Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hmm - so this is what "it" feels like.

So Friday was acyually uneventful. I felt okay, could log on do some work, be on conference calls, attend an evening yoga class with Jess, walk with Gregg and Tacoma on the last round of the day, take my Ativan, read and go to bed. Oh, I did give myself my Neulasta shot, no big deal. Piece of cake! Bring on Saturday!

Woke up, had breakfast went hiking at the Tourne with my brother, Christine and the kids - no too taxing - a 30 minute jaunt up and down the hill. Spending time with all them always brings me joy - those kids are just so funny! Met Jess for a mani/pedi , came home did lunch and figured I settle in and watch a chick flick by myself so selected "27 Dresses" and sat back. Perhaps it was my film selection but I felt a strange malaise come over me; not exactly "sick" but not exactly "right". Ah - I believe it to be fatigue but I can't really sleep... weird. I am bored but don't feel like doing anything. Had to turn down what I know would have been a delightful dinner with Jess and Tony home cooked at her place. Seems all that appeals to me right now is scrambled eggs. Lucklily Greg was willing to cook! So I have resigned myself to a night of bad TV possibly an early bedtime and hope that Sunday is better!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Morning After

Happy Friday! My evening was uneventful and I actually slept quite soundly (thank you Ativan!) Seems some folks are having issues viwing my blog so this entry will be short and sweet as a test. More later!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

One down 15 to go!!!!

Well, no sooner than I had hit "PUBLISH" on my last post; the phone rang and it was my nurse telling me they would have my drug and to come on in! Interesting start to the day!

Treatment went very well and right now (9:15pm) I feel fine. It took 5 hours - first I had an anti-nausea med, followed by my study drug (I am in the Avistin clinical trial), then followed by the Adrimycin - this drug is bright red and does interestinn things to the fluids that leave my body - topped off by Cytoxin with a feww ccs of saline to cap the day!

So now I wait, for what I am not sure but I hope I have no incredibly awful side effects. I am okay with the hair loss thing it is the thought of feeling sick and so very tired that scares me the most. Tomorrow I take a Neulasta shot to increase my white blood cell production. Thankfully I am adept at injections so no need to visit a doc. Side effect from this drug could be bone pain. BONE PAIN??? As if having cancer isn't bad enough and you get sick and want to vomit and you get tired, so very tired, so let's throw in a little bone pain just for fun... Ah, that old adage rings through my head :WHATEVER DOESN'T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER!" I sure as hell hope so.

So like I may have said before, yoo may learn more about me than you have ever known but please, please, please pass along my blog to any woman facing breast cancer or to any man who cares for a woman facing it so she/he knows they are not alone. I am also willing to talk to anyone so please feel free to give out my contact info. I know having co-workers who face or have faced the same demon and were so willing to talk to me made the start of my journey so much easier. I'll keep you posted as to how I feel over next few days - this should be a wild ride!!!

Can you hear me yelling???

Okay - today is not going as planned.... I received a call from my oncologist's office and it seems that they will not have my drugs today meaning I cannot start chemo today... and they are closed tomorrow... ARGGGGHHHHHH!!!! Long story short I may not start until Monday which of course throws off my entire schedule. Such is life. Just when I thought I had this under control, seems I have truly do not. I am waiting to hear from the nurse. I have a sneaking suspicion this is due to the clinical trial I agreed to participate in.

So, I have a some open questions such as: if I pull out of trial can I start today?; if my 1st treatment is Monday, can I move to Thursday for all others? Once I hear from my nurse I'll update!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Iron Man, E.T. and Me!!!

I can proudly say I now have something in common with two great Hollywood icons: Iron Man and ET (Thanks Brian and Amy!) - yes we three all have something implanted in our chest wall! I inquired about making mine glow but the nurses mumbled something about "up the anesthesia..." and that was the last thing I heard!

So as you can surmise, I have successfully survived having my Mediport implanted yesterday. It was a very long day - my thanks to John and Greg for waiting it out with me. I was told to be at NYU by 10:30, seems surgery was scheduled for 12:15 but I did not get wheeled in until almost 3pm... and I had no coffee that morning or food/water all day - so I was a bit cranky on top of nervous about having a piece of plastic and metal implanted in my body! (Okay no piercing comments!) So aside from feeling like I have been hit several times by a very large truck - I am okay. I have been assured by my surgeon and her staff that what I am feeling is completely normal and I am in fine shape to begin chemotherapy tomorrow. I am not quite sure how they define normal but I am very happy I live in the 21st century and have wonderful things like pain medication! Last night was quite difficult but I anticipate with each hour that passes I'll feel better and better.

So - you must have received my incredibly long email which directed you to my blog. Special shout out to my dear friend Ted (TAL - dig the jet black hair!) for assisting me with this endeavor and to Jen Marks for giving me the inspiration to do so. You may learn more about me than you care to know but at minimum you can get the latest low-down on my battle against the beast! Fair warning, I have heard that certain operating systems are displaying my blog template a bit odd so it may appear difficult to read. My apologies!

Once again I thank you all for the continued support. I admit I am a bit fearful about jumping off the cliff tomorrow but I know the sooner I begin therapy, the sooner it will be over and all of this will be behind me so I can look back and say "Cancer? Been there, done that, beat it!!!"

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Spring Lake 5

What a glorious day! The weather was perfect, the beach was beautiful and I ran a decent time in the Spring Lake 5 (51 minutes: it is all relative these days!) Many, many thanks to Jen, Shannon, and John for making it a great morning - most of all to John for being my running partner and checking in every so often to make sure I was okay! Greg did a great job as "bag boy"!!! Visiting Bar A took me back oh about 15 years.... which is probably the last time I was there (special shout out to Chris Melone because I believe I was with her) All in all the day was great but I can't help but think about how good I feel and how possibly at the same time next week I'll be feeling like crap... I know, I know - it is just temporary!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Looking for hair....

The search for a new style has started!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Clear Scan - Yahooo!

Spoke with Beth at Dr. Oratz's office today and she received my PET scan results - totally normal!!! I was a bit freaked while waiting to hear that; I wasn't sure how well I would do if I heard the word cancer in association with another of my body parts. Whew, I can hopefully get some sleep tonight! Also - thank you to everyone who has so graciously offered up one of their very valuable days to accompany me to a chemo treatment. Folks, you do not cease to amaze me with your support and kindness!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Treatment Begins

So I was scanned, scoped, poked and prodded yesterday - handed over bodily fluids in several different types of cups/vials,etc. and here is the lowdown;

PET Scan/EKG/Echo - no results yet

Mediport Implant Procedure - Tuesday 5/27, Same Day Surgery Center at NYU; surgeon will be Dr. Karen Hiotis (same office as Dr. Shapiro)

Chemo - starts Thursday 5/29. Protocol changed a bit, Adriamycin and Cytoxan will be every two weeks instead of three for four cycles, followed by the 12 weeks of Taxol.

So I look forward to a good Memorial Day weekend and then getting down to business!

I sent a request to friends and family to ask if anyone has a free Thursday and would be willing to take me into the city and spend a couple of hours there. So far, 7/14, 7/31, 8/7 and 9/12 are taken.!!! THANK YOU!!! Greg and my family are willing to help but I thought I would try to lessen the burden on them. I know we are all so busy - please do not feel pressured! I figured at least I can ask the question and figure things out as we go along!

My initial schedule will be:

5/29 (Greg will be at this session), 6/12, 6/26, and 7/10 followed by 7/17, 7/24, 7/31 - every Thursday through 10/2.

Last - WIGSTOCK is on!!! Join us on 6/7 as we raise a glass and say "F*CK CANCER!!!"

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A new look...

So what does one do when one finds out one will only have hair for another few weeks? Well for me, it meant try an extreme. See results here! Next 'do: the ever popular GI Jane!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

5/14 -Scans Scheduled!

I am scheduled to have my Echocardiogram, EKG and PET Scan all on 5/19. Greg will come with me. We will also meet with Dr. Oratz's lead nurse, Beth once all tests are complete.

My ECHO and EKG are both at NYU one at 10 the other at 11. My PET Scan will be done at Madison Imaging at 11:45. I will then need lunch as my PET scan requires a 6 hour fast!!! We will meet with Beth that afternoon. So my hopes are Dr. Oratz will get results and I can get through Memorial Day weekend, have port implanted and start chemo either the week of 5/26 or 6/2.

PET/CT Basics
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computerized Tomography (CT) are both standard imaging tools that allow physicians to pinpoint the location of cancer within the body before making treatment recommendations.

The highly sensitive PET scan detects the metabolic signal of actively growing cancer cells in the body and the CT scan provides a detailed picture of the internal anatomy that reveals the location, size and shape of abnormal cancerous growths.

Alone, each imaging test has particular benefits and limitations but when the results of PET and CT scans are "fused" together, the combined image provides complete information on cancer location and metabolism.
The bottom line is that you can have both scans - PET and CT - done at the same time


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

5/12 Update

We are almost at the midpoint of May... it seems like just yesterday when I went for my mammogram on 3/17 - what a whirlwind of weeks I have had!

I met with my oncologist today and really, really liked her. (It doesn't hurt to see her Harvard degree on the wall either....) She spent a very long time with me and answered all of my (and my mom's) questions.

Here is the lowdown - it ain't pretty, but this too shall pass.

Seems I am looking at 6 months of treatment. While my hormone receptors are good which means I am a candidate for hormone therapy after chemo and radiation (Tamoxifen), we reviewed my pathology report and she explained that I had a very fast growing cancer which is good for chemo as the chemo drugs attack the rapidly dividing cells. The bad side of the report was that because the cells were growing so fast it is very possible they may have lodged elsewhere - I had as you know, lymph node involvement, but also had high grade microinvasion -this means the cancer cells were breaking into my blood vessels which means it was trying to travel. So.....

My first cocktail:

Adriamycin and Cytoxan once every three weeks for four cycles followed by a shot of Neulasta 24 hours later after which I'll move to:

My 2nd mix:

Taxol weekly for 12 treatments.

Topped off by 6 weeks of radiation 5 days a week for 6 weeks.

I have agreed to be part of a clinical trial also where they are testing the utilization of Avastin in non-metastatic cancer to prevent recurrence. I have said all along that I want folks to learn from my experience and this is a perfect way for me to help countless others if they can prove this drug effective. I may get it or may not but have nothing to lose. (To my Medco friends - the study picks up the cost of this specialty drug; someone be sure to let the powers that be know that I am helping out the bottom line by controlling drug costs - haha!)

So this week I need to have a series of scans done (I thought had everyone possible done!) I need a PET scan and and EKG along with an echocardiogram and, oh yeah - I need to have my Mediport implanted in my chest - boy doesn't that sound like fun? My hope is to start treatment the week AFTER Memorial Day so at least I can enjoy that weekend!

Last, yes I will lose my hair along with a myriad of other lovely side effects so standby for an invite to Wigstock 2008 at the Hildebrandt Household -hat or wig required for entry and to cap the evening I'll shave my head - a la Britney Spears... you can all pretend you are paparazzi.... seriously I may have to have one last big "hurrah"!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinqo de Mayo

Happy "Cinqo de Mayo"! Can you believe it is the fifth of May already? Time is flying by!

I am happy to report my visit to Dr. Shapiro (my surgeon) went perfectly today. To quote him, I am healing "beautifully". I just need to accept the fact I lost some lymph nodes and may now be subject to lymph fluid buildup in my arm which, I can attest, is quite uncomfortable! My DNA results came back and the cancer is estrogen positive (100%) and progesterone positive (10%) and I had a negative HER2 score. All is all, that is good news! I hope to meet with the oncologist (Dr. Ruth Oratz) later this week and find out exactly what I am facing in terms of further treatment.

I feel better every day; Greg and I had a wonderful weekend in New Hampshire at my cousin Kristen's wedding. She was an incredibly beautiful bride! Seeing all of the Burt family was great but emotional - all those slow songs (and white wine) definitely pulled at my heartstrings but I am glad we went! We learned I'll be an aunt again - my brother Phil and his wife Jessica are expecting so I have a something wonderful to look forward to in November! I even ran 3 miles - it felt great to "move" again!

Thank you all for the continued positive thoughts and support!