Leanne, Ryland, Kaitlin, Jeff & Maryn

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Lusk family will be one person bigger!

Hello Family & Friends:

Sorry for not updating you sooner...we've been a bit busy around the house and have had a couple visitors! My mom came out for a couple wks to spend some time with us & help out with Maryn - what a big help she was!!! My best friend from Boise, Heather, also came to visit for a little under a wk, and we had a really nice time - got a little shopping done for the holidays (and for us!), and had a bit of mommy relaxation time up in Napa Valley as well. Jeff's parents will be also coming to stay with us as I begin my first round of chemo, and will stay for a couple wks to help out.

I have some big news to share with everyone...we have been keeping it fairly quiet until now, but I'm pregnant! The surgeon called us a couple days before the mastectomy to let me know that my blood work came back positive, and by best guess I was JUST pregnant. We were amazed, especially since we had a bit of a tough time conceiving Maryn, and weren't going to start trying again until Maryn turns 1 in January. It was a bit scary at first, but after a lot of research on our part, as well as the doctors', it appears that everything will be just fine. I will continue with my chemo treatment as planned, and the regimen my Oncologist (and the Tumor Board) have chosen is completely safe in pregnancy...the risks are pre-term labor and low birth weight. Since Maryn was only 4 lbs 5 oz when she was born (unexplained low birth weight), the Maternal Fetal Specialist (MFM) & OB will be following the growth throughout the pregnancy to ensure everything is on track with this baby. The doctors would like to see me get to as late in the term as possible, looking at 38-40 wks for delivery.

The pregnancy is the best news we've received throughout all of this. Our biggest concern upon finding out the diagnosis was whether or not I would be able to have children anymore. I was worried that I would be sterile as a result of the chemo, and was looking into possibly doing an egg retrieval and trying to freeze embryos prior to starting chemo (upwards of $12k!!). Come to find out, we didn't need to look much further! What a blessing. We found a MFM in New Jersey (Cooper Univ) who specializes in cancer patients who are pregnant and undergoing chemo, and she has joined our team of doctors...she is the #1 specialist in the US, and has been recommended by the Stanford Breast Cancer Center. She told me that being pregnant throughout my chemo may actually prevent me from becoming sterile, since my ovaries are in a "hibernation" mode throughout the pregnancy and will be much less affected by the chemo. So not only do we get to have another baby (yippee!), but this little miracle may save my ability for more children in the future if we chose to have another. I am currently 12 1/2 wks pregnant, and we had an ultrasound on Wed to look at risks for birth defects - so far, so good! The next big ultrasound is Jan 2nd, and that's when we hopefully will find out if Maryn is having a little brother or sister, who, by the way, is due on June 5th.

The other news is that the chemo start date is moved back a little over a week, so I will now be starting on Dec 6th. The dosage has changed slightly as well - I will be on a 28-day cycle for a total of 6 rounds (6 months). I will take one of the meds (Cytoxin) orally for 14 days, and will go in for IV bags of the two other drugs (Adriamyacin & 5FU) on days 1 & 8. This type of cycle should reduce the overall side effects of the chemo, although it sounds as though I will likely lose my hair within a couple wks of starting the meds. With the current chemo sked, it would bring me to 39 wks of pregnancy. From everything I've read so far, doctors don't recommend chemo administration past 35wks, so the mom has time to rebound prior to delivery. Since it's still pretty far down the road, we'll talk about that when we get closer. I should then find out if I'll do a catch-up round of the CAF regimen, whether or not I'll also need 8-12 wks of Taxol, etc.

SO, that's the news from our household. Lots going on!!! I've been pretty tired, but who knows if that's caused by the pregnancy, Maryn (who still wakes up 1 to 3 times/night...ugh!), or life itself. Maryn took her first steps (last wk) and Jeff and I are celebrating our 3rd anniversary this week.

I also wanted to thank everybody for the amazing support you've given so far. I feel so fortunate to have such amazing family and friends as I continue my journey to recovery. With all of you behind me, this isn't difficult to go through.

Happy Holidays!!!
Leanne (Jeff & Maryn)