Journal

Journal entry by Ashley bailey

Hey everyone, 

     Thank you for taking a moment to stop in and check the page out. I was diagnosed on 9/20/19 with invasive ductal carcinoma which is a form of breast cancer. I had biopsies on two areas which both came back as cancer. Based on the images from the ultra sound and mammogram it looks to be two separate tumors but my doctor is concerned that it could still be connected. If it is connected, the surgeon would like to do chemo first then do a double mastectomy then follow up with more chemo. If they are not connected by any cancerous tissue they would proceed with the surgery then chemo for approx 4-5 months. Another factor we are waiting on, is if the cancer is something that is genetically passed down or if it was just something formed from something else. There is some family history that is missing so we aren't sure which it could be. I had the genetic testing done on the 1st of October. If it is genetic, I will need to also have a hysterectomy and my ovaries removed because the cancer would likely affect those areas of my body as well. I have an MRI on Monday October 14th so they can make sure it hasn't gone past my chest wall and moved into other areas of my body. The following day I will meet with the surgeon to go over all these results and make a plan to move forward.

For those of you who have reached out, I'd like you to know I am very grateful for all your support and great information. I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing people.

For those of you who have asked what I need or would like, because of the chemo I will likely loose my hair so some nice beanie hats would be nice. You could go on REI's website and just click on their beanies and you can't go wrong. I do like the ones without the balls on them the best. Nothing expensive either.  Zip up sweaters are another thing I will probably need, again nothing expensive. 

Also to those who have offered to do a meal train, we are very grateful for the offer and once we know the dates we can make a plan. Our daughter Brooke does have a peanut and tree nut allergy so unfortunately anything that contains these can't be in our home. 

Don't feel like you need to provide anything for us, if you just want to check in a say hey, I am grateful for that also.

Again, I am so grateful for all of you and I know this will be something I will get through. I know I am planning on getting through it with humor, hard work, and of course with the help of my husband and two kiddos.
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Journal entry by Ashley bailey

I'm sorry it has been a while since the last update but we had to wait for the MRI and appointment with Dr. Wright. Yesterday's appointment felt pretty positive to me. The MRI showed that the cancer hasn't traveled yet and hasn't gone past the chest wall. The two masses are too large to try to save anything so a double mastectomy is for sure what we will being doing. We are hoping to do the surgery next week but we are waiting on Alaska Regional to get back with my surgeon, to let us know if they have an OR available. I am hoping to hear back by the end of the day on that. They didn't have the result of the genetic test yet but the company said by Friday they will have the results to my doctor. The cancer tested estrogen positive which means it grows with the estrogen in my body. After the surgery I will have to go on a hormonal therapy that suppresses my natural estrogen production for the next 5-10 years. Dr. Wright is hopeful that since we aren't trying to salvage any of the breast tissue that maybe I won't have to follow up with chemo therapy. They will know after the surgery for sure. They will send the tissue that is removed to be further tested and depending on what comes back on the scale, they will determine if chemo is necessary at that point. I am happy to hear that there is a chance that I won't have to follow up with chemo so that was a great possibility to hope for.  During the surgery they will also do some additional testing on the lymph system, if any of it comes back positive they'll remove that tissue as well and test it too. Over all, I feel optimistic after the appointment and I am ready to move forward and away from this chapter in my life. When we know the dates for sure I will let everyone know.

Journal entry by Ashley bailey

We had pre op today with Dr. Wright and will have surgery on Thursday October 24th. We went over the genetic tests and it looks like there are 2 genetic mutations but they are not connected to the gene that would cause the cancer to spread to my ovaries or uterus. They are however connected to a higher risk of skin cancer and colon cancer and may have contributed to the cause of the breast cancer. The risk to the kids isn’t high but they would benefit from having the testing run when they get older. We will talk with the genetic counselor after my surgery. As of right now we will not need to have another surgery to remove my ovaries. I am thankful for that. Based off of the last test they got back from the biopsy the oncologist said I will have to go through chemo therapy after surgery but they will be able to get a better customized chemo plan after the final tests they do after surgery. I am taking this coming week off to get all the things I need to feel prepared. I am still feeling optimistic and ready to keep pushing forward.

Journal entry by Ashley bailey

I was able to go home Friday. It has been nice to be home. I’ve been able to get up and walk around between taking long naps. I sit down and I fall asleep within 5 minutes of sitting. I went in yesterday for my follow up and my doctor said that everything looks to be healing really well. Fingers crossed they’ll remove the draining tubes tomorrow. It would be a lot more comfortable to not have those stitched in anymore. The surgeon said that the lymphs looked good and they didn’t get anything that indicated that the cancer had moved into that area so that’s a huge relief. We will meet with the oncologist tomorrow and we will go over their plan for what happens next. 

Journal entry by Ashley bailey

Happy Halloween! The kids are excited for today and got to wear their costumes to school today. I went in yesterday for a follow up and my doctor was able to remove the draining tubes. That was extremely uncomfortable but now that they are out I feel more comfortable and I’m able to move around much better. 

Journal entry by Ashley bailey

Today we met with my oncologist and went over the pathology report. He said that there were two types of cancer found and they scored high on the scale that determines whether chemo therapy would be necessary. I will have to do a year of chemo therapy. I will go in for another surgery to have the portacath put into place so that it will be easier to do treatments. That will only be about an hour long procedure and will be a lot less painful than my last surgery. It wasn’t a surprise because we talked about it at my last appointment with Dr. Wright and she let us know that it would be likely that was what the oncologist would say. I’ll be returning to work the first week of December, which is later than I was hoping but it’ll be okay. The first treatment will be November 25th. Overall, I’m feeling good and have been dressing myself and and moving my arms around a lot more and working on getting out on some short outings. The tape was removed from the stitches today and everything is looking good and healthy I’m also starting to gain feeling around the surgery area which is a good sign.

Journal entry by Ashley bailey

All done with surgery number 2! It went much faster than the first one. As to be expected, it’s sore but not nearly as bad as the mastectomy. It does feel weird in my neck to turn left and right but I am grateful that I won’t have to do more IVs in my arm.  Dan is spending the day with me which is the highlight of my day. They moved my chemo day up to this Wednesday. That way if I have any issues, they’ll be able to figure it out before the long holiday weekend. Dan will take me to that one. The next one we plan on bringing the kids with us, so they can see what it is they do. That way, it’s not a scary mystery. Tanner has been writing me sweet get better notes when he has free time and Brooke has been drawing me pictures to put up around me. We are so grateful for the love and care everyone has given us, it has certainly made this time much easier. I’ve been reading notes students and staff have sent me and it’s been great! It’s helped me stay positive. It feels like every time I get used to a change it changes again. I’m ready to go back to work and to feel useful again. I picked up some thank you cards and plan on writing them out. If you have sent us a meal or a gift please know I am so thankful and it might take a while, but I will get my thank you notes out soon!

Journal entry by Ashley bailey

Today was my first day of chemo therapy. After my last post the pain medication from the surgery wore off and oh boy, I could feel it. Today we’ve got the pain managed but I haven’t really slept well for the past two nights. I’d close my eyes but couldn’t really fall asleep. There is just a lot of things happening from the second surgery all at once. It was hard to tell which stinging or burning or pulling was the one causing the worst pain. Dr. Wright left the port access attached because I was going in today to have chemo so now that is out, it feels a little better. The staff was very nice where I got my chemo. My sister and Dan came along to see what it’s all about. They got to watch me be groggy really. Haha it wasn’t super exciting. The nurse gave me something to relax me which made me sleepy. I had weird dreams so I flinched with my arms up while dreaming I was catching someone and I woke myself up by talking. Quite the show I put on I suppose! I will not be able to drive myself to chemo therapy  appointments so I’ll need to find a ride to the ones that Dan won’t be home for but I’ve got time to work on that. I’m home now and I am tired still. I hoping that I’ll be able to get some rest without the port attachments on anymore.

Journal entry by Ashley bailey

Yesterday we ended up in the ER. I was having a hard time catching my breath and my heart was racing. I called my oncologist’s office and told them what I was feeling. They were concerned that I had blood clots in my lungs from the surgery. We spent about 5 hours in the ER where they ran some tests. I was cleared from any blood clots. It is just a bad side effect of the chemo. They gave me some medication to help make me feel a little better. Hopefully, I’ll be able to adjust to the chemo so I can get back to work and helping around the house. Dan has been great in helping me and making sure I’m eating and getting the things I need. Wednesday is my next follow up appointment. 

Journal entry by Ashley bailey

Christmas break was really good for the kids. Dan had a lot of it off so they were able to go snow machining and ice fishing. Tanner slept over at a friends house for the first time which was very exciting for him. They were pretty excited that they got their major Christmas wishes. They both got to do some sledding and played in the snow and lots of time with friends. My parents had us over for dinner and I was able to snack of some of the food they made. 

Yesterday was the last round of the really though chemo that I have been on. I am so happy to be done with that stuff. My oncologist was telling me that it is some of the toughest stuff you could be on so I made it through it! The next chemo therapies should be easier according to my oncologist. The next one has similar side effects but they are just less severe, then I will also be on another one that specifically targets the HER2+ cancer they found in the second location. That one will only be needed every 3 weeks and the side effects of that one of even less severe than the others. When I am just on that treatment my hair might even start to grow back so towards the end of the school year I should be feeling so much better than I have been.  The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. 

I feel about the same today as what I've been feeling like after treatment. I still had the reaction that causes the burning sensation so the benadryl has made me a little more tired than I'm used to but not so much that I couldn't work. I still have the nausea and the stomach ache and all the other fun stuff from the chemo but I just feel grateful that it's only going to get easier.  I will go in on the 20th to have my heart checked then I'll know the date of my next infusion.  
 
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Ashley’s Story

Site created on October 8, 2019

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