Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Inevitably Long Catch-UP Blog Post

Tuesday, June 23, 2009: I make the most amazing discovery as shown to me by my mother-in-law. On the Ithaca Sports website, she found a vacuum sealed water proof sleeve made specifically for picc lines like mine. I immediately ordered it and had it overnighted with the hope that it would allow me to get in the pool and ocean during our Mexico trip without worry.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009: I go in for Picc care/line flush and to get my dressings changed on my arm before heading off to Mexico for 5 nights. I ask them what they think about my find (in the mail at that time), and they tell me, "Oh yeah, we've heard of those...we just don't ever mention them because we used to and people didn't like how expensive they were." For reference, it was $37.00--well worth it if what it claims is do is what it really does.

Friday, June 26-Wednesday, July 1, 2009: Joe and I meet his parents and several of their friends for a 5 night stay in an all-inclusive resort 15 minutes outside Playa del Carmen. It was a much needed vacation, as the only decisions I had to think about or make were what to order for meals and what drinks to order from the swim up bar. We had a couple of days of clouds and a couple of days of sun. It was a nice balance that kept me from overdoing my sun exposure. It was FANTASTIC!

Saturday, July 4, 2009: Happy Independence Day to everyone! I hope everyone had a fun and safe July 4th celebration. I joined friends of ours for a low-key, children welcome, cookout from one friend's parents' house in Lenexa where you can see 4 or 5 fireworks displays from their balcony. One of the husbands made the comment, "Wow, our get-togethers have really changed. We now spend more time keeping the babies and kids alive than we do drinking and talking about ourselves." How right he was. We had two 2-year-olds present and three babies. Children, children everywhere.

Monday, July 6, 2009: After three weeks of feeling progressively better (since my last chemo treatment on June 15) and ALMOST forgetting that I'm in cancer treatment, I returned to the Cancer Center for chemo treatment #7 of 8. I had mixed feelings about this one. While I am really getting impatient and really ready to have them over with, I was felling SO MUCH better than I could remember feeling in a very long time. I knew that a treatment meant the end of that feeling for a while. This was my first 3 week break between chemos--this occurred for two reasons. Originally, when I was supposed to be taking Taxol--recall that's the one I had an allergic reaction to after my first treatment, so they took me off of it and moved me to Taxotere--they were just going to push my treatment back a week to let me go to Mexico safely with high white blood cell and red blood cell counts. However, now that I'm on Taxotere, it doesn't really matter. On Taxotere, you have to wait three weeks between each treatment anyway. So far, there is simply not enough research out there for my doctor to feel comfortable giving me a more concentrated treatment (i.e. the two week apart treatments like I've been used to). There is research to that effect with patients receiving Adriamycin, Cytoxin, and Taxol--all the other drugs they've had me on--but not this one, not Taxotere, so the three week apart treatments will be my standard for what remains.

I was not aware of this until I met with my oncologist at yesterday's treatment. Therefore, I am torn about this. I mean, I know a lot of breast cancer patients traditionally have to wait 3 weeks between EVERY treatment, so I have been fortunate to have it go so quickly for this long, but I've had this thought, "I'll be done with chemo on July 20th" in my head for WEEKS now, so to learn that it will be pushed back a week--8th and last chemo treatment will now be held on Monday, July 27th--is a little disappointing (I might have cried, just for a minute or two). This also means my surgery will be pushed back a week to the week of August 17th. It's tentatively scheduled for that week and we'll be able to firm up an exact date very soon.

I suppose that's the "bad" news if you can even call it that, so what's the "good" news you might ask? The good news is that my oncologist can now not find the lump on a physcial exam either. He was the last remaining one (of myself, my husband, my surgeon, my nurse practitioner, and my oncologist) who could still find the mass. He officially, as of yesterday, could not find it and had nothing to measure. It's now time to just let these last two treatments shrink it further and let the MRI that will come later tell my surgeon what he needs to take out.

The last time I saw my oncologist was prior to my 5th treatment and this time I saw him just before receiving my 7th. This means that after letting treatments number 5 and 6 take their effect and do their work, the affected area, which before treatment 5 measured at 3cm x 3 cm on a physical exam, can now not be measured AT ALL on a physical exam. Remember, the "affected area" is not the cancer--it includes scar tissue, etc. around the cancer. We won't know how big the cancer is until we see it on an MRI. This is very excited news--with my doctor doing physical exams every 2 or 4 weeks, we have gone from 8cm x 8cm affected area prior to my first treatment, to 3cm x 3cm prior to my fifth treatment, to being able to find nothing at all on my physical exam prior to my seventh treatment. And...don't forget, we still have the effects of two full treatments to shrink this puppy down further. My doctors couldn't be more pleased with my progress!!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009: As for today, I have an appointment with a radiation oncologist. At this point, it appears that a lumpectomy is still going to be the best option for me, but I'm essentially getting a third specialist's opinion on this--the first woman's opinion I might add. She will talk to me about what to expect after either having a lumpectomy or a single mastectomy--timelines, side effects, etc. I will learn how long after my surgery I could begin such treatments and so on and so forth. After today's appointment, I will be able to call up my surgeon and get on MRI scheduled for sometime between around August 3-August 14. That will be one to two weeks prior to surgery and it will allow my 8th treatment, to be held on July 27 take some effect before we get that FINAL picture. Assuming that MRI reveals nothing surprising--KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED AND KEEP THE GOOD VIBES, THOUGHTS, AND PRAYERS COMING FOR THAT MRI TO GO WELL AND REVEAL NO SURPRISES! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!--then my lumpectomy will proceed as planned.

It's so exciting how close I am to getting to the end. One more chemo, one HOPEFULLY simple, out-patient surgery, and an indeterminate number of rounds of radiation (I'm told this will be a walk in the park as compared to what I've already been through with chemo). My challenges with daily feelings of stress and anxiety, and my daily struggle with battling away low feelings that would do nothing but hinder my healing seem so close to coming to a close. Intellectually, I know that fear and anxiety about this ever happening to me again (or to someone I love) will NEVER really go away--and that neither my physical nor emotional battles are over yet, but I can't help but feel a little elated! Just one more! Just one more!

1 comment:

  1. Jake and I were thinking about you guys on the 4th. I told him it was our 1 year Megan and Joe hangout anniversary. Too long! I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that everything with your treatment keeps going smoothly! It sure sounds like it is so far! <3