Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is there really light at the end of the tunnel?

I'm really beginning to grimace when Wednesdays come around. It seems the past 3 Wednesdays I have been dealt a tough hand of cards. I'm definitely growing weary of all the different doctor appointments, going to work, etc. I think I'm definitely due for some good luck any day now.

Monday: I had an appointment with a Surgical Oncologist specializing in breast surgeries. Not much to say about her, except I was not too impressed. She was not very personal or welcoming. Instead of taking time to talk with us, she put is in front of a laptop for 35 minutes to watch a video on either information we already knew or did not pertain to me. Afterward, she spent 15 minutes about her prescribed plan of surgery. Meh. No rapport built. That's that.

Wednesday: I had an appointment with a fertility doctor that has added a bit more stressful decision making in a limited amount of time. More to come on that topic at a later date. On top of all this, my car decides to bite the dust. Yep, Little Red is no longer with me. Her engine went out and the cost to repair it is just not worth it . She lasted a good 12 years though. So now I have to add "Car Shopping" to my list of things "To Do". Is all this really happening?!! I don't think I have ever been this stressed and frustrated. It is to the point where I just start laughing to keep myself from crying. Murphy's Law.

Thursday: I woke up completed exhausted and drained. It was definitely a little difficult to stay 100% focused at work with all this "extra" stuff on my mind. Luckily all the kiddos were angels. =)  I had a 3rd opinion with a Breast Specialist team today (both the surgeon AND oncologist in the same room. HUGE plus). Let's just say within the first 20 minutes of our conversation I point blank said, "I have found my team of doctors! Thank goodness!". There was not a doubt in my mind and I felt the most comfortable and confident with this team. Common thread with the other doctors: masectomy in left breast, chemotherapy, reconstructive surgery, 5 years of Tamoxifen. What impressed me was the fact they want additional testing to analyze the cancer inside the cell. As it stands now, my cancer is what they call Luminal B, intermediate grade ductal, T2 (size), Node 0. Which means, no lymphnodes are involved, the size between 2 and 3 cm (making it between a stage 1 and 2). They want to find out more about the genetic make-up of the cancer cells of each tumor to see how it will react to chemotherapy before my treatment plan begins. This doctor is wanting to do TC instead of AC like the other oncologists suggested. AC has quite a few side effects in the long run, is linked to Leukemia, and my type of cancer (estrogen sensitive) does not respond too well with it. Since my cancer is ER(+), PR(+), HER-2-NEU(-), I am completely "curable" and TC works best with this type. I will know more specifics on the treatment plan once they complete the additional testing.

So, my week is ending on a positive note. THANK GOD! A huge weight has been lifted and one more thing has been crossed off my list. I have found my team of doctors! A sigh of relief. Ahhhhh....

BTW, I really apologize if I have yet to return any calls or emails in the past few weeks, as you can see, I've been pretty overwhelmed (so don't take it personal). I promise to respond once I get some breathing room. In the meantime, please keep up with my blog. It's the easiest way for me to "respond" and keep everyone updated on things all at once. All the positive feedback and supportive words are genuinely appreciated and very much needed. I cannot express how much each response means to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! =)


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Much Needed

We had a 24 hour "getaway" Morongo Casino and Resort (Indian Casino right outside of Palm Springs). Trevor set up a much needed massage and pedicure for me while he hit the poker tables. In between my services, I was able to listen to DJ Pauly D (from Jersey Shore) spin some tunes at the pool. After my massage, most of the evening was pretty mellow and consisted of wine, cheese and cocktail shrimp while lounging around the hotel room. We topped off the evening watching the Spazmatics perform 80's music (highly recommend this band. Very entertaining!). It was definitely a nice little weekend needed after the past couple weeks of doctor appointments. =)


Friday, March 23, 2012

Mission Aborted

I went in today for an MRI led biopsy on my right side, which by-the way is cool how they do this procedure. It's a little difficult to describe, so I will spare the details and cut to the point. After taking the initial images for the graph, the radiologist looks over the images to decide on a point of entry. She comes back in the MRI room to tell me the "area of concern" is basically not big enough for a biopsy AND she did not feel it was of major "concern" due to its size. She also suggested whenever I do begin chemo that it will go away if in fact it is cancerous. She even suggested it could be part of a nerve or a random speck of tissue. Otherwise, there is no need to do anything about it. I was VERY happy to hear this.

As for the tumor board, there was a little mix up, so my case will not be presented until the next time. Apparently they needed my tissue slides, and well, I have them. Oops! I needed them for my next couple appointments I have scheduled for a 2nd and 3rd opinion. Things happen for a reason, right?! =)

Hope every one has a great weekend. I think we are going to plan a little "getaway" tomorrow to relax. This week has been a roller coaster, and I am emotionally exhausted.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying this little bug of mine. Love her to death! =)


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Daffodil Days

So, I had my my first appointment with Oncologist #1 yesterday. I have to say, despite having to wait an hour to see him, it was well worth the wait. He is a very welcoming and personal man, and we felt very comfortable speaking with him. He is very thorough with his information and even wrote down notes for us, which was very helpful since we get too wrapped up in listening and forget to write things down. I don't have the energy to go in depth about the information we received, but I will say I agree with his prescribed treatment plan (so far). Of course it is a little nerve wracking. He would start chemotherapy asap and it would take 5 months to complete. The goal is to shrink the tumor enough to get it away from my chest wall (pectoralis muscle) before surgery. Then I would be on hormone therapy after surgery for 5 years to make sure the cancer does not come back. That's basically it in a nutshell.

Oh yeah, I was given these beautiful daffodils on my way out the office. Daffodil Days is American Cancer Society's fundraiser and awareness program that offers daffodils to donors every spring in appreciation of their contribution. Anyway, their brightness brings optimism every time I look at them. =)

Next up on the schedule: I have an appointment tomorrow for a MRI led biopsy on my right side to see if the area of concern has cancer cells. My case will also be brought up in a Tumor Board meeting. I have 4 more appointments scheduled over the next 2 weeks to meet with other oncologist and surgeons to get their view points on my situation.

I have a long "to do" list that is slowly dwindling down, but it feels empowering when I am able to cross off one of those things. Baby steps. One thing at a time, one day at a time, and one day closer to kicking this "C" to the curb. I've been on a emotional roller coaster this week dealing with reality. There is times when I get frustrated....then get insecure....then upset...stressed...then back to feeling empowered (especially after a kick-a$$ work out). I really am grateful for Trevor, my family, and the support network I have around me.

Until next time....


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Information Overload

What a week it has been. I don't think my life has been any crazier than it has over the past 3 weeks, and I know it is only the beginning. Phone calls, doctor appointments, scheduling, work, and making sure I still get my daily WOD to prevent stress.

Here is the update: My radiologist and nurse navigator (which is like a case manager) requested my MRI to be done sooner rather than later, so I actually went in this past Wednesday. I may be one of those weird people, but I was quite intrigued with that device and wish I could have seen the computer screen images at the same time the images were being taken. Quite fascinating I must say. Anyway, while I await for the results, they were also able to schedule an appointment with a surgeon and genetic counselor. I also was able to schedule my first appointment with an oncologist, which I will be meeting with on Wednesday, March 21st.

The appointment with the genetic counselor was interesting as we went through as much as my family history as possible (going back to my great aunts, etc). They drew blood (I have been de-sensitized by needles at this point in the game.) to test for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. If genetic testing comes back positive, then there is a high hereditary factor and the likely hood of developing ovarian cancer later in life rises. I will know the results in 2 to 3 weeks.

First surgeon appointment (and I say "first", because I am trying to schedule appointments with other surgeons and oncologist to get other opinions.) was a little information overload, but at the same time I had already gone over the different scenarios in my head beforehand. He did an examination then discussed my MRI results. Since he is only a surgeon we did not go in great detail about the types and staging of the cancer. So, the tumor on my chest wall is a little complicated. Because of the size, it is actually going into the pectoralis muscle. It is suggested I have chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, then have surgery to remove it (which could start as early as the next 3 weeks). If they were to do surgery on it first, then they would have to remove part of the muscle wall. As for the other tumor near my armpit, they would want to test to see if it has spread to my lymphnodes, in which they would have to do surgery. There was another area of concern that showed up on the MRI but in my right breast, so I will be having a biopsy done on that site to see if it is begnine or cancerous.

Here are the options/scenarios: For my left breast, since the tumors are in different quadrants, a lot of breast tissue will have to be removed, so a mastectomy is recommended (which reconstructive surgery of course). Now, the tricky part....if my genetic blood testing comes back negative AND the right side biopsy is negative, then I could play with the idea of keeping my right breast. IF the genetic testing comes back positive and biopsy positive, then I may want to consider a bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery.

This is only the first surgeon opinion. My case is going to be brought up in a tumor board meeting, in which a team of surgeons and oncologist look over my profile to discuss each of their treatment plans. I just want to make sure I choose a team I am comfortable with and can trust. So the next few weeks I will be "interviewing" a couple more teams to get their take on my case.

In the meantime, it is slowly hitting me that this is all happening. I have my little moments when I get upset, but for the most part I am very optimistic about what lies ahead. Nothing but positiveness is coming from this entire situation. Trevor has been the absolute best and I can't imagine a better person to walk this journey with me. I am very thankful for his family right now and am glad we have them. I still miss my family terribly. There is nothing like joking around with my brother, the comfort of my mother, and talking UT football (no matter what time of year) with my father. I have told them I would rather them be out here for surgery and recovery, since there is not much anyone can do at this point. I have to keep re-asuring them that everything is fine (hear that mom?....Everything is going to be OK! Trevor is doing an amazing job!) And thank all of you reading this for your continued support and goes along way. =)

Now go have some green beer!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Scar Project

This weekend was a great weekend spent with my best friend. I definitely needed "me-time". I cannot express how grateful I am of the continued support coming my way from all of you, and more importantly my #1 supporter right now (while being away from my family), Trevor. This is what our weekend consisted of (and very much needed):

Anyway, I wanted to share a website that has really inspired my strength these past few days (Thanks to a friend at CrossFit for sharing it with me).

The Scar Project: Wow. That is the only word I can find to describe this website. The strength shown in each photo is incredible and inspiring. It is dedicated to showing the side of breast cancer many choose not to see. I highly recommend checking it out.

Until next time....


P.S. I finally switched the settings to where anyone can post a comment, so you don't have to be a registered user. Just please make sure to sign your name at the end of the comment if you aren't a registered user because it comes up "anonymous". =)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Practicing Patience While Waiting

So I scheduled the first of many appointments today, which was for Genetics Counseling. They want to take a closer look to see if I am a carrier of the "cancer gene". No, I do not have a family history of breast cancer.

No MRI has been scheduled just yet. It has to coincide with "that time of month", so there is nothing I can do about it right now. Oh well.

I have also reached out and spoken with cancer survivors that have already made such a positive impact on me. One of which works on campus with me. She had a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery and was proud to show me her "new boobs" in her tank top. She also gave me her contact information for anytime I needed advise or a pep-talk. So many inspiring people with inspiring stories with the best attitudes on life. I know this is just the beginning of many survivors I will be meeting over the next several months.

Since I've received the news of my diagnosis, I can honestly say I have embraced the saying "don't sweat the small stuff". There is definitely "bigger fish to fry" and the little piddly things all of sudden don't matter. If you are a survivor reading this, then you completely understand. Don't get me wrong, I still fear the unknown, but I am not stressing over it. I am keeping with my routine in life and not letting this slow me down right now. Although, I'm still needing me-time to absorb all the information I have been given over the past couple days....and to organize my life. I cannot thank each of you enough for the up-lifiting words of support!!! It has helped me so incredibly much over the past 36 hours. It is GREATLY appreciated more than you will ever know. So for now, I'm just taking one day at a time and embracing life.

Hey cancer, I CrossFitt and can dead-lift more than you, so take that you sucker! =)

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Hi everyone! It's been a long while since I've blogged or even sent out a mass email thanks to facebook, so please bare with me...I'm a little rusty at writing lengthy stories. Some of the following information you may or may not already know, but I want to catch everyone up to speed with my current life.

I'm still living in Southern California working as a Behavior Autism Interventionist in a preschool classroom and I could not be ANY happier with my job. It's the school district and position I have been seeking before leaving Texas. I am still happily dating the man I fell over hills for, thus making the decision to move here (March 14 will be 3 years since we first met). I recently got involved with CrossFit, and boy let me tell you, I AM HOOKED! I absolutely love the competition and challenge the CrossFit community breeds. In addition to all this, we happily have 3 cats, a dog and a chinchilla (yes, we have a zoo! Admission is free to those who bring a bottle of wine or a case of beer.) So that's the "reader's digest" version of my life the past 3 years. Ok, enough with the small talk. This is the real reason why I set up a blog...

It all started back in January, I was stretching before leaving to go workout. I had done a million (ok, not really. It was more like 200 hundred, no joke.) push-ups the previous day, and my chest was a bit sore needless to say. While stretching, I noticed a hard knot that was quite tender. I tried to roll it out...didn't work. I laid off all chest exercises....still there. Hmmm, must be a pulled or injured muscle. After about 4 weeks, and when my health insurance finally kicked in, I decided to schedule my "yearly" women's appointment. The OBGYN took a look at it and decided to refer me to get a mammogram and ultrasound done. I was a little caught off guard but just went with the flow. Mammogram, done. Ultrasound, done. The tech excused herself to get the Radiologist, which had a very concerned look on her face when she walked in the room. She took at look at my "results" and immediately ordered I get a biopsy done...not one, but TWO. At this point, I'm still like "ok, whatever, let's do it."

Monday, March 6, I go in for the two biopsies. Let me tell you, I had a little anxiety attack when I saw the thickness of the hollow needles. Took a picture, texted it to Trevor whom was in the waiting room, and he did the best thing anyone could have done. He started texting me pictures of our zoo to help ease my anxiety. :) The procedure wasn't that bad since they used a local anesthesia. I wasn't too sore since I immediately began taking Tylenol. Now the waiting game.

Wednesday, March 7, I wake up with optimism and ready for my appointment to reveal the results of the biopsy. Since I don't have any family out here, Trevor went with me and I was allowed to have my family on speaker phone while the doctor revealed the results. The next part made me feel like I was in a twilight zone. The two biopsy's both had cancer in them. My heart sank, stomach knotted up, covered my face, tears flowed, and all I could muster out was "I just want my mom here. I want my family here. NOW." From that point on, I felt like Charlie Brown listening to his teacher. Everything was blurred, and I think I went through every emotion possible in 45 minutes. The doctor and nurse were very supportive, positive and caring. 

So, the next step is an MRI. Once I get the MRI done, it will tell us more about the two cancerous spots (type and stage). I am currently waiting for authorization from insurance and the OBGYN in order to proceed with the MRI. So for now, I am just waiting and still in a state of shock and disbelief. The hardest part is being so far away from family and my closest friends. I'm more scared than anything...if that's hard to believe.

I know I haven't returned any phone calls the past day, but I've but just overwhelmed and trying to sort out my life. All the the thoughts, prayers, supportive words are GREATLY appreciated and continuely needed as I go along this journey. I am going to try my best to keep up with this blog to inform everyone on my progress and determination. I be damned if I am going to let this interfere with my goals! So, until next time....