Monday, December 26, 2011

Chemo #4 Side Effects: Good News!

Acupuncture warded off all nausea, vomiting, & diarrhea for my last chemotherapy infusion treatment session!  I am so thankful that chemo is over & done with!  I highly recommend acupuncture plus self acupressure on the appropriate trigger points during chemotherapy.  There was a world of difference between my first two chemo sessions & my last two! It was worth every penny to have the acupuncture to take away the evil side effects of nausea.

Now, I'm just waiting for the doctors to contact me after the holidays to set up my radiation treatments.  I think the first appointment will be to tattoo my radiation points & set up the treatments.  I will receive 6 1/2 weeks of 5 day a week treatments.  The daily drive to Dallas will be grueling, but I intend to make it fun by having a "girls lunch" once a week with friends while we are in Big D!!  Oh, the places we'll go.....

While awaiting the next phase of BC treatment, I'm reading a lot about healthy living & especially healthy eating to counteract a future recurrence.  Bought myself a new bookcase from Pier One (one of my favorite stores) to house my new library.
New Pier One bookshelf.  Thanks, Dennis for helping me get this home!

Nutrition books for fighting cancer.

Currently reading this one.

Healthy eating books I already owned.  Now I need to follow them!

Books for the soul!

More books to feed the soul!

Dr. Susan Love's Breast book - the Bible of BC

I'm also doing a lot of crocheting as I continue to stay away from crowds until my immune system gets back to normal - whatever that is!  I have many afghans to make so I'm a Happy Hooker!

This is one of 2 baby boy afghans I'm making for upcoming births.  Then I have some afghans to make for my grown up family & friends!  You can tell, I'm sitting on my cheetah recliner, still in my pj's, crocheting & watching tv.  No complaints here!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pathology Report in a Nutshell

I asked Dr. Haley to explain my pathology report so that I could use the little abbreviations other breast cancer patients use with their name on all the community boards and forums. So, in case you are interested (LOL), here is mine:

Diagnosis:7/22/2011, ILC, 8cm, Stage 2b, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-

ILC:   I had Invasive or Infiltrating Lobular Carcinoma in my left breast. This type of cancer counts for 10% of breast cancer frequency. It is more common in women who have taken hormone replacement therapy, which I did for about 12 years until the study in 2002 stated the risk of breast cancer. A lobular cancer has about a 20% risk or occurring in the other breast in your lifetime - an increased risk, but not an overwhelming one.

8 cm Size:   Lobular cancers tend to grow larger in size, with the average being 5 cm. My little monster was 8 cm!!! And to think it didn't show up on the mammogram & my internist upon giving me a breast exam said it was just dense breast tissue! I felt the cancer in the inner upper quadrant of my breast & to make me happy the internist ordered a sonogram. The radiologist at the imaging clinic immediately burst into my dressing room & said I needed a biopsy the next day. Which I had - & the results were indeed breast cancer. A self breast exam saved me - plus my insistance that something was not right! I no longer go to that internist, needless to say!
Stage 2b:  Pathologists "stage" breast cancers based on the tumor, node involvement, & metastisis (if the cancer has spread). I received a Stage 2b based on the size of my tumor. I had no node involvement & no metastisis (thank the good Lord), but any tumor over size 5 cm (mine was 8 cm) is automatically classified as stage 2b.

Grade 3:  Pathologists usually grade on a scale of 1 to 3, with the higher number being the worst.  The score is based on three features:  degree of tubule formation (well-formed tubules are better than poorly formed ones, as mine were), nuclear grade (regularity in the size, shape, & staining character of the nuclei, with small being better than large, & nitotic activity (no or few mitoses are good and many mitoses are not as good.  Each of these gets a score of 1, 2, or 3, with the higher number reflecting poor tubules, large nuclei, & high mitotic rate.  The scores are added up:  3-5 is grade 1, 6-7 is grade 2, 8-9 (my score) is grade 3.  Grade 3 is the highest & supposedly the most aggressive.  My grade of 3 justified my chemotherapy treatment.

0/3 Nodes:  Pathologists look at lymph nodes because they are a good window into what is going on in the rest of the body.  If they don't show cancer cells, it means there is a lower probability of cancer cells in other parts of the body.  In my case, none of the 3 nodes taken & evaluated had cancer cells, even though 2 showed "isolated tumor cells" - which still gets a negative rating.  Even if lymp nodes are negative, it does not mean that the cancer has not spread - 20-30 percent of breast cancers with negative lymph nodes have spread elsewhere.  At least we're starting off on the right path!

ER+PR+:  My tumor was sensitive to estrogen & progesterone receptors, making it both Estrogen Receptor Positive & Progesterone Receptor Positive.  The implications of the hormone receptor tests are both prognostic & predictive.  In general, tumors that are sensitive top hormones - that have receptors - are slightly slower growing & have a slightly better prognosis than tumors that aren't. 

Her2-:  Another biomarker is overexpression (too many copies) of the Her-2/neu oncogene.  Her2/new is one of the dominant oncogenes that contribute to cancer by telling cells to grow.  This is a prognostic indicator & an indicator of the best treatment.  Thankfully, my tumor was Her2 negative.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jane Fonda, too? Who knew?

This is from November, 2010 - just last year!  Loved her on Dr. Oz today.  She has a great attitude on aging & looks terrific at age 74!  Sorry if you missed it.  Here's the link - don't know if it's the entire show.  If not, maybe you can find it at his site somewhere! Try this:  I have forgiven her for her past sins - lol!  I plan to buy her new Trim, Tone, & Flex DVD, plus 2 more of her DVD's in this series for people MY age!  I had all her old ones in my younger days - & did them with her!

Breaking News: Jane Fonda Discloses Breast Cancer Scare
                                                     Jane Fonda Has a Breast Cancer Scare | Jane Fonda

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chemo 4 & There Shall Be No More!

I made it to Chemo #4 - last one!  Now to just make it through it the side effects the next few days!

My sweet baby daughter, Monica, took me to my 4th and LAST chemo treatment today!  It was a long day, but we had fun visiting.  There is no pain or sicknesss on infusion day - thank goodness!  My appointment wasn't until 11:15 a.m., so the first thing they did was draw blood to see if blood counts were good enough to give me the treatment.  They were!  I was examined by my oncologist, Dr. Barbara Haley. 

Dr. Haley said that in 3-4 weeks from today they radiation oncologist will begin my radiation  treatments - which will be after the holiday.  I will first see her to get the radiation area tattoo marks so they will know where to aim the radiation and to set up treatments.  The treatments will be 5 days a week for 6 1/2 weeks - yikes!  It takes me 40 minutes to get there & the treatment only last 15 minutes.  It is a painless procedure, but the side effects are extreme lethargy.  So, it looks like I will be tired until mid-February.  That's hard for a hyperactive 69 year-old!  I want to be movin' & shakin' & gettin' things done - oh, well!  This, too, shall pass.

Dr. Haley also informed me that the plastic surgeon that will do the DIEP reconstruction will not touch me until 6 months after radiation is over. So it looks like it will be late summer or early fall for that step! We'll talk about that later.

Dr. Haley said that my port that planted in my chest to give me the chemo drugs can come out a couple of weeks after the blood counts are back to normal.  My breast surgeon, Dr. David Euhus, will do that in his office under a local anesthesia.  I will be glad to get the port and its tube that leads to my artery removed!   It is a reminder.

Dr. Haley said that I could be in crowds after 2 weeks passes from today's chemo.  Yippee!  I have sadly missed seeing my grandchildren's talent shows, Christmas dance programs, violin recital, soccer games, &  birthday parties!  I will also be glad to be able to attend church!

After we left UTSW, Monica & I went to Sonny Brian's Barbeque across the street & I got dinner to take home to her family to celebrate the last chemo!  It was a great meal & get-together!
After getting the dinner to go, I sent cutie Monica back in to get a side of beans for Brion! 

I got my acupuncture treatment yesterday, so I am expecting NO nausea, vomiting, & diahrrea this round of chemo!  I got the acupuncture the day before chemo this time, so the effect should be better!  I'm certainly hoping & praying this is the case.
My acupressure trigger point seed placed in both wrists, middle of belly, 7 in each ear, & one under each knee to the outside - all nausea & gastrointestinal trigger points.

I'll keep you posted......when I'm sure of the results this time!  Will not jinx myself & speak too soon!

Last Chemo Today!!!!!!

Dec. 13 - last chemo treatment!

Need I say more?????

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another Celebrity BC Diagnosis!

I thought this was an well written article written by a Today Show contributor, Diane Mapes, about Guiliana Rancic, E! News host.

E! network anchor Giuliana Rancic and her husband Bill told TODAY of her decision to get a double mastectomy after two lumpectomies failed to remove all traces of breast cancer.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chihuly Sculpture at UTSWMC

Photo Credit:  Carolyn Rogers

A spectacular, story-and-a-half sculpture by Dale Chihuly greets visitors entering the new Seay Biomedical Building on the campus of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Rising from a pool of water like a mass of shining octopus tentacles, its 1,100 pieces of bright orange, blown glass are not only excellent art forms, but they may seem to represent the vicious nature of cancer that scientists in the building are trying to cure.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

One Day at a Time

Chemo is a learning experiencce! I am learning one thing about chemo side effects - they are unpredictable. I have also learned that advice from different health fields conflict with one another. I was too quick to jump on the band wagon about taking herbal health supplements and too quick to think I had a handle on predicting chemo side effects with each treatment - according to how the past treatments have gone. I have learned to listen to your oncologist while going through chemotherapy about not taking herbal supplements - only after posting an update that they were the cat's meow! I have learned that I never know which days after chemotherapy I will be experiencing nausea and vomiting - it could all be over on day #8 or start on day #8. I have learned that some days you will be so lethargic and some days (usually at the end of the chemo phase) you will start acquiring energy again to get through the day. You just never know. It is best just to accept what each day brings and realize it is a result of chemotherapy killing cancer cells. Some days you will feel okay and somedays you will feel like heck.

I am learning that with chemo, you just not anticipate, just take it one day at a time. It is a healing process, and this too shall pass and you will be a survivor with all this behind you.