In cancerland, the best news is always hearing there is No Evidence of Disease (aka NED, aka remission). The next best thing is having Stable Mable for a BFF. While the cancer isn’t shrinking, it isn’t growing. Everything is status quo. And although I’ve never met NED, I have been fortunate enough to hang out with Mable several times. But, as I learned again this week, Mable is unpredictable in the relationship department.
My scan in January showed this quint (5!) chemo cocktail was holding things steady and I was hanging with Mable. Even my oncologist was impressed at how well I was tolerating the combo.
But then, a couple weeks ago, I noticed a new bump on my chest wall. A few days after that, I could feel a lymph node in my armpit. All the same places the beast has previously shown-up. I met with my oncologist who called the areas “worrisome” and ordered a stat PET (full body) scan before any more chemo. The scan results showed Mable was MIA and my enemy, progression, was there instead. Although there aren’t new tumors in the bones, they all were brighter on the scan, meaning more cancerous activity. There is a new spot in my liver. There’s a nodule on my lung that is concerning and a lymph node in the middle of everything that is causing some pain.
My mom and I met with my oncologist, reviewed the written report, scrutinized the images from the scan, and had an examination to measure the new spots that are palpable. We discussed what remaining breast cancer drugs are available. There aren’t many and they all carry significant side effects that would greatly decrease my quality of life.
Thankfully, over the summer I had a chemo assay performed. They were able to test tissue from the tumor to see what kind of chemo sensitivity it showed. While the results didn’t lead to any obvious breakthroughs, it did show the cancer was sensitive to a prostate cancer drug. Thankfully insurance quickly approved it and I will start it Saturday. It is 4 pills daily along with 2 additional steroid pills. Be advised, I HATE being on steroids, I feel like I’ve had 5 cups of coffee, can’t stop talking, and have a hard time being still. So, if you encounter me in the next month, please be patient as I adjust to living on these different drugs. And although I’m missing my girl parts (breasts and ovaries), my doctor has assured me I won’t grow any boy parts by going on this drug. In addition to this, they plan to radiate the lymph node in the middle of everything causing pain.
At the end of every day, Corbin and I share our “highs” and “low(s).” You’ve obviously just heard about my low, but I would be remiss if I didn’t share my highs:
1. Your generosity! My birthday wish came true and my friend has raised money to participate in the walk. Of course donations are still welcome as are money for her minor expenses like cabs, food, etc. The flight, hotel, and registration donation are all done! If you want to help with the minor expenses, please leave a note below or email me directly. I’m so humbled at the generosity of others; it’s so awesomely amazing.
2. I turned 36! I had the most handsome date to the Taylor Swift concert in St. Louis the eve of my birthday (although he did fall asleep half-way through the concert, in the midst of 14,000 screaming fans).
The actual day of my birthday, Corbin and I went to one of our favorite places, The City Musuem. We have been 3 times and are STILL finding new areas to explore! That evening we celebrated with lots of sweets with my family.
3. This video. I was contacted about being in a video for one of my favorite cancer-related organizations, Imerman Angels. I immediately jumped at the chance. But, while there will still be an IA related video, this is what the producer turned in for his final project for the film class. It is beyond precious to me and I’m so thrilled to share it with you.
Thank you, truly thank you. The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind complete with an assortment of emotions to go along. Thank you for a kind phone call, a thoughtful card, or a prayer. I truly could not do this without your support.