Thursday, January 28, 2010

A husband's love...


What a unique perspective Frank. You are a survivor too. I believe that cancer can impact our caregivers sometimes more than ourselves. Thank you for the encouragement that you are providing to all of us.


Hi my name is Frank, I consider myself a cancer survivor because my wife passed away from Breast Cancer in 2007 after a long 3 yr battle. Every test, needle, treatment, surgery`s, and everything in between i`ve been thru with her. It`s been 2 1/2 yrs now since her passing and it`s been the biggest struggle of my life. We were married for 16 yrs. She wasn`t able to have children, So it`s just me to deal with all the pain. I MISS her dearly. I am a survivor of cancer because i haven`t let it destroy my life. I want to thank you for allowing me to write this. When i`m involved with anything that has to do with cancer, I feel i have a lot to give. I feel each and everyone`s feelings of where their at with fighting their cancer. From the day at the Doctor`s office when they told her she had stage 4 cancer, till the day she passed, I felt every pain and every feeling she had. We were close and I Never want to feel that pain again. God Bless each and everyone with any type of cancer. I know it`s beatable, I`ve seen it in others. So Please don`t ever give up. Because deep in my heart, I feel my wife did give up that last year she was alive. She was in so much pain, she just couldn`t take it anymore. She wanted to go home with the Lord and get rid of all that pain. I know she`s in a better place now. I talk to her all the time. She tells me this thats how i know. God bless you all and Keep up the fight. You CAN beat it. Thank You Frank

There is hope...keep your faith and love your life!


What a blessing to have your grandmother in your life. She sounds like such a fighter. She gives us all inspiration to fight through our own battles in life. I hope you are able to create many more memories with her.


Hello my name is Amanda and my Grandmother, Agnes, is truly amazing. She is definitely one of a kind. She is nothing short of a hero in my eyes. Sadly she has had breast cancer ever since I can remember. She has gone through treatments to help her throughout the years. It has been a bumpy road for her however I have never once heard her complain. She lives life as if tomorrow is another day. She always surrounds herself with family which is the best medicine for anything! Unfortunately throughout the years the cancer went into her bones. She got a little weak and wasn’t as strong when she got up to walk but again didn’t stop her from living and loving her life. About three years ago she was admitted into the hospital because she ended up getting sepsis from her immune system being low (for all of you who don’t know this is when bacteria get into your blood stream. The amount of people who pull through sepsis is very low.) She was in the hospital for three months but I can happily say she pulled through it! It was a miracle. Like I said when you have family and faith anything can happen. When I look back it seems like it was one thing after another for her yet she always pulled through. She actually inspired me in my own life to fight through some of my battles. When things get tough I just think about what she has been through and how she fought through it. My words to anyone fighting this battle with breast cancer is, I know it is tough but never give up and always fight through it. Surround yourself with the people that love you and have a little faith. To put my story in perspective I am almost 25 years old. My grandmother is 67 years old and I am truly happy to have her around. I gave birth to my son November 18th of 2008. She was so happy to be able to help birth him and told me it was the highlight of her life! Without faith none of this could have been possible. There is hope you just have to keep your faith and keep love in your life.


A Heroine for Young Eyes

Thank you Colleen for sharing this story about a woman you looked up to and admired. This story is so beautifully written.


A Heroine for Young Eyes
By Colleen

I can't remember how my mother became friends with Deanne. Our family was from a very rural area in southern Ohio and we would always pass her farm when we were going to town for groceries. Our homestead, as I like to call it, was where I learned that work, especially work done for the joyous benefit of my mother, was the equivalent of gold. To both my brother and I it would come to mean fast money and an extra night out while in high school, but when we were young, all we wanted was the
reward of going to Deanne's house to see her abnormal edition to the community--her buffalo. She was, the only woman within 600 miles who owned the environmentally and culturally estranged creatures. Rural Ohio being what it is--hilly, but yet dryly uneventful, buffalo were to me as an unexpected paycheck is to me now.

Deanne was tall blonde with a long chin and a wide set grin--of which she didn't often show all of her teeth through unless she was tossing her head back in a fit of laughter. Strangely, that same tugging grin remained stable and unwavering in the afternoon summer sunshine when she'd hire me out to clean her house and listen to the Soft Rock station Warm 98.5 out of Cincinnati.

Her husband had gone, along with the buffalo. The house had quickly become more than what she could keep up with. The chemotherapy for her stage rising breast cancer was also to blame.

My mom was the kind of woman that would answer any of my questions. Periods, birthing, boys, “manhood,” tampons, why to ALWAYS knock before coming in her and daddy’s bedroom…the works. But mom never told me much about Deanne's treatments, how she was feeling or if she was able to feel at all. I would just go over to her house when she wanted me—for cleaning, for her sun dried iced tea and to walk through the tall white barn with a surreal vision of bison standing outside its corners. This
woman, this serge of joy, was a light of a whole other dimension in both mine and my brother’s life. That dimension was a dimension of comedy, of jokes and bear hugs and everything that encompassed her.

Deanne came to visit us one day in our home. She came with only one
breast, not the normal two.I remember being so taken back, shocked and embarrassed. My young mind thought how can she stand to see herself so exposed? I tried not to
stare. There she sat in front of my family, forgetting that a piece of her was missing—as a petal, plucked and stolen away. There in our home…in front of my family she sat.

But she didn’t just sit. She was Deanne. She jokingly smacked her leg and threatened my brother’s bad health if he drank too much Mt. Dew. She was her. Fervent in light and life and more of a woman to me than any other I have seen, she was holding more dignity in a one breasted body than some people will with implants. She was the essence of heroine not through glitz, glamour or fame but through the love she was sharing and the light she saw in herself and was transferring to my family.

Since then my materialistic thriving culture has tried to replace my idea of heroine. They never will succeed. It took a woman to understand her own beauty to help me also appreciate mine.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Update from Kim

Shortly before Christmas, a friend in my cancer group lost her battle with breast cancer. She was 36, with a husband and two young boys.

Around the same time, a good friend (37 years old who used to work at The Pink Ribbon Shop) discovered a lump that was found to be invasive ductal carcinoma. Pathology showed it to be "triple negative," and she subsequently learned that it had spread to some lymph nodes and that she was BRCA-1 positive. Thankfully she is being seen at MD Anderson. She will start chemotherapy, and also take part in a clinical trial, in a couple of weeks. After chemo, she will start radiation and will eventually have a bilateral mastectomy.

In November, after a 5K run I did with my daughter, I had severe pain in my left hip to where I could hardly bear weight on that side. Of course I worried, since that was the side that I had bone metastasis to the femur. I called my doctor, who said it sounded like inflammation, and told me to take 800mg of ibuprofen, 3 times a day, around the clock for one week. I did, and felt MUCH better! This put my mind at ease ... in 2006, when I was first diagnosed with stage IV cancer, the left leg pain I had wasn't relieved with anything. Clearly, this latest pain was not related to cancer, it was simply related to my pushing myself hard running. Besides, it was my hip and not my femur.

Of course when I could hardly walk, I took some time off of my running. After getting such great results from the ibuprofen, I attempted to slowly ease back into it. But the hip pain continued, off and on, and it sometimes radiated down into the femur. I decided it would be best to completely stop running and see what happened. I would wait for my upcoming test results before resuming my running. For two months, I did no running. I felt fine. I thought that surely whatever inflammatory thing I had going on was now healed up. The week before my 6-month scans, I went for a short run, and the pain in the hip and thigh came back, right away, after that one easy run. It now seemed to be mostly in the thigh and not so much the hip. I was truly worried now. It just didn't seem right.

Still, I am well aware of the fact that I am a worrier. This is normal and understandable for cancer patients! Once you have had cancer, especially stage IV, your mind tends to think that any little ache and pain is the cancer rearing its ugly head again. My husband, Danny, always tells me how much his joints ache in the morning or after not a lot of activity. It's a fact that we are getting older, and these things happen. He tries to comfort me with this, and I try to find a balance between worrying to death about cancer and graciously accepting the changes that come with aging. Dr. Green has explained to me that due to the metastasis to the left femur, it will sometimes ache or hurt, because it's been injured. Like an old sports injury, it will never be as good as new. Additionally, some of my scans and x-rays have showed slight degenerative changes associated with simply growing older.

The other thing I thought of was that Dr. Green had recently changed my Zometa (for the bones) infusion from monthly to every three months. What if that had something to do with this? I had trained in 2008 for the January 09 half-marathon with no problems whatsoever. I was training for the 2010 half-marathon in the same manner, so I was looking for a reason why I was having problems this time around.

The time came for me to have my full day of labs, x-rays, bone scan, and CT scans. The next day was my appointment with Dr. Green to get the test results. I informed Dr. Green's nurse (whom I see for a brief interview before each appointment with the doctor) of the issue and explained as best I could the progression of it all. She asked a lot of questions and took a lot of notes.

Dr. Green came in with her usual chipper self. She began to explain that the bone scan "lit up" on the left femur, just like it did in 2006. Of course, this was not what we wanted to hear! She recommended that I have a plain x-ray of the left femur to investigate it further.

But that wasn't all! She also said that a nodule at the base of my left lung had shown slow growth over the last few CT scans, as had a lymph node deep in my chest. This just blew me away. I guess deep down I was expecting to hear that everything was fine, and I was just having a little leg pain because of running. This was obviously not the case!

Dr. Green recommended that we switch my oral medication from Femara to Aromasin. The Zolodex and Zometa will remain the same. She has always told me that the day would come when the Femara would no longer work. It wasn't a matter of if, it was a matter of when. Cancer is not curable. Already, my 3 1/2 years on Femara had far surpassed the "average time to treatment failure" of 9 months! Ok the 9 months was what I read online, but going 3 1/2 years certainly made me feel good after reading that! Dr. Green has also told us that when a patient responds well to one anti-hormone therapy, they generally respond well to others, of which there are several. So, on to drug #2!! We pray that this one works even longer than 3 1/2 years!