**** 2020 Update **** Where do I even begin? Apparently I’m not very charming. Three times around wasn’t quite enough - still holding on to laughter being the best medicine. We certainly laugh a lot & I could use some good medicine. 😉 (see original post for reference)
We found out late last fall/early winter that something suspicious was showing up in my follow-up CT scans. There were some “spots” in my vertebrae that were likely the return (and spread) of the breast cancer. My medical team here said there wasn’t a lot we could do until we saw the spots grow or spread. Those of you that know me well, know that I’m not much of a “wait and see” kind of a gal.
We decided in December to seek a second opinion at MD Anderson in Houston, TX. Dan & I went down there, got in a nice visit with my best friend & met with the medical team I was assigned to. The team there agreed that things were suspicious but they wanted to do additional (and different) scans than what I had done in MN already. I returned to TX in January for CT, MRI and Bone scans.
The MD Anderson scans in January showed the spots identified in MN appeared to have grown & the additional scans they performed appeared to show more spread than initially thought. However, none of the spots in the vertebrae (in both the thoracic and lumbar regions) were large enough yet to get a reliable enough sample. Without that sample they couldn’t definitively say what it was & therefore couldn’t make good decisions around new treatment options.
As frustrating as it was, we felt more confident with this set of providers and made the decision to return to TX in March to scan again & likely perform a biopsy at that time.
And then March came and with it COVID and a national pandemic. We pushed my return trip to April & then to May. In early May I made the return trip. New scans again showed continued growth & some additional spread. One of the spots was now large enough that they felt a biopsy would be successful. Rather than go home & then return to TX during these crazy times, the family flew down to join me & we spent a week together in the sun & pool with a biopsy in the mix. 🙂
The biopsy finally confirmed what we suspected for several months. The breast cancer had returned and was spreading through my bones (for now confined to the vertebrae and hip). So now we fight!
We started a new regimen of “chemo” medications - some of them oral & all less harsh than the more traditional chemo I had in 2017. A part of me has questioned “are we doing enough”; but for now I’ll trust the experts. The team at MD Anderson is directing my care, however the medications I’m able to get here at home which is good for all of us. The kids do know the cancer is back, we’ve kept it pretty high level & just made sure to remind them that Mom has been through this before & has every intention of beating it again. They seem to be dealing with it well.
We are focused on spending as much time together as we can (one thing I guess this pandemic has assisted us with) and create some awesome memories.
I return to MD Anderson next week (September 13-17). With that visit we’ll evaluate the new treatments - are they having an impact? Slowing the spread? No new spots? Shrinking the current tumors already identified? Those answers will help us decide how to proceed. We will again use this site to keep everyone as up to date as possible.
We are so blessed to be surrounded by the most amazing family & friends! We love you all & cannot begin to thank you enough for all your support. Your continued thoughts and prayers are always needed and so very appreciated. INDY (I'm not done yet!)
**** ORIGINAL "STORY" **** We are hoping that this site can be a way for us to keep family friends both near and far updated on our journey.
On Monday, May 22nd all I could think is "here we go again". Invasive ductal carcinoma... How is this possible? Admittedly, I never thought after electing a double mastectomy with the first breast cancer diagnosis 3 years ago that we'd be here today. And I am almost exactly THIRTY years from my Hodgkins diagnosis. Yet, here we go again... Third times a charm? Laughter is the best medicine? I'm hoping both are true
Monday morning (5/22) is when we learned that the breast cancer was back, it was in my lymphnodes on the right side. I had an ultrasound and needle biopsy of my right armpit area the prior Thursday. We had a PET scan on Tuesday (to see if the cancer had spread beyond the lymph nodes). Then on Thursday we met with my oncologist to go over what we knew at this point. We learned that it is Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma that is both estrogen & progesterone positive, her2 negative. The cancer is contained to the one area of lymph nodes, affecting a few on that side, the largest just over 2 cm.
We are still finalizing the fine details of my treatment plan. The big picture will include chemotherapy (4-6 sessions each 3 weeks apart). We will put in a port to make administering the chemo easier). A month or so after chemo ends we will have surgery. The surgeon is recommending a full resection of all the lymph nodes on the right side. We will follow that with some Physical Therapy (help with range of motion due to the surgical site & also hopefully reduce the risks of lymphodemia). Following surgery he thinks radiation would be a good idea, but we need to still evaluate the amount of radiation I received during earlier treatments to see if that's an option.
If you are learning about our new adventure through this site, please do not take offense. We would have loved to share with all of you personally, but that task was both daunting and emotional. Please know we care about you all so much. The outpouring of love, prayers & support from many of you are so very much appreciated.
We are lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful family & friends. Thank you!