Friday, October 9, 2015

Stage 4 and 40

Hello everyone!!! I am still basking in the post birthday love glow! 40 is going to be awesome!

First, I wanted to take a moment and try to put into words my gratitude to everyone who has donated to my Give Forward page. Every cent is helping me find alternative treatments and ways to keep me physically and mentally healthy. I also want to say that every hug, text, kind word is equally important. Everyone knows that I feel this fight is 80% mental and 20% medical. So thank you for your donations, prayers, love, light, and positive energy...its workin

I know I'm long overdue for an update but I've figured out that writing seems to break my beautiful veil of denial. It's strange, even when I talk about it I feel like I'm talking about someone else. there is something about sitting down, thinking out, then putting it all down that really makes it real. So, forgive me for living in my fantasy world and not keeping everyone in the loop. I know everyone only wants to know how I'm doing because they love and care for me. Once again, i promise I will try to do better!

So..with that being said, lets take the little box off of the back shelf of my mind and lets talk about this cancer. Yes, it's still here. Yes, I'm still in treatment and will be for the rest of my life. So before I get into all of that I'll take it back a bit for any of my new readers.

I was originally diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in July of 2012. My initial treatment was a lumpectomy of my left breast with a partial mastectomy on both breast. Followed by seven weeks of radiation and the hormone therapy Tamoxifen. I considered August 15, 2012, my initial surgery, as my cancer free date. In Janu
ary of 2015 I started a round of scans in the hopes that I could end my tamoxifen treatment so Andre and I could start a family. Unfortunately these scans showed nodules on my lungs. On February 9, 2015 I had a VAT to biopsy the nodules.  I woke up the the news that they removed 3% of my lung and confirmed that my breast cancer had metastasized.

I was fortunate that the FDA had just approved a new drug called Ibrance that was for my type of cancer. ER+, meaning my cancer grows from estrogen. I would be one of the first in the world to start this new drug in a non trial form. On paper my treatment is easy! Two pills a day and one shot a month. However, what this treatment does to me isn't so easy. I wont go into all of the details but chemical menopause at 39 (now 40 as of the 7th!) is not ideal. If the hot flashes and night sweats were not bad enough, I've now been diagnosed with Osteophyte's and cervical spondylosis. In lamens terms bone spurs and arthritics. Nothing like a lack of estrogen to speed up aging. So to say this 40 year old body feels 60 most days is not an understatement.  But hey..I am grateful to every day and know that my cancer adventure has been a million times easier then others.

The good news is that something is working! I have scans every three months and blood work done monthly. So far my tumors were half the size in May that they were in January. My scans in August showed that everything has stayed the same! In stage 4 terms that is amazing! My next scan is in November. Prayers and fingers crossed that things have shrunk or at the least have stayed the same.

I really feel that all of the alternative things I have been doing are as big a help as the meds. Below are the main things I've added or changed in my life.

  • Diet - I try to eat organic whenever possible. I eat a predominately pescitarian diet and limit sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and dairy. I initially did a 28 day food delivery service, followed by a 10 day raw cleanse. I will try and do 3-5 day cleanse every six months. 
  • Exercise - I work out with my amazing trainer Jennifer two times a week on the Gyrotonic and Power Plate. We are working out years of abuse and the sessions are more physical therapy then a work out. One day we'll actually get to train but now we are working on breathing, core strength, and overall health and rehab from my surgeries. I didn't even know what an IT band was before this, I certainly didn't know it hated me! :) Jennifer has been an integral party of my team and a wealth of information, experience and support. She works with other cancer patients and gives me hope that I can beat this through their stories of remission.
  • Yoga - Lynn is part therapist/part life coach/part kick my ass yogi and Guru! I do yoga three to four times a week. My practice has grown leaps and bounds since I started in March. I'm the opposite of most people and have too much flexibility. I had no idea you could reverse it by strengthening and what a difference it makes. Lynn also has me on on array of aryvedic herbs and tummeric.
  • Meditation - this is something that I struggle with but know it is as important as everything else. I do my best to meditate 10-20 minutes in the morning and a 10 min or 30 min sleep meditation prior to bed. It depends on my mood but I have several guided mediation's that I like. Anything from a sound healing meditation at a certain frequency, chakra balancing, primordial sound, or just a standard relaxation. I've also become fond of a few sleep hypnosis meditations. 
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Thearapy - This is a pricy one but after my first scan I'm a believer! Attached are a few articles that can explain it better than can!   http://www.beverlyhillshyp
  • Far Infared Sauna                                                                    
  • Accupunture and energy work - I try to make it to accupunture once a week. This is especially benifical when I have my Lupron shot that brings on my migrains.
  • Vitamin IV infusions - In addition to my oncologist checking my tumor markers and my white blood cell count, I also try to keep tabs on my vitamin levels. Vitamin D & C are especially important to my overall health. When i'm feeling especially week I'll go for a super charge or vitamins!
  • Most important..Love and Laughter! 
As you can imagine none of the above is covered under insurance and is not cheap! I will not even go into the bills that are stacked up from the scans alone! I am blessed to have an amazing boss and emotinally and finacially supportive friends! Thanks to you I intend on being here for 40 more years! 

I'll keep this update informative! I have my next scan in November but I promise I'll blog more! Trust..I have a ton to say on the "pinkwashing" of breast cancer in October and the lack of support for the only type of breast cancer that kills... Stage V! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Health takes work!

Hi everyone! I know I know! I'm way overdue for an update! The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming!  Words are not adequate to show my gratitude. I know I could not do this without your emotional, spiritual and even financial support. I have to admit that the fundraiser was a hard pill for me to swallow, but I have realized that my lesson this time around is to accept help. I'm sure I was saying "I've got it" at the age of 2! However, sometimes in life you need to retrain yourself to just say THANK YOU! SO THANK YOU!

So..onto the good stuff! Below is a link to my new doctor, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. Yes, if you are in the know that Dr. Pat! I'll give you a minute to watch his 60 min special. Well..about 13 to be exact ;)

Ok! Pretty amazing right! Thanks to my amazing boss, who picked up the phone and called on my behalf, he saw me the very next day! Our initial meeting was upsetting and hopeful all wrapped into one. You never want to hear "time is of the essence" or "I wish we were speaking in 2012". However, I refuse to look backward. Only forward with optimism and faith.

I'm currently in the process of obtaining my actual biopsy slides to bring to Dr. Pat. As you can imagine, getting paperwork completed in a hospital is a nightmare, imagine trying to get actual tissue samples released! I sent all of my paperwork in on Thursday, called on Friday. When I had still not heard from anyone on Monday, I showed up at the records office. They tried to play the oh we never received it. I was like check again, it was sent at this time on this date. Oh..there it is, we apologize it was never entered. My response was..well enter it now; I'll wait! I was then forwarded to the pathology department who said it would take 3 to 4 days to process. My response..well, since your hospital missed my Stage IV diagnosis I'm switching hospitals, I appreciate if you speed up that process. He assured me he would do his best. Let's just say I anticipate I will have to make a personal visit again tomorrow.

Now I'm not actually blaming my Oncologist or Cedars. I know that we have done all of the appropriate testing, etc. However, I am inclined to go with Dr. Pat and that with other tests and looking at cancer from a cellular/micro level it would have been caught sooner. I've noticed that there really needs to be more education on a Stage IV diagnosis. I really think we need to change the way people think about it. It's not a death sentence. Unfortunately, that is the only way people look at it. It's really about quality of life over trying to beat it. Well..that's not how I think. I have full faith that I can beat this. Yep! I have the same attitude I did when I received my Stage II diagnosis. Just a lump in the road that I will crush!

On other fronts, I am 100% focused on my health. I have been instructed I am not allowed to work. If you know me, you know I did not take that well. I love my job, and we're in the middle of a huge move/project. However, when the boss tells you to stop working, you listen! In her words, my only job is kicking cancer's ass. So..what does that mean?!?! I now do yoga three times a week; I have a trainer I work out with three times a week. I do cardio at least four times as well. Yes..I'm basically working out twice a day some days. I've cut out alcohol, dairy, caffeine, and sugar. I also 100% organic food delivered daily. Oh did I mention hyperbaric oxygen chamber sessions as well as an acupuncturist. So basically I'm not having any fun but I know it will be worth it! I believe cancer can be fought with food and optimal health.

I promise I'll be better about updating! Again I can not thank everyone enough!

I'll leave you with deep thoughts from Sarah Tanno and Jazz!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Here we go again!

Rocking my BTBC shirt, holding the jar of positive
notes/thoughts LG, Ashley, Sarah, & Freddie made for me!
Greetings everyone! As many of you may have guessed, if I've started my blog up again the outcome was not scar tissue. I apologize for the delay in information, but I needed to process everything and make sure my parents and close friends were aware before sharing on social media.

Sooo...the results! Well, they actually knew during my surgery that it was metastasis breast cancer. They pretty much told me that when they scheduled the surgery but you know me..always the one to be optimistic!

OK..i'll slow down for everyone and give you a minute to digest. Yes, it's official; my breast cancer has come back in my lungs. It is considered metastasis breast cancer, not lung cancer. Commonly referred to as stage four breast cancer. BTW I refuse to even use a capital letter when referring to it.

I will say this now, GOOGLE IS YOUR ENEMY! Lol, do not google stage four or even metastasis breast cancer.  It will only give you death and gloom. I, however, am special! Not only am I special, we live in a time of amazing medical breakthroughs. So much, so that the FDA just approved a new drug last week that works wonders on my type of cancer. Did you read that! Just last week a new drug was approved that has amazing results!

So the basics! We were mainly waiting on the pathology to confirm that my cancer was still ER+ HER-. What that means is my cancer grows from estrogen. So the first step is to shut my estrogen off. We've been doing that with Tamoxifen, but that was obviously not enough. This is a lesson in being careful what you pray for! whole goal has been to get off the Tamoxifen so we could get ready to get pregnant. prayers were answered! Ha, I'm off the Tamoxifen! ;)

I'll stop for a second and remind people that are new to this blog or still taking it in..I make jokes! A lot of them at my expense. Know that any statement, like the one above, is for a laugh! Sometimes the truth really is the funniest antidote.

Ok..back to the basics! The good news is the course of action for my type of cancer is hormone therapy, not chemotherapy. Everyone knows I am not a fan of chemo and feel it does more harm than help. Especially for my type of cancer. I'm not knocking it. It has worked for several of my friends. I'm also not saying that if I needed another option I would absolutely do chemo! What I am saying is I know mentally, physically, and medically it's not the right move for me. What is the right move is shutting my ovaries off and fighting this thing that way!

So remember earlier that I mentioned what amazing times we live in! Well, just last week the FDA approved a drug specifically to fight my kind of cancer! I'm the first patient my oncologist has put on it. It's called IBRANCE and is used in conjunction with Letrozole and Lupron. I received my first shot of Lupron today. Lupron is the drug that will shut off my ovaries. At this point, there is no reason to discuss a hysterectomy. As I've frozen eggs, I'm totally open to any and all options.

Up until a week ago the course of action for my type of cancer was a combination of Lupron (shot once a month) and a daily pill of Letrozole. Now we can add Ibrance. Below is the press release of the new drug.

Ok, I'm still educating myself and getting second, third, and fourth opinions! However, I wanted to let everyone know what was going on.

As you can imagine it's been a lot to bite off but Andre is being amazing as always! Words can not describe how blessed I am to have him as my rock, my partner, my support, my love, my everything! You know me I'm more concerned with how he is dealing with everything. I'll be honest it is a bit of a roller coaster but that is to be expected.

How am I doing you ask!?! I'm actually ok! I'm sure I'll have some bad days. It's not an easy diagnosis to hear. I have chosen to think of it as a chronic disease diagnosis. Meaning this is something that I will have to keep in check for the rest of my life. I expect that life to be long and happy!

I will admit this surgery was a bitch to get over! I'm hoping to get the pain under control way before they take the stitches out next Friday. As of now I'm still watching the clock for my next Oxy! At least they gave me the good stuff.

I can not put into words how amazing everyone is! I am truly blessed to have each and every one of you in my life. I apologize if I'm a bit slow getting back to everyone but as you can imagine I'm a bit inundated! Keep all of your prayers, meditation, love, light, chants, energy, you name it coming! I'm on so many prayer lists I official have a Jewish name! I truly believe every thought, intention, and energy counts. Together we will beat this!

I will leave you with deep thoughts from Lady Gaga! Ha! My amazing tour family took the time to write a ton of little positive notes and placed them in a jar. Anytime I feel sad I'm supposed to pull a note from the jar. They gave me this jar on Wednesday and today was the first day I pulled a note! Not really because I was sad, I just wanted a little encouragement before I met with my doctor. It did the trick!

Love and Light to you all! In the words of Andre "WE GOT THIS"