Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Done With Chemo! (Fingers Crossed)

Yesterday was my last chemo, for now, and hopefully if everything continues to go well, forever! I've had two Adriamycin/Cytoxin, two Adriamycin/Cytoxan/Taxotere, sixteen Abraxane, and eight Avastin treatments! It has been a really long six months! But . . . everything I've read says that the chemo is the worst part of this whole journey and now it's behind me! Hooray! I know it's going to take a while, but I can't wait to start looking more like my normal self. Gone are the days of wishing I looked more like Katherine Heigl! Just plain ol' normal me will do, thank you!

The nurses at the chemo unit had a bubble party to celebrate my last day of chemo.

Joe, Pam, and I also met with Dr. Livingston and Dr. Lang yesterday. They are both very pleased with my response to the chemo and say it's hopeful that I may have a complete pathological response. Dr. Lang spent a long time going over the surgery with us and we scheduled it for June 11th. Only three weeks away. I hadn't met with Dr. Lang since our first visit in January. We left yesterday feeling so very confident in her. She is a very skilled surgeon. And, she treats each of us as if we really matter and that my outcome matters to her.

I decided on a double mastectomy. I know that there is a real chance that I may have to deal with metastasis and that the road ahead of me may yet still be a long one, but there is also a real chance that the chemo has worked and the worst is behind me. Even though the doctors tell me that the chance of a second breast cancer developing are small, I just can't even imagine having to begin this journey all over again. I've researched and there are all kinds of wonderful prosthetic bras and clothing so that no one need ever know (except all of you of course!) and if everything goes well I can have reconstructive surgery next summer.

Pam and Janaya planned a girl's spa day tomorrow to celebrate being done with the chemo. Then, I am going back to New Jersey with Pam on Monday for a little over a week to visit with family. When I get back, it will only be one week until the surgery, so things are going to go fast. I'm really happy about that. No time to worry!

Well, that's it for now. I'm so thankful for everyone's love and support. It has been an enormous help to me during these past six months.

Love you all tons!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

One End is in Sight!

Hi, everyone. Yesterday was chemo day. My second to last treatment. I get my last chemo next Tuesday and meet with Dr. Livingston and Dr. Lang to discuss and schedule my surgery. I'm in a weird place emotionally. I am so glad to be finishing up with the chemo. It has been a long six months. I am exhausted and so very tired of dealing with all of the physical side effects.

I have very mixed emotions about having the surgery, though. On one side, I am very excited to get to the next stage of my treatment. I so want all of this to be done with and behind me as much as possible. On the other side, my prognosis and plans for the future depend so much on what they find when they do the surgery. My understanding of the kind of cancer I have (triple negative) is that generally it is more likely to metastasize and has a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer. However, if I achieve a complete pathological response at the time of surgery, my prognosis improves to about the same as other types of breast cancer. Complete pathological response means that the chemotherapy has completely eradicated the cancer. Studies show that about one third of triple negative patients achieve complete pathological response. Can you tell I've been doing my research? :>)

If there is residual disease at the time of surgery, Dr. Livingston said I may need more chemo after the surgery. UGH! If I develop metastasis, I will be in treatment for the rest of my life. UGH!

My friends in book club reminded me last night of living and celebrating one day at a time. Liesl put it perfectly with a saying she knew. Something like, energy spent worrying about tomorrow's problems is energy taken away from enjoying today. I so believe this and have always tried so very hard to live my life that way. It is just hard to do in the quiet moments alone each day or lying in bed awake at night. Of course I am worried about a bad outcome, but I think the hardest part is the unknown. In that way, the surgery coming up is a very good thing. At least I will know what I am dealing with.

On a really positive note, Joey is home for the week! I wish all of you could see him and get to know him. What a wonderful young man he is growing into! He is happier than I can ever remember him being at any time in his life. He has made great friends at school. He is very active doing outdoor activities. He spent the last two days with a friend riding longboards, playing wiffle ball, running errands, and (picture me cringing right now) hunting rabbits. He has a great sense of humor and is very affectionate. What better way to make some of the time go than spending it with him?!

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for "listening" to me. :>) I'll let everyone know what we find out from the doctors next week.

Love you all tons!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Wonderful Mother's Day!

I had a great Mother's Day yesterday. One thing this disease has taught me is to not take anything for granted and one of those things is my children and my husband and how much I love them and love being their mom and life partner.

I woke up exhausted from the day before. We had spent several hours outside in the heat at Michael's lacrosse tournament. But, the smell of breakfast cooking pulled me from my bed. Joe and Michael and I ate out on the back patio. Janaya unfortunately had already left for work. Mother's Day is a big day at the restaurants! When we had finished eating, Joe said, "I'll be right back," and disappeared around the side of the house. He came back pushing a wheelbarrow containing several hibiscus plants and two verbenia plants. His plan was to plant them along the back wall of our house as my Mother's Day present. I was so surprised and excited! We've had a terrible time keeping the grass nice in our backyard and Joe's been working for weeks to improve it and it's finally looking good. He knows how much I love being outdoors and how discouraged I get when the yard doesn't look nice. His gift was perfect and so very thoughtful.

Then, after working all day long in the heat planting the flowers, Joe made ribs and baked potatoes for dinner. While they were cooking, Joey walked in from Flagstaff! He had spent the morning moving from his spring dorm into summer housing and then drove down. I miss him so much and was so glad to see him. His Mother's Day gift was given to me at dinner when he said, "I really love it up in Flagstaff, but I miss you guys a lot and am glad I'm home." Is there anything better than that? I don't think so!

A little while later Joe was cooking strawberry shortcake for dessert (I know, I know, the poor guy just doesn't quit!) and Janaya came home from work so that we were all able to finally be together. As I looked around me, at Joe who had worked so tirelessly all day long to make sure my day was special, and at the kids and what wonderful, caring, young adults they've grown into, I was filled with love and happiness and contentment and peace.

This disease has shaken my world, but no matter what happens in the future, it can't take away moments like this.

Hoping all the wonderful moms I know and care about out there had wonderful days!
Love you all tons!

Friday, May 8, 2009

About two years ago, a friend of Joe and I died of breast cancer. I am able to call her a friend even though we only met a couple of times. She was that kind of person. She made you feel like she liked you and that you were her friend right from the start. I didn't even know she had breast cancer until after she passed away.

When Joe and I attended her remembrance celebration, we, along with all the other guests, were given a plant to take home. We were told it was her favorite flower. I was a little nervous about taking it because as much as I try, I don't seem to have much of a green thumb. It seemed sad to me to take the plant that had so much meaning and emotion attached to it home and then have it die. I planted it in my backyard, underneath our lemon tree. I've planted numerous things there over the years, all unsuccessfully. It somehow survived over the last two years. Sometimes looking on the verge of death, all yellow and brownish colored, and other times seeming to come back to life with nice green leaves. In all the time we'd had it however, it did not bloom.

Then, about two weeks ago, I was washing dishes and looked out my kitchen window and saw the prettiest white flower on it! It has had a new bloom on it almost every day since. The blooms only last a day or two, but there is almost always at least one flower on it.

I've never really been one to attach meaning to seemingly unrelated events, but this happening now, when I'm waging my own battle against breast cancer seemed to me a sign of hope and encouragement. So, Barbara, if you're out there, thank you.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Lacrosse Season Comes to an End

Michael played in his last regular season game this past Saturday. Our family always goes into a kind of lacrosse withdrawal when the season ends.

Michael's team had a great season. Their final record was six wins and four losses. All four losses were by one point only and three of them were lost in overtime. They lost to Brophy in overtime by one point and Brophy is an elite team with an undefeated record. The closest any other team came against them was to within five points.

Michael also had an amazing season individually. He scored eight goals and we lost count of the number of assists. It has to be at least two per game which would be twenty. He and a couple of other players from the JV team have been asked to practice with the varsity team this week and participate in a tournament this coming weekend. We are so proud of him!

Here are two pictures Joe took of him at the last game. I will post all of the pictures in his album on my facebook page.

Till next time!
Love you all!