It has been a long time since I have updated anyone on my health. I have been NED (no evidence of disease) for a couple of years now. If you are new to the Stage IV breast cancer world, then you should know that Stage IV is considered terminal. The average survival rate is 2-3 years after diagnosis. I am halfway through my 6th year. I am very, very grateful for all the time that I have lived; and will continue living.
Last July (2016) we took a short vacation to the Outer Banks. While I was changing into my swimsuit, I felt a lump in my breast. It was where my primary tumor was originally. I was very scared as you can imagine. Once we were back from vacation, I made an appointment with my oncologist. I went through a biopsy, mammogram, and ultrasound. Yes, it was my original tumor making an appearance again. My surgeon and I were on the same page. That page is, "if its not broke, don't fix it". There are no clear cut studies about taking that original tumor out and life extension. It is not bothering me, which makes my decision to leave it alone easier. We are already treating the cancer in my body as a whole, so we are just going to wait and see. I was at total peace with this decision, and still am.
Yes, I am still ER/PR+ and HER2+.
The best news - It is contained. It has not spread anywhere else in my body.
Treatment plan: To stay exactly the same.
Herceptin every 3 weeks through my port
Letrozole (a pill) everyday
Venlafaxine (a pill) everyday
Xgeva - a shot in the stomach every 6 weeks
Fast forward from last summer to now.
My last cat scan and bone scan do not show any signs of cancer anywhere, ( YES!!!!) except that pesky tumor in my left breast. What does this mean? After another mammogram, and ultrasound, meeting with my oncologist, and surgeon we have found that the tumor has grown. The tumor has increased in size from 0.9 x 1.7 x 1.2 cm.
to 1.8 x 1.4 x 1.2 cm.
The treatment plan is to stay the course.
We are still going with watching and waiting. I can live a long time with a tumor in my breast, years. The important part of this equation is that there are not any other signs of cancer anywhere else.
I am sure this just does not seem right to some who will read this, but I am really comfortable with this decision and trust my team.
NEW YEAR, NEW YOU
I keep asking myself, was 2016 really that bad? Granted, we lost many famous people that were known for an abundance of talents, and let's not forget the biggest of all for this year, the election. This was definitely the fight to go down in the record books, Hillary Clinton, the first women and Donald Trump. Well, lets just say I am not going to get into that one, except I wished things would have turned out differently.
On a more personal level, 2016 was not a terrible year for my family and myself. We have had our ups and downs, don't get me wrong. Matt still has a great job, I had a total of 6 scans last year and I was stable with no signs of progression in all of them, we moved to North Carolina, and have been able to celebrate many things along the way. Unfortunately, we lost the kid's grandmother, Matt's mom this year. That was a terrible loss. We were all so close and I just thank God that we were able to live so close to her, and spend so much time with her. She will be truly missed the rest of our lives.
On to 2017... Do any of you have New Year's resolutions? The new year is always a great time to reinvent yourself. All those items that you wish you could do or learn, -Well, this is the year! All of the things you wish you could change about yourself, -Well, this is the year! I am the same way, but this year I am going to look at it differently. I am always the kind of person that puts so much pressure on myself, that I end up not doing anything. So this year, my biggest resolution is to make goals, not resolutions. Goals, things that I would like to work on to make myself better or the best that I could be - THIS year. Hopefully better than last year. Whatever that better may be. Do I have to start January 1st? No, I don't think so. Just as long as I start.
I am also such a list maker. I have lists for EVERYTHING! I really think for me, seeing my goals on paper really helps me keep track and check myself every so often.
HEALTHY HEALTHY HEALTHY
1. Get back on track with my health--
moderation is the key except with
JUICE and VEGGIES and lets not forget Exercise.
2. Painting - sometimes I feel a little strange even calling myself a painter still, because I have not done it in so long! Maybe by the end of the year I could even find somewhere to display my work...if it is any good.
3. Stay focused on this blog--stop worrying what it should be, and just turn it into what I want it to be.
4. Find my Patience!!!
5. Live more In the moment and play.
SO, there you have it. This is how I plan to better myself this year. I hope these goals will be positive for not only myself but my entire family this year.
Oh, how happy I am that it snowed this winter. Spring is almost upon us. We have had quite a warm winter, which is bringing all the signs of spring very early. The elementary and middle school are lined with trees that are just beginning to bloom beautiful petite white flowers. They are beautiful to walk under, except they look much nicer than they smell. As we are walking and I am enjoying this first sign of spring, all the kids can do is tease how these blossoms smell like dead fish. OK, they got me there...
Before we welcome full on spring, I don't want to forget about our winter. The kiddos were very anxious to see some snow this year. Grayson barely remembered snow from our short move to upstate New York. She was only 5. Ben was only 1 so he had absolutely no recognition at all. One of the biggest things I missed about northern living was the seasons, which meant that my excitement level equally matched theirs. When we moved to Raleigh in May we were already basically in summer, the same as Florida - hot and muggy! We all enjoyed the break from the heat of the summer and the cooler nights that fall brought. The excitement of the holidays were over and we found ourselves waiting and waiting. Now what? Snow of course! Although we heard that the last couple years Raleigh did not get any snow. I was saying my little prayers that we could all experience it.
I was lucky that my prayers were answered! The meteorologist was calling for 8-12 inches. We ended up getting about 4inches of ice and another 4 of snow. It didn't matter, we had a neighborhood covered in white!
We all spent the next three days outside only taking breaks to warm up and dry out by the fire and grab something to eat. Then back at it outside. We have many different sledding hills around us, so many options.
We played and played until after a couple of days the snow started melting and we could start seeing the ground again.
That's it, 3 days of snow. 3 wonderful glorious days of snow !
I was so happy for tiny little answered prayers. I found my sunshine this winter when I was able to experience the magic of snow days, snow angels, ice hanging off of the tips of our gloves, but still not coming in, and of course drinking hot chocolate.
Most of all,
getting to experience all of this through their eyes,
Just like a kid again.