Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving thanks and some bad news

Hello everyone,
Since this is Thanksgiving, I thought that I would give my own thanks on this day. First, and most obviously, I am thankful I am alive. Second, I am thankful that the nausea is away, although some smells still get to me. Nausea has really been the worst part of all the cancer treatments. Third, I'm thankful that my family, friends, and colleagues are there for me, giving me support in whatever way they can. I appreciate it! Fourth, I want to thank all of those who sent flowers, plants, and gifts while I was in the hospital and afterwards: Anna Kerttula, the Dean's office at CLA, Paula and Dwight, Rick and Tammy, "the Rogers, Rogers, Webbs, and Kohlers", Kevin, Rena, Joan Gross, and Donna Champeau. Thank you all, very much! They're all very much appreciated and the plants and flowers have brightened up my home! Fifth, I wanted to make sure to thank everyone who emailed or called to check up on me and I wanted to just let you know that if I haven't yet responded, I will try to in the next few days and if I forget, please forgive me and I hope that this post will do for now! Sixth, I'm thankful it's Thanksgiving Day and I don't have any nausea and will be able to eat! Yay! And, finally, thanks to Sunil and Court for the first delivered meals and there's one coming on Saturday! Yippee!

So, now the bad news. The pathology report came back and the pathologists found cancer THROUGHOUT the breast on the right side. But, it wasn't a tumor. It was instead "tendrils" of cancer cells spread throughout the breast. So, they say that it's 5cm large, but it's more like an octopus or a spider. And, because it was tendrils, it wouldn't be detectable on a mammogram nor by touch. I talked to Dr. Kenyon last night (as I didn't get a clear picture from Dr. Faddis's office) and he said that lobular cancers sometimes throw out these tendrils. So, this is probably a recurrence. As Dr. Kenyon said, this is not the news we wanted to hear. This now means that he's encouraging me to undergo a course of chemo (either a "traditional" mix of cytoxan and taxotere or a new regimen out of England), then have my ovaries removed and take Femara or Arimadex, and then go on Herceptin.

I am deadset against the chemo. I've done it before and it was really psychologically the worst part of the treatments for me. The justification for chemo is to stop it from spreading elsewhere in my body or to stop it growing elsewhere if it's started. So, here's my "twisted logic" about it: first, the chemo, to some extent, didn't help me the first time around; while it doesn't seem to be elsewhere, it also didn't stop it from growing in the breast; so, I have this germ of an idea in my head that it doesn't work, so why should I put myself through it again? Second, I fear it and have lots of anxiety and apprehension about taking it again. As I posted before, I think that fear and anxiety of something tends to decrease the effectiveness of it. And, third, several people have encouraged me to do chemo, but since I experienced fatigue last spring, I have tried to only do things that I want to do, not what others want me to do. I need to do it for me and if I think it will be effective. And, fourth, prior to surgery, they did a "lymphosyntigram" (sp?) in order to map my lymph system in the breast. They basically inject a radioactive material into your breast and then take pictures of that radioactivity for about 30 minutes. Based upon that map, the radiologist and Dr. Faddis said that my lymph system in my breast didn't drain anywhere - it pooled in my breast. (Which might actually explain why I still had some inflammation in that breast the day of surgery because of the biopsy on Oct 1.) So, I take this to mean that there wasn't a clear pathway out of my breast since they took the sentinel nodes last time, which means that any cancer stayed in the breast and didn't go beyond that. Couple that with the pet scan, chest x-ray, and blood tests which were all clear.

I do want to assure you that I haven't completely decided against chemo; I feel like I'm Gandalf in the Mines of Moria, when he sat for a long long time beside two doors trying to decide which one "felt right". So far, the no chemo path feels right. But I will sit at those doors for awhile before making a final decision. Fortunately, I have time to do that. I will have my ovaries taken out and go on an aromatase inhibitor (Femara or Arimadex) and then go on herceptin.

So, the wind has been taken out of my sails and I think my ship started to list some yesterday evening. But after watching a movie with my brother Scotty and my folks and a good night sleep, my ship has righted myself and I'm blowing into the sails again. I can feel you all blowing with me! And, for that, I thank you!


Heather said...

Oh Dee. This news makes me sad, but I am a FIRM believer that YOU should be the one making the decisions that are right for you, without being pressured by outsiders. Our motivation, you must understand, is that we selfishly want you to be around for the next 100 years or so. :) But we are not on the receiving end of the harsh effects that chemo has on your body. Only you can make the decision, and I will support you in whatever you decide.

I hope you found some joy this Thanksgiving and got to spend some quality time with your family and loved ones.

Blessed be,


mynameischarlene said...


i am so sorry. you are correct that you need to make this decision for yourself. i support you in any decision you make.

you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I want to add my own comment that I feel strongly you should follow your own feelings about this. Not everything that exists can be explained by our science.
Our good thoughts are with you.

With love,

Greg Hyatt said...

In the face of such difficult decisions, I pray that you find clarity and solace. I know this can't be easy, Dee. Sending you a big dose of love and support.



Cat/Goo/Finn said...


When Jeremiah's grandmother had cancer everyone swore they new what was best for her, ordering her around daily. For some time she complied and did what everyone wanted, to make them feel better, and then she realized that she was the one in need of "feeling better". I remember watching her take control and thinking she looked healthier in those moments than in any other moment I had known her. We are in charge of so little in this what you can to be the captain of your destiny. I pray that you find clarity and peace as you sit by those doors and make your decision. For what it's worth...I support you and stand by whatever you decide to do.