A 'Lump' in the Road

As I was merrily travelling down this road called life, I ran into a lump. Unexpectedly, it has set me off in a totally different direction. Take a minute to peek in on my journey...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Radiation

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'm Bald

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Walk to Cure Cancer

Monday, September 04, 2006

Chemotherapy and You



So, Thursday was my first Chemo treatment.

I arrived at 11:00. Had some blood taken. Met with Dr. Edmiston.

I decided that I did want to do the clinical trial. I understand how important clinical trials are to cancer research and I'm willing to do what I can to help. So I signed the papers.

She sent me and my mom to the cafeteria for a bite to eat. We were to report back at 1:00 for chemo.

We ended up waiting hours to get the randomized chemo regemin. - but it was worth the wait. 4 cycles of AC. yeah baby! I was secretly dreading getting stuck with 6 cycles.

So, Sharon, my wonderful nurse, hooked up my IV. It's funny, I'm starting to get used to needles. I don't think I even flinched.

First, they just run saline through - to make sure everything is a-okay.

Then they hooked up a bag of Decadron ( a steroid used for anti nausea and vomiting)

Then the red devil (see photo above). Adriamycin is 'pushed' - why? I don't know. That took about 5 minutes.

Then she hooked up the Cytoxan which drips through the IV - about an hour.

I get my own little room, with a comfy recliner and a tv. Going to the bathroom is interesting because I have to unplug and drag all that crap with me.

Overall, it was a relatively pleasant experience.

I have a bunch of pills I need to take for the nausea, sleeping pills when needed, stool softner - yeah, fun stuff. etc. etc.

On Friday (the day after every chemo treatment) I got my Neulasta shot which boosts my white blood cells. Side effect - mild to moderate bone pain. - Nothing a little Tylenol can't fix.

So, it's been 5 days - and no severe side effects. I feel good. A little tired. But I think I can do this!!

Leia was my hero, bringing me lotion on Thursday. My hands felt like they were going to split in two. And Mom, thank you for coming to all my appointments with me. You're the best.

What a week!

Monday I met with Dr. Edmiston. We went over my oncotype dx score which, as I already knew, confirmed her recommendation for chemo. We talked about Zoladex and infertility. Zoladex is a shot given to shut down the ovaries. It has shown to be effective in preventing the recurrence of breast cancer and most recently has been looked at in lowering the risk of infertility. The idea is that chemo is attacking any fast growing or active cells in hopes of wiping out any stray cancer cells. Well, if you shut down the ovaries, and make them inactive, hopefully chemo will have no effect on them. Hey, it worked on mice, or rats, whatever they tested it on... Unfortunately, it isn't proven to work with humans yet. So... no guarantee. But she was willing to give me the shot if I wanted it.

She asked me if I would participate in a clinical trial. Her recommendation was 4 treatments of AC (Adriamycin and Cytoxan). This clinical trial is looking at the difference between 4 and 6 treatments and also AC vs Taxol.

So, I left the office knowing that I would be doing chemo but still not decided on the regimen. - Oh yeah, and if I wanted to do the clinical trial I couldn't do the Zoladex.

She also gave me a list of places to go for wigs...

Tuesday I tried on some wigs.
I ordered the Joe Dirt special. In cappuccino, of course. Heh, just kidding. Actually, I wasn't ready to pick one - they were all just so fabulous! And totally me.... bleh.


Wednesday I had my appointment at Dana Farber. I met with Dr. Erica Mayer. She went over the pathology report prepared by Brigham & Women's. There was a minor difference. My new pathology report states Focal lymphovascular invasion IS identified. My pathology report from UMass said it was not identified. Not a big deal. "Breast cancers have a blood supply like normal tissue and organs. Tumors also have lymphatic channels running through them, which serve as a circulatory system in the body for tissue fluid and proteins separate from the blood circulation. If cancer cells under the microscope appear to invade into the blood vessels or lymphatic channels of the tumor, the possibility that cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes or other areas in the body increases. This is called lymphovascular invasion or LVI." But, my lymph nodes were clear - so all is well.
Not surprisingly, Dr. Mayer agreed with Dr. Edmiston's recommendations. She recommended a few other clinical trials and also urged me to look into fertility options.

My mom bought me a few hats and a scarf on our way out - thanks mom.

So, I made some phone calls... Blue Cross doesn't cover fertility treatments, because, well, I'm actually fertile right now. But for an arm and a leg, I can take one of my eggs and Ian's sperm and make a little blob to freeze and use in the future if need be. Ummm. weird.
So, anyway, with Ian's blessings, I'm crossing my fingers and hoping I'm in the 80% group that doesn't lose ovarian function.

Thursday - Chemo day.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

See Saws



Note the terrified look on my face. Was it because I had no contol? Was it because I realized that the person on the other end could send me plummeting to my doom one minute and skyrocketing to the moon in the next?

Whatever, I still love see saws - almost as much as rollercoasters.

But let me tell you, I'll be happy as a pig in sh*t when the rollercoaster I'm on now comes to an end.

Anyway, here's the latest update on cancer stuff...

I had my appointments 8/9.

Dr. Layeeque (Surgeon) looked at my incisions, pulled out a stitch, and told me all was well.

Dr. Cicchetti (Radiation Oncologist) went over what to expect with radiation. Possible side effects etc. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, because in the meantime ....

Dr. Edmiston (Medical Oncologist) is recommending CHEMO.

Um, yup. I was pretty surprised. I thought that because we had caught it so early, because the tumor was so small, because we had clean margins, because there was no lymphnode involvement - that I wasn't going to have to do chemo. Guess I was wrong.

Anyway, she sent me home with a book "Chemotherapy and You - A guide to self-help during cancer treatment", instructing me to talk things over with Ian and my family.

So, Ian and I decided that we need to do what's best for me. And if that means chemo, well, that means chemo.

I decided to do the Oncotype DX test. For a measly $3460.00 they take your tumor and analize the genes. Somehow they are able to predict it's recurrence. You get a score from 0-100. 0-18 puts a person in the low range. Chemo gives little to no advantage to their already low recurrence rate.

Me? I got a 24. That means there is a 16% chance that this cancer is going to pop up somewhere else in my body within the next 10 years. We don't want that to happen. Doing chemo will reduce my risk to approx 11%.

I meet with Dr. Edmiston on Monday to go over everything. I also have an appointment on Wednesday at Dana Farber for a second opinion.

We'll see...

A Return to Innocence

Last weekend we went to Tom and Ashley's wedding. I love weddings. But this wedding was extra special. Tommy was my bestest buddy growing up. So in addition to the overwhelming love and happiness I felt, this wedding brought my mind reeling back to my youth. To the earliest memories I have of my life.
To that sweet, innocent, carefree time... One Fern Street. Playing in the C.C.Lowell parking lot (which is now a Wendy's). Penny candy at Fish's (which is now a house, for sale). Our first day of school at Downing Street (which is now condos). Mr. Ryan, the next door neighbor, who I swear wanted to lock us up in his dungeon so his dog could eat us (wonder what ever happened to him) . Our fort, above the sandbox. Trips to the park. Birthday parties at McDonalds. Children's meetings. Aaah, good times. Good times. We were invincible. Untouchable. And truly loved.



Then that day - which at the time I thought was the worst day of my life. That day when everything changed. The day that split apart our gang, Me, Tommy and Douglas - sending each of us down a different path. The day we came home to fire trucks in front of our house. Life is funny like that. One minute, la di da, the next minute, whamo!!

And now our paths have crossed again. On a beautiful sunny day. August 19, 2006.

Life's been good to you my friend. You look fabulous. And Ashley, absolutely gorgeous.

Thank you for letting us be there for your very special day.

And promise me it won't be years and years and years before I see you again...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hey ladies???

Have you checked your breasts today?


My right breast is still very tender. It's looking more and more normal every day. For some strange reason I'm scared to death of finding something in my left. Actually, I suppose that's not strange. But, it's not good.
I've gotta get over it and keep checking that one out...

Well, Hello there!

heh, I have a blog.

Some of you may have been following my recent adventures on the
'Walk to Cure Cancer' page. The walk is coming up soon (thanks again to everyone for your generous donations).

I will now be using this blog to journal - about breast cancer, about family, about friends, about life...

I warn you ahead of time that I'm having a hard time staying focused - so there will also be some totally random postings.

But, add this site to your favorites, and be sure to check in often.

Love,
Christina