Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Friend, St. Terese

No, it's not Armageddon and yes, I am still in quasi-control of my mind. My mistrust of organized religion aside, today I am honoring a woman of spiritual strength who brimmed with optimism and love. Someone who inspires me.

St Therese of Lisieux
, the Little
Flower, is a Doctor of the Church and today is her Feast Day. Although she is my namesake, it wasn't until my breast cancer diagnosis that I began to get to know her. Since then, I have come to rely upon her when I am fearful and doubtful. I also strive to follow the example of her life to guide my own. I even make near-daily attempts to put her "'little way' of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love" into practice. And, what I find most comforting about St. Therese, is that if I take the time to look for evidence of her, I often find it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Scan Results

I suppose completely clean scans were too much to hope for considering what I've gone through this summer. But you know me... hope, hope, hope. All things considered, though, My Oncologist and I realize I came away in better shape than I could have. At least, that's what I'm telling myself right now.

The results:

  • Bone scan: Clean
  • Chest CT: Previously radiated pulmonary nodes continue to show decrease in size. No new evidence of metastases.
  • Abdominal CT: Clean
  • Pelvic CT: Clean
  • Brain MRI: 6 mm nodule in left anterior temporal lobe. Possibility of additional puncate mets in deep right parietal lobe sulcus cannot be ruled out.

So, game plan: I am going to have the 6 mm nodule duly fried via gamma knife as quickly as possible. After nearly three years of faithful service, I am ditching Taxotere and adding Abraxane to my treatment regimen. It will be given in combination with Avastin. The hope here is that shaking up the chemo will be what I need to cream the possible mets that cannot be ruled out and get me into a stable holding pattern. Again. A long one, please.

Assuming my insurance company goes with the flow, I start my new regimen on Friday. This coincides with my last planned IV Ig treatment. I am now down to 20 mg of prednisone per day and today's platelet count, just for the hell of it, is 125.

I'm moving forward, peeps. Keep up.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I love that there are words that make you sound intelligent when you use them, while at the same time, convey that you have the sense of humor of a 12 year-old boy. A word, for instance, like "sophomoric." Let’s use it in a sentence, shall we:

"Tracy seems like a bright girl, but she's totally sophomoric."

Now for some context. As I attempted to lay as still as I possibly could in the bone scan machine last Thursday, with the scanner mere centimeters from my face and chest, I had just one word in my head: asshat.

Questions you may have at this point include:

  • Why is the only thing in your head the word "asshat?"
  • What, exactly, is an "asshat?"

Because earlier in the day, while my sister Jamie was calling me one via IM, Dear Friend was looking it up for me on

A close cousin of the ass-clown, typically identified by a jovial expression and an outward misunderstanding of how he/she is perceived, combined with a generally misguided conception of what is sociably acceptable amongst his/her fellow peers. Said persons' frequent attempts at humor usually lead to he/she making an ass out of his/herself. Not to be confused with ass-hole.

"Quit throwing pennies at that homeless man, you asshat."
"Hey asshat, thanks for double parking."

The bone scan takes
twenty minutes. I thought for sure the image was going to come back with a huge blurry mess where my head and chest are supposed to be. You've no idea the ginormous quantity of restraint that was exercised to wrestle my brain to more mundane thoughts.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I met James nearly 12 years ago on the shoulder of Route 80 somewhere in Ohio during the dead of night. With my newly acquired husband’s approval, the 19-year-old kid opened the passenger-side door of his car for me, got into the driver’s seat and proceeded to drive me further into the night and rural Ohio to a run-down motel. My Love was left behind on the roadway with a handful of Mitsubishi drag racing enthusiasts to figure out a way to get his car, which was blowing oil all over the highway, to the same run-down motel before the start of a race event taking place the next day.

During the drive, James and I talked easily and a lot. I, being a mature 28, was taken by how genuine he was; how truly kind and decent. And, at such a young age! I didn’t know it at the time, but I was just getting to know one of the best friends I will have in this lifetime.

Technically speaking, James is My Love’s friend. After all, My Love did meet him first. And there is all that boy stuff: liking cars, having a passion (some would say
death wish) for scuba diving, enjoying a cigar here and there. You know. But James quickly became a part of our family, and his presence and importance in our lives has only grown over the years through moves, the birth of The Kid, my diagnosis and other crap that life throws your way, good and bad. James has been there for us with friendship, support, love and fine beverages.

So, I’ll bet right now all you single ladies in the house are just dying for a date with this paragon of manhood. Well, I’m sorry to inform you that, in addition to worming his way into our hearts and lives, James pulled the same stunt with Lovely Sarah. Only, I’m guessing the strategies were somewhat different. Ever since I met him on the highway that night, I’ve wondered if James would ever meet someone who would truly appreciate the caliber of kindness and love he could lavish upon her, and who would also be eager to heap it right back upon him. Lovely Sarah, I am so happy to say, is that person.

Lovely Sarah also has a kind spirit and a generous heart, and she is joyously, wickedly fun to be with. She shares her goodness just as quickly and easily as James. Plus, she’s a great vacation pal, as she totally gets the importance of good margaritas and massages when boys go off and do dumb boy stuff.

So imagine the joy that was concentrated in New Hampshire last weekend when James and Sarah were wed in front of so many friends and family members who, like our family, are the happy revellers in the combined love that can only be created by the pairing of James and Lovely Sarah. Imagine the joy that will continue to be and grow around all who know them, simply because they have found each other.

Scan Day!

Every three months I get a bone scan; brain MRI; and CTs of my chest, abdomen and pelvis. My Oncologist orders these tests to check to see if my treatment is still working or if there are indications that my disease is progressing. I should have had these done before going to the UK but, I was not going to give potential bad news the opportunity to ruin my trip. The fact that I have been off therapy since June means the little F-ing cancer cells in my body have pretty much had the run of the shop for three months and I am nervous to see what, if any, kind of havoc has been wrought.

I called the hospital yesterday to schedule the scans and unbelievably they asked me to come in today. I usually have to stew a week or so before I can get in. I love these people. They have been seeing my sorry face every three months for seven years and they work with me. My large number of tests does not usually get done in one day. But as soon as these folks find out it's me scheduling, they try very hard to arrange things so I can get everything done before 3:00 p.m. It's fantastic and I make sure to send them a thank you card after every go round.

Dear Friend, with her somewhat annoying habit of always seeing the bright side, reminded me that being able to get my scans done so quickly means that I have less time to get all anxious and worked up about them. But, I apprised her that, being the highly-skilled nutter that I am, I am fully capable of getting two weeks’ worth of anxiety packed into 24 hours. I am that efficient.

One thing I am looking forward to: Taking the R6 up to the hospital. Woo Hoo!

Anyway, off I go. Wish me luck.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Platelet Watch Summer 2007 (The Sopranos-Style Finale)

That’s right, I’m correlating my little summer drama to the Emmy Award-winning sort created by genius David Chase.

First, this drama's final details:

  • Today’s platelet count: 108
  • I started chemo again last Wednesday. It was just the Taxotere. Avastin is on hold because, as a biologic therapy, it may be complicit in causing the platelet problem in the first place. Once things are more stable, I believe we are going to give it another go. I hope so. I progressed on Taxotere monotherapy last year and I want my Avastin back.
  • A new plan for IV Ig is in place. I will continue this therapy three days a week for the next two weeks. During this time, I will also wean off the steroid. This revised plan should help my body continue to strengthen its ability to create platelets and reduce it reliance on this F-ING steroid safely and, critical to depriving My Love of bragging rights to justifiable homicide, sanely.
  • Scans will be scheduled before the end of the week.
As for the finale to Platelet Watch Summer 2007, my correlation works only if you are among those who, like me, believe that life goes on as usual (fictionally speaking) for Tony and the fam despite being abruptly and not at all neatly denied the opportunity to watch the insanity any longer.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Platelet Watch Summer 2007 (Penultimate Update?)

I made it back from the UK with 56 platelets on board. This, apparently, is good news as it demonstrates a trend toward stability.

My dear, dedicated and highly professional healthcare team were taking bets on what my CBC was going to come back with when I showed up in the office for the first time in over two weeks last Wednesday. Not sure how I feel about the fact that THE Nurse was pegging me at 18. Others were more optimistic. The winning healthcare professional (Price is Right rules apply) came in at 50. Her prize: getting to administer my IV Ig and monitor me for the morning. That will learn her.

Friday morning found me back at the oncologist's office, this time with 70 platelets! That's treatable range folks. So a plan has been devised:
So things are looking really, really great right now. And, I am so happy that a sense of normalcy is returning. Funny that, right? My normal life with cancer.

However, be assured that despite the slowly enveloping calm, I've got a full frontal view of my next anxiety attack:
scans that should have occurred in August will be scheduled shortly.

The adventure never ends.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The End of the Journey in Sight

It's Sunday morning in Beckenham and I am enjoying a slow morning at Sal and Phil Baker's home with My Love. Phil should be starting breakfast soon! Last night I had a soak in their bath. It was heaven! Then, we all sat on their soft and beautiful Turkish rug and chowed down on pizza and beer. It was a cozy evening with what feel like old friends. It was just the thing after the intensity and energy of the ride.

My Love and I will be leaving soon. We'll grab a train and head for Heathrow early this afternoon. I'm going to miss being here, but I am coming home with so much more. And I'm going to share it all with you.

See you soon!