On Beyond Cancer

My life with metastatic breast cancer

More pictures from Spa Day August 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 10:27 pm
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Here are a few more pictures from spa day:

With my two friends Cheryl (on the left) and Sonya (on the right) after our massages. This is what relaxed moms look like!

 

And our delicious lunches:

 

Sonya’s lunch – pad thai.

 

Cheryl’s lunch – a yummy chicken dish with rice steamed in a banana leaf.

 

My lunch – vegetable and tofu curry.

 

 

 

 

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Blood tests from last weeks visit August 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 5:31 pm
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My blood test results from last week’s visit are finally in.  The CA 27.29 (tumor marker) went up another 50 points to 305.6. 😦  This just confirms that trying a new drug was a good idea.   So this will be the baseline for the Faslodex treatment.  We’ll keep watching over the next five months to see whether the number is stable or decreases.  I’ll also have another set of scans, probably in November.

 

In July my potassium was too low, but this month it’s back to normal.  Low potassium makes me dizzy and tired, so I’ve been working on eating more potassium rich foods like potatoes, bananas, and dried apricots.   Looks like it worked.

 

The soreness from the Faslodex shots went away after about 3 days, though having a massage shortly afterward probably helped.   I’ll get the next two shots on Wed, Sept 5, which also happens to be Ethan’s first day of first grade.

 

Spa Day August 24, 2012

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Today I enjoyed a relaxing day at the spa thanks to the Diva for a Day program sponsored by Cenergie Spa in Basking Ridge.  My dad and his wife Tina came over to watch the kids for the day (thanks!!) while I relaxed.  I had a complimentary massage, facial, manicure, and pedicure.  I usually only have one treatment at a time, so this was a real luxury.  The massage was probably the best one I’ve ever had.  They used hot towels on my arms and feet and the massage table was heated!  I was still a little sore from Wednesday’s shots so the timing was perfect.  My good friends Cheryl and Sonya joined me for part of the day which made it extra special.  We all had lunch together in the spa’s relaxation room –  delicious takeout from the French-Thai fusion restaurant nearby called Origins.  On my way out, they gave me this beautiful arrangement of roses.  A great day 🙂

 

First Faslodex shots August 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 8:19 pm
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This morning I got my first two Faslodex shots.  I also got my regular Xgeva shot, to keep my bones strong, plus they drew blood from my port.  So that’s a total of 4 needles.  Ouch.  I feel like a human pincushion. 

 

The Faslodex shots weren’t too bad, they didn’t burn or sting, but you could feel the medicine going in.  I asked the medical assistant if they draw straws to decide who has to give the shots and she said “of course not, we do rock, paper, scissors”. 🙂  The injection sites are kind of sore and I was extra tired today, but that might have just been a coincidence.

 

I get the Faslodex again in two weeks, four weeks, then monthly after that.  They did take blood today, so today’s tumor marker will be the baseline for figuring out whether this treatment is working.  As I wrote last week, it could take up to 5 months for this treatment to start working, so I’ll have to be a patient patient.

 

We’re going to Disneyworld :-) :-) August 21, 2012

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Some of you may have already heard that we are planning a trip to Disneyworld for November.  The trip is being sponsored by an organization called For Pete’s Sake.  They provide vacations for young cancer patients, their caregivers, and their children.  We’ll being staying in a three bedroom home owned by the organization in a town near Disneyworld.  They are also paying for airfare, a limo to the airport, attraction tickets, rental car, and expenses.  The kids are very excited.  (And so are we!)

 

Now that Ethan is in school, it’s more difficult to find a time to travel.  Prices during the school breaks are much higher – airfare from Newark to Orlando when he has a week off for the teacher’s convention in early November is $500 per person.  Of course that doesn’t include hotel, rental car, Disney tickets, etc.  It’s cheaper in the summer, but I just can’t take the heat anymore.  So this is really a great opportunity.

 

If Disneyworld isn’t enough, there are two more reasons this will be a great trip.  My sister Sara and her husband Ken live in Orlando so we’ll be able to spend lots of time with them.  Also friends of ours (whose kids are among Ethan and Ryan’s best buddies) will be going to Disneyworld that same week.

 

The office manager at my oncologist’s office put in the application for us.  When I first heard that we were going to get the trip I was so happy.  Then I thought about the reason why we got the trip and started to cry. :-/

 

Steeplechase Distance Run/Walk August 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 3:47 pm
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For the past 4 years or so, I’ve been doing the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.  It’s always a fun event, but this year I thought I would participate in the run/walk to benefit the cancer center where I get my treatment.  The Steeplechase Distance Run/Walk includes a 25K run, 5K run, 5K walk, and kids sprints for kids ages 2-12. The event will be held on Sunday, September 30 at the Amsterdam School, 301 Amsterdam Drive, Hillsborough, NJ 08844 ( Somerset County ).  The times are listed below:

SCHEDULE:
Registration – 7:00am
25K Run – 8:30am
5K Run – 9:00am
5K Walk – 9:00am
Kids Sprints – 10:15am

 

The money raised from the event will go toward services provided by the cancer center such as social workers, support groups, a patient library, cancer boutique, exercise programs, cooking classes, etc.   I’ve used many of these services; for more info see my video below.

 

 

I will be walking the 5K and my boys will be doing the sprints.  I have started a team called On Beyond 5K.  If you’d like to walk or run you will need to register here AND join my team here.  If you’d prefer to register by mail, you can also print out this form and mail it in.  Also, if you would like you can make a donation to the team.

 

If you are out of the area or unavailable that day, but still want to do a fundraising event, you might try one of these:  Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Komen 3 Day, Komen Race for the Cure, Avon Walk, Relay for Life, or Young Survival Coalition Tour de Pink.

 

If you participate in a cancer fundraising event, let me know and I’ll write a blog post about it with a link to your fundraising page.

 

New Plan – Faslodex August 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 8:47 pm
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Today’s doctors visit confirmed that the Femara is not working.  But the more important part of the visit was deciding what to do next.  After an exam and a review of the PET scan images, my doctor recommended that I try Faslodex.  Faslodex is another hormone drug that works by blocking the estrogen receptors on the tumors, hopefully slowing or stopping their growth.  It’s two shots given once a month.   I’ll start next week.  The side effects are mild, really only soreness at the injection site.  There are two downsides: it could take up to 5 months to start working and the shots are given in the butt.  Yes, you read that right.  Not one, but two shots in the butt.

I think the needle will look something like this. :-O

There were two other treatments we were considering: Aromasin + Afinitor OR Xeloda.  Aromasin + Afinitor is a recently FDA approved combination of a hormone drug plus another non-chemo drug.  Unfortunately the non-chemo drug (Afinitor) has some pretty awful side effects including mouth sores, liver problems, and lung problems.  My doctor said she thought that there were many chemos were fewer side effects than that drug.  The other possibility was a chemo called Xeloda.  Unlike most chemos that are given by IV requiring you to sit in the doctors office for a few hours, Xeloda is given in a pill form.  You take the pills for two weeks, then take a one week break.  It doesn’t cause hair loss; the main side effect is hand and foot pain.  If the Faslodex stops working, Xeloda will probably be my next treatment.

 

When my doctor asked me to come in to talk to her, I expected that she was going to tell me that we needed to start chemo.  So I’m a little relieved that I don’t have to do that just yet.  Now we just hope that the Faslodex does the trick…

 

Results from the PET scan are disappointing August 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 8:55 pm
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Well, the results from the PET scan are in.  They are not great, but I am not too surprised.  There is a new tumor in my left hip bone, close to the other one.  Also the previously existing tumors in the bone, liver, and lungs are showing “metabolic activity” which is not a good thing.  Since this is my first PET scan, I don’t completely understand the results.  I do know that they looked at how much of the radioactive material was absorbed into the tumors and compared the images of the two types of scans.  I have an appointment with the doctor on Wednesday to discuss the results and my options further, but the bottom line is that the Femara is not working and I will need to switch to a new treatment.  One of the things that we have to talk about is whether the treatment will be another hormone drug, combination of hormone drugs, or chemo.  I have a list of questions to ask the doctor and Mike will be coming with me.

 

PET scan today August 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 1:48 pm

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I just had the injection of radioactive dye.  Here we are on our PET scan date, waiting for the scan.  Pretty sure that a PET scan date ranks below a Home Depot or Shoprite date in terms of romance.:-)

 

Results from the CT scan – not very helpful August 7, 2012

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So the results from the CT scan are in and they weren’t too informative.  The scan showed that there are still tumors in my left hip, lungs, and liver and they are about the same size as they were in April.  I’ll also be having a PET scan this Friday, so hopefully that will be more helpful.

 

I’m not having any side effects from the hormone treatment I’m currently taking (called Femara), so if it’s doing the job, I want to keep taking it as long as possible.  My doctor recommended that we look at the PET scan results and one more blood test before we make any decisions.  So for now, I’ll continue taking the Femara.  She did say that if the next blood test is elevated we might switch to another hormone drug.