Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hi, everyone. I know by now many of you have heard my most recent news. I had the follow-up MRI that Dr. Livingston told me to get at some point to confirm whether or not the spots on my spine were cancer. Well, they were cancer and in the time that has elapsed from when the Cat scan was done in January and the MRI which was done a week ago, several new spots on other vertabrae have popped up. In addition to that, there is a 7x8mm cancerous lesion on my spinal cord high up in my cervical spine. Obviously, this is not good news. This is when the docs give you that, "We'll do everything we can to extend your life and give you quality of life," discussion. It is pretty sureal sitting there listening to it!

So, just like we've done from the start of this whole journey, we are taking one day at a time.

I went yesterday and had additional MRI's of my brain and cervical spine. The good news was there was no cancer in my brain. :>) I then went for a planning session for radiation treatments to the spot on my spinal cord. Dr. Tannehill says they should be able to zap it and completely get rid of that spot. He says the dose of radiation I'll be recieving and the angle at which they deliver it doesn't involve much risk except for the usual radiation fatigue. I was worried about damage to the spinal cord causing neurological problems, but he didn't seem to think that was anything for me to worry about.

Monday, I go up to Tucson to see Dr. Livingston and we will make a plan as to how to attack the cancer in the bones. There are chemo drugs that have been shown to be effective against triple negative breast cancer that I have not had yet.

My biggest worry right now is I am having a lot of difficulty with my breathing and they aren't sure, yet, why. It could be the lesion putting pressure on my spinal cord effecting the nerves that control my breathing. If that is the case, it should get better as the radiation shrinks that lesion. I also have fluid around my lungs again, so it could be that. And of course, there is always the chance that the cancer has also spread to my lungs. I will probably be getting another chest Cat scan this week to help us figure out what is going on.

Obviously, we are all feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, but we are staying strong. Pam arrived from NJ last night. It feels great to have her here. I know I will feel much better after my visit with Dr. Livingston on Monday and I know what the whole treatment plan is.

Dr. Tannehill told me that once breast cancer has metastasized, they no longer talk of curing it. However, people do live for years with it, keeping it under control with different treatments. So, I am of course very sad and very scared, but I have not given up hope that I still have quite a bit of time here ahead of me. And, I have plans to make the most of it! Is that the margarita express I hear honking? :>)

I met with my friend and principal, Sheila, Thursday, after meeting with Dr. Tannehill and she, Joe, and I came to the decision that it is in the best interest of me, my family, and my students for me to leave teaching again. My students have been absolutely wonderful this year, but they are only ten years old and every time I have to miss a day because of a test or a doctor's appointment they worry. I would have to miss numerous days during this last quarter of school for appointments and procedures and I just don't think it's fair to put them through that. I am devastated by the decision and so wish I could have made it through to the end of the year, but we all agreed it was the best choice. The good side to this is that I will be able to conserve my energy for fighting the cancer and for spending time with my family. Those have to be my priority right now.

And, speaking of spending time with family, we just celebrated Janaya's 22nd birthday a week ago. I can't believe she is 22. She has grown up into such a beautiful young woman and I am so proud to be her mom. Here are a couple of pictures from her birthday.

Janaya and Andrew at the Cheesecake Factory.

Janaya and Michael

Proud mom and dad.

Happy mother and daughter.

A birthday kiss from Brewski!

Lacrosse season has also started and so we are busy going to the games and cheering Michael and the rest of the team on. Most of the varsity team is seniors and they are a great group of boys, many of whom have been playing lacrosse together since junior high. Their record so far is 3 and 1. Their one loss was to Chandler and they only lost by one point. It seems like it's going to be a great season.

Joe bought me a new super zoom lens for Christmas just so I would have it for lacrosse season. I have been practicing trying to get some good shots of Michael playing. I'll post a couple below.

Well, that is it for now. Other than struggling with my breathing and feeling tired because of that, I feel just fine. I feel confident in my doctors and know they will do everything possible to help me fight this and we'll just keep on keeping on, one day at a time!
Love you all!


Cheela said...

Love you, Martha!

Mary Monica said...

Dearest Martha,
You are an amazing woman! If I am stunned by your news, I can only imagine what you and your family are feeling. I have several women in my support group with your same issues, and they are doing well. The Drs tell them there are "zillions" of things to try. Know that I contunue to keep you, Joe and the kids (geez, they are getting so grown up!) in my thoughts and prayers. Do take it one day at a time.
mary Monica

Patty said...

I'm so sorry to hear your news, but one thing I have learned about you is that you are incredibly strong! Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. I enjoyed seeing the beautiful pictures of you and your family. Sending you lots of love and hugs.

ZueZQue said...

Love you Martha!! Hugs! Sue

velvet brick said...


Anonymous said...
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Jane said...

You are such an amazing and strong lady! I have thought about you non-stop since we heard the news. I want you to know that I am sending you positive energy and thoughts your way!
I really look up to you, and will miss seeing that smile of yours everyday.

hugs and prayers~

Dottie said...

Dear Martha, When you faced what seemed to be unsurmountable odds before . . . you charged right on through with grace and dignity! You have SO many people who admire you for literally THOUSANDS of different reasons! We love you, we care about you, we'd do ANYTHING for you. Please know we're all walking this journey with you and your family. You will ALWAYS be the ultimate teacher, dear friend! Lots of love, good wishes, and prayers to you and your family!

N-Search of Peace! said...

I am wrapping my love, care, warmth, wishes of peace, and all that is good and positive, around you MY sweet friend!

For your beautiful family too!