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.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

One reality at a time..

It's been a little over 2 weeks since Penny's surgery and she is doing really well.  She was able to shower on her own this week and she was also able to put on a t-shirt for the first time which she was pretty proud of.  Until now she has had to wear a sweatshirt that zipped up in the front.  Arm mobility is still limited and this week she has been dealing with muscle spasms in her chest.  She says it reminds her of a braxton hicks from pregnancy except in her chest.  I'll take her word for the braxton hicks thing and stick with calling it a charlie horse.   Hopefully they won't last long.

This week we met with the plastic surgeon and the oncologist.  The plastic surgeon will begin the process of expanding her chest wall next week.  The expansion process should take 4-6 weeks and be followed by another surgery several months from now (after chemo) to replace the expanders with implants.

Chemo will start in 3 weeks and will take place once every 3 weeks for a total of 6 treatments.  My math without a calculator says that's about 4 and a half months.   She will be on another drug (Herceptin) for over a year that will also require an infusion once every 3 weeks.  Evidently there is a drug currently in clinical trials that the oncologist says she can get her hands on that would reduce the chance of anything spreading to the brain.  When asked about the odds of losing her hair the Dr. said with confidence "100%". 

The oncologist feels she should have radiation which is not what we wanted to hear.  If we understood her...she was saying without radiation there is a 25% chance of recurrence (surprise...seemed high to us) and radiation would drop that by 1/3rd or to 17%.  Seems like the logical thing to do however radiation will damage the skin and have a negative effect on the reconstruction results.  We plan to meet with a radiation oncologist to get a better feel for her options but for now it appears she'll have another difficult decision ahead.

If I'm being honest this has been a difficult week.  It's like you are in a dream but getting hit with one reality at a time.  Each meeting with a doctor brings a realization of what lies ahead...none of which are very pleasant.  This week was just a busy week for reality I guess.  We visited some friends last night who lost their daughter to H1N1 last year which definitely helped put things back into perspective for us.  Back to being positive...

"The task ahead of us is nothing compared to the force of God behind us."


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Test Results and Recovery

Well, it's been nearly a week since surgery.  Penny's recovery has gone as planned although she will tell you she underestimated the pain she has experienced.  She had 5 different tubes removed yesterday which wasn't fun for her but I know she feels much better having them out. 

We received some good news today and an answer to prayer.  Test results indicate there was no cancer in the margins around the tumor (meaning they got it all).  The opposite breast had no cancer cells and only 2 of 15 lymph nodes tested positive.  We meet the oncologist next Thursday but there is a decent chance no radiation will be required.  We'll at least hang our hat on that for now.

She wanted me to thank everybody for the wonderful meals, flowers and cards.   She loves checking the mail. :-)  We are so blessed to be surrounded by such a caring group of people.

 We received a quote from a friend that has become our motto.. "The task ahead of us is nothing compared to the force of God behind us."  (Thanks Diane)


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back Home

Penny made it home Friday evening.  It's amazing they can send someone home so soon after a major surgery.  She is in a great deal of pain and is dealing with a bad headache..probably from the morphine.  We switched pain meds this afternoon and that seems to be helping.  I've never seen so many tubes and such coming out of someone.  Right now a low grade fever has us a little concerned but hopefully it stays just that..low grade.  Overall though, she's been a real trooper and seems to be getting better by the hour.  She is an amazing person!

A great buckeye win along with an awesome lasagna dinner (from friends) made for a pleasant afternoon. :-)  

Thanks again for all the prayers, cards, flowers and offers of help.  God has blessed us with great friends.    --Ryan

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Surgery update

This is Ryan...I'm going to try to update Penny's blog.

It's been a long day but surgery went well.  She was in the O.R. from 9:45 until 3:30.  She's in a great deal of pain but in good spirits and dealing with things in her usual positive and humorous sort of way.

The procedures both went as planned however they had a positive test on her Sentinel Lymph Node..meaning the cancer had begun to spread.  In her words "That stinks."  As a result they removed all the surrounding nodes and sent them in for further testing.  The results of those tests will determine whether or not she will need radiation treatments.  We are hopeful those tests will come back negative.  The tumor itself was 4cm (golf ball) in size. 

The game plan is for her to come home tomorrow.  I can see it's going to be a rough few days, which is all the further I can look ahead at this point.  One day at a time. :-)

We want to thank everyone for the prayers and words and letters of support.  It really means a lot to her.   --Ryan

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First of all, thank you for all of the prayers!

Tomorrow is the big day.....nervous.....yep that about sums it up.  I guess it seems more real now. 

So, here's the scoop...

Surgery is at 9 a.m.  I will be having a double mastectomy with the start of reconstruction.  Why a double you ask?  I want to reduce the possibility of EVER having to go through all of this again.  Hospital stay should only be overnight. (crazy, I know!)  After the healing I will undergo chemo, as of right now, no radiation. (Keep your fingers crossed.)

I am blessed to have great friends and family who have all been very supportive and encouraging.....thank you all so much!

I will have Ryan make a post after surgery.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Yay!!  Surgery is FINALLY scheduled!  September 9th at 9 am.  It is such a relief just to have a date.  Now I can get nervous. lol

Monday, August 30, 2010

Still waiting.......

Friday, August 27, 2010

Well, on Monday I thought I would know when my surgery was by it is Friday and I still don't have a date.  It's only

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Went to the surgeon on Monday and finally made up my mind!  Now I'm just waiting for a call letting me know when surgery will be.  Sounds like I will only have to stay in the hospital overnight, that's good.  We learned all the not so wonderful specifics to do with the surgery and recovery. 

I have had such amazing support since getting my diagnosis (especially from my terrific hubby and kids) and it means more than you all will probably ever know, THANK YOU!!! 

I will let you know what I find out as far as a date for surgery.

God is good!  I'll be fine!! :o)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ok, so I can't make up my mind about the whole surgery thing so I probably won't know my surgery date on Monday.  Actually, I KNOW I won't know my surgery date on Monday because I haven't called the surgeon to let them know what I've decided....because I haven't decided!!  I'm starting to feel pressured and I don't like it! 

Pray for me!! :o)

Monday, August 16, 2010

In an attempt to keep everyone up-to-date on my progress, I've decided to TRY a blog. 
With work and everything else going on, I find I don't have quite enough hours in a day to keep everyone informed.

A little back ground...on July 28th I had a biopsy and on July 29th I was diagnosed with moderately differentiated infiltrating ductal carcinoma. (Breast Cancer)  Tests indicate it is an aggressive tumor, good news is I caught it fairly early.

Ok, so....GREAT news PET scan came back and there is no other cancer in my body (just the lump originally found).  Yay!!!!  Quite a relief, I guess I was a little more worried than  I thought.  Prayer works wonders!!

I have an appointment on Monday with my surgeon and should get a date then for my surgery and whether I will have chemo before or after my surgery. 

Thank you all so much for your words of encouragement and prayers, they are GREATLY appreciated!