Friday, July 31, 2009

It has begun...

I'm laying in the hospital hooked up to my chemo drugs. I'll be here for 3 days. Simon & my mom & dad came by to see me. Simon brought me a balloon and dad brought me flowers. I'm already kind of tired already. I didn't sleep all that well last night. So far I've gotten the F & C portions of my FAC protocol. The A drug is the one that has to go in for 3 days. When my pump comes in, I won't have to stay in the hospital for treatment. I get this treatment every 3 weeks. Andrew is staying overnight with me at least for tonight. I love my husband. I'm feeling a bit emotional. Don't know if its the chemo, pregnancy, or stress. Oh well.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Port goes in Friday...

We met Dr. Masehwari today. He's very thorough, but I was worried at first that he wasn't going to get things done fast enough. Once we talked about how quickly I need this to get started, I was completely reassured. He called Dr. Glaser (who did my biopsy) to put my port in & Dr. Glaser REFUSED to do it. His reasoning (according to Dr. M) was that I went to MD Anderson & he didn't like it &/or wasn't completely informed of my every move. I was SO MAD!!! Dr. M then called Dr. Schell (did Andrew's emergency splenectomy) from the same group, but with seniority. Dr. Schell scheduled me in about 5 minutes for my port on Friday. I called Dr. Briones (OB/gyn) to try to schedule my pre-chemo ultrasound. At 730 Friday morning we have to be at the hospital for my ultrasound. Then at 830 I check in for my port, but don't actually go in for the surgery until 1030. Once I got the port scheduled today I had to call Dr. M back to let him know so he can hopefully schedule my chemo to start ASAP. I'm going to call his office tomorrow to see if I can convince him to start my chemo Friday. The up-side (or down-side depending on how you look at it) to starting so soon is that my pump won't be in yet, so I'll have to be admitted to the hospital for 3 days. I'm kind of wanting that though b/c it would set my mind at ease to be under constant supervision for this first treatment. I'm very afraid of this 1st treatment, so I'd like to have as much supervision as possible. The down-side is of course being in the hospital all that time. At least my insurance is good though.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Random concerns...

Here's a list of things that keep going through my head. Some are terribly superficial & not at all typical of how I think of myself. Others are a bit TMI probably. Some are probably right on the money!
  1. Being ugly... I'm going to be 7, 8, 9 months pregnant & bald... Need I say more?
  2. Not being able to nurse Rachel or any future babies... I didn't nurse Simon b/c I wanted to be 'green' and/or b/c I was concerned w/ bonding. I did it for financial & practical reasons. I was actually *really* good at it. I was looking forward to the same benefits for my next child(ren). Now I know its *very* highly unlikely to ever happen again. I felt like a failure for some reason.
  3. Not feeling bonded/connected w/ Rachel... I'm afraid that all the chemo & surgery, etc will interfere with my bonding with Rachel. She's a whole new person that will have LOTS of needs, but I'll be having lots of needs too. I'm afraid one of us is going to suffer. Thankfully, I've got a great support system that will hopefully be able to beat me into submission & onto the right path.
  4. Not paying enough attention to Simon &/or Andrew... It takes so much energy & effort to be up-beat & positive right now I just don't feel like I have the energy to do as much for my boys as I should. Its bound to get worse instead of better to as I start treatments. I really don't want Simon to get left-behind b/c his mommy & little sister are sick & on the way respectively. He's such a sweet sensitive boy that I don't want to miss out on anything he does, feels, says, or is. Andrew is sweet (under that prickly exterior), sensitive (even tho he hides it), and concerned (another hidden aspect). Andrew also worries enough w/o crazy circumstances. Now he's got to worry about me not only being pregnant, but also having cancer & the associated treatments. I want both of them to know how much they mean to me at all times (even when I'm wrapped up in trying to stay upright).
  5. Taking care of myself... I've never been very good at being a good patient. I've always got to push the limits. I don't want to be pitied or helped more that absolutely necessary. However, what *I* think is necessary is often much less than what is *really* necessary. Again, at least I have a great support system to beat me into submission about this!
  6. Not being involved enough w/ family... Sounds kind of odd as a complaint for me, but right now everything in my life seems so self-centered. I want *everyone* in my family to know how much I appreciate their support through all that I'll be going through. I just don't know if I'll be able to express it to them or not.
  7. Being sick... I'm REALLY dreading the side-effects of chemo. I saw mom & nana go through chemo. I remember mom telling us that she wanted to quit & just die w/ the cancer instead of continuing treatment (surgery & chemo). Mom's a VERY strong person & I hope to follow in her footsteps in survival & such. However, knowing that she felt that way makes me *VERY* afraid of what I'll feel like.
  8. Financial concerns... I'm the bread-winner (sorry Andrew) in our family. I won't be able to work for the remainder of the year at least. However, if I don't keep my pay-check at least somewhat intact, we can't make our insurance premiums and some other things we have pulled out of my check (pre-tax). I'm afraid this will strain Andrew tremendously b/c he'll try to cover it up so I don't worry.
  9. Being afraid I'll get cancer again... This is one that I'm afraid probably won't ever go away. No matter how many extraneous body parts I have removed, I'll always be afraid something will come back to get me. Even though I'm only 28 now, I'm already thinking about having a hysterectomy to prevent ovarian cancer (also caused by our gene mutation). However, even that won't entirely remove my risk or fears.
  10. Not being able to be intimate... This is the TMI portion of this post. I'm going to be pregnant, bald, and quite possibly sick. Not exactly a turn-on! Then I'm going to have just given birth & have my boobies cut off (and reconstructed, but still). Again, not exactly a turn-on! Then I'm going to be going through chemo again (2nd round) & probably at the very least be bald again. Plus then we'll have 2 kids 2 & under. Not a turn-on or a time friendly thing!

I know that whatever happens my family will stand beside me (sometimes completely supporting me). I also know that I'm being lifted up in so many prayers I'm sure that's what's keeping me going. However, I have a busy mind & lots of concerns... Thanks again for the thoughts & prayers (as well as actual physical stuff) you guys all give me!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

We're home!!

We got home last night/this morning around 12. We ended up waiting 5 hours at the airport for our plane. The car is being shipped as you read. It should be here tomorrow afternoon sometime.

Today I took the day off (from work) and did several errands. I'm trying to coordinate all the different doctors involved in my care. That's really important b/c they all need to know at least a little about everything going on with me so they don't contradict each other. I'd be the one to suffer if that happened. I took Simon with me as we visited Dr. Briones (my OB/Gyn) and Dr. Dunlany (my GP/internist). They are all being really great! I found out today that my tumor is 'triple negative' meaning that it doesn't respond to any of the hormones (or drugs like Tamoxifin) that most breast cancers do. It makes it a bit more wide-open for future cancers (since I can't take the preventative drugs), but it also means that what I'm doing is the absolute best thing possible.

Next week (the 29th) I have an appointment with Dr. M (can't spell or say the name) the oncologist. That's when we'll find out when I get to start the chemo. Its going to be a big coordinated effort b/c first I have to get a port (or pick-line?) so the chemo can get into my system. Then we have to make sure the chemotherapy agents (FAC) are available. Then we've got to make sure there's an available appointment for all of the above to happen as quickly as possible. We're on a time limit b/c we need to get as many chemo treatments in before I'm 35 weeks along.

The chemo isn't going to affect Rachel much if at all according to the High Risk OB and Dr. Litton from Houston. However, it will make me more suceptible to bleeding (like during delivery) and illnesses (just in general). One good thing is that I'm going hopefully suffer fewer of the horrible side-effects of chemo (nausea, fatigue, etc) b/c of the pregnancy. For some reason, in the Houston doctors' experience, pregnant women fare much better than non-pregnant women with chemo. The goal is to get at least 4 chemo treatments in before I'm 35 weeks. If necessary, I'll have more after the delivery. Once Rachel's here I'm going to try to get the doctors to do the bilateral mastectomy & reconstruction (before the insurance year runs out - gotta love paid-off deductibles). Then I'll probably be on another type of chemo (not quite as agressive as the first though). Hopefully, I'll make it the 2 years that are highest risk for me and be cancer-free for the remainder of my life! I'm going to do everything in my power to do so.

I really appreciate all the thoughts & prayers I'm getting from you guys. I'm doing pretty well emotionally right now I think. I don't break down often, but I'm sure I will. However, I have a great support system in place, so I should be fine. Keep the prayers & thoughts up for me please! I really need them to continue as I am.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What else can go wrong????

I definitely hate being a whiner, but something else has gone wrong for us. We were on our way to Galveston for a fun day (no medical appointments today) when suddenly we heard a thump under the car & felt the engine shift. Andrew noticed that we'd lost Overdrive in our PT Cruiser. He pulled into a parking lot none too soon because shortly thereafter, we lost Drive as well as Reverse. Andrew is a mechanic over 850 miles from home, but that didn't really do us any good at this point. We have AAA so we called to get the car towed to a Chrysler dealership. Once there we gave it to the service department & prayed it would be a quick fix. We got a phone call later that said the entire transmission needs to be replaced. That's about $2500. However, Andrew can do it for $1000 less at home. So we want/need a way to get the car & ourselves home. If you have any ideas (besides Google for auto shippers), PLEASE let us know... Leave a comment or something! Thanks.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I HATE tunnels (including MRI tunnels)

OK - I was too freaked out last night to write, but I had my MRIs of my spine done last night. I'm just a bit claustrophobic & even get freaked out driving through tunnels. Spending almost an hour in a very small, LOUD, and uncomfortable MRI tunnel was NOT a good thing. Rachel didn't much appreciate my tenseness & kept booting me the whole time. Afterwards, I think b/c I was so tense, I was having painful Braxton Hicks contractions all night. Poor little Rachel wasn't very happy with me. Finally I took a Xanax & settled down to sleep.

I know that considering everything that's going on the MRI tunnel should have been the least of my worries, but my rational mind & my REAL mind weren't exactly seeing eye to eye. There's only so much I can control in my own mind even. This is one of those irrational fears that I have a really hard time dealing with - kind of like heights. However, its over now, so hopefully I'm on to better things.

Today's menu includes shopping & seeing some sights of Houston. We're going to Gymboree for Rachel and then to Motherhood Maternity for me. I'm needing some new clothes for this pregnancy - Simon's was during the winter, so I have the wrong seasons. Then who knows what we're going to do! There's a dog show at Reliant Park, actually visible from our hotel. I think the dog show is going to be aired on Animal Planet eventually. They've got agility trials, frisbee dogs, and the more typical (boring) dog show stuff. Anyway, we have all weekend to ourselves! Hope you guys have a good time!

Good news...

Today we had several early morning tests - mammograms & ultrasounds. These mammograms aren't your average ones... They're REALLY thorough! The ultrasound went well (it was just the breasts), but they saw (I think) 2 lymph nodes quite close to the tumor. They went ahead & did a fine needle aspiration biopsy of these lymph nodes. Again, I was awake the whole time, but this was MUCH better than the other biopsy. The preliminary results came back negative for cancer. That means that chances are in my favor for the cancer being limited only to my breast & not anywhere else. I have a MRI tonight of my spine to check it out (make sure there's no cancer their either). Other than that I don't know much else.

I just heard that at 9 am Monday I have my EKG (to check my heart b/4 surgery &/or chemo). I also have another appointment w/ Dr. Litton later that same day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Well, I met with Dr. Litton, a genetic counsellor, and a Gyn nurse. Dr. Litton has indicated that she's going to give me chemo before Rachel is born. We don't know much else yet though. She didn't have all the test results on my tumor yet. I also got to have a chest x-ray, liver ultrasound, and blood work. During the liver ultrasound the tech did a quick scan of Rachel just b/c. She wasn't quite as shy as she was before, so I got reaffirmation that she's a girl! I was also told I'm a good ultrasound patient - everything was 'pretty' on the 1st try. So far every one that's working on me (except Dr. Litton) has been surprised that I'm a diagnosed breast cancer patient & 21 weeks pregnant. I'm not sure which one they're more suprised about! Tomorrow we start bright & early for a mammogram & breast ultrasound. We end the day late w/ an MRI (not sure how much of me is getting the MRI, but enough I guess). Everything sounds like its under control - Dr. Litton has a plan in mind & she's not at all concerned about my pregnancy. That's GREAT! I'm still nervous b/c I wasn't 100% expecting her to do chemo. That means that when I deliver Rachel I'll probably already be bald. :-( Oh well, as long as that's the least of my worries we'll be fine!

I think I'm on the edge of a breakdown. I seem to have one every week or so, so far. Poor Andrew... He's good about it though.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

We've arrived

Well, we made the 888 trip in just under 14 hours. It was tedious, but hopefully it will be worth it. Tomorrow my first appointment is at 1200 pm (intake). Then I get to see Dr. Litton (cancer doc) & have more tests run. Friday is more tests. We'll most likely be here at least through Monday (drive home Tuesday). While we were driving I got a call from a Gyn nurse here at MD Anderson to let me know she needs to meet with me - hopefully Friday. Since MDA doesn't have their own OBs, they're going to set me up with a 'high risk' OB next door. That probably won't happen until Monday. I'll probably also see Dr. Litton again Monday after all my tests results are in to her.

I'm kind of nervous b/c tomorrow is the day that I actually find out what the pathology report says... In other words, I'll find out the specifics (how bad, prognosis, spread, etc) of what breast cancer I actually have. Its kind of nerve wracking, but Andrew & Mom (as well as some wonderful Xanax) are helping me get some sleep and eat a little bit.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Breaking news...

I just got the call from MD Anderson. I am definitely going down Wednesday (ugh a 14+ hour drive). My first appointment is on Thursday with Dr. Litton. I also have some appointments scheduled for Friday. Right now, I don't know when we'll be back b/c it all depends on what Dr. Litton finds on the tests. The woman from MD Anderson told me to plan for 5-7 business days down there though.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Simon's going to have a...


Right now her name is Rachel w/ possibly Elizabeth as her middle name, but that's still up for debate! She's measuring right on schedule, due 11/26/09. She was really shy & modest, so we didn't get any good pictures of her face or even get more than a quick glimpse to see that she was a girl. Hopefully, when we're in Houston they'll do another ultrasound (hopefully 4-D w/ photo print-out) that she cooperates a bit better for!

Friday, July 10, 2009

I appreciate the thoughts & prayers!

I REALLY appreciate all the thoughts & prayers everyone is sending my way. I also appreciate the words of encouragement people want to give me via phone calls. I don't want to seem ungrateful, but you may have a hard time getting through to me on the phone. I'm trying to keep the lines open so I can talk to my various doctors. I also don't do phone conversations so well. I'd rather receive prayers & thoughts and words of encouragement via email or comments here on this blog. I hope that doesn't offend anyone, but sometimes the phone is such a poor means of communication and it can also make dealing with a situation harder for me. I've got to preserve whatever control I have over myself & preserve my own peace of mind. If you have any kind of medical and/or doctor advice, feel free to contact my mom either by phone, email, Facebook, or even this blog. Otherwise, please send me emails, Facebook posts, and/or comments on this blog & accept my position! Thank you for being understanding & supportive!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Small update...

I just heard from MD Anderson for the 1st time today. I KNOW I have an appointment July 16 with a Dr. Litton who specializes in breast cancer (actually specializes in breast cancer in pregnant women). You can go here for her biography! They are going to get back to me about my other appointments tomorrow.

Looks like we'll be Houston-bound sometime next week!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Two New Journeys...

First I (we) have GREAT news! I am currently 20 weeks pregnant w/ our second baby. We find out whether its a girl or boy 7/11/09! We're kind of hoping for a girl. I'll definitely update when I have time.

Now for the bad news... I found out 7/7/09 through a biopsy that I have a form of breast cancer. As of right now I'm not entirely sure what type, how bad, prognosis, etc. However, the wheels are turning so that I can go down to MD Anderson for assessment and treatment. The way is being paved by prayers from my family & friends. Thanks guys! When I have time, I'll update all this information as well!

Here's an article about pregnancy & breast cancer - just to give some extra information!

My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!