October 12, 2016 Time Away = An Update :)

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Check out my hair!!

Hello there. I have been keeping a bit of a diary. Actually, I sit down thinking I have time to do an entry and then life takes over and I never finish. Oops. Well I now have a few days off. I jumped on a plane Monday after I received my radiation and came with Lenny on a work trip to Tucson for a small break. This never happens and I wasn’t so sure I could leave the kids and be able to take a few days off radiation, but everything came together and worked out perfectly. I will resume radiation Thursday afternoon when I get back.

So here I am in Tucson and have a moment to catch up with my blog. Just as I felt things were going smoothly I now am faced with more decisions. Here are the few entries I had started.

September 26, 2016 Officially in Menopause

Today, I went and saw my new Medical Oncologist (the doctor who specializes in just breast cancer for 40 and younger). I have been having horrible hot flashes and other side effects that I felt needed to be brought to her attention. I had begun to think maybe I was going through menopause. She explained today I had already entered menopause due to the chemo side effects and now that I have stopped chemo my body was fighting to come out of it creating horrible hot flashes. She explained in order for my body to continue to stay suppressed in the menopause phase which is needed I would begin endocrine therapy (to block hormones) as soon as possible instead of after radiation. This would entail a shot into my stomach every 28 days for five years and an oral pill taken daily for 5 years. She wanted to give me the shot today but my insurance hadn’t approved it yet. Today she ordered me to get another mammogram to make sure things are clear, then also schedule a bone scan to make sure the chemo hadn’t affected my bone density. The mammogram, bone scans, and shot are now scheduled for October 6.

She also ordered a new prescription to help with hot flashes and so I will see how this helps. The hot flashes are awful. They come on so quickly and my neck and chest start to sweat and I am not a sweaty person. Ugh. What fun!

She also had asked if I had followed up with a genetic counselor and I informed her I did have more blood taken and was still waiting for the results.

 

September 30, 2016 Results from more genetic testing

Today I met with my genetic counselor. I knew they had found something further because she had asked me to come in again.

To recall, I did have a genetic test completed on the BRAC 1 and BRAC 2 genes the day after my diagnosis (this test took 3 weeks to get the results). Of all breast cancers only 5-10% are inherited and a majority of the inherited can be traced back to the BRAC 1 and 2 genes. Since mine were negative I did not do the additional panel of testing at the time although I was aware of it. With technology now, there are 28 more genes they are aware of that cause cancer (not just breast cancer.)

My results came back with the additional panel that I do carry a mutation in the Chek2 gene. This gene carries a high risk of breast cancer and an increased risk for colon cancer. They have only been testing this gene for the last four years so it is fairly new. So what does this mean for me now? Well it came to be an interesting recommendation for me. The Myriad Genetic Laboratories in California that did the testing base their recommendations from two organizations, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCNN) and the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS). Both of which continue to carry the same recommendations regarding certain genes. However, the ASBS have recently updated their guidelines regarding the Chek2 gene to consider a bi-lateral mastectomy.

To summarize the information I received today was that CHEK2 does show an increased risk for a second breast cancer and there is some evidence that breast cancer may behave more aggressively in some women with CHEK2 mutations. Additionally, it also appears that some families may be higher risk than other families with CHEK2 mutations, and that family history is likely to play an important role in addition to the mutation information in estimating overall cancer risks. With my mother and both my great grandmothers having breast cancer it is likely I inherited the gene from my mothers side but with all women being over 55 at the time of diagnosis its hard to tell unless my mother was to be tested. However I have no medical history information from my father’s side. It will be important for my sister to be tested as it is a 50/50 chance she inherited the mutation. As for Austin, Bailey and Charlie, they won’t need to be tested until they are a young adult and at that time we hopefully will have better knowledge about this gene and recommendations. All our children are also at a 50 percent chance of inheriting this gene.

 

October 5, 2016

Since this recommendation is so new and two notable professional societies currently have different opinions on recommendations, both of my oncologists are taking it very seriously. My radiation oncologist will be meeting with a panel of other doctors to hear their opinions on October 11th. My percentage as it stands claims I have a 44% chance of having a second breast cancer. What Lenny and I have asked is how are these statistics related with someone who has undergone chemotherapy, radiation and endocrine therapy as risk-reducing interventions. They currently do not state what it is based off of and so we have more questions to be answered. At this time, I will be monitored with a breast mammogram and a breast MRI alternating every 6 months and I will begin colonoscopies once a year. If I do undergo a mastectomy it will lower my chances of ever having breast cancer again to less than 1 percent. What would you do? I think having peace of mind since I do have a long life to live will be what I untimely decide. Lenny says if we make it through one year it will continue to be on our minds if it will come back the next. However, I need to give it more time and get more answers. I am not mentally ready to undergo such an extreme surgery right now.

 

Radiation has been going smoothly. I go in every morning and the nurses are always very welcoming and easy to talk to. I see my radiation oncologist every Monday after my treatment. This past Monday (Day 13) after having an exam he said, “Are we even treating you?” My skin is not showing any sign of damage or irritation, which is normal to have after about two weeks. I am excited my skin looks great, between applying his lotion he created and a mixture of an essential oil cream I made 4x a day. Things are looking great.

 

October 6, 2016

I had a mammogram today, after having it done twice everything checked out good. The bone scan results will be sent to my Oncologist. I didn’t have the shot today, as insurance hasn’t gone through still.

As for my radiation, not sure if they upped my dosage because I wasn’t showing signs of treatment or if it just kicked in but my arm is becoming more and more sore by the day and the skin has become red and now appears burned.

 

October 11, 2016

As I sit here I am beginning to feel sick. I was so excited to come with Lenny that I packed my things and got the kids prepared with Nana for these few days that I forgot my medications. I am not sure if it is because I haven’t been taking my medications or if something else is happening but I started to feel sick off and on yesterday and now again today. I am thankful however I can just sit and relax and not do much.

I did end up going for a 4-mile run yesterday, my calves are sore now today. Lenny and I went for a hike as well yesterday evening. Having this time to just get away from the stresses of our normal days has been amazing. I’ve got to say Lenny has been a huge support to me these last six months. During this time, we have faced more hardships than we have the 16 years we have been together. I obviously don’t have a way with words but to sum it up I am so glad I have him by my side through all of this. I often feel bad that it is me who is dragging him through these not-so-fun life experiences but how lucky I am to have him. He shows me his love for me everyday. I feel ugly most days and I know life isn’t about looks but going out in public feeling self-conscious is something I am learning to get over. Lenny tells me he doesn’t care if I don’t wear makeup or a wig. I know I don’t need to wear a wig but more often than not I do because I don’t care for the stares and it usually makes me feel more comfortable to look normal. But then there are the days I really don’t care and go without. A lot of people tell me I have such amazing strength but Lenny and the kids have been my strength. The kids too, often tell me I don’t need a wig. Who am I trying to be anyways? I feel that I am pretending when I wear a wig but I have also had the comment, “What statement am I trying to make?” when I go out bald. So, I get torn on what to do because I’m not trying to make any statement really. Just this is who I am and what I am going through right now and sometimes it needs to be a carefree attitude of, it is what it is and you can think whatever you want.

Now, I am starting to get my hair back, which is exciting. However, I am starting to loose all my eyelashes and eyebrows. I thought I had gotten lucky and was going to keep them. I was told they would fall out last towards the end of chemo but didn’t know they could fall out five weeks post chemo. Oh well they too will come back eventually.

I will leave it as that for now. I am missing the kids already and we will be home before I know it. Hope everyone is enjoying his or her day. Talk to you soon. God Bless!

 

 


September 7, 2016 No More Chemo!

I don’t know where the time goes. The days have been packed from morning to dusk for months. I would love to keep my blog updated and hopefully soon I will be able to. We are still unpacking, Lenny encourages me often by saying we are making baby steps for now but in time it will all be done. With that being said, I am certain I will start to feel better and have a lot more time to work as I can officially say I am done with chemo.

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I received my 4th treatment on August 18, also the kids first day of school. The first 3 treatments basically have been the same recovery of 5 days of being sick and fatigued. The 4th however was a different story. It hit me much harder. I had a recovery of 10 days.

 

This last round as the days continued and I wasn’t feeling better by day 6, I ended up calling my Oncologist who recommended I go to Urgent Care. I waited through the day pushing fluids hoping I would begin to feel better. The urgent care doctor explained my blood count was low at 1.3 (normal range is 4.2-5.9) at .8 most receive a blood transfusion. I also had an elevated liver panel which she explained was to be expected due to chemo. The doctor wanted me to receive an IV bag for fluids (I know this would have made my status an emergent care and not urgent care). I said I would push the fluids on my own at home, which I did over the next few days. At this time Lenny was out of town. After coming home I started to experience liver cramps much like a charlie horse where my liver would cramp up so tight it was painful. I read online this could happen after chemo treatment when your liver is working overtime to deplete all the toxins. I learned apple cider vinegar helps to cleanse the liver of these toxins, so I started drinking 2tablespoons with one drop of lemon and cinnamon bark essential oils. After experiencing three liver cramps over the days they stopped. All eventually turned out ok, just was another rough 4 days until I started to feel better.

 

The day of my 4th treatment before I began I asked my oncologist how he would test to know if I needed the 6 treatments. He has told me from the beginning his goal for me was to have 6 treatments but if my body wasn’t handling the chemo well I definitely needed to have a minimum of 4. He told me he wouldn’t be doing any tests until I was three months post treatment and we would still shoot for 6 if I was onboard. I told him I would do any necessary treatments but wanted to know the benefit between 4 and 6. He then said we could just do 5 treatments. At that point I was feeling a bit unsettled as if we were negotiating treatments. I just needed to confirm if 2 more were necessary, as I do not want damage my body beyond what is ultimately necessary. Through research I haven’t found that 6 is any more beneficial than 4 treatments.

 

Of course, I decided to get a second opinion.

 

So I whipped out the contact information my good friend Bill had given me about the cancer center at University of Colorado Hospital. Thanks again Bill! I called up and discovered they had an oncologist who only specializes in breast cancer for women who are under 40. Score! (I later found out there are only 2 doctors in the state.) The bad news was she wasn’t accepting new patients. I was able to speak with her nurse and explain I just wanted her to review my records and receive a second opinion regarding my treatment. She ended up speaking with the doctor and fitting me in. I saw her Tuesday. She reviewed all my records and pathology reports with me and although the two chemo drug treatments I have been receiving is a typical and acceptable treatment she would have added one more drug to the treatment, which would have made it even more aggressive on the cancer. She did explain she understands why my oncologist has me aiming for 6 treatments but explained research the last 3 years has shown there is no significant benefit of doing 6 instead of 4 for my age group. She only has her patients do 4 treatments. She also highly recommended I get the additional genetic testing completed as soon as possible. I’ve only had the BRAC 1 and 2 testing which are the main two genes that show if the mutation is genetic or not. Only 5% of all breast cancer is genetically passed down from a mutated gene and the most common are the BRAC1 or 2 genes. However, there is a panel of another 19 genes that have been known to cause breast cancer, that I will be tested for here soon.

 

She agreed with the 6 weeks of radiation five days a week following chemo. However, my oncologist wants me to follow the radiation with ten years of an oral hormone blocker and she recommends a different route that consists of a shot every 28 days for five years and an oral hormone blocker for five years. She stated the five year recommended treatment has been shown to be more effective for the 35 year old age range and has shown to decrease a patients reoccurrence rate by 15% whereas the 10 year hormone blocker has shown to decrease recurrence by 3%.

 

The meeting with this new doctor went great. At the end of our meeting she said she would take me on board as a patient and I told her I just wanted to make sure my insurance considered her in network. After calling insurance I called her back to let her know I would be making the switch.

 

Just this morning I called my previous oncologist to let them know I had taken on getting a second opinion, and nicley explained I would not be coming back for chemo tomorrow.

 

It feels so wonderful now to know I’m onto the next step and chemo is completed. I can’t be happier that those days of what I called a chemo hangover are behind me. It is a blessing. It’s getting late and I am glad I held myself accountable today to update my blog. I will be doing my best now to update often.

 

Thank you to all who have been praying for me and thank you if you even me a gift or a card. It truly is wonderful to have such caring and thoughtful friends. I am one to send personal thanks and will do so, I am just behind.

 

 

 

 

 


July 12, 2016 A Bit Sluggish

It’s already July 12th, man oh man where does the time go? After finishing my last chemo treatment on Thursday, I felt the side effects waking up Friday morning. I thought I was going to have a full day of productivity before the side effects kicked in again, but I was wrong. I did see an acupuncturist Friday which I believe has helped.

Over the weekend I felt sick, there is nothing about these side effects that I can find positive. Oh yes, yes there is, I forgot, not having to shave my legs, my arm pits and best of all pluck that little devil hair that continues to appear on the bottom of my chin. 🙂

I am post Night 4 and feeling so much better. The days of feeling like I have no energy and an awful hangover with my entire body being sore (I have had no nerve pain in my mouth or feet this time, I believe due to the acupuncture) are hopefully once again behind me for the next 2 weeks. The entire experience of feeling sick is enough to send anyone into misery or a depression. I am so thankful however it only has lasted 4-5 days the last two treatments. I often think of how people are coping with an illness they have that has kept them in bed for days or even years. I am thankful my sickness passes after a very short (feels like forever during the fact) time.

I created another video log last Wednesday and wanted to post it before I went in for my treatment. I apologize I haven’t had the opportunity sooner. Tonight, I am feeling good and decided after putting the children to bed I would finish the vlog and do a quick post, so here it is.

I really am hoping I get better at doing video logs as it is much quicker to update. If you would like to subscribe to my channel on youtube just click here: Subscribe Here.

Thanks again for all your continued prayers. With Much Love- Tara

 

 


June 29, 2016 Soon to be no bad hair days

I have been wanting to do an update again since I started feeling better and I continue to think I will do it once I put the kids to bed but then I never do. Instead I have tried my first video blog, it took only about 5minutes and wa-la! I didn’t edit it and didn’t even try to do it a second time when I probably should have . So please bear with me as this first video really isn’t the best what so ever and I know I have a lot to learn but it was quick and easy. (PS I know I have misspelled “video” below on the title, have no idea how to edit on youtube…lol).

I thank you for continued prayers and support. I have had so many people touch my heart and please know if you haven’t received a thank you letter yet, I am still working on it and I do thank you and care!


June 16, 2016 Who has the strength?

Thursday June 16, 2016

Who has the strength? I am now feeling very weak and have lost most my strength. It has hit me pretty hard today. I now have so many mixed emotions. Moving, and remodeling and having a ton on our plate all at one time has me feeling as though I can’t keep up. I feel overwhelmed. Too many responsibilities seem to continue to stack. All I can do is embrace each moment with grace and to not fear. Moment by moment, inhale peace, exhale frustration. Things will get better.

2 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefor we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man in being renewed day by day.”

Weeks now have gone by non-stop moving and loading. Monday we finally closed on our house and we began the kitchen remodel. We are now without a kitchen until next week. I also started taking a corticosteroid pill Monday to help reduce the severity of fluid retention and any allergic reaction I may experience during and after my treatment. What I forgot about was that the steroid would keep me up all night and that I was to take a sleep aid.

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Tuesday was my first chemo treatment appointment. I was a bit nervous yet knew it was all going to be fine. My medical oncologist said younger people tolerate the chemo drugs just fine and if you feel anything different than just how you are right now you let us know. Beginning the IV, I was given pre nausea medicine and a bag of IV fluids. This small process took about 30 minutes or so. Next, came my first bag of chemo called taxotere. I glanced over at Lenny and looked into his eyes. His eyes filled with tears and I also began to cry. For some reason I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was just about to have poison enter my body and I wanted to jump up and run out. Why is this happening to me? How did I get cancer?

Just about 10 minutes into the taxotere my stomach started to cramp and I felt sick. Lenny went and got the nurse. She stopped the IV and we had to wait for about 30 minutes until the additional Zofran kicked in and I was ready to go again. The taxotere took about 2 and half hours, going back and forth from feeling sick. Next on board was a second chemo drug called Cytoxan. I, again, got sick and was given Benadryl and some more anti-nausea medicine. I stuck it out dozing in and out for the next 2 and half hours with this drug. At the end of the treatment I was glad to be done but felt awful. As Lenny drove me home I began to experience chest pain and my heart hurt. As we arrived home I started to feel a bit better and kept moving about hoping the toxins wouldn’t settle too hard.

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That night, I slept much better than the night before. I did wake twice and thought I was going to throw up. I took the anti-nausea medicine and it helped. Wednesday was productive. I didn’t feel too bad at all. I could tell my body was a tad off but I accomplished more painting and some other projects throughout the day.

Today is a whole different story. I was told the side effects would come as soon as Friday (not Thursday) and here I am wishing I had one more day and hoping tomorrow doesn’t make me feel any worse.

I am dreading the upcoming side effects. I feel depleted of all energy and don’t know how much worse it will get. The muscle aches and pains have started. Please continue to pray that I will receive great strength through our Lord and that He continues to comfort my family and me through this time.

The following paragraph is Lenny’s writing that I wanted to share with you.

As a family, some things can get overwhelming at times. The baby crying, the meals not planned, out of coffee, finding only one of your shoes while the other is under the bed where the baby thought it was best, then out the door and late for work. But then THIS! We don’t have time for THIS. What is THIS? What is THIS doing to my wife, to my children, to me? I never considered THIS could be in a person like my wife. I don’t want to say it by name, like giving it power or giving it validation of the dark power it has. THIS holds the power of fear, the power of uncertainty. I see the fear in my children’s eyes. They are not quite sure exactly what THIS will mean but what they do ask is, “Mom, are you really going to lose your hair?” and “Mom, you will be here next year right?” THIS is evil. This is not what we are about. To fear THIS is like giving a key to an evil stranger and giving them the controls. As soon as this happens then THIS will have all the power. To fear, to be upset, angry, and mad toward THIS is normal.  So what do we do from here but take this walk of life. I can’t take this from my wife and how I have pleaded and begged to take this from her and take it myself. I know God only knows that my wife is such a better person than I am.  My feet bleed taking this walk knowing that my wife is going to put her body through the hardest marathon she has ever done. The ups and downs, the smiles, the tears, and the victory at the end I will be by her side. She will win a medal of gold, no Olympic medal could even match. So we will take control and give it to God. Oh, Lord take my keys, take my life, do what You want and I will serve You. I will not fear. I will stand next to her. I will sit next to her and read her favorite books and hold our children when they want to be held but secretly I need their hugs, too. God take THIS and make THIS what You want it to be. THIS is CANCER and cancer is not going to change our faith, love or our happiness. Life does give us bumps but GOD gave us a 4WD. God gives us love, grace and mercy. There is a plan for us. Sometimes we might not understand or might not take the time to try but when we stop and really listen to what God is saying then we will have a sense of peace with God’s plan.

2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

 


May 24, 2016 Too Blessed to be Stressed

I’m a bit past due on updating this blog and I apologize. Life has been giving us more and more curve balls and by the time I get the kids in bed each night I think I will sit down and write but I just end up going to bed myself. This isn’t an excuse, ok maybe it is but excuses were made to be used right?

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Since my last post my treatment plan has changed. As you will recall I was going to do the brachytherapy, a five-day radiation treatment followed by chemo. I was going to start yesterday May 23. A few days after the initial plan, I received a call from my surgeon that she was not on board for this treatment. She explained to me that there is practically no research for anyone under the age of 45 (which I knew) and that she felt with the possibility of cancer else where in my body (due to a positive lymph node) that I need to have traditional radiation where we can treat the full breast and armpit and not just the area where the tumor was removed. She felt it was necessary to receive chemotherapy and radiation since the type of my cancer is aggressive. She then explained by doing the brachytherapy she believed it would put me at a higher risk for a recurrence since we wouldn’t be treating it fully. I completely understood and was disappointed at the same time. I had been looking forward to conquering at least one treatment quickly. She went on to explain she was not present at my treatment meeting and that the board was also trying to accommodate for less travel since I live over an hour and half away. I let her know we would be moving to Arvada soon and my commute to treatment would be about 20minutes. She was relieved to hear that since I will eventually need to attend daily.

 

Due to the brachytherapy not in play this week, they wanted me to start chemotherapy sooner. I explained my concerns that I would still be driving down from Granby and with it possibly making me sick I would not be able to help move or get things settled. They have agreed the longest I could push off chemo would be till June 13th and so it is still scheduled for my first chemo treatment to begin at 9am on the 13th. I will have a total of 6 treatments, one treatment every three weeks. I then will start radiation five days a week for a total of six weeks. My surgeon also allowed me the option to receive a port on my chest wall for the chemo. She said it would be my choice. A port implant would allow for easier access for the chemo and I would not have to have an IV line for each treatment. The downside is the port would stay on my body for the 5months. I said no thanks, I am totally fine being poked each time for the treatment and I have pretty good veins too.

 

I am happy to announce Lenny arrived home last Friday. This last transition with the kids and him gone went smoothly. Each time Lenny leaves it has taken all of us a few days to adjust and this time the kids knew what was expected and it went a bit better. We Face Time every night at book time and bedtime and it feels like he’s with us. What would we do without technology? It amazes me how far it has come. I grew up with a two dial black and white TV that we had to put a penny into the dial to hold it perfect without static and I don’t feel like I am that old at all. J Anyways, I was thankful it was just two weeks this time around. After picking him up at the airport we took a tour of the kids new school. (The school we are assigned to by location of our house.) It gets a 10 out of 10 at greatschools.net but it was much larger than we thought. We know moving to the city will count for bigger schools and this school has 750 kids. The lady giving us the tour even stated they move the kids around like cattle. We weren’t too impressed and the kids want to tour some more schools so hopefully I will get that arranged for this Friday. I know we wont have the small community feeling we have here but we are looking for a more personable school and maybe we need to give that school another try as well.

 

After the tour we got busy working on our new house once again. There is still a lot of work to be done and we are conquering it little by little. Lenny helps me not to get overwhelmed by telling me it’s like a book, just take it page by page. We never try to attempt a large book quickly it takes some time.

 

I have grown a lot in my patience these last few months. I am a planner and I like to get things done well and as soon as possible. It almost feels like we are preparing for a birth. I always wanted everything perfect and clean for when the baby arrived we could just relax and enjoy our time with our family. We are approaching crunch time but I know we won’t even be close to having everything unpacked and perfect. What I care about most is the kids rooms are done and that they can feel comfortable. I am praying chemo doesn’t put me out of commission for longer than a day because I have work to do and kids to care for. No one has time to be sick. “Aint nobody got time for THAT!” (There is a lady who is famous for saying this, and I keep picturing her…LOL, just Google that quote.)

 

This last weekend was full of cleaning out things and preparing the garage to hold all of our stuff that will be coming down from Granby. We are having most of the flooring replaced in the house and Home Depot will be installing the floors June 6th-June 9th. I was bummed it was not sooner but very thankful it will be done and it will still give us the weekend to set up bedrooms before the 13th.

 

Austin played in 6 baseball games at a tournament this weekend as well. The great thing is that all his games are in the Denver area since it is a travel team. We were able to come watch 3 of his games between some of the work. He has played on his current baseball team with the same group of boys for a few years now. It going to be hard not seeing him play with these same boys but the great thing is we can come watch the same team next year at a game or two and root them on.

 

I have been driving down at least twice a week to bring a load of things and then work on painting and getting the bedrooms ready. Last Wednesday I went down to get more painting completed and I received a call that my mom was being taken down to the hospital from Evergreen. I was glad I was already down so I could go see her and pick up her dog. I knew she hadn’t been feeling well but she waited a few days to see her doctor. She learned she had a bad case of pneumonia that needed some medical intervention. Throughout the weekend we stopped in to see her after Austin’s games. We received good news yesterday that she would be able to go home. I drove down again with Charlie (she hates these long drives) and was able to bring her home. She currently is on O2 but with the days ahead she will gain her strength and health back.

 

I feel things lately things just continue to pile on. I feel the weight of so much and then I remember to breath in and breath out, God is in control and I must surrender. There is no purpose in getting overwhelmed or full of stress or anxiety. I know I am too blessed to be stressed. This honestly continues to take a lot of practice and self-control. Over these last few months I have been trying to surrender my own wants and control to God and having been praying for his protection and guidance with every step and now it feels I have more and more things happening in my life some of which I want to throw my hands up and scream and say I cant handle anymore. I know life could be a whole lot worse, what am I complaining about? “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as member of one body you were called to peace.” Colossians 3:12.

 

I am reminded that it shouldn’t not surprise us if life is hard or we are handed hard situations in life, especially if we love Jesus because we also have an enemy who is trying to destroy us just because of this love. It is through these pressing times there is a bigger purpose God has for us. I have been able to change through these challenges already and God is allowing me to change for the better. I am able to see a lot more beauty and I look for that beauty in every situation. I am trying my best not to be consumed with hard feelings or anger that can arise from external circumstances. The joy of the Lord is a filling from within, it’s more about what is happening through us and it is a choice. I read just recently JOY can be looked at as J- Jesus O-Occupying Y-You. Wow, isn’t that what joy really is? That certainly is all it can be within me. If you haven’t chosen joy, try it!  God is there for you and there isn’t any time like the present to start.

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So there is my quick update. I’d love to write more but hopefully will this week. I thank you again if you’re still reading this and know I care. I want to thank all the ladies at my bible study as well, this last week they came together to make me a bunch of frozen Pampered Chief meals that we can have on hand. It was a huge blessing and I thank you all. Thanks to everyone who continues to pray for our family and me. P.S. I am still working on thank you’s!


May 11, 2016 Treatment Plan

Today went well. The drive down over the pass this morning was beautiful. Charlie threw up and we once again stopped for new clothes at Wal-mart. I met my Mom who took Charlie while I went to my appointments.

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Drive on Berthoud Pass this morning.

My first appointment was with my radiation oncologist. I was taken back today by a nurse who I previously worked with at Middle Park Medical Center in Granby. It was great to see a familiar face. My oncologist explained how the tumor board met yesterday and decided I would benefit from chemotherapy, radiation, and endocrine therapy. He told me they would allow me to do the brachytherapy also known as the SAVI implant for my radiation. (I went into detail about this type of radiation in my April 11 post.)

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Savi implant with external catheter wires. This is what I will have.

There is not much research on women under the age of 45 receiving this type of treatment but my oncologist believes I will get the same benefit from it the same as the traditional therapy. The best thing about it, is that it is completed in 5 days (twice a day)  vs. 6 weeks (5 times a week).  I will have an implant inserted directly into my breast where the tumor was removed and then will come for treatment twice a day M-F and be done with radiation. The plan is to start Monday May 23rd as long as my surgeon is available to do the initial procedure for the implant.

Next, I met with my medical oncologist.   He took his time to go over my Oncodx results and percentages and explain how I would greatly benefit from chemotherapy because of many factors. 1. My Ki-67 score was 70% (anything over 20% is unfavorable) that is the rate at which my cells are multiplying. 2. My OncoDx score being 27 indicating a high intermediate recurrence rate. 3. My age, younger people with cancer benefit more from chemotherapy. He wanted to start chemotherapy one week after my radiation treatment would be completed and I ask if there was anyway we could push it until after June 9th. He had to calculate the days and didn’t want to push it any farther and said I could start June 10th a Friday… Oh geez.. I then had to explain I was moving and if there was anyway we could start possibly the following Monday June 13th. He said I needed to start then and no later. So my first chemotherapy session will be June 13th. We also close on our house June 13th, and our kitchen remodel begins on June 13th. It will definitely be a full day, but I am thankful we could wait until the kids were out of school, the big move was complete and I would only be minutes away from where I will receive the treatment. He explained he would like to see me have 6 treatments; 1 treatment every 3 weeks. He explained many people can only tolerate 4 treatments. With each treatment the intensity of side effects increases and by 4 treatments some people’s bodies can not tolerate any more. He said his goal for me is 5 if not 6. Younger people can tolerate the chemo a bit better than older people he said. However, I don’t seem to tolerate anesthesia well, pain medicine, I can’t even take tylenol PM because I experience sleep paralysis, so I have no idea how my body will take unknown chemicals pumped through it for hours. Yikes!  What was a shock to me is each treatment will last 4-5 hours. He went into the biggest side effects being nausea/vomiting, fatigue, hair loss and the loss of finger nails and toe nails.

He also explained after chemotherapy I will start endocrine therapy for 10 years. This will entail taking a pill daily. I will have ultrasounds of my uterus once every 3 months for the first year then twice a year after that to monitor for uterine cancer. With endocrine therapy also comes the concern of bone density loss because it can force me through menopause early (only for 10 years and then my body may have regular cycles again until I reach menopausal age and get to go through it a second time.. oh yippee). Just being on one type of drug for endocrine therapy should reduce my risk of osteoporosis and hopefully won’t be a concern he explained.

After my appointment I went to meet my Mom and Charlie and headed to our new house to meet with the kitchen contractor. I then had almost two hours to remove more wallpaper. As much as its been tedious, I enjoyed it today. It was something I didn’t have to put any thought into and could do while listening to music and having Charlie play near me.

wallpaper
My crazy busy bee helping me with wallpaper removal.

I just looked at a calendar and I should be completed with chemotherapy by the week of September 26th. Just in time hopefully to go on a trip to celebrate Lenny’s 40th birthday. (October 15) Yah!! (although I may not have any hair, it will be time to celebrate a few wonderful events.)

I’m not sure exactly what to think of everything but I know I will get through it all. It truly has amazed me how God is working in my life. Its hard to explain it but he has provided me with wondrous strength to rise above the muck and mundane. I can personally attest that He’s real and He is powerful. I thank everyone who is reading this and again thank everyone for their continued support and prayers.

“When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:18-19


May 10, 2016 Big Day Tomorrow

Chemo

It seems that life is coming at me too quickly these days. I’m doing my best to keep up with everything. So another big day tomorrow. I will be updating my blog hopefully by tomorrow night if everything goes my way.

 

Sunday May 8, 2016 (Laptop died yesterday, finished writing Monday.)

 

Today is Mother’s Day. I celebrate today in peace. Literally, peace and happiness. There is no “Mom… Mom…Mom’s” being spoken much today. I am not needed and not taking care of my young kiddos. Lenny and Austin are beside me as we drive a U-Haul to Arizona. Nonetheless, I do miss Bailey and Charlie but a small break is also relaxing in its own way.

 

Life continues to throw curve balls. Just last week my in-laws were due back in Colorado after spending most of the winter in Arizona. They recently bought a new house in Arizona and had planned on coming back to their CO house to pack things up and move to AZ full time. My FIL got sick this last week and has been in the hospital since last Tuesday evening. (He is out of the hospital and is recovering and doing better.) He has an inflamed liver and gallstones and doctors have been trying to find the cause. This is why we decided it would be the most helpful to drive a U-Haul with their belongings down to AZ before Lenny left for two weeks and before I start treatment which may not allow for us to help them much in the future.

 

I have been trying to prepare myself for the possibility of chemotherapy and for my upcoming appointment on Wednesday.  I will know if chemotherapy will benefit me or not along with being provided my exact treatment plan. Praying for the best news. Appointments are with both my medical and radiation oncologists. My surgeon and both oncologists will be meeting on Tuesday to discuss my treatment plan.

 

Before going into surgery and only having my biopsy report; my medical oncologist already stated chemotherapy is likely due to my age and the aggressiveness of the cancer. This was when my biopsy report indicated a grade 2 cancer and now after surgery my pathology report indicates I have a grade 3 cancer. I’m staying optimistic however but also feel it necessary to prepare for chemo mentally just in case. As I have continued to learn being young with breast cancer is an independent predictor of adverse outcome. Extensive research indicates the younger you are the more aggressive the tumor and the higher the recurrence rate along with the higher mortality rate.

 

Most people will know this but quick down low on chemo. Chemo targets rapidly dividing cells. Since it cannot differentiate the difference between the rapidly diving cancer cells and the rapidly diving healthy cells it ends up killing both and wreaking chaos within the body.

 

Almost all side effects of chemotherapy sound dreadful. It seems the only thing good about chemo is that is will kill the nasty cancer intruder and clean house, hopefully for good and to never return. However, that is the most important fact I need to just stay focused on for now. I have my list of questions and hopefully won’t need to ask any of them because I am praying this treatment will not be necessary.

 

What we understood from my surgeon is that if chemotherapy is beneficial for me then every 5 years my recurrence rate will increase very little over the course of my life (picture a line graph slightly increasing over the years remaining almost horizontal) vs. if chemotherapy is beneficial and I do not opt to receive treatment my recurrence rate will increase every 5 years at a much significant rate. My current recurrence rate is 27, which falls at the high end of the intermediate risk, 30 is the cut off for high recurrence . I tend not to try to focus too much on percentages and statistics because I was already able to snag cancer in my 30’s while being healthy and having a very low .4% risk of developing breast cancer.

 

I have been reading up on the use of certain essential oils, particularly sacred frankincense, frankincense, thyme, and roman chamomile and the radical effects these oils have to kill cancerous cells. I have also been given information about cannabis oil and the same effects. As I dive more into success stories and the research behind each I am also weary to try them internally without exact medical recommendation. Peppermint oil helped me with nausea while I was in the hospital. Frankincense has the power to kill cancerous cells without killing your healthy cells however when doing chemo one must stop the use at least one week before treatment and wait 3-4 weeks post treatment to begin again as the EO can protect those cancer cells during treatment allowing for chemotherapy to have little affect. I have been thinking I may just use EO’s for the side effects post all treatments regardless of which treatment plan I am given.  As for the cannabis oil I have read it can be tricky with breast cancer and if your cancer is estrogen driven which mine is, you must be careful as the oil can cause the cancer to grow rather than eradicate it. My medical oncologist is open to discussing the oils and I will discuss it further with him Wednesday. The EO will also help with the side effects of radiation and hormone therapy.

 

During this long drive today I have been able to read more and even out loud to Lenny and Austin. At one point reading about all the side effects I had to stop because the tears start to run. I have been in tough mode since I was diagnosed and as the next step arrives I feel ready yet also nervous and more emotional as it continues to feel more real. (Crazy I know but somedays it just doesn’t seem real.) I want to be prepared for any scenario and especially mentally which I’m pretty sure I’m only about a quarter of the way there.

 

I believe I will try to take the same mental approach I do when I train for half marathons or when I have trained for fitness competitions. If I set the goal and have the determination to train and stick with it, it becomes a way of life, as most call it now a “lifestyle change”.  As long as I tell myself I can’t give up and I train daily and put forth the adequate and necessary determination in my workouts I manage to run the race even through the uphills in a relative easy manner. If I don’t train or prepare I get anxious and most of the struggles aren’t smooth and end in a battle that reminds myself the importance of training. One step at a time, one day at a time, positive attitude with God by my side and I’ve got this!

 

I pray tonight that God can teach me the glory in and through this experience and that I can continue to feel at peace through this journey. Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

 

These days are passing quickly and I’ve learned to be content and more grateful for the here and now. The laughter of my children, the closeness of my husband, the beautiful sunrises, the beauty in each new day. The kindness of friends and complete strangers. The fun life gives. The love life gives. I have learned how to focus on life’s sweetest moments more so than ever before, and to never forget how truly blessed I am.

 


May 1, 2016 No appointments on May 3.

love-emotions-wallpaper-retina-hd-download-4

 

Thursday, I received a call from my surgeon’s office informing me that my OncoDX results would not be back before May 3rd. This was the day I had previously been scheduled to meet with both my medical and radiation oncologists. They said the results would be back sometime May 6th a Friday so I needed to reschedule the meeting with both doctors beginning the week of May 9th. The earliest they could both meet with me was May 11th.  I was a bit disappointed but the good thing about waiting and pushing the appointment off longer would allow me to heal a bit more and give me more time to pack and get things done before starting treatment.

 

Friday, I had my post surgery check up. There is something about my surgeon that I just love. She is very caring and understanding, takes her time with me yet gets straight to the point. Lenny left from work to meet me and we had Charlie with us during this appointment. We weren’t expecting much but a check up on the two surgery incisions. I had a bunch of pain this last Sunday and was worried I had done too much or possibly had an infection as I have had pain since.

 

When my doctor entered the room. She asked how we had been and how things were going. She let us both know how disappointed she had been that my OncoDx results were going to be delayed but then she said they stepped up their work after one phone call and that she had my results on her desk first thing this morning. (Wow, awesome! Way to go Dr. she obviously carries some weight around here…lol). We then went straight into the results. At this moment I wasn’t exactly prepared to receive them.  We briefly discussed the results. These results are mainly for my medical oncologist to explain and inform me what treatment I will benefit from most.

 

I then had an exam of my two incisions and I explained I have been having pain and was worried I might have an infection. She explained the pink and white spider like web across my breast was not an infection but was lymphedema. Lymphedema is most commonly caused by the removal of your lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment. It results from a blockage in your lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and the fluid buildup leads to swelling. It mainly occurs in the arm where the lymph nodes were removed during surgery. It occasionally will occur in the breast. There is no cure for lymphedema. To help express the build up of fluid you must apply pressure, for me it would entail wearing a tight fitting sports bra for a few hours or through the night. She was not sure if it would be temporary or long term. The joys that I am already starting to experience. 🙁

 

I sit here now with an 8 page pathology report that we went over but feel a bit clueless at the same time.  The OncoDx result was a score of 27. The OncoDx tests a panel of 21 genes in the tissue of the tumor. The end result is a number that determines your recurrence result. Now that I read all the small print my percentages are based from a study of 367 post-menopausal patients with node positive and estrogen receptor positive tumors. I’m not sure why I was compared to women that are post-menopausal. I will have a better understanding of my results when I meet with my medical oncologists.

 

Now that we have the results back sooner and my appointment is set for May 11th I was hoping to switch it back to this upcoming week so that Lenny could be with me but no luck. He put off going back to Arizona till the following week now, which means he will not be there for my May 11th appointment.

 

I hope everyone is having a great end to their weekend. I continue to thank everyone who is supporting us and continues to pray and share their love with us. We continue to be blessed by so many and again I greatly appreciate everyone!

 


April 25, 2016 Hurry up and Wait

I’ve taken a break for almost a week. It’s as if I studied for exams, took the exam, barely passed; because I didn’t fully prepare and then just stopped studying because I was done. I know there is a long road ahead still but I felt it necessary to take a break from researching and preparing. That’s all I have really done in every moment I can to prepare myself and ask necessary questions. I hate the feeling of not being prepared. Now its just a hurry up and wait game.

 

Since everything has gone by quickly, I have finally had the time to digest what is happening. I have experienced the overflow of emotions. I have been able to have a bit of an idle mind to say the least. An idle mind can be the devil’s workshop I’ve heard. After the first pathology report came back and I heard my cancer is the most aggressive and had spread to my lymph nodes , I’ve had a gripping fear that this cancer might take my life. I’d be a lair if I said I was ready to leave this Earth. I know my biggest job here is to be a Mother of my three beautiful children. They need me and I will continue to be here. When these thoughts have flooded in and the fear of the unknown takes a strong hold upon me, I take a moment to breath. Breath in and out. Breath in and out. Big breaths in and out. After much needed breathing and praying I am always calmed with a peace and reassurance of understanding. I am constantly reminding myself God has chosen me for this experience and I have the support and strength through him. “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.

Strenthens Me Verse

Now I’ll start once again diving back into research and reading. I feel being more prepared and educated takes this fear of the unknown away. Not one of us are promised tomorrow but we are given the chance to make the best decisions we know how. I will meet with both my medical and radiation oncologists on May 3rd. I will know the exact treatment and plan then. We will have the OncoDX results back as well. This test will have the biggest deciding factor on if I receive chemo in addition to radiation and hormone therapy.

 

Since surgery last week, I have had the support of such wonderful friends and family volunteering with meals, offering rides, caring for Charlie, whatever I need they say I just need to ask. It has gone beyond words how appreciative I am of everyone’s generosity. I am learning just how to allow others to physically and emotionally support me. I am one who even when I may need help I tend to still try to be independent even to a downright stubbornness. What I feel I have needed most is just to be able to express my feelings in conversation to someone. I even have a hard time doing this, as I know I would feel much like I am complaining and just need to put on my big girl pants and deal with what I have. It’s a bit of a struggle being able to not hold in my feelings, but I am learning to let others in.

 

I am healing well and have much bruising. I can use my left arm to hold Charlie and do almost everything I need to do. My right arm, armpit and side are still sore. I was sick off and on over the weekend, however I believe it’s the pain meds still warring off. I still continue to be dizzy off and on but otherwise I feel good.

 

Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead and I will leave you with this. Girls are made more than just sugar and spice. Breath in. Breathe out. Stand with confidence. Take control. There is no time like the present to realize that if anything is keeping you from living a happy and fulfilling life, you can overcome it. Prevail. Empower yourself. Beat it. Kick ass. Fight like a girl.