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Aug 29, 2017
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement!
On July 20th, 2017 Alanis was diagnosed with breast cancer while working at Glacier National Park in Montana. She expected to have a summer full of mountain climbing, rafting, and meeting new friends. Although she got to do all of these things, her stay was cut short and she had to come home to Wisconsin. She is currently under the care of Dr. Michaela Tsai (oncologist) at Minnesota Oncology and Dr. Casandra Anderson (breast surgeon) at the Piper Breast Center in Minneapolis. Dr. Tsai has diagnosed her at stage 3, as the tumor is over 6cm and has spread to her lymph nodes. Alanis underwent genetic testing when she was diagnosed in Montana and she does not have the marker for breast cancer, which was great news.
Her treatment plan is to undergo 20 weeks of chemotherapy. For the first 8 weeks she will have chemo every other week and will receive the AC treatment. She will get two medications (doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide) which should prevent the cancer cells from dividing and growing. We are hoping that it will also cause the cells to shrink and die. When the AC treatment is done she will go once a week and receive paclitaxel for 12 weeks. This should have the same effect on the cancer cells as the AC. When she has recovered from the chemo (4-6 weeks) she will have breast surgery. We are unsure at this time if she will have a mastectomy or a double mastectomy. Following her recovery from surgery she will have radiation treatment.
Alanis had her "port" put in August 8th. The port is inserted under the skin on her chest and has a catheter that runs to her heart. The medical staff can draw blood and give Alanis her chemo treatment through it. Although it was not a pleasant experience to have it put in, she will not have to get IV's every time she goes in for treatment or lab work. It has healed up nicely and is barely noticeable. They even give her cream to put on the port site to numb it before treatment, so that makes it even easier!
Alanis had her first chemo treatment on Monday August 14th. She faced it with humor and a great attitude. Although we were all nervous and not sure what to expect, the staff was wonderful and it went very smoothly. She felt pretty good Monday and Tuesday, but by Wednesday she was miserable and it continued into Thursday and a bit Friday. She was given a medication to help her white blood cell count increase quickly and one of the side effects is basically pain in all your bones. She also felt like she had a horrible sunburn. Thankfully that has passed.
Her appetite is another thing...basically she is living off of yogurt, cereal and milk, and her juicing machine (lots of spinach and kale). This isn't surprising and is a pretty normal side effect. She doesn't want anything hot (except tea) and absolutely nothing greasy! Do not even mention the word pizza around her, which is crazy because that was one of her favorite foods!
Thank you so much to everyone who have sent prayers, cards, positive energy, kind words, gifts, and love! We are so blessed to have so many wonderful people that have reached out to Alanis and our family. We will keep everyone updated as Alanis kicks cancer's butt!