Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tucson Update

Hi, everyone. Joe and I went up to see Dr. Livingston on Monday as planned. We now have a plan in place. We have to take care of the lesion on my spinal cord first. Because of its location, if we don't it could become life-threatening. Dr. Tannehill was so sweet when he called to tell me the results of the scan and that I would need a course of radiation. He called about 2:00 on Friday, as soon as he had the official results of the MRIs that had been done that morning. He explained, "This is not an emergency, but we also don't want to be too casual about it either. Can you be here at 3:30 for your planning session?" He is wonderful!

Dr. Livingston explained to me that I cannot be on chemotherapy for the bone metastasis at the same time as radiation because the chemo potentiates the effect of the radiation, not only to the tissue they are aiming at, but any tissue it travels through which would be my spinal cord. Not a good thing. He did increase my Zometa, the drug which is supposed to strengthen my bones and help prevent bone metastasis, from once every six months to once a month and gave me my first dose while I was up in Tucson.

I go back up to Tucson next Friday to have a new port put in in preparation for when they are able to start the chemo. I am scheduled to start two days after I finish my radiation treatments. At this time, Dr. Livingston wants to put me back on the Abraxane and Avastin that I was on prior to my mastectomy surgery. These drugs did not get rid of the cancer in my lymph nodes, but did completely eradicate it from my breast, so he feels they may be effective. He explained that they are approved as front-line treatment for metastatic breast cancer and if he tries something else first, he won't be able to get these drugs approved again. The good side to this plan is I've been on these drugs before and know what to expect. They decrease my appetite and make me very tired, but other than that I tolerated them pretty well. And, I don't think they will make my hair fall out, a nice benefit since I've just really started to get back to looking somewhat normal! :>)

Dr. Livingston thinks my breathing problem is related to the lesion on my spinal cord and swelling in that area. The radiation treatments will also cause some swelling, so he placed my on high dose steroids. Lots of yucky side effects to this. :>( But, he says they go away pretty quickly as soon as I'm tapered off of them. I'm also going tomorrow for a chest CT scan just to rule out other possible causes.

So, that is what we know for now. It feels good to have a plan in place. It's been a busy and fun weekend, which has been nice because it keeps my mind off of all the cancer stuff.

On Saturday, we drove up to Tucson to watch Michael and the lacrosse team take on the Tucson Sabercats. The Sabercats were undefeated before this game with a 5-0 record. The Tigers beat them 8-4! It was a great game and very worth the drive up there. The Tigers are ranked 5th in the state now! Tomorrow night they take on Chapperal which is ranked #1 in the state. It should be an exciting game!

On Sunday, we went over to Janaya's house to help her do yardwork. She rents a house with her boyfriend, Andrew, and her girlfriend, Kierra. I guess they keep the back blinds closed and don't go out to the backyard very often. Well, Janaya went out for some reason this past week and discovered that the weeds had grown at least knee-high and covered the entire backyard! Believe me, as you will see in the pictures below, it was quite a project!

Today, I went for my first radiation treatment. It is much easier than the treatments they did to my chest after my mastectomy surgery. On Friday, when I went for the planning session. They made a mask that fits over my face and clamps down to the table. They did a Cat scan and placed markers on it. This makes sure my head is in the exact same position each time I'm treated and that the rays go where they're supposed to. Today was just supposed to be a dry run, but once they got me set up and the x-rays done, they decided to go ahead and do my treatment. The actual treatment actually takes less than a minute. They give me a dose from my left side that lasts about 15-20 seconds and then one from the right that lasts about 30 seconds. I go for twenty treatments, Monday through Fridays. That's it! Not too bad as long as you're not claustrophobic. I'm going to take my camera tomorrow and see if they'll take a picture of me in the mask.

My friend, Carol, dropped by last Thursday with dinner and flowers. It was beautiful outside this morning so I took the flowers outside to take pictures of them. Salem, our cat, was out with me and sat next to them sniffing them and it would have made the perfect picture, but by the time I got the camera zoomed in and focused, she had walked away; probably because up to now every time she's gone anywhere near them I've chased her away. Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of the flowers (right from Carol's backyard!) and Salem.

Well, that's all for today. If I get a picture of me in the mask, maybe I'll try to post it tomorrow. Hopefully, along with a victory photo from Michal's lacrosse game!

Love you all!


Dottie said...

Very best wishes, Martha! Your plan sounds like a good one! Your spirit is amazing! We love you . . . and miss you!! Lots of good thoughts, wishes, and prayers, dear friend!!

Lots of love,

NP said...

My goodness Martha ~ I'm exhausted just from reading all that you have done since I saw you on Saturday. It sounds like things are going pretty good already and the doctors are right on top of everything. How exciting for Michael and the Tigers ~ good luck tomorrow. Wowsiers, those are some tall weeds! The first picture didn't look too bad and then it got pretty scary from there. What troopers you and Joe are to help out with that exciting adventure. Thank you as usual for explaining everything to us so well. Take care. We are all thinking positive thoughts! Love & hugs ~ Nancy

Dottie said...

P.S. Best wishes to Michael for today's exciting game!!

Meags said...

Had dinner with Liesl tonight. You were with us in spirit. Glad to hear that the battle plan is in place. Love you. Meagen

Lydia said...

Hi Martha! I've been thinking about you so much and I want you to know that you are in my prayers and thoughts everyday. You are such an amazing woman and I love reading about your family. Your daughter is absolutely beautiful! I can't believe how grown up Michael is. He probably doesn't remember me, but I sure remember him. What a neat young man he is! I wish him luck in all his games!! Also, I love the picture of your sweet husband looking at you on facebook. You can tell that he loves and cherishes you! Positive thoughts are coming your way! Love you, Lydia


You've certainly not let any grass grow under your feet (pun) ;D I miss you Martha. I'm so happy that you have a plan already in place and are moving on it. I'm sending you lots of peaceful thoughts and prayers. Love ya! -Shirley