Jan 20, 2019 Latest post:
Sep 11, 2019
We have been blessed with so many wonderful people offering support and asking for updates, we have decided to start reporting Lynette's progress here. For those that do not know the full story, here's a (not-so) brief recap...
In July of 2018, biopsies of tumors in the left breast (2) and lymph node (1) determined Lynette had stage III Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). I imagine most people, like myself, have never heard of that specific subtype of breast cancer, so here is a definition from breastcancer.org:
"Triple-negative breast cancer is cancer that tests negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and excess HER2 protein.
These results mean the growth of the cancer is not fueled by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, or by the HER2 protein. So, triple-negative breast cancer does not respond to hormonal therapy medicines or medicines that target HER2 protein receptors. Still, other medicines are used to successfully treat triple-negative breast cancer."
As it turns out, this form of cancer is more aggressive and may not respond as well to traditional forms of chemotherapy.
Soon after diagnosis, Lynette began a 20-week chemotherapy regimen with a planned bilateral mastectomy to follow. The first 4 treatments of AC were given every other week, and the initial response was outstanding! Tumors began to shrink, and Lynette was doing quite well physically. She began the school year, and all-in-all, things were looking pretty good.
Unfortunately, results started to level off. After 4 AC treatments, there was a planned change to a weekly dosage of paclitaxel. This drug did not seem to produce the same positive results. Shrinking of tumors slowed, and Lynette began to see more chemo side effects. Eventually an additional drug, carboplatin, was added every third week. This additional drug took an even a greater toll on white blood cell counts and ended Lynette's ability to teach in 2018.
During chemo, based on information gathered from genetic testing, the surgeon recommended a change from a bilateral to single mastectomy. After some initial hesitation, Lynette accepted that recommendation, and surgery was tentatively set for January 9.
At the conclusion of chemo, an MRI showed treatment had successfully shrunk the tumors; however, it also revealed a spot in the lungs disappeared. Previously, it was unclear if the spot was scar tissue or cancer. Although not confirmed, it is likely the spot was cancerous since it responded to chemo as well.
Just days before surgery, on January 5, Lynette started experiencing numbness on the left side of her body while attending one of Peyton's basketball games. The numbness quickly turned into uncontrollable spasms, which resulted in a trip to the emergency room. A brain CT scan revealed something unusual and a follow up MRI was taken on Tuesday, just 2 days before surgery. The MRI revealed 8-9 small spots in her brain. This was devastating news as it confirmed the breast cancer had metastasized. Surgery was canceled.
The one thing we've learned during this ordeal is don't Google stuff. In this case, Googling "metastasized triple negative breast cancer" is absolutely terrifying!! The days following this discovery were excruciating. After some debate over where to go and what to do, Lynette decided to go with her oncologist's recommendation of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. After pulling some strings, he was able to get her in to see a TNBC specialist.
On the way to Seattle, we stopped in Lewiston to pick up the results of yet another set of tests. Lynette bravely opened the report and began reading. Expecting the worst, we were elated to find no further spread of cancer to other organs or bones. The good news continued when, through a bit of luck (and perhaps the result of a prayer or two), Lynette was also able to schedule an additional appointment with a previously unavailable radiation oncologist as well.
The appointment turned out to be extremely positive. After meeting with 2 doctors, we walked away with hope. Although "mets" cannot be cured, which we knew going in, it can be successfully managed with a goal of "No Evidence of Disease" (NED).
We’ll continue to provide updates through this site. Thank you to the countless people that have provided encouragement, prepared meals, offered prayers, and donated money. Your love and support have been a tremendous source of strength to us all throughout this ordeal.