Thursday, May 8, 2008

... and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the 6th day of May, my oncologist advised me of:

  • Two cancerous supraclavicular nodes
  • One brain met, and
  • one met in my le-e-eft lung

Not what I wanted to hear. Nope. Not. At. All.

In fact, I am still reeling from this blow. This shit is on the move. Now I am scrambling to get in touch with my neurologist to set up another gamma knife procedure ASAP to blast the brain met, and the CyberKnife radiologist who shot my pulmonary nodes to try and get him to hit my supraclavicular nodes and lung met.

All this, of course, while continuing to work. Piece of cake. It's what I do. It's all part of my strategic approach to living with my disease. I call it Distraction and Denial. (Sounds a bit like it could be a
George Bush strategy, doesn't it?)

My chemotherapy will also be changing. Avastin will stay on the menu but Abraxane will be replaced with
Ixempra. It's approved specifically for use in metastatic breast cancer patients who have failed multiple other therapies. (Hey! That's me!)

I did a little digging on the drug, which was approved just last year, and am irked to find that it requires a three hour infusion. Three hours! That does not include the premeds (about a half hour), the Avastin (half hour) and possibly IV Ig (one-and-a-half hours). I'll be lucky to get into work around 3 p.m. That should fly.

This crap is really scaring me now. It's taking up way too much time to try and manage and my failure of treatments is coming faster than in the past. Not to mention the ITP is a challenge to work around and probably disqualifies me from some therapies. It also will likely make a consistent, effective treatment schedule a challenge to maintain. No, I am not liking this at all.

As if this isn't enough to rock my brain, I also learned that I have a
BRCA 1 mutation. Know what that means? This shit is genetic! I am among the 20 percent of patients whose breast cancers are inherited! This particular mutation increases your chance of developing breast cancer by up to 87%, and ovarian cancer by 44%, by the age of 70. Aren't those just stunning numbers? I mean, cripes, was I seriously going to get away with living most of my live disease-free with odds like that?

Thing is, though, I am not mad about it. I'm honestly a bit relieved. This means that I didn't do (or not do) a damn thing to bring this on. It's not my overindulgence in french fries. It's not my regular imbibing of cabernet. It's not that I didn't exercise enough. This crap was gunning for me just because I exist. It truly is no one's fault.

Unfortunately, this news has also caused my family to flip out and is sending my sisters on missions to determine their own genetic status. Fantastic. Once they find out that they do, or do not, carry the mutation, then what? There's nothing they can do. Oh, sure, prophylactic mastectomy and oophorectomy. That's a bit radical in my opinion. I think it'll just add to any baseline worries they already have. It could, conceivably, get them quicker and more serious attention should they discover a lump. But geez. I don't want anyone carrying a heavier psychological burden than they already are.

So my guilt continues. I'm causing emotional pain and worry. And I don't mean over me. I mean among my sisters for their own health and the ramifications on their families. But, I dunno, maybe... this knowledge will save their lives and the lives of our children. And their children...


Drea said...

Oh Tracy. I don't know what to say, other than keep at it. If the new treatment can add some years to your life, it will be well worth the 3 hours (plus), right? I miss you, and think about you a lot. The only thing I can think of is don't give up, because I don't want to give up.

Mia said...

Criminy, you've jumped so many hurdles thus far. If anyone can keep on fighting, it's you, sista! xox - Mia

Anonymous said...

Tracy saying this sucks just doesn't cut it. I get your feelings about your sisters but get over it. Focus on yourself. You deserve to. You've got all my positive thoughts and continued sh*t kicking vibes coming your way.

Anonymous said...

Why should you feel guilty!?!?! As you say, it is no ones fault. It is genetic. Having taken that test may have saved one of us. I'm just sorry this all came about the way it did and that you are going through all of this. My heart aches for you and your family as you deal with this on a daily basis. Just the thought of possibly having surgery for protective measures exhausts and scares me, so I can only imagine what you have been going through these last EIGHT years!! But we Pleva's are fighters and we always will be. We are in this together! I LOVE YOU!!! - Katie

Jamie said...

Stop feeling guilty and no need to worry about any of us just yet. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now just do you and know that we'll get through it together!

love, love, love!

KB said...

Not the news we were hoping for - where's that rat bastard NED? But you are so strong Tracy. You are a fighter. Know we're all behind you, 100%, as always, come hell or high water.

Anonymous said...

Sincerely, this does stink! Makes me want to scream! And yet, we have a plan and you will survive and you will become stable and you will hold your grandchildren in your arms.

You will conquer this newest challenge with your usual strength and grace. I'm here for you, for anything.

Quilt? Please! Maybe this is the answer to "Why did this happen?" To protect and save your sisters, our children and grandchildren. Anyway, no need for quilt. So silly.

xo Liza

Kelley said...

Hmmm, clearly not the news anyone wanted to hear. You know what to do...kick that cancer in the A$$. I know it must be hard to summon the strength to fight, but you have it in you and we're all behind you. xoxo

Jess said...

Oh dear, the news sucks. You're an amazing fighter, Tracy, and you're gonna' keep on fighting this and you're gonna' keep on enjoying your life. Here's to the next motorcycle ride across another country!

Anonymous said...

Um, need to make a quick correction. Loser speller that I am spelled "guilt" incorrectly.....twice.

Where's the spell check on this damn thing?


Anonymous said...

And I'm quoting you here..."It's all part of my strategic approach to living with my disease. I call it Distraction and Denial. (Sounds a bit like it could be a George Bush strategy, doesn't it?)" I'd underscore the word living, but I don't know how to do it in this dang space! And frankly, we all know what I think about the George Bush strategy, so don't go there!
Okay, so the news sucks, but I've seen this/your family in action. If anyone can "shake the heavens" we can. Besides, now that we know it's not the red wine...........L'Y,AJ

Anonymous said...

Guilt has no place here.. so let it go... I hope you continue to fight the good fight and that you Succeed beyond sucess.. that they use you as one of their number one top sucesses stories on Good Morning America! Keep the faith and keep keeping on!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about the bad news. Just think, if you come into work at 3, you will still get more done than many of my co-workers. Hang in there.

Sara (jennamom46) said...

Not the news any of us wanted to hear. You keep on fighting this, we've got your back.

(And listen to your sisters. Dump the guilt. It is what it is. And it isn't your fault.)

suzanne said...

Tracy dear, as a recovering Catholic I can say with authority to ditch the guilt!

I wish that for one day I could offer you a chance to go indulge yourself while I sat through the mind-numbing, hours long chemo process on your behalf.

Anonymous said...

Tracy -
I have been thinking about you. I hope that you gave your mind a break this weekend. Happy mother's day.

Susan (sue615)

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I like people who feel guilt- separates the good ones from the not-so-good ones. You're one of the good ones- just don't be too good...

Anonymous said...

I know you will keep on fighting, Tracy. I'm sure it's exhausting and overwhelming and plain old SUCKY to continue the fight...but it's infinitely better than not having the opportunity to fight at all. Just keep thinking about that Chicken Dance you've got scheduled, right?

I understand the guilt but I agree, you must let it go. Redirect that energy toward kicking the cancer's A$$.

Tara (birdie tk)