Archive for March, 2010

And so it begins… (radiation)

March 29, 2010

Well, today I started a 33 day Radiation schedule.  (Last week, I went and got ‘set up’ and got my ‘tattoo’–which means they draw all kinds of lines on me that last the entire 6 and 1/2 weeks)   Being back in the radiation room brings back so many memories from a year and a half ago.  I honestly didn’t think I’d ever need it again, but here I am.

I also started an oral Chemotherapy drug today.  I will take it every day that I have radiation.  So, it will be every Monday-Friday until I have 33 treatments.  I was a little nervous about taking the chemo–it’s 3 big pills in the morning and 3 again at night–it just seems like a lot–but I guess not compared to all the IV drugs I’ve gotten in the past.  This drug is not supposed to cause hair loss or much nausea–but we’ll see.  The chemo drug is hopefully going to increase the effectiveness of the radiation.  While it increases the sensitivity/reponse of the cancer cells, it also increases the response of the healthy cells I have.   So, I may deal with more post-radiation issues, like lymphadema, swelling, etc.  We’ll see about that too.

The past couple of weeks, I have felt really good to be in the hands of my Radiology Oncologist.  She seems to “get me”.

Today, while the machine buzzed, I prayed (during the buzzing) that God would use this radiation to heal me of this cancer.  Have you heard that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing but expecting different results?  So, call me “crazy”–but I do think that God will heal me of this!

So, I’ll be doing this for a little over 6 weeks–I’ll probably update a few times along the way, but I hope to get back to blogging about other stuff in the mean time…

Thanks for your prayers,

Susan

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Update 3/22/10

March 22, 2010

Hello all!  Last Thursday, I met with my Radiology Oncologist.  She feels that I can get a full dose of radiation in this right axilla area-and she said she is going to have a ‘wide field’ to allow plenty of room in case there are more nodules in/around this area.  I felt good after talking with her. I am planning on taking the chemo pill, Xeloda, on the days of radiation.  There are minimum side effects with this drug–we are hoping that it will increase the effectiveness of the radiation as well as have a systemic effect if needed.

So, I went back to her on Friday and had a CT Scan.  This week, she will meet with my surgeon to figure out the clips that he placed and do the “physics” of determining the radiated field.   This Friday, I’ll go for a dry-run, then start officially Monday the 29th.  That is the plan right now— I meet with my surgeon tomorrow–post-op stuff.

Today’s excerpt from Streams in the Desert was so perfect for me…so here are few lines pulled from it:

“We should be more careful to focus on learning all the lessons in the school of sorrow than to focus anxious eyes toward the time of our deliverance.  There is a reason behind every lesson and when we are ready, our deliverance will definitely come.  Then we will know we could never have served in our place of higher service without having been taught the very things we learned during our ordeal. God is in the process of educating us for future service and greater blessing.”

Update 3/15/10

March 15, 2010

We met with Dr. Boyd, my Oncologist, today.  He caught us up with everything discussed at the Forum on Friday.  Everyone is in agreement that a full course of radiation to this area is what we should do next.  Dr. Boyd is going to put me on an oral chemo pill during radiation to boost the effectiveness of the radiation.  (This chemo drug has low side-effects and will not cause hair loss!!  I was glad about that)  I will see the Radiologist this Thursday to get this ball rolling.

Thanks for your continued prayers!

Love,
Susan

Precious

March 10, 2010

no, not the movie!

enough of the cancer updates— at least for a day!  This year, I got 4 wonderful cards for Valentine’s Day.  Each of the kids made one for me and then one from Jerel.   I loved them all so much, so I thought I’d put them on here so we’d all remember them forever!  they were so precious to me….

Luke wrote his all by himself–he asked Jerel how to spell most of the words.  I loved that he put exactly what he wanted:

Christopher has always been very creative–he chose to cut out every letter from magazines.   It is just like him to do that–so I love that this card totally represents him.

And finally- Bailey’s.  This one is precious to me because Jerel said she wrote all this on her own–unprompted by him.  She wanted me to read it out loud and I did—and after you read, you’ll know why I started to cry!

When I started to cry, Luke said “Mom, is that proud-crying?”  I said “Yes Luke–I am proud-crying and happy-crying.  When did I tell you about proud-crying?”   ( I was feeling “proud” that I had taught him that) and he quickly said “Oh no Mom, I learned it from the Jonas Brothers.”  Oh well!

Update 3/10/10

March 10, 2010

Hello All!   We just got back from meeting with my surgeon.  We talked with him about the pathology from surgery and got my scan results.  We have some good news and some vague news so here is my summary:

1.  The GREAT news is that my Bone and CT Scans came back clear.  No evidence of any disease in any organs or bones throughout my body.

2.  The tumor under my arm was taken out— completely and he got it all.  However, Dr. Turk also took out two other areas (above and below the tumor area).  These 2 areas were really like a safety net…. just to make sure that the margins were good.  Inside those 2 specimens were also nodules of positive cancer.  These are tiny, microscopic nodules.

3.  It is unclear –perhaps that’s all there is. Perhaps there are more in surrounding tissue.  The MRI I had 2 weeks ago was “worthless” according to Dr. Turk.  It didn’t show anything—which obviously there was a large tumor (3.6 cm) of positive cells.

4.  My CT Scan was very thorough and it had a special note about the right axilla area–that no mass was detected (this was done yesterday), and no residual axillary mass visualized.  All that to say is that whatever is left (if anything) is not visible.

5.  Dr. Turk will present my case on Friday at the Breast Forum….a group of doctors that meet to discuss certain cases–I was also presented this time last year.  My oncologist and radiologist will also be there so they will all be together on where we go from here.  Dr. Turk is going to call me sometime on Friday to let me know what they discussed.

6.  I know this is a lot of detail—but at the same time–it’s easier for me to type all this than tell this same story over and over again to everyone.  So, thanks for checking in and caring about all this!!

7.  How am I feeling?  You can probably tell by my numbered list that I’m in a “let’s get this done” kind of attitude.  But overall, I am very relieved that the Bone and CT scans were clear.    I am disappointed that the other tiny nodules were found….but I am not without hope.  Really, I wouldn’t type that if it weren’t true.  I keep coming back to this verse in the Bible this week:

” (I am) hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.”   2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Please pray for the meeting on Friday–that God would give the doctors wisdom and pray there are no more nodules left in my body.

Lots of love,

Susan

Update 3/7/10

March 7, 2010

I have had a great few days at home.  I am feeling great–just a sore arm!  Here is our schedule for the next few days. On Tuesday, I have Bone and CT Scans. On Wednesday, I’ll visit my Surgeon to go over pathology and margins, etc.  So, we really won’t know anything until Wednesday.  We’ll update then!

Thanks for praying,

Susan

Update 3/4/10

March 4, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I am home!  Got home at 5:00 pm today.  My surgeon came to my room twice this morning before 9:30 to attempt to fix my drain with no success.  I then sat around waiting for him until 3:00 only to learn that he wanted me to go home (and manually work this drain) and I will go see him tomorrow at his office.

I was so happy to get home–to see the kids, to reassure them.  But I did remember (quickly) that our house is a lively place with homework, games, arguments between kids, dinner, picky eaters, baths, reading, phone ringing, and one sick child etc.  So, maybe it was kind of a blessing that I was able to stay 24 extra hours in a quiet, boring hospital room!!  (Truth be told, I love and cherish the craziness)

We’ll find out next week about the margins and pathology from surgery.  Thanks for checking in and praying for us!

Love, Susan

Update 3/3/10

March 3, 2010

Hi Everyone!

I am writing from the hospital.  Surgery went well today…. Dr. Turk talked to Jerel after the surgery and said that he removed the area and there were no surprises in there to him.  We will have more details (margins,etc.) later when pathology returns–probably early next week.

One small complication is that after 2 hours spent in recovery (waking up!) and then another 2 hours doing all the discharge information… we realized my drain is not working properly.  After much manipulation by the nurses (surgeon long gone) and no success, my surgeon (via phone) has decided to admit me for the night so i can be hooked up to a different kind of drain and tomorrow they will fix the drain i have.

I made SURE that I’m not staying in the hospital for any other complication–just needing a drain.  So, I guess I’ll watch American Idol here!

Thank you to Jerel, my parents, my friends including the Sabbaghs for kidnapping our kids for a while tonight, also thanks to Mike and Rick for the powerful prayer this morning.

Goodnight and more news tomorrow,

In Christ,

Susan

Update 3/2/10

March 2, 2010

Below is a copy of an email we sent out earlier this evening.

Hello Friends and Family,

It seems that this is our annual March email to let everyone know of our recent news.  This past Friday (at 5:00), some pathology from under my arm came back as positive for cancer AGAIN.  I went to my oncologist last Wednesday when I felt another lump under my arm-pretty much the same spot as last year.  They did a biopsy and MRI the following day—the MRI came back fine..but the biopsy showed some positive cells.  They are hoping with the MRI results being good, that the cancer is small and localized.

I am having surgery (to take out the area under my arm) tomorrow at noon.  My oncologist, surgeon and radiologist have all been in contact and they feel that the sooner the better.  We will follow up with Bone and CT Scans next week to check the rest of my body.  If those are clear (which they feel they should be given recent markers), then we pray for good margins on the surgery pathology, then we will follow up with a full course of radiation to the area—and no chemo.

I am giving so many details, because it’s somewhat exhausting (as you can imagine) to tell everyone this story over and over!!  A few people have asked me today if I’ve considered having a full mastectomy—so I’ll answer that too!  Yes, we suggested that last year, but apparently since the cancer went to my lymph nodes—“the breast is not the area of concern anymore”—and that’s pretty accurate, because both recurrences have been in the axilla (underarm) area and not in the breast.

We are very hopeful and positive—please pray for Dr. Turk tomorrow—that he will be able to get the cancer OUT and get clear margins.  Pray that radiation will be a good option.

For the past 8 months, I have been reading through the Bible—I’m 39 years old and have never done that.  I’m in Acts right now—and plan to finish the whole Bible by the end of March.  It has been an amazing discovery to me to learn so much about the God of 2nd Chances (Old Test) and of Jesus, the Healer (New Test.)  I feel closer to God than ever before and that is priceless.

Gosh, this was my attempt to be brief.  Please remember to pray for me tomorrow.  Pray for Jerel and the kids—it breaks my heart that they have to go through this again with me.

We’ll be in touch…

Lots of love,

Susan (and Jerel) Law