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Am I in remission yet?

It has been awhile since my last update....November to be exact.  5 months can bring a lot of change, growth, and recovery.  I'm not sure that I'll ever see myself as the same person I was pre-cancer both physically and mentally.  It takes something out of you and at the same time puts something back in....I'm just not sure I know yet what that is.  It isn't over yet....it is so close though. [...]

Somewhere still on this roller coaster called cancer...

I survived surgery.  It was and continues to be harder than I expected. Monday, October 22nd I went in for a lumpectomy on the left, revision of my right to match my left, and a possible axillary (armpit) dissection where they would remove hopefully one lymph node.  Going into surgery we knew that the axillary dissection could happen, but my surgeon was hopeful that the one lymph node we needed to remove would be easy and the dissection wouldn't be necessary.  Well sadly, it wasn't so easy and she did need to do the full axillary dissection.  This involves cutting below your muscles into tissue and stripping of the vessels, removing of lymph nodes, and removal of nerves.  Outside of this bump in the road, surgery was successful. They were able to remove both breast masses on my left side, and in total took out 17 lymph nodes.  My pathology came back still showing cancer in the two breast masses and the one single lymph node, but nothing had spread.  Disappointingly, nothing had really responded to the chemo either, so I am going to have to go back on one of the additional targeted therapy drugs until April.  [...]

Roller coasters

I don't know about you, but I love roller coasters. I love the thrill of the drop, the upside down inertia, the jolting back and forth...about a year ago we took Andrew to his first theme park.  My dad, Andrew, and I headed off to take on the big coasters well little did I know that this was a really big one to start the kid on.  Needless to say, we all walked off shaking in our boots but giddy over what we just accomplished.  I guess my cancer journey is much the same.  I feel like I'm constantly doing just that![...]

5 down, 1 to go!

I'm lucky to say that my fourth treatment was pretty amazing.  My dose was cut in half for round 4, thanks to my previous hospitalization, and thus my side effects were drastically different!  I'm back at it today, currently being infused with round 5 of chemo.  Back up to 75% strength with the chemo this round, so I can be assured that it won't be as smooth as round 4.  However, with 5 down and 1 to go, life looks pretty good right now.  My surgery is in the process of getting scheduled for late October.  Radiation and more chemo to follow, but not until I'm feeling good post surgery.  [...]

Another one bites the dust....

If you don't know, I bit the dust a few weeks ago and ended up finding myself in the hospital for 4 days.  After a very fun 4th of July and amazingly fun birthday....I just couldn't get hydrated enough to keep going. I had more side effects than normal that round of chemo and needed to be hospitalized to get fluids, potassium, and lots of IV nausea drugs.  Seeing things from the patient side while hospitalized sure makes being a nurse a totally different experience.  Let me just say...I appreciate hourly rounding during the day--not so much at  night, food in the hospital is HORRIBLE (can they not get real JELLO, not a off brand), and nurses who have no personality really blow.  For the most part I had great care, but it really makes me as a nurse think about how I interact with patients and what I can bring to their experience...so I guess I'm getting something from this entire debacle.[...]

Happy Chemo 36th Birthday to me!

I have survived a third chemo treatment, not sure as though survive is the right term...but I have made it through it.  I am now 1/2 way through the big treatments.  The treatments don't get easier, I just think you learn more about how to handle things and what you need to sustain.  I've learned that pacing myself is really important and that overdoing it isn't worth the three day set back.  I sleep, eat lots of bland carb like foods, and then after two weeks of yuck wake up to feeling better and enjoy a week of reprieve before starting all over.[...]

Gotta be real....

Three weeks have come and gone....tomorrow we head back in for another round of chemo.  Not gonna lie, in no way shape or form am I looking forward to what is to come.  My first chemo day was easy, and I thought wow, "I got this". Matt will tell you I actually went out to walk outside in the neighborhood post first chemo treatment thinking I'd pound out a few miles on the pavement after sitting all day. Little did I know that chemo sneaks up on you like an attack.  2 days post chemo and I was down for the count.  They warn you about all the things that can happen, but wow!  I don't know as though anyone can truly tell you what you will feel like.  You hear all these commercials on TV about side effects, in fact one night I timed it and it was 1:30 seconds of side effects....but they really do exist.  I had it all: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cold, hot, my hands itch like mad from neuropathy, smells made my stomach churn (even the smell of my child sitting in bed next to me), my face looked like I entered 8th grade again from acne, my nose bleeds, I slept no less than 18 hours some days, and life literally makes you feel like you have entered a deep dark hole.  Luckily, after a few phone calls and chats with my chemo MD, I went in for fluids.  We learned the hard way, but after three days of outpatient admissions for fluids, I was turning the corner.  I'm hoping this go round, it won't take 8-9 days of hell to feel better, but if it does we are at least armed with medicine and help this time.  [...]

One down, many to go....

We can start marking off items on our to do list!  Port has been placed and day one of chemo is complete!  

The last two weeks have been quite a challenge.  Just when we thought we were settled into a care plan and knew our path, life threw a few more curve balls.  Originally I had been diagnosed with Estrogen + and HER - Breast Cancer.  Two lumps in my breast and one positive lymph node.  The HER- diagnosis was a good thing and these items all dictated how my treatments would go.  One final pathology find last week, switched my HER- to HER+.  HER+ used to be thought of as more aggressive, quicker growing cancer cells, however, studies today show that the drugs available are changing that philosophy. [...]

Baby steps...

This week we have been provided more answers to this journey.  The majority of my testing is back.  Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer.  Estrogen +, HER -.  These little tidbits let us know that it is treatable and typically very successful.  My Breast MRI showed no further disease, cheers to that! My lymph nodes did return positive for cancer as well so that does now require chemo and radiation.  Last week we met with Medical Oncology and I will start 20 weeks of chemo shortly.  Here are our upcoming days...[...]