Here I am! Did you think I forgot about you?
A little sneak peek of our adventure in Maui....
A new addition to our family! Meet Gracie!
On Tuesday I had my radiation simulation, including another awesome tattoo...
Yesterday, I was introduced to NED! "No evidence of disease"!!!!
I saw Dr. F for my results of my latest round of scans and immediately burst into tears when they told us that the scans looked great and that I was still boring just like 6 months ago. :) But, what shocked me even more was the fact that the bone scan said there was no evidence of metastatic disease in my bones! Well, hello there NED!!!!
Now, let me please explain that Dr. F doesn't put a whole lot of stock in those words. He said he doesn't get "overly excited or impressed" and that these scanning machines are not perfect. He says it's much like looking down from an airplane and trying to see a dandelion in a field. It's near impossible to spot just one but if there are a lot of them in a big patch, you can see them easily. So, he basically means I still could have little isolated cancer cells in my body but right now there isn't enough of them to be detected on the scans. I have always understood this and I am okay with that. I understand that sometimes people hang their hats on "NED" and then they have a scan a few months later that shows a change and they have a huge let down after feeling like they were as close to "cancer free" as possible.
I truly understand that and I have always been happy to hear that I am "stable"...but for right now...for just a few days (or months)...I am going to be extremely thrilled that I am hanging out with NED! I know it doesn't mean I am cancer free or that I am cured. It means that right now my medicine continues to work and keep me in remission. It means that I can continue with my current treatment. It means that my bones, although still damaged, are healing. And most importantly, it means that I can continue having a really amazing quality of life. The few side effects I experience from my meds (hot flashes, fatigue, joint aches) are so minimal in the scheme of things and I don't let a day go by where I am not grateful for that.
There are still little things we will keep an eye on. My platelets are on the low side and I have been having a lot of issues with bruising. If those continue to drop, I will have to have a bone marrow biopsy to see if my meds are impacting my body's platelet production. There are a few other minor issues I have been having but nothing big and nothing that Dr. F is really worried about.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all of your support, love and prayers! I couldn't be happier and couldn't be more grateful. I do believe in the power of prayer - I believe in God's ability to work miracles and I am not giving up the faith that maybe there is one in store for me. It has taken me this long to truly be able to even put those words out in the universe, but maybe - just maybe, I could live a long, healthy life in complete remission without this awful beast robbing me of my future.
For now, I am believing that this can happen for me and I will continue to fall asleep each night with a smile on my face...dreaming of NED. ;)
With a grateful and overjoyed heart,
We finally received the good news we were praying for! Thank you, Lord!!! And thank you to all of you, our amazing family and friends for your non-stop prayers and well wishes - it definitely paid off!
I am totally wiped out from an extremely long and exhausting day, so hopefully I include all of the important details. We had long appointments with both Dr. F and Dr. B today which meant we were at doctors offices from 9:45am until 3pm with a one hour break for lunch in the car while driving. It's all worth it though, for such great news!
We met with Dr. F first and he informed us right away that the test results looked great! He said that the CT, MRI, and bone scan showed the following...
--breast tumors demonstrate significant shrinking
--axillary lymph nodes demonstrate shrinking
--there is evidence of healing in the bone throughout my spine
--no new evidence of disease! BOOYAH! (okay, not exactly Dr. F's words)
Overall, this was the best possible news we could have received and we couldn't be more relieved and thankful! I am so grateful that these past five months of chemo haven't been for nothing, and that the cancer is actually responding well. Dr. F was very pleased and said that we are definitely headed in the right direction. He said that the imaging studies will always show abnormalities throughout my thoracic spine where there has been cancer, but now there appears to be evidence of healing. He even said that I may not have to have radiation to my spine, which would be wonderful!
The rest of my appointment with him consisted of formulating our plan of where we go from here. So, here's the latest...
--start hormone therapy (Tamoxifen) - a daily oral medication which will interfere with the activity of estrogen, which is what is feeding my cancer
--start Zoladex - a monthly injection to suppress my ovary function. This will shut down my ovaries and stop them from making estrogen so that the tumors cannot get the estrogen they need to grow. This also means MENOPAUSE! Just another "perk" of having the big C. ;) Who would have thought I would start menopause at the age of 29?!
--after surgery, start Denosumab - a monthly injection to strengthen my bones and try to protect them from further damage due to metastasis
So, today I started the Tamoxifen and received my first injection of Zoladex - a humungous needle which is injected into my abdomen = fun times! I will have a follow up appointment with Dr. F in 6 weeks and will be re-scanned every 6 months at the absolute latest - it could be earlier than that if I am having any new symptoms or concerns.
After a collective high five between Mike, Mom and I, we nearly skipped out of Karmanos and headed over to Beaumont to meet with Dr. B. After a physical exam and review of my imaging results, Dr. B also informed us that she was very pleased with my progress. She said that she didn't expect my cancer to respond so well to the chemo since it normally responds best to the hormone therapy. We met with Dr. B for at least an hour, discussing all the details of the surgery, what I can expect, and what recovery will be like. Dr. B's wonderful nurse, Linda then used this great new device to take some measurements of my arms in order to compare them to post-op measurements to track any possible lymphedema. Lastly, we finally set our date for surgery. Friday, October 14 is the big day for the bilateral mastectomy. I am definitely nervous about it but happy to finally have a plan and know when it will be. This will give me some time to get my energy level and blood counts back up since they are still pretty low due to chemo.
So, that's the latest and greatest news! More upcoming appointments on the horizon are...
--meeting with Dr. M my plastic surgeon on October 3 for final preparations before surgery and the start of the reconstruction process
--meet with another new team member, Dr. R who is a physical medicine and rehabilitation doc at Beaumont to take more pre-op measurements and assessments. He will also be the one to let me know what my restrictions after surgery are and when I can start physical therapy in order to get my range of motion back in my arms....good thing I have some connections to some awesome PT's :)
--meet with another new team member, Dr. R who will be my radiation oncologist. I will meet with her before surgery to discuss our plan for radiation to my right breast and chest wall, and possibly my spine. Radiation will start about 4-6 weeks after surgery.
As you can see, it's going to be a long road ahead. But what better motivation to forge ahead than receiving such terrific news, like I did today! I can't thank you enough for being there for me - for all of the texts, phone calls, emails, blog posts, and facebook messages I received in the last couple of days. It truly makes me feel better to know that I have so many people praying for me - you guys are the best! Keep the prayers coming because we still have a long way to go. But for now, I will bask in this great news. For the next five weeks, I am going to focus much of my attention on trying to regain my energy, slowly begin exercising again, and taking the absolute best care of myself in anticipation of surgery. And you know I will also be mixing in fun times like this Saturday at the U of M game (thanks Aunt Clare!), a friends wedding, taking my hubby to a great concert, many birthday parties, strutting my stuff in a charity fashion show, our fundraiser on September 25, trips to the cider mill...and much more! Thanks again everyone! And thank you God for answering our prayers!
In honor of the coming of my favorite season, here are some fall pics from a wonderful trip to the U.P a couple of years ago...
My blog to keep you all