I have not BLOGed for quite a long time. I am not even sure why. The thing is, I was just so happy to have finally gotten some good news, that when it all turned around, I think I was too disappointed to BLOG about it. Here is what happened. When I had my PET scan, the week following my last BLOG, it showed that I actually DO have cancer in my rib. Rib pain is apparently never JUST rib pain. There were also some abnormalities noted in both of my ovaries, but that has not been determined to be cancer, but just something worth watching at this point. The PET scan also showed that the area of my spine that was cancerous is much improved since my radiation treatments, which I could have told you by the mere improvement in my pain level! I generally have no pain in my back.
So, if you are keeping a tally and have lost track, I now have slow growing cancerous areas in my right breast, newly diagnosed cancer in my right 6th rib, 2 faint cancerous spots in my liver that are stable now for a year, improved spots in my T2 and T3 vertebra of my spine, and we are keeping watch on my ovaries.
Now, that brings us to treatment. What the doctor and I have decided to do, is keep me on the herceptin as it seems to be controlling my liver spots, and add tamoxifen (an antiestrogen) and zometa (a biophosphate). The tamoxifen is a pill that I take every day. It can cause hot flashes (which would cut down on my need to run a space heater in my office) and other menopausal type symptoms. I have been on it for a little over a month and I have not noticed any side effects at this point. The zometa is given every three weeks in the doctors office by an IV drip. It only takes about 15 minutes to infuse. The herceptin takes 1.5 hours, so it is pretty quick compared to that! The zometa can cause bone pain, but so far mine has been fairly mild and only lasts a day or two. The zometa doesn't treat the cancer, but my doctor thinks that it will make an unfavorable environment in my bones for the cancer grow and therefore, hopefully, slow the progression of my disease. Right now the game plan is to slow the overall progression of my disease as much as possible and try to maintain on the drugs that I am currently on. My doctor will keep a close eye on me, and when he or I feel like the progression is too much, I will go back into weekly chemotherapy treatments (the big guns). Since I responded so well last time, he doesn't expect any different the next time around. There will be a point in time when these drugs stop working, so we do not want to use them any sooner than we have to. And, I didn't really want to spend another summer going through weekly treatments and blood transfusions, I had things I wanted to accomplish! I wanted to get my kids to the pool and teach them how to swim. It has been a great summer with Skye playing coach pitch baseball, Laken running track, and both of them have learned how to swim well enough to go off the diving boards. Skye can even do a flip off the board!
I was able to personally accomplish so things too. I ran a 2-mile race over the Fourth of July. It was not a marathon, but after having spent 3 months being treated and recouping for cancer in my spine it was a great accomplishment. It was a very sad day, because my cousin was not there to high five at the finish line, but I ran the race in his memory, and I know that he was there in spirit, watching over me and making sure that I was okay.
My other big accomplishment over the summer was my Relay for Life efforts. Our relay team ended up earning $15,500 for the American Cancer Society!!! We won awards for our outstanding fundraising as well as for our TEAM SPIRIT! We had 28 members on our team and 19 of them actually stayed ALL night! It was amazing, but was emotionally and physically draining for most! There were over 4000 luminaries lit, 20 with my name on them, and the whole relay raised approximately $320,000!!! Let's hope that we find a CURE! I had a dream the other night that I was watching my mom put flowers on my grave. It was a horrible dream, but would be an even worse reality.
What am I thankful for?! Dancing in the rain at midnight, riding mechanical bulls, drinking margaritas, the electricity of lightning storms, anniversaries, my fantastic children, today, yesterday, and tomorrow!