Apr 13, 2018 Latest post:
Mar 24, 2020
My name is Ashley Meehan.I am a single Dog Mama from West Fargo, ND. I am a West Fargo High School Graduate of 2007 and A Josef’s School Of Hair Design Graduate of 2008. I started my first job in the hair industry in 2009 at Lil Whipper Snippers in Fargo, ND. I eventually become owner of the salon, and was living all my dreams. This is my story and battle with Cancer and what an impact it has made in my life.
April 4th 2018 was my first call. “I wish I had better news, but I am afraid it is cancer.” April 2nd 2018 i had a biopsy performed where they removed 6 core samples from my large tumor in my upper left breast. I was diagnosed with Stage III Triple Negative Breast Cancer Grade III Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Triple Negative Breast cancer is cancer that tests negative for estrogen and progesterone receptors, and excess HER2 protein. Because it is not fueled by hormone receptors is it considered to be more aggressive with much more limited treatment options.
April 30th 2018. My first day of Chemotherapy. I began with 2 Chemotherapies and was put into a trial. This would go on for 12 weeks. By only week 4 I had almost complete hair loss and had to shave my head. Physically I was doing very well. I did receive extra IV fluids a few times. By June 3rd 2018 at my 5th round of Chemo it was discovered I had a blood clot in my right jugular vein and had to begin on blood thinners immediately.
July 23rd marked the end of my 12 weeks!
August 6th 2018 I began my next set of chemo drugs. These proved to be much harder on my body both physically, and mentally.
September 4th 2018 I went in for what would have been my 15th overall round of chemo and my 3rd dose of my new drugs. I came into my appointment this day frustrated that I had not felt a dramatic difference in the size of my tumor. When I addressed my feelings and concerns my doctor decided to hold chemo for that day and instead send me for an ultrasound. After finishing this ultrasound it was discovered my tumor had actually grown in certain places and I was immediately dropped from chemotherapy and sent to my surgeon.
On September 6th I met with my surgeon. We discussed all my options and came up with a plan. surgery is scheduled for September 18th 2018. This all came as a shock to me and definitely "not planned" for this time. The stress with operating the salon, finding people to work, and worst of all me having to take 6 weeks minimum off for recovery is hitting me hard.
September 18th 2018. Surgery day. They ended up removing 7 lymph nodes that the dye drained into, and guess what!! ALL 7 came back NEGATIVE for cancer. All margins of my tumor came out clear as well. This was such a relief and was finally a positive in what felt like a downward spiral.
Beginning October 23rd 2018 I took on my 25 recommended sessions of radiation. This radiation therapy was the hardest treatment I had yet. My body reacted and burned severely. I had returned to work full time again and the pain under my clothing was almost unbearable. From finishing radiation on November 27 2018 until January 1st 2019, I would later realize this would be my only “break” in my entire battle. January 1st 2019, I started on oral chemotherapy just as a precaution.
March 19th 2019. This day I started an entire new journey, with an entirely new outlook on cancer and life. I was now a Stage IV Triple Negative Breast Cancer patient. The metastatic disease was first discovered in both my lungs at an ER visit due to a fever. April 1st 2019 I saw my doctor. He showed me my most recent PET scan and also went over my lung biopsy. I am, and always have been very confident in his care. He is also sent my biopsy to an advanced diagnostic company called Tempus. This showed us if there were any other treatment options according to the exact chemistry of my tumor.
April 4th 2019 I had to say goodbye and close the doors to my business. I had worked so incredibly hard the last 10 years with customers that turned into great friends, watching families grow, and meeting so many amazing people.
After a brief trip visiting friends in California, I got home only to head to the ER once again where I would learn I had pneumonia and the tumors in my lungs had already progressed. April 18th 2019 I also met with Mayo Clinic in Rochester where the oncolighest agreed with everything I had done and would have followed and recommended the same protocol.
June 11th 2019 I received a call I was happy to hear. I was RESPONDING to a chemotherapy. The excitement unfortunately did not last for long. July 29th 2019 I found out my current chemotherapy is no longer working. My lung mets have grown. I have several new signs of metastatic disease all throughout my neck, clavicle, chest, and surrounding lymph nodes. There was also a spot near my kidney. Back to radiation is was. August 12 2019 i started my 15 fractions to these new areas. I also started on my SEVENTH chemotherapy drug. Radiation would prove again to get the best of me. September 1st-6th 2019 I was admitted to the hospital due to my swollen esophagus and throat. There I would eventually get a feeding tube just to get medications down.
October 28 2019 I did a new PET scan. I come to find out there had been growth around my right kidney and adrenal gland. I also had a growth in my right hip which means it has now metastasized to my bones. Here I would now take on chemotherapies number 8 and 9. Shortly after, my tumor near my kidney started causing me extreme back discomfort and radiation was recommended once again. It was only a short and painless 5 fractions.
This brings us to the present.
Tuesday December 10th, at a doctor's appointment in which I planned on resuming Chemotherapy after my break last week for radiation, I got some upsetting news. I had stressed my frustration with some odd headaches beginning around Thanksgiving. Knowing the right people in the right places I landed myself a Brain MRI only minutes after getting to my anticipated Chemotherapy session.
The results I received not even an hour later are still settling in. The MRI showed 11 detectable Brain Tumors (metastatic disease).
Wednesday December 11th I did another brain MRI which basically dissected my brain layer by layer to obtain more detailed results. Also, to determine the best course of treatment.
December 12th I met with my Radiation Oncologist. He believes Stereotactic Radiosurgery is my best course of treatment, and through my extensive research the last two days that was exactly what I wanted to hear. Stereotactic Radiosurgery uses high doses of radiation which is focused on just the tumor(s) itself. The alternative was whole brain radiation, which I was not interested in, and thankfully not needed at this point.
Metastatic Breast Cancer is rearranging your life to accommodate the “new normal” of forever treatments of recurring cancer. It is not curable.