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October
28
2020

October 27, 2020

Hello everyone,

Happy almost Halloween to you all. And thank you again to everyone who has reached out with a kind word. You all mean so much to me.

This Friday I will be completing my 6th Taxol treatment of 12. So, after 4 AC and 5 Taxol, I'm over halfway done. I still have most of my eyelashes and my eyebrows (thanks, microblading) and my hair seems to be growing back a bit! I'm quite pleased with that notion. Sleep is still elusive due to hot flashes, anxiety, and just random wake-ups. Though I have not had any nausea, it's very very hard to eat....which means my energy level is less than superb. I get tired and winded very easily. And oh my goodness, the "chemo brain" is real. But I'll be done soon and then be on to Christmas and then surgery. \

Sara was able to come visit me over this past weekend and we had the most amazing time. We are seafood, listened to music, and picked out the infamous "Dad Pumpkin". I love her to death. I'll post pictures for all to see. 

I'll write again soon! Have a happy Tuesday. 

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September
26
2020

September 26, 2020

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Yesterday I had my first of 12 Taxol treatments. Everything went smoothly, according to my nurses. Apparently it is very common for Taxol to cause allergic reactions, so the pre-med regiment is real: steroids out the wazoo, Zyrtec, and Pepcid to prevent ulcers. Unfortunately in addition to preventing allergic reaction, the steroids also prevent me from sleeping. I've had about 9 hours of sleep total for the past two nights. Luckily I only have to be on the steroids 2 days per week and the dosage goes down next week. Fingers crossed.

As far as having chemo goes, it hasn't been too bad. The most disruptive element so far has just been the extreme fatigue. Between the steroids, hot flashes, night sweats, I can't really get any quality sleep and I have never been great a napping during the day. But it definitely could be much much worse. I'm thankful for the advances in medicine that have prevented me from feeling the "classic" chemo side effects. 

Thanks again to everyone who has reached out with words of support! I appreciate you all.

Love you, mean it!

Leah

August
29
2020

August 29, 2020

Hello friends!

Here is a little update for you.

Yesterday I had chemo treatment number 3 out of 16. After my last AC treatment on 9/11 I'll be switching over to Taxol for the remaining 12 sessions. So far I have not had any trouble with nausea at all. I'm very thankful for that. 

The drugs also make me very very tired, so I am spending a lot of time in bed in the 3-4 days after chemo. But hey, that's not so bad. For the most part I am feeling quite normal. I have, however, lost all of the hair on my head and most of the hair on the rest of my body. Plus side of this: showering and getting ready takes about 1/5 of the time it usually does. Not having to shave or blow-dry is a real time saver! 

Mommer and I went to a wig shop in Fairfax a few days ago and I found a super cute, high-quality wig to use for work and more formal events. For normal days I'm just rocking a hat or one of my several cheap-o Amazon wigs. Very fun, but also very itchy. 

I want to say thank you to everyone who has taken time out of their day to send me a message or comment on a picture of post. It means a lot to know that I have such great friends.

Hearts and stuff,

Leah

August
4
2020

August 4, 2020

Here's the low-down.

The 30,000 foot view:

In early July I was diagnosed with Invasive Mammary Carcinoma in my left breast. It is a grade 2, metastatic, lobule/ductal cancer. It is not common, but it is also not un-common and the doctors and nurses have assured me that it is very treatable.

The back story:

In March of 2019, I developed a lump in my left breast. At the time I did not have health insurance, so I went to my local Planned Parenthood. They are truly the best. The doctors there referred me to American Radiology where they performed an ultrasound. The radiologist saw no need for concern and told me that it was a cyst. Most women have them at some point. No big deal. They sent me home and said to come back if I noticed any changes.

Long story short, I did notice some changes. Around late February 2020 the lump seemed to be going away. However, after a week or so the lump grew into a massive, hard, hot, painful, inflamed mass. I couldn't sleep at night and it was hard to even move normally. I went back to PP and they sent me back to American Radiology where I had another ultrasound and a mammogram. They were certain it was just infection or dense breast tissue (or both) and gave me some information on how to apply for financial assistance to dig deeper into the discomfort. The PP doctors also prescribed me an antibiotic for inflammation. It helped a lot, but did not rid me of the pain completetly.

Unfortunately I did not qualify for assistance. But here is a silver lining to all this Covid-19 trouble. Governor Hogan (best governor ever) opened up the MD Health Connection and I was able to get really great health insurance through Kaiser Permanente. (YAY! But also, not yay....you know what I mean.) I immediately booked an appointment with my new OB/GYN. After examination, she came to the same conclusion: infection/dense breast tissue. She prescribed me another antibiotic which helped, but also did not resolve the issue.

June 24 I went for another ultrasound/mammogram. The doctor at Kaiser Permanente agreed that there were some cysts, infection, and inflammation, but was concerned about a few areas. He believed that the infections/cysts were being caused by an underlying issue. He was right. On June 30 I went in for a biopsy of the lump and it tested positive for cancer. 

As of right now:

Since my diagnosis, I have had lots of blood drawn, a genetic test, an MRI, a PET scan, an Echo, a Mediport placement, and an additional biopsy of a lymph node. Basically, I've gotten very used to being poked with needles. The lymph node biopsy was also positive for cancer, but that was no surprise. This does not change the treatment plan or the prognosis. According to all my bloodwork, things look completely normal. The MRI showed extensive disease in my left breast and will likely require mastectomy. The genetic test revealed a "spelling error" in my ATM gene which may be linked to an increased risk of cancer. There isn't enough data to support this yet. Echo showed my heart to be healthy and normal. PET showed no signs of spread beyond the left breast and the nearby lymph nodes.

My cancer team has come up with a plan of attack and I have already received my first round of chemo. The general outline is as such:

  • 4 doses of Adriamycin/Cytoxan every other week for 2 months
  • 12 doses of Taxol  every week for 12 weeks
  • Surgery (Lumpectomy/Mastectomy/Bilateral Mastectomy depending on the case)
  • Radiation everyday for 5-6 weeks
  • Celebrate by waving your hands in the air
As I mentioned before, the first round of chemo is done. The anti-nausea drugs make me extremely tired and I have to nap a lot. The pain meds make me very sick to my stomach. Overall my first treatment was surprisingly easy, but I know the tough stuff is still yet to come. 

I hope this answers some of your questions. I love you all and look forward to the day I can get back out there and dance. 

Cheers,

Leah