Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Good News

Yesterday was my most recent doctor visit. Needless to say, I was quite apprehensive as this was when I was to find out if I needed chemo. The good news is my number is 16 which the doctor proclaimed is quite low and chemo won't do much for me. Boy was I happy. I'll now be taking Femara for at least 5 years and have frequent follow up visits and tests. But that's it!

It's truly unbelievable that from the time I had surgery until my treatment was finished was 12 days. Of course I'm still healing and have the maintenance drug, but I sure got lucky.

This will likely be my last posting. If I continue it will be more on a monthly basis just for major events, like the birth of our first granddaughter.

Thanks to all who have followed my story and given me so much encouragement.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Just an update

I saw my surgeon Dr. Tsuei last Thursday. He said I'm healing fine and to come back in six months. Two down.

Someone from Dr Rubin's office called and informed me I am not eligible to participate in the study. It is only for women who have not yet had any treatment. Since I've already had radiation it makes me ineligible. However, that doesn't really change anything regarding the results of the Oncotype test.

Yesterday I went for more tests. Surprise, Surprise. This time I had to drink two bottles of stuff, one at 6:30am and the other at 7:30am. Something to do with the contrast CT scan. Once I got there they also put in an IV and shot something in my vein. She said it would be really warm to hot and I would feel like I had wet myself. She was right. When that was over I had another injection for the full body bone scan. I had to wait 2 1/2 hours for it to go through my system so I left and ran some errands.

That's about it for now. I think I'll take my neighbor up on her offer to visit at her beach house for a couple of days as I have another open week coming up. Then on the 9th of July I'm meeting my mom in Chicago for a week long Illinois trip to celebrate her 80th birthday.

My next doctor appointment is on July 7th when I'll find out the results of the latest round of tests. I'll post again after I have that meeting. Let's all hope for good news.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Round two

Let's see, I went 12 days without seeing a doctor or having a test. That is the longest physician free period I've had since my first mammogram on April 2. Wow, it seemed like such a long time. I guess because most weeks I had more than one appointment of some sort. For someone that's rarely been sick it has been pretty overwhelming.

Last week I had a followup with the radiologist. I don't have to see him again until December. One down.

Tomorrow I see the surgeon again. This will be my second followup with him. Hopefully he will be finished with me or at least a six month followup.

Today was with the medical oncologist. Dr. Peter Rubin. Got some good information from this meeting, like the results of the pathology test. Old school would be I could take the maintenance drug Tamoxifen or Femara for five years and be done. However, there is a new test targeted for people with my type of breast cancer... early-stage, estrogen receptor-positive and lymph node-negative. The test will look at my tumor and based on the activity of 21 different genes determine the likelihood of recurrence for me specifically. I don't know, but it seems like a real no brainer to me to find out if I would benefit from chemo.

My decision is whether to participate in the trial study or not. It works like this. You have the test and are given a Recurrence Score (1-100) that falls into one of three groups. 10 or less, hormonal therapy only, 26 or greater hormonal therapy and chemo. The mid group of 11-25 is where the trial comes in. As the doctor explained this group is kind of a crap shoot. The benefit of chemo hasn't been determined yet, or just where is the point that chemo will help. If you're in this group it's 50/50 whether you'll get chemo or not. I'm leaning toward being in the trial even if it means I might have to go through the chemo. It's the only way science can advance, to have participants and the sooner they can get results the more people that can be helped in the future. I'll just hope that I fall in the 10 or less or draw the no chemo card!

Friday, May 29, 2009

First Followup

Today was the first of my followup doctor appointments. According to Dr. Tsuei I am healing well. When I asked if I had any restrictions on activities he looked at me kinda funny. Pretty much he said if it bothers me to use my right arm, then switch to the left. I see him again in three weeks.

The last week has been uneventful. Thankfully so. I have begun walking again and I definitely can tell when I have been using my right side too much. The right breast is tender like if you have something rough that's been rubbing against your skin. I'm not sure if it's from the surgery or the radiation. Tsuei said we'd call it the radiation and laughed.

So, I'm good to go. Winding down this little adventure. Probably won't post again for a couple of weeks.

Again, thanks for all the support I've received from everyone.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

No more tube!

Yesterday was my last radiation treatment. While I was still on the table Dr. Manning came in and pulled the balloon out. Then he showed it to me. I just realized what it looked like. Some of you may remember the old make your own balloon kits. A small tube, about half the size of drinking straw that you gobbed some stuff on the end. Then you'd slowly blow though the tube to form a balloon.? Pretty low tech, but I remember them as a kid. Well, that's what the device looked like. Then he inflated it to show me the size it had been inside my breast. It just kept getting bigger and bigger!! When he finished it was about the size of a golf ball. I was shocked. I thought it would be much smaller.

So, I'm finished with radiation! Unfortunately my celebration ideas were dashed as I have to wait another 24 hours to shower. To give the incision where the balloon came out time to seal up. And I tried sleeping on my right side, still a little sore.

I didn't realize how exhausted I had become. Last night I slept better than I have for a while. Well, probably since I stopped taking the Percocet. I'm so happy to be done with the treatment portion. Now my body can direct it's energy into healing. It will be nice to get back to normal. I don't hurt, just have discomfort. And of course my energy level isn't quite where it was before, not that I was a real ball of fire before anyway.

It seems weird to be able to say I am now cancer free. I still have several doctor appointments, follow up surgery, follow up radiation and a new one the medical oncologist. But anything at this point is preventative. Modern medicine is such a miracle.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hump Day

I have now completed 6 of the 10 radiation treatments and must say that milestone is quite exciting to me. Over halfway finished with the radiation! Yahoo! I will celebrate in two ways. First I will take my first shower in almost two weeks. I have a feeling that's going to be quite refreshing. And second I will sleep on my right side. No tube hanging out!

For anyone wondering about my shout out to Ken. He is my brother in law who is battling cancer. When I hear his story it makes me so grateful that everything has gone so easily for me. He is also part of the reason I have been able to keep my spirits up. Compared to him my bout has been easy. As I have told him, He has the Big C. I just got the little c. Anyway, some students did a piece on him if you'd like to check it out.

I'm definately winding down this adventure. Will probably not make another post until Friday after the tubes have been removed. Can't wait.

Monday, May 18, 2009

2 down, 8 to go

First of all, I want to say, Ken I know you are jealous. This is your good week and you only have to go to the hospital once. I however; get to go to the Cancer Center twice a day all week!

I started the radiation treatment today. The whole process seems to take about an hour. It appears they will do a CT scan every time to make sure the delivery system is still in the correct position. Then of course there is the obligatory waiting period while the scan is checked. Mornings I will have my dressing changed, afternoons they will send me on my way. Seems pretty easy.

I can tell when the actual treatment starts and ends as there is a slight vibration in my breast where the balloon is placed. Other than that there is no sensation. The length of time is about 2 songs long. Maybe 2 1/2. I noticed a little prickling feeling this morning after the treatment, but nothing too bad. I'm anticipating it will get worse as more and more radiation is pumped in there. We'll see.

I got the okay today to start walking again. Not too vigorously, but it will be nice to get out and stretch my legs a bit. I'm afraid serious hiking in Yosemite is out at this point, but just being able to make the trip is good enough for me.