I’ve been busy living this past spring and summer. I stopped Abraxane in May and started on Halaven. Abraxane is super tough for me. It was a welcome relief to discover that Halaven allowed me to enjoy most of the summer after a day or two post treatment. And what a spring and summer it was!
Mid March that puppy finally arrived! He’s been the perfect prescription fulfillment. A goofy, adorable bundle of unconditional love. He makes me laugh at least once a day and has had a limited destructive presence. I think the total so far is one boot, a few socks and some cabinet scratches. Not bad for a such a loving force of nature. He’s training is going well despite being in prime adolescence at the current time. He also loves, coffee, tequila and the boat. And mud. I shouldn’t forget the mud.
Earlier this summer my youngest graduated from Augsburg and managed the Dean’s List more than a few times. I am so proud of him and what he has accomplished. Life is tougher for him and he sails through it with persistence and a smile. Right now he’s working full time at Target and despite the challenges of not driving he is making it work. It’s been a great first job. He’s a testament to the power of early childhood special education and how important those first few years are to a child’s ongoing development and success in later school years and life.
August was wedding time! My oldest married the most amazing woman ever! I mean AMAZING! It’s true that all we really want in life as parents is for our children to be happy and he is happy. Really happy. I feel so lucky that she is now a part of our life. They are both 4th year med students and have been spending October with us while doing rotations in Minneapolis. It’s beyond priceless to get to spend this time with them and see how well they are handling the pressures of med school, support each other and have a great time doing it.
And now fall is here and things are changing. Halaven stopped working in September. I was not surprised as I was having more pain. Last week we did scans and they didn’t look good. There is quite a bit of new cancer throughout my skeletal system and looks like I had a fractured rib. I’m not surprised about that. I think I’ve actually had a few. There is a tiny spot in my liver, but it’s not quite big enough to call it a real met yet, but the reality is it’s there and things are spreading. The scariest part is treatment options are becoming more limited. Like less than the number of fingers on one hand limited.
You can see in the picture how the cancer grew from April to last week. The dark and light grey spots are cancer. The really dark spot is just my bladder and me having to pee. Ha!
Last week my pain ratcheted up. Thankfully, I was smart enough to call in and had an appointment with the amazing palliative pain nurse practitioner at my clinic and she set me up with a pain plan. So far it’s working fairly well. I’m also on some short term steroids right now and if that doesn’t do the trick we will look at radiating the painful spot in my mid spine. Moving forward the plan is to start carboplatin on Tuesday. The Wizard is also consulting with the High Wizard at the Masonic Cancer Center and we’ll see if there are some clinical trials that I could qualify for. The important word here is qualify. I’ve been on so many treatments that many times this will exclude me from a trial.
I also had a bone biopsy on my left hip this week. We haven’t done one since I was first diagnosed so it’s a good plan to check the hormone status ( which can change) and send this in to see if there are any possible mutations we can target and treat. Precision medicine is important and it can work, but the reality is still very slim that we will find a targetable mutation. Here is a link to a great article that puts things in perspective. MaryAnne was a good friend and she worked hard to try everything out there to extend her life.
Metastatic breast cancer is a terminal illness. I’m not dead yet, and I still have some great time ahead of me, but it does feel like I’m stepping into another plane of this disease. I know how quickly things can happen. I also evaluated my mental health this summer and decided it was time for an antidepressant. There were times when my anxiety was becoming acute and all of the practices I had in place were no longer managing it. I’m so glad I did. I’m on a very low dose, but it has made a big difference. I was reluctant at first. I hate taking drugs and adding more to my growing list of meds, but if I truly believe it’s about my quality of life then I needed to do something about it. As educated as I am and as much as I know better intellectually there is still a mental health stigma. We all need to get over that and keep talking about our mental health and support one another.
Life is precious. The people you love and who love you are precious. It’s a tough climate out there. Please be kind and compassionate to one another. If only we could understand each other’s stories! I don’t believe the world is black and white. It’s too complicated for that. I think our job is to find the truth, to know that sometimes it’s not either or, but a mixture of both and to bring compassion and kindness into the world. You never know what a difference a kind word or small act will make in someone else’s life.