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10/9/2016 Latest post:
Welcome to my CaringBridge website. I am using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. I appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
In early August, 2016 I became sick with a cold. The cold symptoms along with severe left side pain sent me to my local urgent care clinic. With the help of an abdominal CT scan, mono was diagnosed. The doctor found a couple of other areas of concern on my CT scan which led to an MRI , mammogram, and ultimately a breast biopsy. August 18, 2016 I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. I have breast cancer in my right breast, in some of my lymph nodes, and in several places in my bones.
As there were no warning signs of breast cancer, this diagnosis came as a complete shock to me and my family. I did miss one mammogram, which may have alerted us to the cancer before it spread to my lymph nodes and/or my bones. The moral of this story is don't miss even one routine test. No matter how inconvenient, uncomfortable, expensive-get those tests! I did have one sign of the bone cancer last spring. I had right side rib pain. After getting an unsuccessful chiropractic adjustment, I went to the doctor. This symptom was misdiagnosed twice and I was sent home with pain management techniques.
After I was correctly diagnosed I was referred to a medical oncologist here in Kalispell. We got a treatment plan, but have a friend who strongly encouraged us to get a second opinion at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Phoenix, AZ. Todd and I recently traveled there and were very impressed. The standard of care at CTCA is next level. We have decided to have my treatment there, traveling back and forth, as needed.
During that initial visit we met with my team of doctors and I began treatment. My treatment plan is multi-pronged. I will have monthly injections to shut down my ovaries' production of estrogen, putting me prematurely into menopause. I wasn't crazy about this idea at first because it seems so unnatural, but it is important because my cancer is fed by the female hormones. Treating the cancer with meds only and not turning off the estrogen supply is a bit like taking an eye dropper to a forest fire. I will also take aromatase inhibitor pills that block other sources of estrogen and kill the cancer that is already present . I get a monthly injection of bone strengthening medicine to prevent "bone events" since the cancer is in several places in my bones. I have had two one-time treatments of focal radiation to my ribs and hips to kill the cancer in those areas, thus relieving the pain I have been experiencing. No chemo is indicated for now, or years to come. Though there is no cure for cancer at this stage, the doctors are very optimistic that we can control my cancer with this treatment plan for years. So much to be thankful for!
I don't know yet if I will be able to go back to work, or how many hours. I have to give my new meds some time and see what side effects I may experience. I hope I can, as I love my job and feel the work would be therapeutic for me.
Though this is a daunting diagnosis, we are also so glad that we have the foundation of God's love and promises to stand on, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit to see us through the dark days ahead. God has answered so many prayers for us already, and we are confident that He will be glorified in this trial. We walk by faith, not by sight.
We have benefited from an unbelievable outpouring of love and support from family and friends. We want to thank everybody for their prayers, messages of encouragement, and all the help you have given! We are so blessed to have each of you by our side as we walk through this journey.