On Beyond Cancer

My life with metastatic breast cancer

Retirement gifts January 31, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 11:58 am

I already had a retirement party, so I certainly was not expecting more gifts, but I got three flower arrangements.


One of the bouquets.

My boss gave me at set of sake glasses.


And my husband got me a new tablet computer (Nexus 7)! I may have been hinting about this for awhile. ;-). Thanks Craig for the recommendation on a specific model. I have been having fun getting it set up.


Last day of work

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 11:55 am

Yesterday was my last day of work. It was a little tough, but a good day overall. About 10 or so of my coworkers took me out to lunch and we had a nice time. It was hard to leave, partly because I worked there so long, but also I couldn’t help but think about why I was leaving. Work has always been a time where I could escape cancer for a little while. My friend Alice gave me this card which pretty much sums up the day:


The inside reads “…and you’ll be really hard to find.”


Not getting chemo today January 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 2:46 pm

Well today was supposed to be my 2nd dose of Gemzar for this cycle, but my counts are just a little too low. Dr T said we will skip this dose, then next week is my regular off week and I’ll start a new cycle on Feb 12.  This is the first time I’ve had trouble with my counts, but I know its a common side effect with this drug.  I have to keep an eye on my temperature and call immediately if I get a fever.  I also have to try to avoid obviously sick people and delay the TB test I was supposed to get as part of my volunteer orientation.

This afternoon I had an appointment with the volunteer coordinator to get started with paperwork.  Thanks Pam and Cheryl for the recommendations!  I have an orientation on Monday and I’ll probably start at the end of the month, depending mostly on when I’m able to get the 2 TB tests they want.

Tomorrow will be my last day of work.  I can’t believe it came that quickly and it doesn’t quite seem possible.  I’m sad and excited at the same time.  I work with a lot of great people that I’ll miss seeing, but I am looking forward to being able to take thinks a little slower and to focus on the kids more.


Volunteering January 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 10:48 am

I wrote last month about my retirement plans to do some volunteering at the Sanofi Aventis Wellness BoutiqueI talked to the boutique manager last week and she said that she would be making good use of my skills and planned to put me to work on the computer, helping with insurance reimbursements for wigs and prosthetics.  It seems that few hospital volunteers are computer savvy.


This week I called the volunteer office to find out what the process was.  I submitted my volunteer application online.  (Cheryl and Pam, if you are reading this – I listed you as references!)  Next week I have an interview and the following week an orientation.  Just like applying for a job.  So I should be able to get started in mid February.   I’ll be helping out on Thursday mornings.  Looking forward to it.


Dr visit + chemo this week January 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 10:48 am

It’s been another busy week, so I didn’t get a chance to post.  I often write my “day of chemo” posts on my phone in the chemo room.  Typing with my thumbs is slow going and there are a lot of distractions.  So I just didn’t get it together this week.


We had a big snowstorm Tuesday afternoon/evening, but I did get to chemo on Wednesday.  I talked with Dr. T about the timing of scans and the genetic test results.  We decided to postpone the scans until after the test results.  She said that if the genetic tests indicated I was eligible for a clinical trial, the trial docs would want a scan just before enrolling me, so it makes more sense to see what the genetic tests say first.  I’m pretty sure the testing company got my liver tumor sample about two and half weeks ago, so we could hear any day now.


My friend Cheryl took me to the appointment (big thanks to her, her mom too for watching her kids) and we were in and out fast since few other patients decided to brave the storm.  My counts were good.  Next week I’ll have another tumor marker done.




Handicapped Parking January 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 12:34 pm

You may remember me talking about applying for a handicapped parking tag a while back.  I’ve had the tag for a long time, but today was the first time I actually used it.  I really have it mostly for situations where there is a huge parking lot that would require a lot of walking, especially if my hip is hurting me.  Every year we check the summer concert schedule for the PNC Bank Arts Center, and most years there is a show we’re interested in.  It was the concert schedule that got me thinking I would need to get the parking tag.  I didn’t want to miss out on something fun just because it would mean a long walk.


Anyway, today I used the tag at work.  About 99% of the time I can park just a few feet from the entrance to my office, but today I had to pick something up in a different building with an awful parking arrangement.  It sure was nice to skip the mile long walk since my hip is hurting me today.  Tomorrow morning I have a massage, so that should help with the discomfort.


A few updates January 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 8:16 pm


It has been a busy week, so I didn’t get a chance to post an update for a few days.  I had chemo on Wednesday and it went well.  I did get pretty bad body aches on Wednesday night and I foolishly tried to tough it out with Naproxen (basically strong Advil) instead of taking a real painkiller.  So I had a restless night. 😦  Next time I’ll know better.

I’ve been noticing that I seem to be getting the same symptoms with each cycle of Gemzar.  Typically when you are on a once every 3 week chemo schedule it’s pretty easy to figure out which days you will feel crummy.  But with the weekly schedule its a bit trickier.  So I’m trying to make a point to note my side effects for this cycle and the next few to see if I can figure out the pattern.  I’ve had about 5 cycles of Gemzar and it seems my most frequent side effects are the body aches and heart racing.

I also found out this week that my liver samples had not yet been sent to the lab.  That was kind of a bummer.  A bit of a miscommunication, but it is straightened out now.  This means that my DNA rest results probably won’t be ready until mid Feb though.


Blood test results January 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 3:01 pm

My blood test results from this week look good.  My tumor marker is down about 6 points to 85.  My liver enzymes are back in the normal range, and they have been elevated for awhile.  Also my white blood cell count (which measures ability to fight infections) is good; probably taking an extra week between chemo cycles for our Florida trip helped there.  I’m cautiously optimistic that my scan later this month will show improvement.

I am having a tough time today with shoulder pain.  I think the pain is actually coming from my liver, the nerves from the liver and right shoulder are connected.  I took a pain pill this morning and had a nice nap, but it caused some nausea and dizziness.  Let’s hope its just those cancer cells in my liver dying off.


Chemo today January 2, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — onbeyondcancer @ 2:10 pm

Starting my 6th cycle of Gemzar today.  Mom is keeping me company.  After this cycle, I’ll get another scan to see how the Gemzar is working.

I got the pathology report back today from the biopsy and was surprised to see that the tumor is now negative for estrogen and progesterone (ER/PR-).  That means that any drugs that target hormones would not be effective.  Dr T said this happens often because the cells adapt to find a way to survive despite the treatments.  Its not a big issue at this point since I’ve had all but one of the hormone drugs anyhow.

The genetic test was ordered on Dec 20th, so we should get results in the next week or so.  I’m hoping for some mutations!