I woke up this morning feeling very nervous and shaky. This is always a tough thing to go through. But shortly after I woke, J came in my room in his superhero PJs, stumbling with sleep and rubbing his eyes. He crawled in for a snuggle, and with his warm little cheek against mine, my anxiety began ebbing away. It was a great reminder of why these scans are important, and it infused me with some courage.
We're leaving in 10 minutes and I am praying that they will let Brad in with me today. Prayers for continued peace would be deeply appreciated. I'll update when we have results- we'll meet with Dr. Awesome next Monday to go over everything. Love you!!
Thank you for praying for me as I've struggled with side effects! I am very grateful to report that I'm feeling much better at this point. I truly appreciate your care for me in these many ups and downs.
However, as so often happens in this crazy life we live, a new, bizzare issue has arisen. For an unknown reason, I now seem to become an absolute airhead when it comes time to take my medications. In the past three days I have taken an overdose of TWO different medications. Ugh!! It's as if an alien momentarily confiscates my brain at pill time! On Thursday night I went to take my pills and somehow I ended up taking two of my aromatase inhibitors. We had to call poison control at 10:30 pm.
That ended up not being a big deal. Phew. But then thismorning I absentmindedly took two chemo pills! ??? I just... I don't... What the... I mean, my pill calendars are idiot-proof. I am beginning to seriously question my sanity.
We called Ms. Meds' department, spoke to someone who thinks I don't need my stomach pumped, and was told to just buckle up for, guess what? Ramped-up side effects. Haha. Well played, life. Well played.
But I'm fine- I'll just need to skip my evening dose. I am expecting to feel worse later on, but until then I am enjoying the respite from sickness and confidence in the knowledge that I am slowly learning what to do and how to cope when I feel terrible.
Last weekend was very difficult. By Sunday I felt so intensely unwell that everything in my body began to feel very wrong. By late evening I had this awful, intense, overwhelming sense that I wasn't going to make it through the night. As I counseled myself away from panic and tried to speak sense and sanity to my own frantic heart, Brad prayed over me, and I slowly settled to sleep, tuned in to my own mumbled recitation of the words of Psalm 4.
I am learning. I'm learning trust and patience and self-care in the hard and mundane circumstances of living with a chronic illness. The Lord is my tireless and tender teacher. And perhaps today I'll just let myself off the hook for eating potent meds like candy. And I'll request pill-popping supervision next time. 😉 Love you!
Due to a scheduling issue, my scans have now been moved from tomorrow to August 10th. I'm grateful for the delay because I've been incredibly sick from my medication over the past few days, and I've barely gotten out of bed today. I tend to not do so well in the heat.
Prayers for recovery would be so appreciated! I really need to feel better. I'm taking everything they've given me to help my stomach, but it's just not working. I know it's tough on my family when I'm not well, not to mention I'm just miserable 😕. Thanks so much. Love you.
Thank you again for being so loving and encouraging to Brad and me. We have been particularly blessed by your kindness over the past few weeks, and I want you to know how much I appreciate this community of support. Thank you for your empathy, kindness, prayer, and for reading these posts!! Your care is deeply appreciated.
Brad is keeping as safe as possible while he is back at work, and fortunately with the 4th of July holiday plus vacation time he used to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary earlier this week, he has been able to stay away from the office for a decent chunk of time. He also brought me to the cancer center for treatment (and bloodwork plus and an appointment with Dr. Awesome) on Wednesday, and he took notes for me from the car again.
I am still feeling pretty weak and exhausted after treatment, but I expect that I'll bounce back pretty quickly. My bloodwork is still looking pretty good, and Dr. Awesome continues to be pleased with my progress.
At this appointment, we discussed my side effects as they have been acting up more than usual. This is likely due to increased stress I've been experiencing. Dr. Awesome had my oncology pharmacist, a.k.a. Ms. Meds, get in touch with me yesterday to figure out how we can reduce these side effects. Since metastatic cancer is such a long-term cross to bear, any time I raise a concern that affects my quality of life, Dr. Awesome is all over it and works to do whatever possible to make sure I am enjoying the best quality of life possible. Ms. Meds had helpful tips and ideas that we are going to implement on a trial basis. We agreed that we don't want to reduce my dosage of the chemo pill at this point, at least not before trying alternative measures to ease my symptoms. She is going to monitor my situation with me, and I feel confident that we can get this under control. I always feel so well cared for by my entire medical team. They really are amazing.
It's that time again... It has been approximately six months since my last round of scans, so I am due for another couple of CT scans, a bone scan, and a mammogram. This morning we got my CT scans and bone scan scheduled for Tuesday, July 21st, and the mammogram will be scheduled after those scans are completed; it will be sometime in August.
Usually the process of scheduling the scans is difficult for me, just because there is a lot of emotional upheaval behind the scans- what they represent and the place they hold in my life. I actually tend to experience some distress after getting off the phone with radiology when I schedule these appointments. However, this time I felt fine after scheduling, and this seems like fantastic progress: I think that this necessary evil is finally becoming somewhat routine to me, and I'm able to accept that this is just a part of my life.
I also have a lot of reason for hope as I head into these scans. Dr. Awesome believes that the lump is continuing to shrink. Very good scan results would show that my condition is stable. Excellent scan results would show that the lesions in both my bones and soft tissue are receding. I am cautiously hopeful for at least stability.
As for scan day itself, I always have the scans at the same location, with the same people (who now remember me), administering the tests. I've learned what things make the day easier to bear, and how to minimize the difficulties to some extent. Dr. Awesome is also very generous in understanding how stressful they are for me and allows me as much flexibility as possible concerning when they are scheduled. She also reminded me that the scans show every little thing in the body, and some of those things will be inconclusive. We are not going to worry about that- we are just looking for any substantial changes. Please pray that if there are any substantial changes that they would show progress in the right direction, both for my bones and soft tissue!!
We will have a telehealth appointment with Dr. Awesome to go over the scan results when they are in, and in the meantime I am trying to be as relaxed as possible, keeping fears and uncertainties at bay. Thank you again for your love and support, thoughts and prayers, as we get ready for another round of scans. I'm always acclimating and adjusting to the demands of this journey, and it's so helpful to know you are with me!
Well, Brad's company has denied our appeal which was made to request potential safety accommodations for our situation. They have refused to even consider his request to work in a very small, unused conference room which would place him out of the way of other employees, or in a temporary work station in the same room he's in currently, but further away from others. Any amount of continued telework was similarly flat-out refused.
So, Brad has no choice but to return to the office without any other safety accommodations provided by the company. We are very disheartened.
We are still waiting for his personal protective equipment to arrive, including a face shield, but once it does, he will return to the office.
It is extremely discouraging that they will not honor what we believe to be very reasonable requests. We are feeling bruised and very frustrated.
Thank you all again so much for loving us and praying for us. We trust that God will continue to provide and protect.
Since Brad has requested an appeal to management's decision, he is continuing to work from home until he receives an answer. At this point it is unclear whether they will charge him a vacation day for this. He followed the process to appeal the decision as outlined in the employee handbook, and we are still waiting for a response.
Brad's boss just told us that management is currently discussing the issue, but we don't know when we will hear back. Please continue to pray! I know I've been asking for that quite a lot, and we are deeply appreciative of you.
We've also ordered substantial personal protective equipment for him in case he has no choice but to return to the building, but we are still waiting for it to be delivered.
Thank you again, and I'll continue to keep you posted.
Wanted to let you all know that my supply of chemo pills just arrived!!! Thank God! And thank you so much for praying! Delivery wouldn't have been possible over the weekend, so it is such a relief that it arrived today.
This is a big deal because this particular med is sometimes in short supply anyway, even pre-COVID. And because most patients who receive this treatment are also experiencing delays, we needed this shipment to come through as the hospital pharmacy isn't just able to send everyone a new shipment. So thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers!
As for Brad's work situation, we are still trying to figure out what to do and would greatly appreciate your continued prayers.
Thank you again, and I'll continue to update as we have more information.
Brad and I would like to ask for prayer for a couple of pressing issues beyond our control. First, since the government mandate was lifted that required all who can work from home to do so, Brad's company is requiring him to return to the office even though he would have to work all day in close proximity to others who would sometimes be masked, sometimes not.
The company knows that I am on immune-compromising medication (and that I have a whopper of an underlying condition!).The company has received notes from my doctors, but still they will not make an exception even though Brad has been very successfully and productively working from home for the past three months.
He has taken today and tomorrow as vacation days since otherwise he would be required to be in the office right now, but by Monday we will really be in a bind.
We are asking for urgent prayer that the company would take a more reasonable stance, or that we would have some kind of recourse that would result in Brad being able to continue working from home for the time being, and not lose his job and consequently our insurance (not to mention income). We are also asking for prayers for my safety and protection.
The second issue we are asking for prayer for is that my shipment of a month's worth chemo pills has not arrived when it was supposed to. I still have 5 days worth left, so I'm very hopeful that I will get it in time. But the courier is experiencing major delays, so please do pray that it gets to me in time, and that it hasn't spent too long baking in a hot UPS truck!
Thank you for having our back in everything and praying with us for these concerns. We trust God to provide as he always has as we ask for your prayer support. We know that he can make a way when there is no way. I'm so thankful for everything he has done for me and all the amazing ways he has protected and provided, and we know this situation is no different.
Love you all, and thank you again for your love and help!
I apologize for the radio silence over the last several weeks! If I had posted before, the entry would have read something like, "I feel lousy. And tired." The end. But now that I'm in a better position to do so, I'll catch you up a bit!
My treatment session in April steamrolled me. I've never had a reaction that bad previously, but I was down for a couple of weeks, and then still feeling sick and exhausted for several more weeks. I had another treatment session during that time, but fortunately that one didn't set me back further. Right now I am working on rebuilding endurance, and I am generally feeling much better. By now I'm only experiencing the typical discomforts that accompany my treatment, and I'm so relieved to be able to accomplish my normal routine.
I am incredibly blessed that I am tolerating the chemo pill as well as I am. Dr. Awesome said I am the only one of her patients who is able to tolerate the full dose (!), and I actually have remarkably few side effects. Praise God! And please pray that this continues! I am also asking for prayer for a couple of other things:
1. I will be having scans again in another month or two, and I am really hoping for good news- that everything is still on track, and that we would even see more improvement in the bones and soft tissue.
2. I have to go in for treatment tomorrow, and I am asking for prayer that everything goes well and that I will bounce back quickly.
Other than that, I have some things to look forward to. My birthday is next week, and I am celebrating making it through another year. Birthdays mean so much to me now. It's another year of precious life with my loved ones, and another year to acknowledge and be grateful for God's faithfulness to me.
So that's mostly it for now. I do want to say an enormous thank you to you wonderful friends and family for all the ways in which you've continued to bless me. You are amazing. Thank you to all who contributed to our GoFundMe or by other means of donation from the very beginning up until now. It humbles us and moves us. The medical bills are relentless, and each donation represents such an incredible easing of our burden, and the love behind it means so much to us. So from both Brad and me, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
A huge thank you also for the many beautiful expressions of support and encouragement that have been coming my way! Even as I hadn't been active on this site for a little while, so many of you continued to reach out, and it is wildly appreciated. I know times are so painful and difficult lately, in so many ways, but in the midst of that your amazing kindness has shone out and blessed me immensely. Thank you for being light and kindness to me personally and in the world. You inspire hope.
I want you to know that am thinking of you all and that you are always in my heart and my prayers.
Learning that we had Stage IV cancer was (and still is) a tough blow. We were absolutely stunned, and not a little frightened. There was, however, a little bit of good news. Although cancer was detected in Danielle's bones, it was not found to be present in any of her organs (aside from her breast and lymph nodes). Even better, the pathologist reported that our cancer is strongly estrogen receptive (ER+); on a scale of 0 to 8, we're an 8. This means that the cancer should respond very well to hormone therapy; if the cancer feeds on estrogen, then we can starve it by shutting down estrogen production.
The surgeon who discussed these findings with us sent us immediately from his office to our new medical oncologist, who he raved about, calling her "my favorite" and "the best in the state, possibly in New England". In fact, she is the Director of Hartford HealthCare's Cancer Institute, breast program. She went over the details of the diagnosis with us, explained what we know about the cancer and what further tests are required. She also described the tentative treatment plan, pending results of genetic testing, bone scan, and bone biopsy.
From the breast biopsy we have proof that the cancer started in the breast. This is good news because it means that there isn't a worse tumor lurking somewhere else. We also know that it should respond well to hormone therapy, which is her first choice for treatment options. That could change based on the results of the genetic test; if a genetic link is found, there are specific medications that are more effective.
Both our doctors did their best to encourage us. Breast cancer research is incredibly well funded, and treatments are becoming ever more effective. New treatments are being released practically on a weekly basis, and medical progress continues to accelerate. We learned that the treatment we are currently considering is new within the last two years and has shown remarkable results in shrinking and healing tumors. It may be possible for us to avoid chemotherapy and surgery, although it is too soon to tell. We also learned that women with Stage IV breast cancer often live for decades on pills or injections. We are encouraged to hear that breast cancer is becoming a chronic disease instead of a terminal one.
Despite this positive news, and our hope in God’s healing power, we are struggling with fear of the unknown. Please continue to pray with us for full healing. Also pray for relief from fear and anxiety, particularly as we undergo these last few tests before treatment can begin. Our bone biopsy is scheduled for Monday at 9:30 am, and this procedure is especially scary for Danielle.
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your prayers, support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting!
On Wednesday, November 7, 2018 Danielle went to her doctor with a painful lump in her breast that we thought would be a cyst. Her doctor, expressing concern, sent her for an urgent mammogram and ultrasound the same day, where she was told that she had breast cancer. The next week was packed with a biopsy, MRI, and CT scan. At the end of the week we received more bad news: the biopsy confirmed that the cancer was invasive, and imaging tests revealed that it had spread to her bones. We were suddenly dealing with stage 4 breast cancer at age 33.
Though we were shocked and frightened, we had a sense that God had a purpose for us in this situation, we are trusting that God will heal Danielle and preserve her life, allowing her to raise her little boy into adulthood.
Danielle is a warm and spirited woman who cherishes her family and friends, and she has even continued to make them laugh in the midst of this difficult diagnosis. She and her husband, Brad, the love of her life and her best friend, just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in July, and she is a wonderful stay-at-home mother to their enegetic and adorable three-year-old boy. Danielle is also active in ministry in her church and is just starting a business as a part-time interior decorator.
We are grateful to all of you who are offering your support during this difficult time. The most important thing you can do to help is to pray boldly and earnestly for Danielle's full healing and for peace of mind. The second is to send Danielle your notes of encouragement. It has done us a world of good to hear from family, friends, and strangers who are all praying for us and lovingly expressing their support. We know that we are not alone, and we look forward in hope with all of you.
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