Wow. Where to start? I guess I"ll start from the beginning and just keep adding information as it becomes available. But, before we get to the details I would like to ask anyone who reads this to please pray. Pray for a cure to cancer. I've always tried to teach my kids to never "hate" anything...but I always (even before Jody was diagnosed with Breast Cancer) told them they can "Hate" cancer. Please pray for a cure - it is out there and we will find it.
Wednesday December 28 Jody had a Dr. appt for an ultra sound scan to try and see what was causing her some pain in her stomach - she had noticed this pain for about a month or so but wrote it off as gas that would come and go. The ultra sound was schedule for 8:00 am in Seattle so I decided I would take her to the appointment - no big deal. We do the appointment, I drop her back off at home and go back to work. I get a call from Jody about 2:00 and she tells me that they want her back in at 3:30 for a CT scan since they saw some "masses" on her liver. Crap.
I leave work, go back and get her and go back to Seattle for the scan. We do the scan and go home , scared. The call comes that night around 8:00 - three or four large masses on her liver and markers in her blood that indicate breast cancer. We schedule the biopsy to see if it is the breast cancer that we thought we had gotten rid of three years ago.
Rewind three years when Jody battled Breast Cancer and had a double mastectomy to get rid of that crap. After the operation we did Chemo and then all the other drugs they say to do in order to make sure it's all gone. All the tests came back clear, so why should we worry.
Back to 2017.
We have our first appointment with an Oncologist (at Polyclinic, Seattle) and he confirms our fears. Stage 4 Breast Cancer. What does that mean? The breast cancer we thought we took care of three years earlier is back - apparently some of those little cells escaped before we got them and they decided to start attacking different parts of the body. We would find out later that the breast cancer cells are particularly aggressive and have attacked her liver really hard (with multiple tumors), some "legions" on her brain and some spots on her bone (upper spine and her hip). The first oncologist, Dr. Henry Li was great. He talked us through what was going on and said we could attack the cancer a couple different ways and Jody says - "Lets hit this shit with everything we've got - lets go in with guns a blazing and get rid of this". Damn she is so strong. Dr Li recommends going with a heavy Chemo treatment and we agree. But, since he is downtown we ask if we could do the treatments up at Swedish Issaquah since it's closer to home. He understands but says that we would need to go through the Oncologist at Swedish Issaquah and recommends Dr. Tanya Wahl. So Jody and I start reaching out to our friends to see who the best Oncologist at Swedish Issaquah is and all signs point to Dr. Wahl. Sooooo
We go see Dr Wahl prepared to start Chemo in a day or so (I literally had our clippers out and almost cut my hair before the appointment). Dr. Wahl is amazing. She walks us through what's happening - They haven't found a cure for stage 4 breast cancer - the goal is to put it into remission for as long as possible and then when (not IF but when) it comes back hit it again. She explains (as Dr. Li did) that there are a lot of tools in the toolbox to fight this but we need to go get it now. She then apologizes and says that she disagrees with Dr. Li about the recommendation to hit it with Chemo but instead hit it with a hormone inhibitor and what I will call a "Pill" form of chemo - essentially a "Pill Regime". Good News - NO CHEMO!! Wait. is that the right thing to do? This is serious and we have two professionals telling us two different things. We elect to go with the recommendation of Dr. Wahl BUT also look for a third opinion.
Still with me? Isn't this weird? At this point we are both so scared and confused.
So we start the Pill Regime (hormone inhibitors and "pill" chemo) - which by the way we should start to see something after 6-8 weeks (started the hormone stuff 1/21 and the Pill chemo 1/28- insurance and other red tape delayed the chemo stuff (insert political post later)) - and we say - wait a minute we are in the best place in the universe for Cancer patients - lets see if we can get in to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. So we see go see Dr. Jennifer Specht at SCCA. Another side note - SCCA IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!! Dr. Specht was beyond amazing and she agreed with Dr. Wahl - no chemo (for now). So now we have 2 outta 3 docs telling us to go with the pill regime and we feel confident that we are doing the right thing.
OK - Next steps. The first thing that all docs said was that we need to treat the spots on her brain and they can do that very easily with concentrated radiation. So we go see Dr. Sandra Vermeulen at Swedish (Cherry Hill) and she was amazing. All the other doctors were really downplaying this procedure- essentially saying "they will just take care of it" and that was echoed by Dr. Vermeulen. We have a good meeting and are confident that we are making the right decision to go with the Gamma Knife -side note: talk to me or Jody offline about this procedure as it was pretty intense yet technologically cool at the same time. --See next entry - this thing limits me to 10,000 characters -