Helen Schartz Helen's Journey

First post: Nov 14, 2017 Latest post: Jan 29, 2018

I am a mother to two awesome children (Emily and Avery), wife to the best and most dedicated husband (Kevin), daughter and caretaker of my loving mother (Joan), and blessed with friends, neighbors, co-workers who are very supportive.  I never knew how many people cared or how blessed I was until this diagnosis.  This is my story of breast cancer and my fight to live and continue to be a parent, a wife, a daughter, a friend as long as I can.

In 2004, I was diagnosed with lobular breast cancer, stage 3C.  I went through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, then started on preventative medication.  Twelve years later in November 2016, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer when cancer cells were found on my gallbladder.  My daughter was applying to colleges, my son was 12, I was working and helping homeschool our children.  However, a PET scan didn't reveal active cancer, and I started on a new oral chemo - IBrance along with Letrozole to starve the cancer out. We were optimistic.  I got used to the side effects, and the cancer seemed to be responding to that until fall 2017.  I started having back and rib pain, shortness of breath, and cancer markers were rising.  A bone scan revealed that the cancer had metastasized to the bones.  A bone strengthener (XGeva) was added, the Letrozole was changed to Faslodex, and I continued on the IBrance for a few more weeks.  However, I continued to have fluid build up on my chest and the cancer markers were rising.  I had a few brief on and off attempts with Verzenio, then a pleurodesis procedure to limit fluid build up around my lung. However, I was still not improving, cancer markers continued to rise, and the decision was made to go back to go to a weekly IV Chemo. I've "celebrated" my one year anniversary of the Stage IV diagnosis, despite lots of complications. My journey goes on....

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