Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chemo - round 1

Today marked the beginning of my journey through Chemotherapy.  I was very nervous this week leading up to today.  I may or may not have called my Dr. for some Xanax.  I took my pre-meds last night and woke up early this morning feeling not so nervous after I took the Xanax that I may or may not have asked for.  You also have to take Benadryl the night before and the morning of (and they put it in your pre-med IV mix).  I was tired y'all.  Before we left the house this morning, I found this:
 I just love my little family.  My husband has been amazing through this journey and I just don't know what I would do without him.  He took me to the cancer center and attended a little chemo class with me which was basically my nurse sitting down with us and telling us what to expect.  He had to go to work and a few minutes later my dear friend Marianne came to sit with me for round one.  I just love this girl.  She has been amazing to me through this.  She is also hilarious which didn't hurt.  She and her husband have become some of our closest friends here in Arkansas since meeting them two years ago.  We met and just clicked instantly. We love their family and I'm so thankful for them.
 They got my meds going and Marianne and I just chatted away and the time flew by.  I was there for about 5 hours today.  It will get shorter each time as they increase the time it takes for the drugs to get into your system.  They start out slow to make sure you don't have an adverse reaction.  Next time it will take a little over 4, and will slowly creep down to about 3 hours for the last treatment.  Marianne and I talked most of the time but we also watched 90210 on my Ipad.  The original 90210.  We are both major super fans of the show.  We like to reminisce about what we used to do on Wednesday nights when we watched as teenagers.  How was that show on that long ago?
 I wore my shirt that my friend Amy sent me.  Shaun saw me and said "you aren't wearing that to chemo are you....you might offend someone?"  I said "yes I am and I don't care if someone gets offended."  I think if there is ever an appropriate time to say the F word, Cancer is it.  It's exactly how I feel and you know what, everyone loved it.
So, there you have it.  One down, five to go.  The actual part of getting the chemo wasn't as bad as I was expecting.  Pretty uneventful really.  Now comes the hard part.  I'll post more in a few days to let you all know how I'm feeling.  Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, and well wishes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The journey I did not choose

I found a lump on July 2nd while on vacation with my sister-in-law and our girls in Hilton Head, SC.  I immediately made an appointment to see my gynecologist when I returned home.  I saw him on Thursday, July 11th.  The following day, I had a mammogram and ultrasound.  The radiologist told me it needed to be biopsied because it "was not a cyst" and "had blood flow to the area".  I went for that on Tuesday, July 14th. The Dr. told me it would take 2 days to get the results.  It did not.  I got a call from her the very next morning (just 18 hours after having my biopsy).  Cancer.  Invasive Ductal Carcinoma to be exact.  Grade 3.

The words she spoke after she said cancer may as well have been gibberish.  I had no idea what she was saying.  I called Shaun immediately to tell him.  Then, I called my mom and my best friend.  My head was spinning.  When you get a diagnosis like that you really don't know what it entails.  What is the treatment?  Is it anywhere else?  Is it in my lymph nodes?  Do I need a mastectomy?  Do I need chemo?  Do I need radiation?  So many unknowns.

The first order of business was to get the tumor removed.  I had surgery on Friday, July 19th, less than 48 hours after getting the call that I had cancer.  Everything happened so fast.  That's what happens when you are married to a physician.  We were supposed to leave on vacation to take the girls to Disneyland and Sea World on July 20th.  Instead, I was in the hospital and had to cancel our vacation.  Thank God we hadn't told the girls where we were supposed to go.  They knew nothing.  We haven't told them what's going on with mommy.  They are 3 and 5 and we want to protect them.

My lumpectomy went well and healed well.  I was in bed resting for about 3 days and then up and about again but moving slow.  The worst part about the surgery I had was the waiting.  They removed my tumor and four lymph nodes to check them for cancer.  We got word on Monday, July 22nd that the cancer had not traveled to my lymph nodes (thank you Jesus)!  My tumor was a little over an inch long.  My cancer was diagnosed as stage 2, grade 3.  It is an aggressive cancer.  For those who want to know, my cancer was Estrogen receptor positive, Progesterone receptor negative, and HER2 positive.  This is a lot of medical terminology but I'm putting that in there for those of you familiar with those terms and what they mean.

Five days after surgery, I went in for a PET scan, an MRI and a CT scan to make sure that the cancer was no where else in my body.  So many emotions.  Waiting, and some more waiting.  Wondering.  I met with my oncologist for the first time on Thursday, July 25th.  My scans were clear (again, thank you Jesus)!  He talked to me for almost an hour explaining what I needed to do for treatment.  I didn't understand why I needed treatment if they got all my cancer out and it wasn't anywhere else.  He explained I need chemo to prevent recurrence of cancer in some area of my body (if it comes back, it would most likely come back somewhere other than my breast).  If I did nothing right now, the chances of that happening are 40%.  If I do the treatment plan he is recommending, that goes down to 15%.  It's a no-brainer.  I will do the treatment.

Prior to treatment starting, I had to get an echo-cardiogram and have surgery to have a  port placed.  I had my port surgery on August 7th.  To say that the port is annoying is an understatement.  I want to rip it out.  I know I will be glad I have it when it comes time for chemo, but for now, I will complain.  Ha!  I met with my oncologist again and determined that I will begin treatment on Thursday, August 29th.  Six rounds of chemo (21 day cycles), followed by 6 weeks of radiation.  For those who are interested, the regimen I have chosen is Taxotere/Carboplatin with Herceptin (since my cancer is HER2 positive).  I am beyond scared for chemo but I have faith in the fact that God will be with me and I will get through it.

I'm convinced that I was given this journey for a reason.  I may not know what that is yet, but I do know that I am determined to help people.  To educate women about self exams.  If I would not have found this lump myself, I would be sitting here with cancer in my body and it would be spreading.  I had a clean mammogram in November.  That's how fast this tumor grew.  Self exams every month are a must!  I will make the most out of what I've been given and I will remain faithful to my Jesus.  Sometimes I want to shout "why me?" but instead I will have peace in the fact that this was chosen for me.  I may not know why today, I may not know in my life here on earth, but I will make the most out of my journey and I will FIGHT.  For myself, for my girls, for Shaun, for all of my friends and family that love me.  I will praise Him in this storm.