I forgot to add, here's some good news. Julie holding her new great-great grandson. She was happy, happy, happy![...]
My apologies for being remiss in posting Julie's progress lately, but we've experienced a few bumps in he road, and things have been a bit hectic for a while. Due to a bout of extreme weakness, we had to make another trip to the emergency room, where Julie received a unit of blood to get her back on her feet. And we've had continuous doctors' appointments for the last couple of weeks. In my last post I had reported that Julie's latest scan had shown some shrinkage in her tumor, and we had hoped that her following treatments would achieve the same results. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Her following scan showed that the tumor was no longer shrinking, demonstrating that the treatments were no longer being effective. Molecular profiling confirmed that her cancer is chemo-insensitive, which meant that we could not continue the treatment plan that we had mapped out. We have decided to to enter a relatively new trial that will use a different combination of drugs to treat the cancer. The treatments will be every three weeks, with daily oral meds in between treatments, and her being closely monitored during the treatment plan. She had the first of four treatments yesterday, so we've stayed in town today to be sure that she did not experience any unexpected side effects (she hasn't). Not having been home in weeks, we plan to head that way tomorrow. It will be good to get back into our own house, and get caught up on the things that need to be done there.[...]
Pretty good-looking for a gal with no hair! She does have her wigs, hats, and caps, but today was a head-scarf day!
Some good news to report. Yesterday, we went in for Julie's scan, doctor's visit, and her next chemo treatment. The scan indicated that the chemotherapy treatments are doing some good. The treatments have shrunk her breast tumor significantly. Great! Wonderful! That means that we can continue her current treatment plan, rather than have to move to another plan, or to a trial, and hope that her current treatments continue to be effective (sometime treatments lose their effectiveness after a while). We still have a very long way to go, but this is a very positive first step on this journey.[...]
Well, Julie certainly did enjoy her week back home. Fortunately, she did not have the same bad reaction to her second treatment as she did with her first, the one that put her in the emergency room, so we were able to make it through the week with no major problems. We are now back in Houston preparing for a scan, visits to her doctors, and her next chemo treatment, scheduled for next week. The results of the scan will determine our path forward with her treatment. She is feeling reasonably well, just trying to manage the various side effects of the chemo. Thank you all for your thoughts and well-wishes.[...]
Julie couldn't stand being away from home any longer, so she insisted that we drive home this past Thursday, just two days after her second chemo treatment. This is Saturday morning, and except for a bit of fatigue, she has been feeling good since we got home. I believe a lot of it is just because she's so happy to be back in her house (and this great weather!). Six or seven days after her first treatment, she got sick enough for me to take her to the emergency room. Her doctor reduced her dosage a bit for this second treatment, in an attempt to avoid a recurrence. We haven't reached our sixth or seventh day after this treatment yet, but we'll just hope for the best, and enjoy the days that she does feel good.[...]
This first entry has to be a bit long to get the folks that have been unaware of our situation up to date. I will start at the beginning;
Because Julie has always been at high risk for breast cancer, for years we have been going to M.D. Anderson every six months for exams. On our most recent visit on August 3rd, her MRI detected a mass in her right breast. A biopsy confirmed it to be malignant. It turns out to be metaplastic, a very rare form of breast cancer, representing less than 1% of all breast cancers. Unfortunately, this type of cancer tends to be chemo-resistant, and is very challenging to treat. Her current treatment plan is to have chemotherapy for a fairly long time, before any surgery is scheduled. Those plans could always change.[...]