just the left side. I feel very lucky! Now I must make the choice or rather to have reconstructive surgery or not. I'm still healing from my surgery but have to say I'm glad that my fight has been won.


Friday, April 23, 2010

My hero, My mother


It is so hard to see people we love go through cancer. You are an amazing woman who made many sacrifices for your mom. You have a servant's heart. God is working through you.


My name is Jessica,

My mother and hero was a cancer survivor. It was the hardest thing I ever went through in my life. Even though I didn't personally didn't have breast cancer I felt as if I did because of how much I loved here, I love her so much I would have took this horrible cancer that is killing and putting people through hell into me so she wouldn't have had to go through that torture. Every day I saw the most important person in my life getting sicker, weaker, and less hopeful. I actually even got divorced because my husband couldn't take me always caring for my mother so I eventually moved in with her so I couldn't take care of her full-time. My job even had to let me go. but none of all that mattered to me. All I cared about was the life of my mother and I was determined to get her to survive this. I believe if I wasn't there for my mother the way I was she probably would have died. I took her to every doctors appt., I waited on her hand and foot and thankfully she survived it. If I had to go through that all again I would in a heart beat. As long as I had her I was happy and grateful. Nobody means as much to me in my life as she does. So to everyone who knows someone with breast cancer I highly advise you to do your best to help them and give them the hope I gave my mother. She still to this day tells everyone I saved her life. I never let her give up hope. I hope my story inspires those who are in mine or similar situations.
All it takes is positive thinking and having GOD by your side.

Early Detection Does Save Lives


You are living proof that mammograms really do save lives. We wish you many healthy years ahead. May God bless you on your journey and congratualtions on completing your treatments.


Hello, my name is Sara and I am a breast cancer survivor. On Dec 15, 2009 I was diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer stage 0. I realize I am very blessed. I had my yearly mammogram in Nov of 2009 and then a biopsy. I had my lumpectomy Jan 7, 2010. All went well they removed the cancer and two lymph nodes. I started radiation treatment on Feb 11, 2010 and finished March 31, 2010. I started the tamoxifen pill on April 1, 2010. At the end of radiation is when my breast began to burn. I am a black female and the radiation turned my breast really dark. I'm told the color will come back in time. Through all of this my support group has been great, from the time I told them and now. My job was and still is fantastic. I had just started there in July 2009, but the way they stood by me you would have thought that I had been there for a very long time. I thank God for allowing this to be caught in a timely manner. I thank my daughter for her caring, love and support. I thank my friends old and new for being with me, caring for me and always showing concern for me. Mammograms can and do help save lives.

My Mother's Story


Thank you for sharing your mother's story with us. It is so interesting to hear about breast cancer from a son's perspective. You have such a deep love for her and the fight against breast cancer.


My mother is a wonderful woman, shes raised me and my 3 siblings and has been a huge help to my sister in raising my niece. She cooks she cleans, and shes worked herself to the bone since she came to this country from Portugal thirty years ago. Despite all she does for my family and others, so much goes wrong. From a bad gal bladder too high blood pressure and numerous other health conditions, my moms been through a lot. But late last spring, she started her trial through something scarier then anything 50 years of life could throw at her; breast cancer. I overheard my mom crying as she walked through the door coming home from the hospital. I almost never see her cry, she's tough. I didn't have to ask her why she was crying, I already knew. It took a while for what was really happening to hit me. Because though of course scary to hear at first, I realize I am lucky. A mammogram found cancerous cells developing. They found it so early that it hadn't had enough time to develop into the stealer of life that breast cancer is. My mother had surgery to remove the cells, and then a few months of radiation, and then it was over. This breast cancer which I hear about everyday, this malevolent force that has taken the lives of so many wives, daughters, mothers and aunts, had spared my mother so quickly. It hit me when it was all over months and months after, and I cried myself to sleep. I was a fifteen year old boy at the time. I listened to Metallica and i thought I was the baddest and coolest guy around, but I cried, and I cried and cried. I cried because I thought "What if I wasn't so lucky to have a mother that survived breast cancer?, What if this luck wasn't there? What would I have done?". I couldn't answer those questions and I still can't, because no one can know what it is to lose their mother until it happens. As much as I cried at the thought of losing her, those tears paled in comparison to the tears that I would have shed if i really did. I love my mother, and I hate cancer. I hate cancer for the emotional pain it caused my mother and for the pain it has caused to all those who weren't as lucky as I. I do as much as I can to help increase awareness of breast cancer because I want what happened to my mom to happy to every person who has cancer, find it early, and do away with it. I want people to know that cancer is not all powerful, it can be beat, do NOT let it own your life.My mother didn't and she's still here. I am thankful for that everyday of my life and from time to time I cry tears of joy because she is still with me. The pain of losing a parent at a young age is a horrible one. So do self examinations regularly, especially if you have a family history of any type of cancer, and don't skimp out on doctor appointments. Do not fear cancer, make cancer fear the joint movement of a million bodies working against it in unison. For one day, though many doubt, I do not doubt, that cancer, will be gone from this earth.

Strength in the family


Your family shows such strength and courage. What a blessing that your mother did not have a diagnosis of cancer. You being strong for your family and giving your grandmother,aunt, and cousin support and encouragement is such a blessing. They are fortunate to have you in the family. You are right. We have to be strong for all surivors out there that might need our strength to get them through the day.


In 2008, my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was detected very early, so we knew she had a chance. She had a lumpectomy, and they discovered that they didn't get it all. So she went in for another lumpectomy. After that one they discovered once again, that they didn't get it all. They then gave her the option to try another lumpectomy, or to just have a mastectomy of her left breast. It was a long, difficult, decision for her, but she decided to go through with the mastectomy. Her surgery was 14 hours; it was the longest day of my life. It was hard to see all of my family there and just hoping that everything went OK. We got the news that she was OK, and we went back to see her in recovery. She was still waking up from the anesthesia, so she was a little groggy. I was talking to her and she seemed to be aware of what was going on. She then asked her nurse for some crackers and iced tea. She didn't have to go through chemo, or radiation afterwards. To this day, she still tells me that I am the first one she remembers seeing when she woke up from her surgery, and that makes me feel so good. Three months to the day, after my grandma was diagnoses, her daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was about to go through what my grandmother, her mom just went through. My aunt had a lumpectomy, and she also had to have chemo and radiation. She lost all of her hair, so she bought 2 wigs. She was afraid to show us her bald head and she didn't want her little grand babies to see her without hair either. One day we were at my grandma’s house for a visit and my aunt took off her wig, and I just looked at her in awe. She barely had any hair, but she was still as beautiful as ever. I knew that she took that wig off, not because she wanted to, but because she knew her hair was coming back; she was getting better. My cousin just had a breast cancer scare. She hadn't been in for a mammogram in a few years, but now that 2 women of our family had been diagnosed, she decided to go get one. All was clear. About 2 months ago I get a phone call from my dad, he tells me my mom has to go get checked for breast cancer because they found a lump. I am up at school, and my dad told me not to worry, that everything would be fine, but naturally, I was a wreck. That was all I could think about, and I couldn't wait to get home to see her. I went with her to the hospital they day she got re-checked, and they found that it wasn't cancer, it was just a mass and they are going to keep it under close watch. In all of the sadness, and devastating diagnoses in the past year or so, I would just like to say that I am strong. I am strong for my family, my loved ones, and also I am strong for every woman out there. This can come up on you when you least expect it, but if you just have hope, and believe that everything will be OK, then it will. You have to be strong, ALWAYS, because you never know who is watching and who might need a little bit of your strength to get them through the day.

Story of Survival


It sounds like you have so much support. What a true blessing! Cancer really teaches us to appreciate life and live everyday to its fullest. Thank you so much for sharing your story will us.


Hi, my name is Marci and I am 63 years old. My story started in 2002, two short years after my husband of almost 27 years passed away at the age of 58. I lived in Texas for almost 16 years when my husband died and I hung on there for about two more years before I decided to move to Colorado where several of my sisters lived. Two months after I moved here, I discovered a lump in my left breast and since I had lost a sister to breast cancer in 1992, I immediately knew it was cancer. I went for a mammogram and then a needle biopsy where I was told it was definitely malignant breast cancer. Luckily, after the mastectomy of my left breast, I was told that the cancer was estrogen receptor. My nephew, who is in cancer research, told me that estrogen receptor breast cancer was the most treatable. My surgery was in late October followed by four months of chemo therapy. Of course I lost my hair which didn't really upset me. As long as the chemo was going to get rid of my cancer, hair loss was no big deal. Then two more of my sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer. They were lucky that their breast cancer was in the very early stages and they both had lumpectomies and had radiation therapy every day for nine weeks. When I went back to my regular doctor in Aug of 2003 for a colonoscopy they found cancer in the polyps they removed. When I went to my surgeon for a colon resection, they found that my breast cancer had metastasized to my liver. At that point they put me on Tamoxifen. In November of 2003 my brother was diagnosed with bone and lung cancer. We buried him on Jan 31st of 2004. For the next 5 years and many trips to radiology for CT scans, PET scans and bone scans my cancer stayed hidden then suddenly decided to give me more trouble. It metastasized to my adrenal glands. They actually had trouble deciding if breast cancer was really the kind of cancer they found in one of the two adrenal glands and since they were afraid to wait too long in getting the results of the lab back, they thought the best move was to remove both adrenal glands and in July of 2008 I underwent a double adrenalectomy. That meant a new doctor in my forever future, an endocrinologist to monitor my body with drugs to take the place of my adrenal glands. Luckily for all my doctors that I have a great sense of humor because after it was discovered that it was metastasized breast cancer in both glands and had my oncologist known that, she would not have recommended the surgery but doused me with more chemo. I did undergo more chemo anyway from Oct of that year to Feb of the following year, 2009. More CT and PET scans and things were looking pretty good until Aug of 2009. My cancer had metastasized again to my right kidney and showing up more prevalently in my liver again. It had also grown from 5.2 centimeters to 8.9 centimeters. Though up until this time I had continued to work, my doctors all agreed that it was time for me to go on SS disability. I was getting sick more, more trips to the hospital and I felt that my employer deserved someone who is going to give the job their all and I was unable to do that any longer. I have been on a regular schedule of chemo since that time and it doesn't look like it will end anytime soon. I've been fortunate that I have a very large family and they have been my support group through all of this. My husband and I were never able to have children but coming from a family of ten, I have lots of nieces and nephews who have taken the place of the children I never had. My husbands family have also been a big part of my drive to keep going and not letting the cancer win. Yes, I am bald once again and again it is in the winter months of Northern Colorado. My family, friends and co-workers have commented over the 7 years that I have been fighting this cancer that they are awed by my indomitable spirit and sense of humor. I just knew that I had a mission and that mission was to fight this and take one day at a time. This cancer is going to have to fight harder to get me but I won't let it. In the past, my attitude was, "I got sick by myself, I'll get well by myself." Now, if any little thing doesn't seem normal, off to the doctor I go. I've almost become a hypochondriac. I don't take anything for granted anymore. I especially don't take life for granted. Every day I am thankful that I saw the sun come up. I'm still alive and I plan to stay that way until God says otherwise.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Get Outta the Way


Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. Your mother is very courageous and brave. She is a role model for all of us.


I am 5’4 and always considered myself a tomboy, trying to keep up with my much taller, older brother. I started my period very early, so it wasn’t long before I started developing breasts as well. It was so frustrating - they just kept growing, doubling in size seemingly overnight. When I would get dressed for third grade - I would cup my hands over them and pull them to the side, sighing, “if only you’d just get outta the way.” Sure, both my sister and I were made fun of for developing before other girls - our brother and his friends tormented us mercilessly. But, shopping for our “training” bras was the worst - there weren’t large enough cup sizes in that section. So, we had to find something in the ladies department. It was too late - there would be no “training” involved.
Through my teenage years, I attained kind of a love-hate relationship with them. I still felt like they were in the way, but had to admit that they filled out a shirt rather nicely. On occasion, I would still push them to the side and mumble under my breath, “if only you’d just get outta the way.”
The first time I had ever heard of breast cancer is when I was quite young. My mother’s Uncle had a mastectomy to remove first one breast and then the other, but he died anyway in the mid-1970s. In my early 20s, my mom and I can created a new sort of bond, with me as her caretaker after she sustained a brain injury and had to regain her independence. We were together day and night and talked about everything under the sun, repeatedly, because she didn’t have the ability anymore to remember beyond a few minutes or hours. With this new closeness and intimacy because I was responsible for bathing and dressing her - we may have talked about body image, but I really don’t remember.
A few years later, the dreaded “C” word of my mom’s generation reared it’s ugly head in our lives. She had regained sufficient independence to live on her own and was responsible for getting herself to her own doctor’s appointments at that point in her life. So, she was by herself when she was told after her annual exam that she had breast cancer. In her typical self-reliant manner, she didn’t tell any of us. I used my key and came to visit her at her house one day when she wasn’t expecting me. I found her in her bedroom, undressed from the waist up, with her well-worn hands cupping her breasts. Her head was bowed, as though to whisper to them and I heard her say, “you WILL get outta my way.” Shocked that she knew my secret wish from my childhood, I felt comfortable asking her why she was saying that to her own body. She shared that she was sick, but that her breasts weren’t going to stand in the way of her growing older.
She fought and won that battle with stage IIIC breast cancer and her breasts did end up getting out of the way. She decided that her body, although sick, was willing to listen to her. So, she developed a “get outta the way” attitude in other aspects of her life. A hill in the middle of a breast cancer awareness walk - “that hill isn’t going to get outta the way - I am going to beat it too.“ She trudged forward. A concerned daughter or doctor telling her to limit her activities, “get outta my way, I’ve got lots more living to do.” And she has, this is year six of her Surviving, Overcoming and Winning against breast cancer.
So, for me - she serves as a role model and inspiration. She is a little older, a lot wiser and has a new and unique way of doing things. She grocery shops by pink label, making meals out of strange combinations of foods bearing the pink ribbon. Most of her exercise is about getting ready for Walk for the Cure, Awareness or Relay and her vacation destinations are to join walks in other cities. Her wardrobe mainly consists of t-shirts from these events and comfortable shoes for going the distance. And she does… so obstacles be warned, “Get Outta The Way!”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Big week next week!

It's been a long 3 months waiting for my next round of tests/scans! Next week, I will spend 3 days at MD Anderson. Monday, I'll have my femur issues re-evaluated with a repeat MRI and plain x-ray, then I'll see my orthopedist to get the results and his recommendations for me and my activity level. Tuesday, I'll have my usual slew of tests: bloodwork, bone scan, chest x-ray, and CT of chest, abdomen and pelvis. Thursday I will see Dr. Green to get the results of Tuesday's tests, then I will have my "treatment" (Zometa infusion and Zolodex injection.) Whew!

It turns out that the recent development of stress fracture vs. progression of bone metastasis of/on my left femur has affected me the most since I was first diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in 2006. It took me a while to really GET IT, that I had to SLOW DOWN, and NOT DO ANYTHING that would put any strain on my leg. Okay, no running. I got that right away. So I joined the Y, hoping to take up swimming, planning to get some workouts in doing anything but running. I treadmilled, walking, and regretted it the next day. I went through an orientation on the weight machines. Low weight, not many reps, easy day, but I felt it the next day -- oops, did too much. Surely I could attend my weekly dance class, which is mostly stretching and strengthening exercises. For a few weeks, I did attend and tried to "take it easy" on my left leg. Yet I still had some mild discomfort 1-2 days later. Recently I walked, evidently too briskly, the 2 blocks to my kids' school for a meeting ... and felt it the next day. Finally, in a big DUH realization, I stopped doing any kind of workout (even took a few weeks off from dance class) and I started feeling better, leg-wise. Of course now I'm not fitting into my cute clothes and have gained 5+ pounds ... ugggh!

I've begun dance class again, yet still taking it very very slow. I just this week took a deep water exercise class (that kicked my butt, by the way) and had no problem with my leg afterward. So I think it's showing improvement overall. I am anxiously awaiting the test results of next week. Want to see nothing "light up" the bone scan on my left femur. Want to see a DECREASE in size of the previously enlarged lymph nodes in my chest and the left lung nodule. Want to see the tumor marker levels go DOWN. Don't want to see any more progression of this disease!

If you are reading this, you are obviously at least a little interested in my story. Please say a prayer for me. I would appreciate it. Thanks!

My mom and sister are coming to visit this weekend, and my daughter's 13th birthday party is this weekend. Must stay busy!