July 11, 2010

I Think I Might Be Winning!!!!!

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Good people, Health, Holidays, Women tagged , , , , , at 7:35 am by Liliana

Cheers to Bridget!

Cheers to Bridget!

It seems like we have been hearing a lot of bad news this year, so I thought it would cheer everyone up to hear some undeniably excellent news.

I wrote recently about a young lady whose spirit and resilience have moved me deeply. Her name is Bridget Spence. She writes a wonderful blog that I recommend you visit often: My Big Girl Pants.

This was her latest post:

“I Think I Might Be Winning!!!!!

I wanted to start everyone’s holiday weekend off on the right foot. Get the champagne out, people. Put away the Big Girl Pants and put on your prettiest pair of Party Pants because I am winning this battle.

That’s right, you heard me. After months of set backs and pain and side effects and trying oh-so-very-hard to keep a smile, I finally got one piece of good news!

Yesterday, my scans showed that the cancer in my liver had SHRUNK!!!!!!!!!

This TDM1 really might be that silver bullet I had hoped for. Now, it isn’t a cure, but it is clearly working.

For the past four years, one liver spot had been there, lurking. It hadn’t changed size or shape in four years. It hadn’t grown, but it certainly hadn’t shrunk. Then, a few months ago, a second little bugger in my liver showed up. The scans yesterday showed that, after only two rounds of TDM1, both tumors had shrunk visibly. One went from 2.8mm to 1.3mm. The other had shrunk from 1.6mm to .8mm.

My Doctor was gleeful and I take my cues from her. I’m not planning for dozens of little pants babies quite yet, but I could have the year of quiet that I had hoped and prayed for. I might even have a couple years of normalcy and quiet. The goal is that these suckers keep shrinking and that the side effects remain manageable. My heart function dropped slightly, but it was still above the 50% mark, so we are not going to worry about that today. I am going to exercise and try to keep the ol’ tinker in Lance Armstrong-style shape so that this drug can continue working its magic.

My cancer had been humming along in my body for the past four years and now it’s been hit with a new drug and it doesn’t know what hit it! Here’s hoping my little silver bullet keeps killing and keeps shrinking. But let’s not hope for too much.

Today, I am going to take this news and stick it in my back pocket. I am going to enjoy a fabulous Fourth of July weekend. Big Man and I are going to let our hair down and let our breath come out in a big sigh of relief. We are going to start planning our futures as all 26 and 30 year olds should do. The world is our oyster today, and I must say, we earned it.

Cheers!”

Cheers, dear Bridget! I drank a glass of wine in your honor. I wish you all the best in this world.

May 18, 2010

The Last Mammogram

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Health, Women tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:03 am by Liliana

Last Mammogram

The Last Mammogram

That Friday in late November, five years ago, when I had my routine mammogram scheduled, I was not worried. I had been going for mammograms annually for the past five years, since I was forty. I was not overweight; I ate a healthy diet, exercised moderately, and had no history of breast cancer in my family. I had three children, my first when I was twenty five. I breast fed them all.

I was not worried.

I waited in a beautifully designed waiting room of my woman’s health center, looking though magazines and exchanging pleasantries with other women. When my turn came, I went willingly, as though I was receiving a haircut. I changed into a hospital gown and stepped into an exam room.

Before the mammogram, the nurse examined my chest area. This was a routine step in the process. As I chatted with this soft, motherly woman, she stopped and looked at me. I knew that there was no lump; I would have noticed it myself. “Have you noticed how different your skin feels right here?” she asked. No, I had not, and I wasn’t sure what she was referring  to. She took my hand and led me to a spot on the upper side of my right breast. The skin felt different there – softer and spongier. Even though there was no lump, I knew right away that something was not right.

The nurse made an X with a black magic marker so that the radiologist could pay special attention to that spot. Then I went in for a mammogram.

While I waited for the results, I called Jeff to let him know that I would be late, and that he needed to leave work and pick up the kids from school. “What’s going on?” he asked. “Just running late,” I told him.

The nurse came back and said that the doctor wanted to take another X-Ray. They took another X-ray. I waited in a room full of women in hospital gowns. I didn’t look at magazines. I didn’t speak to anyone. Finally, the nurse called my name and told me that the doctor wanted to see me. I stood up and tried to be brave. I straightened my back, pulled my shoulders back, and followed the nurse.

The doctor was a man my age, and he was looking intently at my X-Ray. He asked me to sit down. He told me that they rarely told women bad news without any preparation, but they believed that they had found a tumor in my right breast. They wanted me to come in for a biopsy on Monday. On Monday! How will I live through the weekend?

I asked questions. What did he see? What were his suspicions? He held the cards tightly to his chest. He revealed nothing, except that the news was probably not good. As I left his office, I felt that my reality had shifted completely. When I exited those sliding front doors of the woman’s center, I was a different woman.