Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Genetic Testing Results

Last month, I met with a genetic specialist at the Cancer Center.  They were running extensive genetic testing on me.    The results of the test would determine how extensive my surgery needed to be.   If I tested positive, they told me that I would need a double mastectomy and removal of my ovaries.   I will need 7 weeks of radiation after my surgery, partly due to a lymph node that they are unable to remove as it is buried in my sternum.  The problem with having a double mastectomy (and the reconstruction immediately afterward), was it was going to make zapping that lymph node a little more difficult.  The radiologist said that with two implants in, it would be trickier to pinpoint exactly where the radiation needed to go.    I could always do reconstruction at a later date, but when you do that after radiation the skin doesn't stretch.  Lot's of decisions would have to be made.

However, if the results were negative, I would be able to keep my left breast intact.   This would make radiation of the lymph node much easier and precise.   They will "lift" the left side later, to even things up.   From the radiologist oncologist viewpoint, this is the best way.  Ridding myself of the cancer is the first and foremost objective.  Reconstructure is important, but it is secondary to saving my life.

The good news is, the genetic testing was all negative.   I am not a carrier of the "gene".  It does make me pause to wonder how/why I got this, when there isn't a genetic reason?  The answer, I don't know and I will never know.  I am just one of a small percentage of women who get breast cancer without the risk factors.  It just is. 

I am very thankful for this diagnosis.   Since the first diagnosis of the "Big C", I have been fortunate.  I have no complaints.  My treatments have gone smoothly so far and now I don't have to make a decision about reconstruction before/after radiation.   I can proceed with radiation and feel pretty confident that they are going to be able to eradicate that pesky lymph node!

I am thankful.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Did living a healthy lifestyle keep me from GETTING cancern? No. But it has helped me.

I've had many people tell me that I was one of the last persons that they would imagine would get cancer.  I lived such a healthy lifestyle.  I exercised a lot, I ate healthy (mostly), I slept 7-8 hours a night, I rarely drink, I don't do drugs, I try to practice what I preach.  I listen to my body, I rest when I'm tired and I eat when I'm hungry.

I have none of the normal risk factors people associate with cancer.  But, you know what?  I have a gene that mutated.  It is as simple as that.  My healthy lifestyle did not prevent this.  But, it has helped me IMMENSELY in the battle to save my life.

When I was given my treatment plan, I was told I would have 8 weeks of a very brutal treatment.  A cocktail called Adriamycin and Cytoxan (A/C)   One is nicknamed the "red devil" because of the side effects.   I would get this every other week for 8 weeks.  My oncologist said that this would be the worst part of my treatment.   So far, I have 3 of them under my belt and I can't complain one single bit.  I'm tired.  I get very tired very easily, but that is minor compared to what I COULD have.  I have had no nausea whatsoever, and I have managed to work every single day, except one where I slept all day.    I have no complaints about that!  And, the treatment is WORKING, thank God.   My lymph nodes that were HUGE in my armpit area have shrunk considerably, by more than half.  The swelling in the area is way down.  If they are responding so well, we have every indication that the tumors are also.   This is important, because I have one lymph node in my sternum area that cannot be removed surgically.  The chemo and radiation have to get it for me to survive.  I have faith it will.  

So, I have one more treatment of A/C and then I start Taxol weekly for 12 weeks.  My Oncologist thinks I will breeze right through this.   She says I am in better healthy than 99.9% of the peopel she sees.  My bloodwork looks like I am very healthy.  My EKG looked like I was in my 30s.  Why?  Because I have taken care of myself. 

The fact that I have taken such good care of myself, my body is in a position to fight the good fight against this deadly disease.  I have given myself the tools to fight it off.  I also credit Shakeology for keeping me feeling so well.  So many people can't eat during treatment and they get weaker and weaker from it.  I am drinking Shakeology, with my Oncologist's blessing, and I am getting a full dose of nutrients for the day.   Those nutrients are helping my body do battle every single hour of every single day.

I also can feel the prayers of every single person praying for me.  It is a great comfort to know I have so many people who care enough to do this for me.  They are working, and I ask that you keep them coming!

I have the best family and friends!   I love you all!