Hi, everyone. This past week or so has been a pretty scary one for me and my family. I have hesitated to write about it. First, I didn't want to in any way overshadow the amazing accomplishment of Pam, Joe, and Janaya. I posted the slide show of the pictures of their walk without any comment because I just couldn't come up with words that were capable of expressing my love and admiration for them. Second, I think in some subconscious way, I felt that if I didn't type the words maybe they wouldn't be true.
I have been having some difficulty with my breathing ever since the surgery to repair the damage from the radiation. It started out pretty mild and at first I thought it was just a side effect of having received general anesthesia. But, it has gradually gotten worse over the following weeks. I had a chest x-ray done about two weeks ago which was negative. Then, last weekend, the shortness of breath seemed to get worse and I developed pain in my back. We went to see my radiation oncologist and he sent me the next morning for a chest CAT scan which shows I've got fluid around my lungs. He is not sure what is causing it. It could be an infection, some kind of virus or fungus, or it could be cancer. He said looking at the films that it doesn't present like cancer usually would, but to someone whose cancer didn't show up on any of her mammograms, ultrasounds, or MRI's this is little solace. I go Tuesday morning for a needle aspiration of the fluid and we will know more when we get the results of that.
In the meantime, I started my new chemo, Navelbine and Xeloda. Dr. Wendt ordered routine bloodwork to be done before giving me the chemo. My tumor markers were 30 which is in the normal range, but up from the last ones which were 26. Everything else was normal except for my alkaline phosphatase. The normal range for this test is 39-145 and mine was 265. I didn't think much of it at first. The nurse who gave me my results didn't even mention it. Then, when we got home and looked it up on the Internet, we found out that an elevated level is an indication of problems with the liver or bone, two of the places breast cancer likes the most. Dr. Tannehill, my radiation oncologist, ordered a bunch of lab work when I saw him last week and the alkaline phosphatase level had gone up to 283. He ordered additional lab work that will tell us if it is coming from the liver or the bone.
So, it is a pretty nerve-wracking time around here right now. I'm tired from being sore and short of breath all the time. I am trying very hard to not let my mind jump ahead to conclusions until we have all the test results in, but it is hard not to do. I'm really, really scared.
One of the highlights of my week was going out to happy hour with my friends, Carol, Norma, Ruthie, and Janaya. Carol said something to me about my being brave in sharing my journey with all of you. I told her it is not a matter of being brave at all. It is a matter of survival. The love and support I receive from each of you, the words of encouragement, the hugs, the prayers and good thoughts, are what enable me to face each day and not let the fear overwhelm me. Unfortunately, I am not the first person to have to make this journey and I know I won't be the last. It doesn't do any good to ask, "Why me?" It is what it is. But, the one thing I can count on, the bright spot in all of this, is knowing how many people are here for me, walking beside me each step of the way, giving me the courage, hope, and strength to face whatever lies ahead.