Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cancer is Back (Been Back for a While)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 06, 2007 08:12 PM

Here are some pics to catch everyone up on what has happened in the past year and a half.

My sister had a wedding shower and I look cute with my short hair.
I had a nice visit with everyone back in Michigan. Keith, Kevin Schnieders, Wendy, Edie, Roger, Jen, me and Lauren. (Kevin's fam)
My sister, Stacie, got married and had a beautiful wedding.
I partied and tried to get back to my old life. Me and Angela on St. Patrick's Day.
Kevin got us a trip to Cabo through his work.
A lot more happened, but I can only put up 5 pictures at a time.

This will be long because I have to catch everyone up.

So here I am…back on the Caring Bridge website. It’s funny, my page is still here. Old pictures and my last entry where I thanked everyone for coming to my Chemo’s Over Party. Guess I should get everyone up to speed as to what has happened since then. Once I was done, I was told to go on hormone therapy because hormones make my cancer grow. I figured maybe it was time to go to the #1 cancer hospital in the country, MD Anderson in Houston. They agreed with the hormone therapy, so I started it. It was called Tamoxifin. The treatment was in pill form (just a pill a day). They had what I thought was a great program for people who have genetic cancer. It’s called the “High Risk Breast and Ovarian Screening Clinic”. I went there every 3 months to screen for both types of cancer. Mamograms and MRIs for breast cancer and ultrasounds and blood tests for ovarian. I had two oncologists there, one for breast cancer and one for ovarian cancer.

Things went fine for a while. I’d get to go to an appointment and tell everyone that everything looked fine. My hair was growing back. Darker, thicker and wavy, but I actually liked the new hair. The 4 year anniversary of when Kevin and I started dating came along. We decided to just go to a nice dinner. Before dinner Kevin completely caught me off guard and proposed in the sweetest way. I was actually very surprised. For some reason I thought he would wait until my hair was longer. (That’s just the crazy way I think). Of course I said yes and the wedding planning began.

A few months before the wedding, my blood test results for ovarian cancer screening started coming back elevated (Which is an early warning indicator that something was wrong). It sucked. My doctor told me not to worry and that since everything looked okay in the ultrasound she assumed the blood tests would come back good as well. As I was leaving the appointment she said “next time I see you, you’ll be married!” Only after I called Kevin, my mom and dad to brag about my successful appointment, my doctor called to tell me that my blood test results were in, they were high and she needed to see me back sooner. Bummer!

So I went back to get more blood tests. The blood counts continued to trend in the wrong direction, but the ultrasound still looked okay. Then I got the next blood test in Austin at my old oncologist’s office and they came back really high, but they still didn’t see anything on the ultrasounds. I had one last appointment (or so I thought) at MD Anderson before my wedding. I had my good friend Joe come with me this time since Kevin was supposed to catch a flight that evening for his Bachelor party in Las Vegas. The first appointment was for an ultrasound. It didn’t go well. The guy said I had fluid building up in my abdomen. I thought it was because I drank WAY too much water before the ultrasound like they tell you to do. Or maybe I wanted to think that. He said that he thought it was Ovarian Cancer. I had a breast MRI and I think another test. I skipped my appointment with my breast oncologist and went straight to my gynecological oncologist, because I thought I had ovarian cancer. I guess this time they did a blood test for breast cancer and it came back off the charts (bad). They scheduled me for an emergency CT scan that night. Joe and I didn’t get to leave that place until 10pm.
Knowing that I would most likely be told I had cancer again, Kevin decided to cancel his trip to Vegas and make the drive down to Houston instead. I felt so bad. All his friends went anyway, but the bachelor wasn’t there.

The next day I had to get a CT Scan as well as a parasenthesis. This is where they stick a needle in your abdomen to pull the fluid out to test it for cancer. That sucked, and it hurt really bad! The CT was horrible as well because you have to get barium contrast up your bum. Worst medical procedure yet.

Once I was done with the testing the doctor told me that based on the elevated blood counts and fluid build-up that I most likely had stage IV breast cancer. Things were spiraling worse and worse. 1 ½ hours into our trip back to Austin, the Doctor called and confirmed the bad news. It had not even been 1 ½ years since I got done with chemo and now I was being told my cancer was back and it had metastasized throughout my body. This is when they tell you it is incurable.
Then, I think, “I’m getting married in exactly a month to the day. Am I going to have to postpone the wedding? Cancel? What the hell am I going to do? Stage IV. There is no stage V.” The fact that both of my doctors cried when they gave me the news meant that this was bad. I had to go home and wait for more phone calls to see where these tumors were. The CT scan showed that I had two tumors on my liver and one in my abdominal region.

Then, my breast cancer doctor at MD Anderson (**the ovarian Oncologist is great by the way) left for a two week vacation in Turkey that day and didn't leave me with any guidance. WTF!?!? Her nurse said she thought it was fine for me to wait until she got back before I decided what treatment to start. I wasn’t fine with this at all. I told them that I was leaving for my wedding the day she returned, so in essence I would be waiting for over a month before starting any treatment. I also tried to tell them that I needed a bone scan, and a brain MRI to see if it metastasized anywhere else. They took a couple days to get back with me and explained that they would order a bone scan, but they don’t order brain MRIs unless you are symptomatic. Basically, they won’t look to see if you have tumors on your brain until they are so large that they start affecting your brain activity. Nice.

I decided to go back to the doctor that I trusted and loved in Austin at Texas Oncology. Within two days my doctor got me in for a brain MRI and a bone scan. The brain scan was good. The bone scan picked up a tumor on my right hip bone. So I went for a MRI of the hip bones to get a better look. I found out I have at least 6 areas on my hip bones and surrounding bones that have tumors. Most of them are really small. So now, I have two tumors on my liver, one on my abdomen, and over 6 on my hips. She explained that the bone tumors didn’t make my prognosis any worse. At this point it was just more tumors in my body.

My Uncle supports a doctor in Long Beach who does testing on all kinds of cancers to see what type of chemotherapy works best. Each cancer is individual. One treatment works for one person, but might not work for the next. My hormone therapy certainly did not work well for me. My uncle flew Kevin and me out to his house for the weekend and we got an emergency appointment with this doctor. Another procedure where the needle goes in my abdomen. Not fun again.

The rest of the weekend was fun though. I took Kevin around Santa Monica and Hollywood and we got to meet up with some of his high school/college friends. The test results came back and Taxol was the chemotherapy of choice. I was hoping it would be one that doesn’t make my hair fall out AGAIN, but not the case. My doctor in Austin wanted me on Taxol anyway, so this made everyone happy. She wanted to pair it with this new chemotherapy called Avastin. We sat and talked about the timing of everything. I was leaving in a week to get married. I wanted my hair for the wedding at least. I could deal with a bald honeymoon to save my life, although I really wanted my hair for that too. She told me my hair would fall out about 6 weeks after treatment.

So, I had my first dose of chemotherapy about a week before my wedding. Then, Kevin and I flew back to Michigan to get married. I felt pretty good after the first treatment. We even got to go to Cedar Point (the best amusement park EVER) before the wedding day. We had beautiful Michigan summer weather, and a flawless wedding. We had a ton of fun. HOWEVER, we got to bed about 3am and had to wake up at 6am to get me some more chemo. I arranged to get my second treatment in Michigan at UofM hospital. So, literally hours after I got married, I was back in the infusion room. The nurse didn’t believe Kevin and me when we told her we had just gotten married the night before. She looked at us like we were crazy. That same day we flew back to Austin. We got in late and packed to leave for our honeymoon early the next morning. We flew to St Lucia all day and got to our hotel room at 2am. They tell you to get a lot of sleep when you are going through chemotherapy, but obviously I had too much going on to listen.

The honeymoon was beautiful. The only downside is that half way through the honeymoon, my hair started to fall out. It was going quickly (don’t know why this time it went so fast). I got to the point where I didn’t want to shower because so much would fall out when I tried to wash it. I just barely made it through the honeymoon with enough hair to get by. The next day I was supposed to go back to work after my two weeks off. I didn’t expect my hair to fall out so fast, so I thought I would have time to shop for a wig. Nope. Not this time. I was in emergency mode. I called my boss on Monday and told him I needed to go buy some hair before I showed up to work. I went to the first wig shop I could find and told the lady I needed something that worked immediately because I was going to work after this. I didn’t get a great wig, but I got one to get by with. Honestly, I haven’t found anything better since.

Fast forward 3 months and I just completed round 12 of chemotherapy. My next posts will bring everyone up to speed on how the treatment has been going, as well as news about our move back to MI.

Huh?? Did I just say move back to Michigan??
Yep, we are planning on moving back.


No comments:

Post a Comment

darker pink dots