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...