Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MUGA test and CHEMO starting!

Quick update - today I went and had a MUGA test done it checks to see how much blood pumps out of my heart when it contracts.  Anything over 50-55% is considered normal - You will be happy to know that mine was in the 60% range :)    Folowing is a description of the test I stole from someone elses blog (  Gotta give credit where it is due!  I did change a few details that weren't the same as my experience 

"They weren't looking for anything wrong, just a baseline for comparison to make sure it doesn't get damaged by the poisons medications they're going to start injecting into me tomorrow.

As the tech said, this is probably the easiest procedure I'll endure during the next few months. It started with a needle, as they injected something into me (I forget what). Then I had to wait 20 minutes, while whatever they injected into me bonded with my red blood cells (a little tango perhaps). Then another injection, this time with radioactive stuff (and no, unfortunately, I do not glow in the dark). They attached three sets of diodes and wires. Then took three sets of pictures of my heart, spaced 16 min apart based on my heart cycle.  And then I was done. "

I did learn that I have a slight irregularity in my heart beat.  Its not a big deal -nothing to be concerned about I never knew it was irregular -but its been there for as long as I can remember.  Basically, on every 4th beat, my heart beats twice - so when you are listening to it on a monitor, it sounds like - BEEP -- BEEP -- BEEP -- BEEPBEEP-- BEEP -- BEEP -- BEEP -- BEEPBEEP.  No wonder I've always had a hard time trying to find my heart rate at the gym - ya know when you are suppose to stop and count for 30sec - Mine goes 1-2-3-45-umm I think 7-8-9-1011 - Yeah, I never had a clue trying to figure it out - NOW I know WHY!

Tomorrow, I start my Chemo and I'm slightly nervous about it - I think it will be fine and usually you have no side effects the day of treatment (they show up the next day) its just he uncertainty of which side effects if any I will have.  

I was accepted into the test study program for the test drug for my  HER-2 status so I will be getting 4 drugs now (I know I said 5 before if you keep up with these posts - but they decided to drop one of them)  So I will be taking:

Taxotere, Carboplatin, Herceptin, & Avastin 

and for those of you werdos who I know will ask what drugs I'm taking LOL - here is what they have prescribed currently:

Dexamethosone - I take this one 2x daily the day before chemo, the day of, and the day after - it helps to prevent side effects that chemo causes

and 3 different nausea meds:

Granisetron, Lorazepam, & Promethazine  - these are all take as needed.

The Granisetron, I am suppose to take for 3 days following chemo and the Promethazine is sedating so take that one if things get too bad

Fun stuff - I'm hoping and praying that I won't need to take any of them!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Shaving Party

Come one, come all - be the first to shave my hair off!  Tickets starting at.....  NAH it's free!  

No doubt it will be an emotional event but I figure - if I have to loose my hair I may as well have some fun doing it.  
A few weeks ago I saw this photo in Zac's Professional Photographer magazine:

It is a ceremony of a young boy becoming a Buddhist monk.  Which I have no intention of doing - (becoming a monk that is or a young boy) but when I saw it, it was moving to me and I instantly wanted to photograph my journey.  

Then Zac started talking about me putting a tattoo on my head - which I think is a really cool thing to do -  but its not really "ME" - I was looking around on line to see if I could find some pix of others who had done that and he was right - seems no one has.  However, I did find some cool Henna stuff that I just may have to do :)  

On the Chemo Chicks website, there was a woman who had a shaving party - she invited over some friends and they helped cut and shave her hair off.  I don't want to sit alone in my bathroom crying as I watch my curls fall to the floor  -  lets celebrate - laugh - carve some strange designs and hair styles - lift our glasses and celebrate!  

I don't want this to be a scary time in my life or my kids.  Gryphyn in particular I think will have a hard time with mommy loosing her hair - He is all about hair - he gave up his "blankie" quite awhile ago and replaced it with playing with hair.  When ever he drinks, he curls his hair around his fingers.  When you buckle him in his car seat or he sits in your lap he says "I want to touch your hair"

Somewhere I was reading that to lessen the shock for you family, you should get a short hair cut so that you, and those around you, can get used to seeing you with shorter hair.  So I'm thinking I may do that this week - Zac thinks that I should ask for a "high and tight" flat top with the bald spot and all :)  I was thinking a tad more feminine for now.    

As for when, my hair should start to thin after the first treatment and start falling out after the second so I have about 6 weeks to make the plans.    

So, anyone who is up for a party - let me know and we will figure out a date when Zac the fabulous is available and have an extreme party for him to add to his photography collections :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Well, we were hoping that I could possibly get out of having to do Chemo - but after meeting with the Oncologist yesterday, we feel chemotherapy it is the best course of action at this point.  

Right now, if I chose NOT to do the Chemo, I have about a 60-65% chance of the cancer coming back - If I choose to DO the Chemo treatments, my chances drop to 15 -20% for reoccurrence. They won't ever be able to make the numbers zero because everyone is at risk for cancer (some more than others) already having it, puts me at a greater risk.  

So, tomorrow,  I have to be at the VA @ 12:30 for another surgery.  I am having a small operation to have a port placed just under the skin below my collar bone.  This will help to make the chemo treatments easier.   Well at least less needles in my arm anyway.  It looks like this:
The handout they gave me on it describes it this way:
"The PowerPort Implantable Port is a small device with a hollow space inside that is sealed by a soft top.  It connects to a small, flexible tube called a catheter.  When a special needle is put into the soft top of the PowerPort device, it creates "access" to your bloodstream, meaning that medications and fluids can be given and blood samples withdrawn."

Like this:

I'm not sure of the exact date I start Chemo yet - My oncologist wants to start next week but is still waiting on a final HER2 test results.  When I was originally diagnosed, one of the blood tests , called an HER2  was inconclusive - they are now running a more specific test called fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) test.  This test provides information related to the number of copies of the HER2 gene in the tumor cells.  

About 15-20% of breast cancers have too much of a growth-promoting protein called HER2 and too many copies (more than 2) of the gene that instructs the cells to produce the protein.  Tumors with increased levels of HER2 are referred to as "HER2-positive."  HER2-positive breast cancer tumors tend to grow and spread more rapidly than other breast cancers.

My test originally came back as a 2 - which is boarder line - If I do end up being HER2 positive, then they will add a drug called  Herceptin to my other chemo drugs. 

Herceptin is a protein  that fits like a lock and key on HER2 cells.  Once it attaches to the cell, it bring other immune cells to help kill the cancer cell.

The other drugs, I will be taking as part of my chemo are:
Cytoxan, Adriamycin, & Taxotere
Cytoxan and Adriamycin both work to stop the grown of cancer cells, causing the cells to die.  Taxotere is a mitotic inhibitor that effects the cell during mitosis keeping it from splitting into more cells. This drug is given every 3 weeks.  Which sets the time frame for my treatments.  Right now, I am scheduled for 6 sessions (every 3 weeks)  

On a sad note, today was my last day at work for quite a while.  The oncologist recommends that I limit my time around kids  (other than my own) because my immune system will be weakened by the chemo treatments and a common cold could become deadly  - I am going to miss the kids in the 2 year old class that I teach and all my friends at Trinity Presbyterian's MMO program!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Breast Cancer 3 Day

As you all know, a few months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer - and I have been struggling with the whys and what do I do with all this. There must be a reason God allowed this happen - am I suppose to learn something? 
DO something? WHAT??

I remember doing a breast cancer walk with the girl scouts many years ago and thought I should do that - since I have boys, I was thinking I would fly to AZ and do this walk with my niece's girl scout troop - so I was looking on line to see when the next one was and instead, came across the huge 3 day walk.
How is it even possible that I have never heard of this? 
So many women all over the US raising money and trying to get the word out to find a cure - and I miss it!

So now I'm even more compelled to help get the word out. 
Before I was diagnosed myself, I was so naive to breast cancer and its effects. 
I always thought - yeah that sucks - but its not like anyone dies of breast cancer! SO WRONG! It could have been me this time if I hadn't insisted the dr's do a biopsy when they wanted to try stronger antibiotics. More and more people I know personally or thru a friend ARE being diagnosed with breast cancer. The numbers are astonishing!

"In 2008 alone, it's estimated that nearly 200,000 American women and nearly 2,000 men were diagnosed with breast cancer. Unless we find a cure, within 25 years more that 5 million Americans will develop the disease and over 1 million could die."

So more than ever, I am up for this challenge! 
The 3 day walk covers 60 miles in 3 days time. You are required to raise a minimum of $2,300 to register other than that, I'm not really sure of the details yet - but I am convinced that I HAVE to do this. For me and for other women - TO FIND A CURE!

My sister Valerie is joining me in this challenge. 
We will be walking in AZ on November 13-15th

If you would like to join our team, make a donation, help us train, or be a part of this in anyway, we would love to have you along on this journey!