Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reconstruction complete

As stated in previous blogs, Penny needed one remaining surgery to complete her breast reconstruction.  That took place today with a 4 hour outpatient procedure..and she came through with flying colors.  I think she was anxious to get rid of the rock hard expanders although the kids will have to find something else to tease her about now.

Moving forward with a positive attitude and a new rack :-)


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It's been a long year but summer is finally here..

Wow…I see it's been 4 months since last updating Penny's blog.  A bit long I suppose, but the good news is she has been doing quite well.  It's hard to believe it has been a year since the diagnosis.

At the time of the last update, she had just finished chemo and was getting ready to start radiation treatments.  I thought radiation went really well especially compared to the side effects of chemo.  The last week or so of treatment was not fun for her because of the severe skin burning..but after a month or so the burns cleared up and it is barely noticeable today.

She is still on a drug called Herceptin and will continue to have infusions every 3 weeks until this fall.  In fact, she is at the infusion center as I write for a treatment. 

About two months ago, she started on a pill called Arimidex, which she will take for the next 5 years.  It is designed to block estrogen in her body which is essentially what the cancer she “had” fed on.  Even though we believe her to be cancer free, this is a precaution should there be any stray cells floating around somewhere.  Unfortunately, she is noticing some side effects with this drug...severe enough to cause her to re-think whether or not she wants to continue with this treatment.  I suppose that decision will be made in the coming weeks..maybe after a consultation with the oncologist.

Lastly, she has another surgery to undergo in the near future.  The purpose will be to replace the expanders, which were inserted at the same time as the mastectomies, with implants.  She hasn’t decided on a date however I’m sure it will be before year end.

We appreciate all the prayers.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Coming out of the chemo pit

Someone a few weeks ago referred to the side effects of chemotherapy as the "chemo pit".  I think the description is very fitting.  Penny had her last treatment a little over 3 weeks ago and is clawing her way out of the "pit"...very nicely though I might add. 

Of course, all this just in time for radiation treatments which begin this week, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks.  However, the side effects of radiation are not supposed to be nearly as bad.  She did get 5 tattoos...and no, she did not decide to take a walk on the wild side.  They are just tiny dots used to line up the laser sights on the radiation machine so it radiates the precise spot each treatment.  The kids had fun with the notion of mom getting "tats" though.

Penny will continue to have infusions every 3 weeks with a drug called Herceptin.  She was taking this drug in conjuction with the chemo drugs and will continue to take it for a total of a year.  She will be on some other sort of hormone therapy pill for 5 years following Herceptin. 

The last surgery to replace the now "fully expanded" expanders with implants can come any time after the radiation effects have had time to heal some.

We certainly feel fortunate to have such great friends and family who have blessed us with prayers and support throughout this journey.  It has certainly helped carry her through the "pit".


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Time to Reflect...

I am sitting here in the wireless infused infusion center while Penny is in an adjacent room getting set up for her next chemo treatment.  I figured I'd use this time to update her blog since it has been a while.  So here's the latest.

Chemo:  Today will be Penny's 4th of 6 chemo treatments.  This would put her last session around February 9th.

Radiation: Treatments will begin approx. 3 weeks after her last chemo session and will be 5 days a week for 6 weeks.

Reconstruction: She only is one or two fluid 'fills' from being done with the expansion process.  The final surgery to replace the expanders with implants will come a fews weeks after the last radiation treatment.  Then it's time to get on with living a cancer free life!

The week between Christmas and New Years is a time I like to set aside for goal setting and for reflecting on the past year.  As I reflect, it boggles my mind to think how life has changed since the phone call on July 29th.  It has been a trying time for sure but it has certainly been made easier by the prayers and tremendous support of our friends and family.  It has helped us realize the many blessings we have taken for granted in the past. 


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On her terms...

It's been nearly 3 weeks since Penny's 1st chemo treatment and she is due for her 2nd of 6 treatments Thursday.  She has handled it much better than I ever expected..she really has.  Aside from a few days of fatigue, a common cold and a week or so of a bloody nose, she has done really well.

As expected, hair loss started right around the 14 day mark.  At the first signs of it falling out she decided it was going to be on her terms.  As you can see by the pictures, her terms meant including the kids and making it a fun family event.  The pink spiked mohawk was Brittany's idea and it was preceded by a mullet..which I failed to get a picture of and have been reminded of repeatedly ;-) 

She remains positive about everything and aside from an occasional pity party (her words not mine) she is doing great.  As you can tell by the photos, she looks great too.  --Ryan

               no wig                                                                                      wig

Thursday, October 14, 2010

1st chemo session but looking ahead to next summer..

Penny had her 1st of 6 chemo sessions yesterday.  Everything went well once she got past some pre session anxiety issues.  Before leaving the house, her hands were visibly shaking and we measured her heart rate near 140bpm.  I suppose 140 isn't that high if she were exercising but she was just sitting there doing nothing at the time.  I know I don't raise her heart rate like that anymore ;-)  so we're calling it anxiety.  At the infusion center they gave her something to calm her down and she was fine from then on.  I was a little worried if I'm being honest.

Overall, no nausea and no negative side effects thus far.  Her skin feels very warm to touch but she is not running a fever..which is weird but I think normal.  We have been forewarned this Friday could be when she starts feeling some fatigue and it could intensify through the weekend.  She is on multiple anti-nausea meds so hopefully that won't be an issue.  Hair loss is supposed to start around the 7-14 day mark.  As some of you have read on facebook, I think she will make one sexy hot bald chick. :-)

Oh by the way, the gentleman sitting next to me in the waiting room said each chemo session costs $13,500.  Wow!  Thankfully, we have insurance!

Reconstruction continues as she is up to 180cc's of fluid in the expanders on her way to 400-500cc's.  I don't think I've explained this but the expanders are between her chest wall and her chest muscles.  So they are not only stretching her skin but also the muscle underneath.  Sounds painful to me but she only mentions some minor tightness and discomfort.

Radiation initial consultation is next Wednesday but I am nearly certain she will choose to have it done.

She is figuring by next summer she will be done with chemo, radiation and reconstruction.  So for now, we are trying to look past this garbage by looking ahead to next summer.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Reconstruction underway, chemo next and radiation probable

As of tomorrow, it will be 1 month since Penny's surgery.  Aside from some tightness in her chest and limited arm mobility, she has done really, really well.  In fact, she even returned to work on Monday.  While she was physically exhausted the first day, each day has been seemingly better.

Here are some details on her progress along with what is yet to best as I can recall:

Reconstruction is underway and will continue over the next several months.  They have added approx. 100cc's of saline to the expanders already and will continue to add until she gets to a size she is happy with...probably between 400-500cc's.  In case you are wondering, those are her numbers not mine. ;-)  Once chemo and radiation are done, they will remove the expanders and replace them with implants. 

Chemo starts next Wednesday and she will have a total of 6 treatments once every 3 weeks...totaling 4 1/2 months.  She will be on another drug (herceptin) that will be administered along with chemo and continuing every 3 weeks for 1 year.  We ordered a wig yesterday that I thought looked really good on her.  It has a 60's beehive look to it.  Just actually is close to her current style and looked really good for a wig.

Radiation is probable at this point.  Newer studies are showing that pretty much anyone with breast cancer in their 40's should have radiation.  We meet with the radiation oncologist in a couple weeks but this is what we are being told.  I'm not positive on the timing but I believe radiation would come right after chemo is done. 

We have really appreciated all the prayers, cards, meals and such.  I just ask that everyone continue to keep her in your prayers and to give thanks for the answered prayers thus far.  We are truly blessed to serve such a wonderful God and to be surrounded by such wonderful people.