Aardvark Art Glass


The rest of the story
September 29, 2010, 12:50 pm
Filed under: Bloggidy Blog

So I have breast cancer now. I was diagnosed in early August, after my first mammogram, mind you, and have been going through a ridiculously complicated work-up since then. I’m not a doctor but I think it was kind of disproportionate to the actual amount of matter about which we were supposed to be worried. But you can never be too careful. I had about an inch of DCIS (cancer in the milk ducts) and a tiny invasive tumor (cancer outside the milk ducts) which was HER2 positive,  a more aggressive type of tumor. Two locations, one boob. I had lymph nodes removed that were negative. I’ve had two surgeries on my right hooter which weren’t that bad even though they removed the cubic equivalent of about two Snickers bars worth of breast tissue. Full size, not Fun Size. My boob looks fine now but I guess it’s supposed to deflate some. All in all, surprisingly good surgery results.

So, listen up girls because this is important-You think that as long as cancer isn’t in your nodes you’re going to get by without chemo. At least I did. But, if you have an HER2 positive invasive tumor that is only 1cm in size, it is a lock that you should receive chemotherapy treatment. Mine was only 6mm so I was in a gray area. But the oncologists pitched chemo as being something that ranged from being something reasonable to do to being something I should do. I did not know this about breast cancer but, if you have anything invasive (meaning it has gotten outside your milk ducts and into your breast tissue), it is assumed that there are cancer cells running around in your body even after they remove the tumor and the area around it. So cancer cells can eventually spread to your organs even if they don’t find them in your nodes. And that’s why they give you chemo.

All of this jumping on the chemotherapy bandwagon for small HER2 tumors is because of a new-ish drug called Herceptin, which targets HER2 cells and leaves a lot of other ones alone. Oncologists fucking love Herceptin. They just think it’s great. Problem is, due to a lack of studies on the effectiveness of taking it alone, they won’t administer the drug by itself- you have to take it with chemo, which targets all your fast-growing cells and makes you feel like shit. But the chemo/ Herceptin cocktail supposed to decrease the chances of recurrence by quite a bit, and you know how I loves me the cocktails. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Fun fact about Herceptin: I was educating myself about it, reading the side-effects and whatever, (By the way, I don’t recommend you do this because they’re scary) when I found out that you should not take Herceptin if you had a sensitivity to  medicines containing Chinese Hamster ovary protein. Provocative secret ingredient! Check your medicine cabinet! There’s really valid reasons for using Chinese Hamster ovary cells in research and medicine. Not sure how they figured that one out. I’m not going to get into the applications because they’re complicated and I don’t fully understand them. I just have a vision of me laying in bed with a bunch of female Chinese Hamsters applied to my body topically, somehow absorbing those growth factor negative cells they make. That’s not how they use the hamsters in real life. It’s one of those things that won’t work but it might help.

So ANYWAYS. I just thought I’d keep you apprised of the situation. I’m not crazy about telling people about it because it results in talking about it and that can really take up time. Also, I’m fine. I’m up and eating lots of food and making tumor beads and interacting with T-Bone, who is awesome. I’m not starting treatment for a few weeks. Next I have to get a drug port put in my chest area. That seems very Borg and/or Matrix like to me. Don wants to see if it will charge his phone. That would be handy.

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10 Comments so far
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My best to you! Thank you for a very candid and honest, but humorous post. I know these things must be very difficult to write about, let alone deal with everyday. It is a brave thing to put yourself out there and tell others, hopefully your open and information filled post will reach someone who needs to hear this!

I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Comment by Audrey

I have been missing your excellent blog these past many weeks. Thanks for coming back and sharing your story. Here’s wishing you the very best through chemo and beyond!

Comment by Liz P

My heart sank when I read your first sentence. But your practical, detailed and no-nonsense approach convinced me that if attitude were the miracle cure for cancer we’ve all been hoping for, you’d be up for a Nobel Prize. I loved your disquisition on the therapeutic uses of Chinese Hamsters. What do Chinese Hamsters got that the other hamsters of the world don’t? If I were a hamster, I’d be thinking, “What am I? Chopped liver?”

Anyway, keep blogging and trucking. I’ve missed hearing about naked bikers and such. I am tucking you neatly into my head, where I hope you’ll be safe.
Nancy

Comment by Nancy Levine

I missed blogging too. I have been really busy with the doc appts lately. I’ll try to be more regular with the blogging while things are still normal. I’ve got Gallery Night and OPen Art Studios to deal with this weekend. There will be things to post about that for sure. Thanks for the comments, guys!

Comment by cathylybarger

I am really glad for the update. You sound so capable, calm, and awesome. I always knew you were amazing, and now I have another good reason I feel this way. Keep on hanging tuff, Aard, and we all love you!!! xoxox jean!!!

Comment by jean Yates

Breast cancer. Crap. For what it’s worth, you are in my prayers and not the cliche “thoughts and prayers”. I will truly be praying for you in this journey of yours. I’ll be praying that you get doctors that have big brains and know how to use ’em.

Comment by Jen

Man, that really sucks! I hope your treatment is 100% successful and that you hold onto that awesome sense of humour you have been blessed with. Best of luck, lots of warm wishes and hugs from your blogger buddies.
Cheers
Sandy

Comment by sandypandybeadsblog

Thanks, guys. I think I’m looking at about 2 weeks before they start treatment. My port goes in on the 12th, now. Maybe a week after that they start? I don’t know. This seems really unreal to me still so I’m going to yuk it up while I can.
Thanks again for the well-wishes, everybody!

Comment by cathylybarger

Holy crud. You’ve got the best possible attitude.
One of my brothers has been dealing with cancer and he said one of the best things he has done is gotten a book and written everything down. All tests, appointments, treatments, comments, etc.. You have to be your own advocate and it sounds like you are realizing that.
Hoping for the best for you,
M.

Comment by Mary

Wow, I had no idea why your blog had stopped! And then I stopped checking it until just now, tonight… because my mother fell in her home and she laid there about 14 hours before I found her, and sometime during her lying there on the floor unable to get up or get help, had a small stroke (the stroke didn’t cause the fall, the fall caused the stroke. At least so they surmise, from her position and circumstances.) She had what is called a “cerebral infarction” (aka a “brain attack”, like a cardial infarction is a heart attack.) She’s improved amazingly since she first went into the hospital, but it has been an exhausting ordeal for all parties, as well as traumatic. (I’m an only child, so I’ve been at the hospital with her as much as possible and it’s taken over everything else.) She comes home from the hospital this Friday (she’s been in rehab to regain her old skills and self… although she’s bounced back more quickly than they thought, but it still takes some work to recover from this sort of thing.) And then I will be her 24/7 caregiver for the next few weeks (because 1 in 4 people who have had a cerebral infarction will have another, and the ones who do, most often tend to have it in the first 30 days or so. So that is the most dangerous time for them, and so they need somebody to be there with them all the time, just in case.) At any rate, I came home tonight from the hospital and impulsively decided to check out your blog again (for the first time in many moons,) and what do I find but that you’ve been in your very OWN overwhelming nightmare! (Even as I have had mine going on here.) I was stunned. What an ordeal and a shocker all of this must have been for you! I’m SO sorry I didn’t know this any sooner, I would certainly have had you in my thoughts and prayers! It sounds like you are not panicking, and are being aware and informed and deciding for yourself (and not just getting railroaded or bounced around by doctors.) I can’t even imagine how stressful this must be for you, but it sounds like you aren’t letting it take over, but being strong and doing what you think is right. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and hope that everything goes as well as possible! (And I’m sorry if this post sounds like it’s all about ME, it should be about YOU! But like you always say, “you got to work with what you got”, and I feel compelled to explain why this was the first I knew about your illness and your “great big medical adventure”.) Now that I know, I will certainly keep in touch and checking your blog… can even share hospital anecdotes if you want (I’ve got some, I’m sure you’ve got some!) Take care and best wishes with the treatment! (Hey, wait… you can smoke “medical marijuana” now, can’t you? I.e., help you with the nausea, etc.) ?? Here in CA they’re getting ready to [try and] legalize it, just FYI, so if you need a vacation after the treatments, you can fly out here to the west coast, escape the cold and sit on the beach and enjoy some sun & some “MM!” 😉 Take care!

ANNIE

Comment by A. Calderwood




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