Jun 13, 2019 Latest post:
Oct 12, 2020
Hello and welcome to Kay Minjock's CaringBridge website. This site has been created to keep family and friends updated in one place. Kay was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer on April 18th, 2019. Her diagnosis was given following five long weeks of doctor visits, labs, tests, scans, procedures, and surgery. Most weeks were filled with four to five appointments, many being lengthy and emotionally draining. Kay approached each with a smile, a positive mindset, and a tremendous amount of grace.
Kay's cancer journey began during the summer of 2018 when she started experiencing unusual stomach sensations and discomfort in her abdomen. Her primary care physician was unable to explain the symptoms so she was referred to a Gastroenterologist. In October, after an emergency room visit and a number of tests in the ER and follow up tests with her GI doctor, Kay was diagnosed with gastroparesis. The GI doctor was confused as to why Kay had developed gastroparesis, telling her, "typically people develop this after a serious illness or other disease; it rarely happens spontaneously." (In May of 2019 it was confirmed by Kay's oncologist, Dr. Matt Brennan that the gastroparesis was brought on by her cancer but the cancer was undetectable on her scans at that point.) Kay was put on medication and a very limited diet to help ease the discomforts and symptoms of the disease. Slowly her symptoms improved. Beginning in March of 2019 Kay started experiencing severe bloating in her stomach. By March 17th her abdomen was protruding so much that she looked, and felt, pregnant. After the urging of her family to see a doctor, Nina, Kay's daughter in law, took her to an Urgent Care facility. An x-ray showed that there was fluid in her abdomen. Labs and an abdominal CT scan were ordered. On Friday March 22nd, Kay and her daughter Larissa met with the GI doctor to go over her results. It was at that appointment that the word "cancer" was spoken for the first time. Her doctor was highly concerned by what was seen. She saw, what she described as "implants", throughout the abdomen. Other areas of concern were the intestines, colon, and peritoneum. Kay was referred to an oncologist (specifically, Dr. Matt Brennan, being described as young and aggressive and who Kay needed to be seen by!) Labs were ordered and a draining of the fluid was scheduled for that afternoon. The procedure went well and nearly two gallons of fluid was removed and sent for testing. March 27th was the first time Kay met with Dr. Brennan at Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute in Lancaster, PA. She instantly fell in love with him and felt a sense of comfort and ease. He went over her lab results including two cancer markers that had been tested and both came back elevated. The abdominal scan from the previous week as well as a scan that had been done in October of 2018 were compared. A significant change was seen. The fluid test results had not yet come back. Dr. Brennan confirmed that Kay had cancer and went over the diagnosis possibilities. A form of gastrointestinal cancer was discusses as well as cancer of unknown primary. A chest CT scan was ordered. Dr. Brennan also discussed her prognosis, which was tough to hear. Several months to less than a year if there is no response to treatment. Years to many years with response. He stated that Kay's cancer is very advanced and very aggressive. Unfortunately, Kay and her family left that appointment with more questions instead of answers. That evening Kay received a phone call from her doctor with the fluid test results. The cancer cell that was found was breast cancer. More questions and confusion! A mammogram was ordered for the next day. The mammogram looked great and showed no area of concern. The doctor that read the results gave her the "all clear, see you next year!" More questions and more confusion! How could she have breast cancer but have no lump, no mass, nothing?! The following week, on April 3rd the chest scan was performed and the results showed that Kay's cancer had spread to her bone. Kay met with Dr. Brennan on April 9th and a diagnosis of Cancer of Unknown Primary favor Breast was given. He discussed her having a bone biopsy with hope that the result would confirm the fluid test result and a final diagnosis could be given. A whole body bone scan was performed on April 10th, a pelvic ultrasound on April 11th, a bone biopsy on April 15th, and a brain MRI on April 16th. More labs were also ordered, including one for a breast cancer marker. The ultrasound showed there was cancer spread to Kay's right ovary as well as the outside lining of her intestines. The MRI came back with no cancer spread to the brain. Some very welcome, positive news! On April 18th Kay, along with her husband Joe, daughter Larissa, and son Zack, met with Dr. Brennan, praying for answers. Forty minutes before Kay's appointment the bone biopsy results were faxed to Dr. Brennan. A final diagnosis of Metastatic Breast Cancer, positive for estrogen, was given. Kay started chemotherapy the very next day, Good Friday. A second fluid draining was performed on April 22. Again nearly two gallons of fluid was removed. She continued to receive infusions weekly for a total of six weeks. Following the sixth treatment her cancer markers were tested and an abdominal scan was ordered. The markers came back significantly elevated and the abdominal scan showed progression of the cancer in Kay's abdomen. A heightened concern from the scan is the possibility of a blockage developing or that the intestines twisting. Those results concluded that Kay's cancer did not respond to chemotherapy and unfortunately the disease had progressed. Since Kay's breast cancer tested positive for estrogen Dr. Brennan chose to start her on a pill regimen at home. She is currently on a combination of Arimidex and Ibrance. Dr. Brennan remains hopeful that the pills will "work".
Kay's breast cancer has been described by not only her doctors and nurses, but by other medical professionals that are aware of her story, as unusual, bizarre, weird, strange, confusing, and fascinating. Her "presentation" of the disease is highly unusual and nothing has been "normal". How can all this be happening? How could the cancer only be seen once it was so very advanced? Kay has maintained a sense of humor and has kept a smile on her face and in her heart throughout this journey. She has been an inspiration to all those around her. The support Kay is receiving is a beautiful thing to witness. She is truly blessed. Our family thanks each one of you who have helped in your own special way. Your love is deeply felt.