Leanne, Ryland, Kaitlin, Jeff & Maryn

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I am done with radiation!

Yesterday was my 28th radiation treatment, and I am now finished. The Radiation Oncologist decided that I didn't need the extra five day boost along the scar because I had clear margins after the mastectomy! I ended up with a pretty nasty radiation burn, as you can see in the picture to the left. The area underneath my armpit opened up about a week ago, and I have been putting a dressing over the top of it that is used on burn victims, called FlexiGel. The Radiation Oncologist says that my skin will turn around over the next 5-7 days, and start healing a bit better. Now that I have finished with the radiation, I should start getting more energy back and the tenderness should start to go away over the next 2-3 weeks.

It is so nice to have that chapter of my cancer fight behind me! I sat down with my Oncologist yesterday to discuss the next step with treatment. I will be put on either Tamoxafin (pre-menopausal) or Aromatase Inhibitors (post-menopausal) for five years. Right now, my hormone levels are still very low from the Taxol, so I am technically in menopause. We went over the side effects of each drug, and based on those, I have decided to have my ovaries removed. The possible side effects of Tamoxafin include Uterine Cancer, and after 15 months of having cancer rule my life, I'd like to choose an option that doesn't involve cancer. For the Aromatase Inhibitors, the side effects include mild joint discomfort and bone density loss. I will be in menopause, so all of those symptoms will remain with me as well. After our appointment, I spoke with my OB/Gyn and he was able to schedule an oophorectomy for me this coming Sunday. It will be done laparoscopically and is an out-patient procedure, so I should be home late Sunday morning if all goes as scheduled.

I went back to work when I started radiation, so as you can imagine, life has been pretty busy for us. We have gotten into a routine of dropping the kids off at daycare, working, picking them up, going to radiation, making dinner, doing nighttime baths, putting the kids to bed, and finally getting ourselves into bed. It seems there is not a lot of time for ourselves these days. BUT, we are enjoying it, and I am so happy that I have been able to return to a somewhat normal life after the chemo as well. As always, my office has been completely supportive of my work schedule, allowing me tons of flexibility if I feel tired and can't make it in. I am so fortunate!

The kids are doing very well...getting big. Maryn is practicing being two, and has transitioned into a toddler bed. Ryland is about ready to crawl, and currently does 360's on the floor and commando crawls with his arms. Jeff's parents were in town to visit last week, and the kids just adored them! We are looking forward to having them back for Christmas, as well as having Kaitlin, Jeff's brother and his daughter in town. I have started Christmas shopping a little bit, but I have a feeling I won't be done yet by the time Christmas gets here. =)

Happy Holidays! We hope this post finds you happy and healthy!
Leanne, Jeff, Maryn & Ryland

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We're back...and onto radiation!

We took full advantage of my break between chemo and radiation and made a mad dash to Idaho to be with our family. It was a wonderful and eventful two weeks, and as usual, passed by way too quickly. The kids were both pretty good on the 12 hour drive each way, although Jeff and I got a little tired of hearing "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy" 1000 times in the car. I think I would rather hear "are we there yet?"

We got back last week, just in time to do all of the preparations for radiation. I went in last Monday to do the dry run for treatment to ensure that everything the Radiation Oncologist planned for my treatment was in alignment with the x-ray and CT scan. I started radiation on Tuesday and was pleasantly surprised by how quick actual treatment is!

I go into the Radiation Oncology Department at the hospital, check into the front desk to get queued in the system, then change into a gown for the top only. If the techs are running on schedule, I'm only in the waiting room for a moment. Once it's my turn, I walk back into the radiation room, verify that I am me, then lay down on the radiation table. The techs line me up with the machine (using the three dot tattoos they put on my chest). Once I'm lined up, they leave the room and I get zapped for a few minutes while holding very still. The radiation machine moves around me as I lay on the bed, and after it's over, I am done. On Tuesdays I meet with my Radiation Oncologist to discuss how I am feeling and the following week's radiation plan. For the first three weeks of radiation, I shouldn't feel any different. Weeks four and five, I may start to feel more tired and may get a sunburned affect on my chest as well.

Today would have been treatment #7, but the machine went down this afternoon. They are expecting it to be fixed, and then I'll go in tomorrow as planned, and tack the extra day of radiation on at the end of treatment. So, I got Halloween night off! We had a neighborhood Halloween party at the end of the street and hung out with the neighbors. Maryn did get to trick-or-treat on the way back up the street and found it pretty exciting that she got to go door-to-door asking for candy. She dressed up as a fairy and Ryland was a little chicky. We let Maryn break into a couple pieces of candy before bath and bed tonight, so she was able to stay up a little later than usual. I'm sure we'll pay for it tomorrow, but it was well worth it.

Happy Halloween!
Leanne, Jeff, Maryn and Ryland

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The last couple weeks...

Once again, time has gotten away from me! It has been a couple weeks since I last updated everyone, and so much has happened. I completed my last round of chemo on Wed, September 26th! It feels so good to have that chapter of my life complete, and to be moving onto the next step in treatment...talk about light at the end of the tunnel. I also celebrated my one year anniversary of the right mastectomy on October 3rd. I remember sitting in my hospital room after the mastectomy last year, at five weeks pregnant, hoping that my little baby would make it through the tumultuous remaining six months of my pregnancy with the start of chemo on the horizon. Now I have two amazing children - and still can't believe that Ryland made it through the anesthesia of the mastectomy and five months of chemo while I was pregnant with him.

Things continue to be busy around the Lusk household...Maryn has amazing energy that I wish I could bottle. She is starting to be more aware of her actions, and as a result, we don't have to watch her every move as closely. Ryland is cooing, smiling and laughing - he is a blessing, and is such an easy baby. I think he is the perfect compliment to Maryn's mischieviousness. Ryland rolled over from his back to his tummy today - something he has been trying to do for weeks. He has gotten almost all the way over, but couldn't figure out how to get his arm out of the way to get to his tummy. That, and he would roll over enough to see the tv, and would get sidetracked with trying to watch the television.

We found child care for Ryland during the daytime, while we continue to be on the waiting list for Maryn's daycare in the infant room - it shouldn't be too much longer until we can get him in, but we were a bit worried about finding affordable infant care in the meantime. Maryn's daycare had a book fair last week, which I was in charge of coordinating. Jeff and I did a lot of juggling with the kiddos in the afternoons so I could be at the book fair, but we made it work. Last week was also a rough week - we all came down with varying forms of a cold. Ryland started with a dry cough, then Maryn woke up on Thursday morning with a fever that lasted three days. We made two trips to the pediatrician with both of the kids, and Jeff and I have been fighting something off since the beginning of last week as well. My blood counts were low the previous week (hemoglobin was at 10.4 and white counts were at 1.2), so I had procrit and neupogen shots to try to boost my immune system. If it wasn't for them, I don't know that I would've seen the upward slope of this cold...and I've been feeling kind of sick for almost 10 days now.

The insomnia and neuropathy continue. I am having a really hard time with the insomnia - especially given the fact that both of the kids wake up by 7:30am each day, and I normally can't fall asleep until somewhere between 1am and 3am, and that's with some type of sleep aid. I don't know if my body is too used to them now or what, but I know that I could really use a full night of sleep! The worst part is that Ryland sleeps through the night, so I should be taking advantage of it and should be getting some rest. The neuropathy has a lot to do with it...even though I feel varying levels of numbness in my hands and feet every day, the nights seem to be when it bothers me the most. I've gotten used to the feeling of having decreased sensitivity to touch, and have adapted...at first, typing became more difficult because I couldn't feel the keys as easily, and my fingers seemed to stumble a lot. I just type slower now, and it seems to work better. Lately, I have also been getting a sensation on my right hand on the knuckles, like I am being stung by a bee. I'm not sure if it's the nerves being overloaded, or maybe repairing, but it makes me look at my hand every time. The neuropathy in my feet still takes some getting used to. Shoes don't feel like they fit right, but I really like having tight fitting socks on...I don't know why, but it feels more comfortable.

I start radiation in a little less than two weeks, and am hoping to get back to more of a normal life. My mom will be visiting for the first week to help out with the kids, while Jeff has a business trip planned for the middle of the week. My first week of radiation is jam-packed with doctor's appointments, and a Herceptin infusion, but I am hoping to start going back to work the last week of October. My plan right now is to go in for a normal work day, but to have radiation in the late afternoon, so I can leave work a little early. Tuesdays I'll have an appointment with the Radiation Oncologist as well, and every three weeks, I'll have an appointment for bloodwork on Tuesdays, and my Herceptin infusions on Wednesdays. By my rough calculations, I should be done with radiation around the middle of December though.

I will try to be better about updating over the next couple weeks. We are taking it easy and are enjoying my appointment free weeks in the meantime. We hope this finds you happy and healthy!

Leanne, Jeff, Maryn and Ryland

Sunday, September 23, 2007

We did it!! SF Komen Race for the Cure was today...

and boy did we have a blast! Team Save the Ta-Ta's had a great time walking the 5k, and the weather was gorgeous along the San Francisco waterfront. We walked from Pier 1 (Ferry Building) to SBC Park, around McCovey Cove, and back to the Ferry Building. Maryn and Ryland did very well - although, Maryn only lasted about 15 minutes in the stroller with Ryland, then decided she needed to get out and walk with us...which really meant that Jeff and I switched off with carrying her (Jen & Jess helped too). She did end up walking at least 1/4 mile though, which is huge for her little legs.

The biggest realization for me was how many people are affected by breast cancer! I was amazed at how many people were out there to support breast cancer research and raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Can you believe that our team has raised over $7700 to date? AND, we can still raise money until November 1st! Our family is definitely doing this event again next year. =)

I also saw the Radiation Oncologist on Friday. It was a great appointment, and nice to find out what the next couple months hold for me. I will have about four weeks between the end of chemo and the beginning of radiation to get my blood levels back to normal...this will have me starting radiation the week of October 22nd. I go in next Thursday for a CT simulation, then should go in around Oct 22nd for an x-ray to make sure the Radiation Oncologist has arranged to scan the correct area (based on the CT simulation). If that all works out, I should begin radiation on Oct 23rd. So far, it looks like I will have 28 days (weekdays only) of radiation to my right breast region and axilla, then an additional five days of radiation only along the mastectomy scar. If all goes as planned, I should be done with radiation around Dec 11th! In the meantime, I will be going in for my Herceptin infusions every three weeks as well.

The Radiation Oncologist told me to expect each appointment to take approx 30 minutes each day - time to get in and get changed, about 10-15 mins of actual radiation time, then time to get dressed again. On Tuesday of each week, I will also see him for follow up on how my chest wall is doing with the radiation (tissue damage, redness, irritation, etc), and to make sure I'm not coming down with any signs of scarring on my right lung (dry coughing, and worst case, developing actual pneumonia from the reaction to the scar tissue). I guess the scarring on the surface of the lung is normal, but they want to follow how your body reacts to the scar tissue. If it gets bad, then I'll get more steroids to help my body recover. Hopefully, we won't have to go there.

Other than that, not a lot going on. We had a great weekend and really enjoyed participating in the Race for the Cure. Thank you to EVERYONE who sponsored our family and Team Save the Ta-Ta's!!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I got the biopsy results back...the third lesion in my left breast is benign - just another fibroadenoma! The Radiologist told me that once a lesion is determined to be a fibroadenoma, they don't change to become cancerous, but can grow. A women with fibroadenomas is followed much more often - every 3-6 months, vice the annual mammogram appointments, to watch the amount of growth taking place in the lesion. BUT, the great news is that I don't have to schedule an extra surgery right now, and can think about the 2nd mastectomy later. I will most likely have it approximately a year from now, so I can include breast reconstruction if I choose to do so.

Today is Tuesday, which meant another blood work day. My white count is back up to normal, thanks to the Neupogen, and I'm still slightly anemic with my hemoglobin hanging at 11.2. No shots this week, and I'm all set to go for #11 tomorrow. Wow - #11! This means that I have ONLY 8 days left of chemo...I can't believe it. After a total of almost 8 months of combined chemo, and 10 months of being in the chemo phase of treatment, I am almost done.

My appointment with my Onc went great today. We had a long talk today about the plan from here...once I finish with chemo, I'll continue the Herceptin every three weeks for 40 wks and will add in some type of hormone suppressor. It'll either be Tamoxifin or Aromatose for five yrs...Tamoxifin is for pre-menopausal and Aromatase inhibitors are for post-menopausal women. My Onc said that Aromatase Inhibitors are the better of the two, and there are ongoing clinical studies being done right now between the two drugs (she suggested that I did not do the clinical study because the treatment plan would be picked at random between three possible treatments). The kicker is that I would either have to take an additional drug to suppress my ovaries and put me into menopause (if I don't stay in a menopausal state), or have them removed. Bone density issues would happen regardless of my choice of treatment, so I will be followed with bone density scans and possible medications to keep my bone density as strong as possible.

I'm still leaning towards the oofrectomy, since I don't need them (or the stinkin' periods!!) anymore. Any additional children Jeff and I have will be by adoption regardless. AND, they can do my oofrectomy & mastectomy at the same time, which is a definite plus! So, that is what I'm leaning towards, although I have plenty of time to think about it. I will have to either be on tamoxifin or the ovary suppressor until that time, then will have the Aromatase inhibitor for an additional five years. I will also be going in every three weeks until July 2008 to receive my Herceptin infusions, which will last approximately 90 minutes.

I meet with the Radiation Oncologist again this Friday (my one year anniversary of D-Day!) to discuss my radiation plan. I'll post after we meet to update you all with that. Until then, I'm on the 8-day chemo countdown!

The Komen San Francisco Race for the Cure is this coming Sunday! We have raised over $3000, and Team Save The Ta-Ta's has raised over $6200...can you believe it? We are looking forward to doing the 5k walk along the beautiful San Francisco waterfront! If you are interested in checking us out, here's the link to our family race page:


We hope you are having a great week!

Leanne, Jeff, Maryn and Ryland

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A typical chemo day...

We can't believe it...tomorrow will be Taxol #10, with only two weeks left of chemo after that! Time is sure flying by...it seems like just a couple weeks ago, I was getting myself mentally ready to begin the second portion of chemo, with 12 weeks of Taxol + Herceptin.

A few people have asked me what going in for chemo is like, so I thought I'd take you through a day in chemo (well, two days, really). I go in each Tues to meet with my Onc or Nurse Onc Practitioner (on alternating weeks) and to get my blood work done (CBC - just done through a finger stick), to make sure my red and white cell counts and platelet levels are doing well. We talk about the side effects I'm feeling, and they do a short physical exam to make sure everything looks and sounds normal. When I get the thumb's up for treatment on the following day, that wraps up the appointment.

On Wed, we go into the Chemo Suite at the back of the Oncologist's office and pick a recliner to sit in for my 2 1/2 hour adventure. I get my blood pressure and temperature taken, then I get two Tylenol prior to receiving treatment for the Taxol. As Jeff and I get comfortable, one of the nurses brings her rolling cart over to start my IV line. I have the port-a-cath in my chest (the VAP was surgically placed under the skin when I had the mastectomy), so they access my port with a hooked needle that kind of looks like a butterfly. The needle pokes through my skin and into the catheter, which leads into my heart. Once the line is established and the nurse detects blood flow, I get to start one of the five IV bags for the day.

First, I get hooked up to a bag of saline solution that runs throughout the treatment in between the other bags of medications. The second bag is Kytril (for nausea) and the steroid, Decadron (used to counter allergic reactions to the Taxol), and takes about 20 mins for the infusion. My next bag is Benadryl (used to counter allergic reactions to the Taxol)and Tagament (for heartburn/stomach lining issues), and this usually takes another 30 mins. The fourth bag is the Herceptin (for Her2-neu receptor positive cancer), which takes about 30 mins, and the final bag is the Taxol (chemotherapy drug), which takes about 40 mins for the infusion. Once I've completed all of the bags of meds, the nurse comes back over, flushes the catheter, runs a clear gel into the port, then removes the IV access needle.

For the last few treatments, I have borrowed one of the office personal DVD players and have watched a movie during treatment. I start the movie after my port is accessed, and Jeff makes his way over to the candy basket to see what kind of goodies are in there for us to munch on. I'm normally pretty comfortable until the Decadron and Benadryl infusion, when I start to get cold (and a bit sleepy). Jeff runs to the blanket heater and pulls out a couple warm blankets for me to get cozy with. Sometimes I take a short snooze after the Benadryl, but I can usually push through the wave of drowsiness. Once I get to the Taxol bag, I start to get warm and have to shed all of the blankets...must be the hormone issues with the Taxol??

Once the access needle is out, we head to the daycare to pick up the kiddos. After receiving treatment, I'm pretty tired until about 7pm, then I seem to perk up a bit. I definitely get a boost of energy in the evenings of chemo, just as I should be winding down for bed. The insomnia was pretty bad in the beginning, but seems to be a bit better. I think the chemo is wearing on me, making me pretty tired overall. I also have become better at managing the medications to counter the side effects of the chemo.

My medicine cabinet is ridiculous though! I think I'm going to have to go through drug rehab, once this is all said and done. I think I have pills for everything, literally A to Z...

Ambien - for insomnia, although it hasn't worked as well for me lately
Ativan - (my current fav) for insomnia, nausea, and anxiety...it makes me not care so much that my hands and feet are numb
Prevacid - for indigestion
Reglan - for nausea (this one has worked the best for me lately)
Zantac - for heart burn that doesn't seem to go away
Zofran - for nausea
Zyrtec - for seasonal allergies and to counter the side effects of the Neupogen shots

This week, my whites are low again, so I will be having Neupogen shots on Thurs, Fri & Sat to make my bone marrow produce more white cells. The shots aren't too bad - I choose to get them in the arm, although most people like them in the belly. I've always had shots in the arm, so it seems like a better place for me.

Other than that, this week is a normal week. My hands and feet still have varying degrees of numbness each day (Taxol side effect), although my fingertips are constantly feeling like I have a 1/2 inch callus at the end of my fingers. This week, it has started to feel like I have bruises in my fingernails - I have a dull ache in my nails when I pinch or put two fingers together. The nausea hasn't been as bad this week (although it never gets really bad - more just an underlying feeling of nausea), and I have had more of an appetite overall. I am waking several times throughout the night due to hot flashes - poor Jeff has to put up with me pulling the covers on, then kicking them off an hour later, and tossing and turning, trying to get back to sleep. I've been pretty tired as well, but considering that I have two babies under two running around the house, I feel pretty good. I seem to have enough energy to do one big thing each day, whether that's going to the daycare to pick up Maryn or heading out to the grocery store. I'm hoping that my energy levels pick up as I move into the next chapter of my breast cancer battle - radiation.

I thought I would attach a picture of Maryn in her tutu and fairy wings, and a pic of Ryland that I took today, so you can see how big they are getting. Can you believe that Ryland will be four months old next week!?!

The SF Komen Race for the Cure is just around the corner on May 23rd, and Team Save the Ta-Ta's has done a great job at raising almost $3000 so far!

I hope this finds you healthy and happy!


Thursday, September 6, 2007

I have a biopsy scheduled for the new lesion!

My referrals went through pretty quickly - thanks to Vicky at my Onc's office and Alan, our favorite health insurance guy (how often do you hear those four words in the same sentence!?!). I called the Women's Health Center to schedule my biopsy, and it is set for Friday, Sept 14th. We'll be doing a core biopsy, but I have to go to the hospital this time.

We were joking about how we are in a weird de ja vus, or some morbid version of Groundhog Day. At this EXACT same time last year, I had my first biopsy of the palpable lesion done (a mammotome biopsy - slightly larger procedure)...and was living in the innocence of not knowing that I had cancer. Our D-Day (diagnosis day) anniversary is Sept 21st - I can't believe it will have been a year in a couple weeks!

Despite being diagnosed with cancer, living at doctors' offices in the first weeks after diagnosis, finding out that I was pregnant just days later, enjoying every minute of my last pregnancy (although Jeff would take this opportunity to remind me that I was tired and miserable towards the end), five months of chemo while pregnant, the birth of our miracle son and transition to a family of four, and two more months of chemo, this year has FLOWN by. What an emotional roller coaster!

I say this often, but I am so blessed to have such a wonderful support network. I feel really fortunate! I have amazing family and friends who are here at a moment's notice, and are available at all hours of the day. I have an incredible work situation, with bosses that are 110% supportive of my treatment process, absence from work, and allow me to focus on getting healthy! Throughout this entire year, I have had an incredible team of doctors and experts involved in my case, and trust my doctors hands-down. I am fortunate to have great health insurance, where every aspect of this very expensive medical year has been taken care of. Really, I feel as if I'm one of the luckiest people in the world. I know I'm loved and supported...who can ask for more?

Regardless of the outcome of this biopsy, I am comfortable. With all of you here by my side, both physically and virtually, passing your love, prayers, and positive & healing energy in our family's direction, I WILL WIN THIS FIGHT!!!

With Love,

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mammogram update....

We're still in waiting mode for a biopsy, but I saw my Onc and the surgeon today. I also got a copy of the transcription from the mammogram and ultrasound - the new mass is 6mm, and was unremarkable on the mammogram. The PET/CT scan I did in June can detect masses larger than 8mm, so it is possible that this mass wasn't detected. Both my Onc and the surgeon thought it was highly unlikely that the new mass would be malignant, but given my history, it needs to be biopsied. I also know that from the start, my case has been non-textbook, so I agree that we should be on top of any new findings.

The surgeon took a look at it on ultrasound, but he wasn't able to clearly see which mass is the new mass on his ultrasound machine, so I am awaiting a referral approval back to the Women's Health Center for the biopsy. It'll probably be a couple days before that goes through, then I'll call to schedule the biopsy.

Regardless of the biopsy results, I am completely fine with the new information. I am so lucky to have a great team of doctors across the board, and am thankful that I have the insurance coverage to be a proactive patient and can choose the most aggressive treatment possible. I plan to have the second mastectomy anyway, so if the new lesion turns out to be malignant, then it'll just happen sooner than I had planned. The only thing that will be put off is reconstruction - and I have plenty of time to decide if & when I want to do that...it's just another major surgery!

In the meantime, I go in for chemo #9 tomorrow! Sounds like a lunch order combination at a Chinese restaurant. =) My bloodwork was great this week, which was a surprise. I've been alternating weeks for low white counts since the beginning of this type of chemo, and this would've been a normal week for my Neupogen shots. My red counts are starting to lower, but not enough according to the new American Heart Association standards to receive a Procrit shot for a boost (below 10.0, and mine are at 11.2).

In other news, we (along with Team Save the Ta-Ta's) have raised an enormous amount for the Race for the Cure - a huge thank you to those who have donated!! We are so excited to get out there on Sept 23rd, and would LOVE to have you join us if you'll be in the SF Bay Area. Anybody can register for our team...you don't have to know us, and don't have to walk with us (if you want to pretend you don't know us). LOL! Seriously, it's for a great cause, and I can't think of a better way to spread awareness...I can't wait to see the kids in their Save the Ta-Ta's t-shirts/onesie. We will definitely be posting pictures of that day!

I hope this post finds you healthy and happy! As soon as we know more on the biopsy front, I'll let you know.

Leanne, Jeff, Maryn & Ryland

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

San Francisco Race for the Cure: Team Save the Ta-Ta's

We are official - Team Save the Ta-Ta's! Our team # is 4620.

Here's the registration info - thanks to Jess!

To register go to: http://race.sfkomen.org/site/TR/Race/General/1202589984?pg=team&fr_id=1010&team_id=4620&JServSessionIdr006=f7w0gbb3a3.app6a

After you get there, you'll see a lovely picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, some random tall ship, and a Coast Guard boat. You'll then see our roster and a link that says "Join Team" Click that link and follow all the instructions to register.
Then SHAZAM! You're done and one more member of our motley team.

To check out our family page for the Race for the Cure, go to:

Also, check out www.savethetatas.com for super sweet race worthy merchandise. Well, and really it's more life worthy merchandise.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mixed news from Mammogram & Ultrasound today...

Got some mixed news on my mammogram and ultrasound today. This is the first one I've had since last year on my left side, and first screening other than June's PET/CT scan. As of last year, I had 2 lesions on my left side (one was fibrous tissue, the other was a definite fibroadenoma) that both came back non-cancerous from the biopsies. Today, they found a third lesion on my left side through ultrasound, and are recommending another biopsy be done & a breast MRI to further diagnose the tissue. Since I had a clear PET scan, I'm not totally worried about this (the PET scan can detect masses larger than 8mm, and my cancerous masses last year were both 3-4cm), but I didn't expect for another one to be formed this quickly and given the seven months of chemo I've done so far, so it was a bit of a surprise. The Radiologist wants to be very thorough given my history, so I know this is just precautionary.

I left a msg w/my Onc today (she was at her other office) and have to call the surgeon tomorrow to sked a biopsy & MRI. Thought I'd keep you guys posted....I didn't have the double mastectomy last year because I wanted to try breast feeding my little miracle boy, but this really makes me wish that I had done it all at once! At least then I wouldn't have had to worry about possibly developing cancer on the other side too this early in the game. I guess the good news is that if they do detect cancer, I should be able to have the left mastectomy done before I start radiation, then just treat both sides at the same time...and all of my treatment would still end up at about the same time (I think, unless I'd have to do more chemo). The tech & radiologist also looked at my mastectomy sight (right side) through ultrasound and said everything looked perfect on that side!

Good news too - I had an echocardiogram this afternoon, and that came back unchanged from my baseline echo, so the Herceptin isn't doing anything adverse to my heart. It's performing at 68-70% and at my age, they want to see it above 55%.

Keep your fingers crossed for good news for me! Seriously, they can't cut this other boob off fast enough, so I can finally stop worrying! I'll keep you posted as I find out more...


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

San Francisco Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure....Sept 23rd - mark your calendars!

Hi Everyone - We are working on putting together a team for the San Francisco Race For the Cure, which will be Sunday, Sept. 23rd this year. This will be the Sunday before my very last Chemotherapy treatment!!! Woohoo - definitely a reason to celebrate.

Jeff, Maryn, Ryland & I will be doing the 5k walk, and would love to have as many people out to participate as possible! The event, even though called a "race," is an opportunity to get folks together to raise money for Breast Cancer research. For more information on the event, please visit the website:


Registration is $30 by Sept 13th. There is a 5k walk/run and a 1 mile walk, which are non-timed. There is also a timed 5k for $35 if you are interested. You can be a part of our team (to be named), and participate in any of the above events.

If you are interested in registering as a team member, check back here after Sept 4th for Team Registration information (team name & #). To receive the race packet in the mail, you'll need to be registered by Sept 13th though.

We'll be sporting some pink (can't wait to see Jeff in pink - I never thought I'd utter those words!!), and I'll have my near-bald head covered with a nice pink hat! I'm sure it will be yet another gorgeous, although possibly chilly, morning along the San Francisco City waterfront. We'd love to see you there!

Leanne, Jeff, Maryn & Ryland

Thursday, August 23, 2007

On the downhill side of chemo!

Wow...Round 7 of 12 completed, and finally over the hump!

My blood work this week wasn't the greatest, but that is to be expected. This means the chemo is working! My red cells are coming down & my white count was down to 2.0 (they won't treat me if it goes below 1.0). I will receive Neupogen shots again on Thurs, Fri & Sat to boost the whites in preparation for next week's chemo round. If my red count continues to drop like it has been, I will likely need a Procrit shot next week as well.

The side effects continue to become a little stronger with each week. I woke up in the middle of the night last week with both of my arms buzzing, as if they were falling asleep. It was making me crazy...I was shaking them, trying to "wake them up," and accidentally woke Jeff up instead. Then I remembered that my Ativan prescription is for nausea, insomnia and anxiety! Since it was the middle of the night and I could definitely use sleep and my arms were making me crazy, I took one. It worked! I was able to fall back asleep, and stopped worrying about my arms. I've had numbness and tingling in all of my extremities at one point or another. One day, my right leg was numb from my knee to my toes, the next day, it was my left foot. My arms vary throughout the day, but I feel it pretty often in my fingertips and hands. I've also had tons of bloody noses this week, probably chalking up to a two-a-day average.

I have been pretty tired again, but I have been taking the Ativan every night at bedtime. Maryn is better with her sleep (Thank GOD!), but has still been waking at least once a night. I like the Ativan because I can still wake up to the kiddos, whereas with Ambien (the sleeping pill), I'm down for the count. It's some great sleep, don't get me wrong, but it scares me a little bit to not be able to hear the kids...the mommy in me will never escape! Last night, Maryn woke up seven times between 3:30am and 4:45am. Ugh! Over the last couple weeks, her vocabulary has completely taken off, so I'm hoping this is just a phase she's going through as she gets comfortable with her new words. She loves to sing & dance, and has been saying 3-4 word sentences pretty regularly now. It's amazing.

My appetite has been in a crazy state of fluctuation. I'm nauseous a lot, and as a result am not hungry. BUT, I could be nauseous because I'm not eating much. It really seems like a vicious cycle. Jeff thinks I need a babysitter in the house while he's gone to ensure I'm getting some meals in me...he's so sweet. He even calls me during the day to find out what I've eaten. Most days, I don't eat until the late afternoon - will have a bowl of cereal or something fairly light, then will be completely ravenous by dinner time. I can eat two full servings of dinner, an extra helping of cold fruit, and then will hit dessert. It's fair to say that I'm most likely getting my daily caloric intake, just over a 2-3 hour span in the evenings! =)

Other than that, there isn't much going on. Jeff's birthday is tomorrow, so we are going to celebrate! He's taking the day off work, and I'm going to let him sleep in. I'm taking Maryn into daycare, and have the neighbor coming over to watch Ryland. Jeff and I are going to see a movie together...alone! We haven't done this since seeing the 40-yr-old Virgin when I was pregnant with Maryn almost two years ago. It's amazing how much having kids changes your life. So, we will enjoy his 13th anniversary of his 29th birthday together. Then, it's off to the Oncologist's office in the afternoon for another Neupogen shot. I'll try to get Jeff to take a picture of my rapidly balding head for my next post.

Until then, have a great week! I hope this post finds you happy, healthy, and enjoying life!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'm half way done with Chemo!!!!

Insomnia Sucks! It's 11pm as I sit here typing, and I'm not tired yet. I haven't slept more than an hour at a time for the last 4 nights and should be wrecked right now...not because of insomnia, but because of Maryn! She has been sleeping through the night for about the last 5 months, but suddenly in the last week, has been sleeping horribly. However, over the last 4 nights she has been waking a minimum of 4-6 times a night, screaming & crying. Jeff and I have had a terrible time trying to get her calm enough to go back to sleep...not sure what is causing it. We've tried better lighting, leaving a sippy cup with milk or water in her crib, hoping that getting back into daycare this week would help to get expend some of her energy...nothing has worked. Ryland, by the way, has been sleeping through the night since he was 7 weeks old! Amazing...what a dream. If we weren't officially done having children, he would certainly make me want more children (although Jeff isn't fooled by his charm and prefers the 1-on-1 defense as opposed to the zone defense parenting tactics used with 3+ children).

So, tonight is night 5 of no sleep. You would think I would be exhausted, but I went in for treatment today...thus getting my kick start with the evil Decadron (if only I had known about this when I was at the Coast Guard Academy...it would have allowed me to function much better than No-Doze & Coffee! I just took half of a sleeping pill, hoping that will ease me into a sleepy state & I can finally get a good night's rest. My mind will race for the next 3-4 days, as if I'm on a 3-pot coffee buzz. Mornings are a bit rough, as that is the time that I am finally tired. BUT, I have never been great at taking daytime naps, and have trouble falling asleep when the sun is up.

My blood work was great this week - my friend, Neupogen, seems to be working wonders with my white blood cell counts. This week, my whites were 7.8 - so no shots on Thurs, Fri & Sat of this week. Woohoo!

I have started to experience a few more side effects over the last week. My feet are both starting to become numb...the right foot is worse than the left. On my right foot, from the 2nd toe to my pinky toe I feel mild numbness (Level 1 neuropathy), kind of like I just got done running a few miles downhill and my toes have gone to sleep from the constant beating at the end of my running shoes. The left foot is similar, but I have more normal sensations with this foot. I am still experiencing some of the heaviness & tingling in my shoulders and arms for a few hours after receiving the infusions, but they go away by the end of the evening. The bloody noses have also increased. Apparently, the Herceptin causes thinner membranes to be friable (bleed easily). Using a kleenex when blowing/wiping my nose (it's running because of allergies & a lack of nose hairs to catch the drips) has been been braking the membranes inside my nose, and will cause it to bleed for a few minutes at a time. I found that wiping my nose with baby wipes seems to be a little more gentle (note to self: put another case of those on the Costco shopping list!). I have been much more tired over the last week as well, but that's probably a combination of Maryn's rotten sleeping schedule and all of the drugs.

My hair is getting thinner & thinner as each day passes. I had a small rat's worth of hair piled up in the drain by the end of the shower, and now I definitely have the balding look. My 1 existing gray hair is holding on tight! I showed Jeff - I found my first gray hair shortly after Maryn was born, and Jeff pulled it, saying that he was getting rid of the evidence for me. What a good husband - but I worked hard for that gray hair. =) #2 gray is a tough hair...I'm wondering if my whole head will come back gray when my hair grows back for the 2nd time after being completely done with chemo. If so, I've certainly earned it!

We've had a lot of change over the last week in our house. My sister, Jamie, left on Saturday morning. She was fun to have around the house and was able to pitch in a bit. Jeff's parents were here until Monday morning, and returned to Idaho after having been here for 3 wks. They were wonderful to have in the house, and helped to get many projects completed. AND, last, but not least - Kaitlin flew home yesterday morning for the year. She is thinking about moving in with us for good next summer, and would get to experience high school in California (and Jeff's boot camp in our house). Luckily, we live in one of the top school districts in the state. If this happens, we would need to move into a bigger house to give her the privacy she needs as a teenager, and to keep our sanity with some additional space. However, our WONDERFULLY AMAZING landlords are open to the possibility of putting a room addition on our current house, which would meet all of our needs (including installing central air & heat and adding a 2-car-garage). That would be our perfect answer. Hopefully we'll narrow down our options in the next couple weeks and will find out if the addition to the house will come to fruition.

I think that's about the latest from our house. We are back to normal...Jeff, the kids, Baxter and I all hanging out and trying to get back into a routine. I hope this post finds you healthy & happy!

Leanne, Jeff, Kaitlin, Maryn, Ryland & Baxter

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Taxol + Herceptin: Round 5 of 12 complete...

It's been a couple weeks since I've last updated everyone on how I'm doing.

Our house has been a busy one! Kaitlin arrived on July 8th to visit us for the summer - we're so excited to have her here, and her sister & brother are really enjoying her company as well. My mom was here helping out for two weeks in July, and the day she left, Jeff's parents came in from Boise to help with the kiddos and around the house. My sister, Jamie, also flew in this week to meet her nephew and to see all of us. That's 6 adult-sized people, two babies, and a dog-boy in a 1300 sq ft house...yikes! BUT, we are all surviving and are enjoying each other's company.

Now for the medical update...Round 4 of chemo was pretty smooth. My white count rebounded with the help of the Neupogen shots (my new best friend!) and we decided to keep the dosage levels the same for the stinkin' steroids - Decadron. From my last post, you may remember that the evil Decadron gives me horrible insomnia and paranoia/anxiety. I also can't forget to mention the 3 lb (yes, that's three) weight gain I had this week from my buddy, Decadron. I AM SUPPOSED TO BE LOSING WEIGHT AFTER HAVING A BABY, not gaining it! However, I need the stinkin' steroids to minimize the effects of the Taxol, which is known to cause severe allergic reactions. Surprisingly, Round 4 resulted in about 4-5 hrs of numbness/tingling in my arms and 2 nights of insomnia...not bad. Especially with the help of my new friend, Ambien (hello, sleeping pills!).

This week was Round 5 of chemo. I went in on Tues for blood work, and my white counts are back down...this time, to an all-time low of 1.2. I can't be treated if they drop below 1.0, so I will also be receiving more Neupogen this week (a shot on Thurs, Fri, & Sat). The Oncologist & I decided to stay on the same poisonous cocktail: 5mg of the evil Decadron, Benadryl, Tagament, Herceptin, & Taxol. I have been feeling pretty nauseous lately, so we also added 1/2mg of Ativan to the mix (which, conveniently, makes me very sleepy). Surprisingly, I didn't have any numbness last night, but was the most tired I've been post-chemo. Usually, I come back to life around 7pm, but last night I was pretty drained the entire night.

I still had some nausea today - tried taking some Zofran this morning to cut it down a bit, and it seemed to do the trick. I have been pretty tired, but Maryn has been having a rough time with sleep lately, so that is adding to my sleeplessness.

How could I forget to mention - my hair is beginning to fall out again. This time much slower than with the CAF regimen. I first noticed it when tweezing some stray eyebrows about a week ago - there wasn't any resistance in pulling the hair out. SO, I'm absolutely NOT touching my eyebrows. Funny - all my life I've been annoyed with how full my eyebrows are, and how quickly the hair grows back after a waxing or tweezing. It wasn't until chemo, that I became thankful to inherit the "Bacon-brow"! The hair on my head is starting to fall out, but not in clumps like before. Just a few hairs here & there...thinning overall. I haven't decided if I'll go for a shave again once there are noticeable bald areas, or if I'll just go back to wearing a head scarf. AND, if I may complain for one moment - why the heck does the hair not fall out from where I want it to? I'd like to order up some missing leg & armpit hair, a nice bikini line (I know, TMI), and perhaps some missing facial hair. BUT NO! That one damn chin hair I have still remains. This just isn't fair! Ha ha ha!

On a similarly related note, I was thumbing through some old chemo paperwork last night and found my prescription for a cranial prosthesis...a funny name for a wig, don't you think? I can think of a few people I'd like to give this prescription to, although not in the context it's written for....lobotomy is more like it!

So, that's the latest in our crazy life. Jeff has been working throughout the weeks, but has been taking Wed's off to accompany me to chemo (usually a 3hr process from start to finish). He seems to be hanging in here pretty well. We all have some dark circles under our eyes, but even if cancer hadn't reared it's ugly head in our house, they'd still be there with two kiddos under two-years-old.

Hope this post finds you healthy & happy!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I am Cancer Free!!!!!

As you can see in my announcement section, I am cancer free! I had a PET/CT scan when Ryland was 3 weeks old, and got the results back that Friday. There is no detectable cancer anywhere in my body. Woo hoo!!!! I am still choosing to be very aggressive in my treatment, despite the good news.

I started the new chemotherapy regimen on July 11th. I will be doing 12 rounds of weekly treatment - Taxol and Herceptin on Wednesdays. I went in for my third infusion yesterday. So far, this new chemo has been interesting.

With the first infusion, I had insomnia for three days thanks to the steroid - Decadron. I tried to forgo the steroid in the 2nd treatment, but Taxol can cause severe allergic reactions, so it wasn't a good idea to completely cut out the steroid. I also experienced a lot of swelling due to the loading dose of Herceptin - Jeff said that I looked like a chipmunk on Thursday morning when I finally got out of bed.

With the second infusion, I took Ambien (sleeping pill) the night of treatment, and this seemed to help get me to sleep. On Thursday and Friday, however, I began to experience paranoia and the feeling that I couldn't keep still...almost like I drank two pots of coffee. I also noticed that my nose bled easily, and my throat started to bleed on Saturday morning. I wasn't too alarmed because the bleeding clotted easily, but I did mention it to the Oncologist. I started to feel a bit better on Saturday, but was pretty tired overall.

I went in on Tues of this week for blood work, and it turns out that my white blood cells are low - 1.4. Last week, they were at 4.2, and the Oncologist won't treat me if they dip below 1.0. In anticipation of the effects of this week's treatment, I opted for Neupogen shots after chemo. I also talked to the Oncologist about the paranoia and jitters, so she told me that we could try reducing the steroid to half the dosage I received in an effort to reduce the side effects.

I had my 3rd round of chemo yesterday. The infusion went well, and Jeff and I left after being at the office for about 3 hours. On our way home, I began feeling heaviness in my arms, almost like they were swelling up. I called the Onc's office when we got home, and she told me to take 25mg of Benadryl in case it was an allergic reaction to something. Since our ride home, I have had numbness/tingling in my arms, from my biceps to my fingertips. I start the Neupogen shots this afternoon (I have to go in for 3 days in a row to receive the shots), so the nurse is going to check me out. The Onc said that it's abnormal to experience this much neuropathy in the extremities (from the Taxol) this early on. I am also experiencing insomnia again...as I type this update at 4am while the ENTIRE house is sleeping. So much for the "sleep when the baby is sleeping" advice!

The side effects of the Neupogen are muscle and bone aches. Apparently, the degree of aching is reduced by taking Claritin, so that is my plan for this week. I'm just hoping that my white blood cell count increased enough to continue with treatment!

Once I finish the weekly Taxol and Herceptin combo in the end of September, I will go on a 2-4 week break to get my blood counts back up. Then, I FINALLY get to start radiation - over a year after the mastectomy. I haven't met with the Radiation Oncologist since our initial appointment last September, but his plan was to be aggressive in the radiation as well - with 8 weeks of daily radiation. Once I start radiation, I will switch to receiving Herceptin every three weeks until July 2008 as well & will start on the Tamoxifin (dosed for 5 years).

So, that's my update for now. Maryn and Ryland are growing like weeds...I can't believe Ryland is almost 10 weeks old! Boy, how time flies.

I hope this finds you well, and that I didn't forget anything!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ryland's Birth Story

I went in for a regular Non-Stress Test (NST) on Fri, May 18th. At the NST, Ryland's heart rate was consistently between 160-200bpm (should have been between 120-160bpm). I was having fairly regular contractions, although they were still far apart and of varying intensity. I had a large contraction, and Ryland's heart rate dropped, but after the contraction, rather than during.
After about an hour of observation, the nurse told me that the high heart rate can be indicative of fetal distress or possibly an infection, and the delayed drop in the heart rate after the contraction was indicative of low oxygenation. She sent the monitoring strip to my OB's office, and my OB decided that he wanted to do a CST (a stress test on the baby).

So, I walked over to labor & delivery for the CST. During this procedure, they induce you with pitocin to encourage frequent & strong contractions, and watch the baby's heart rate during the stress of the labor. Because this was another test, it also meant no epidural during the 2-3 hrs of contractions & observation. I wasn't thrilled about having to go through pitocin contractions for a few hours & called Jeff and my girlfriend, Stacey, to come in with me. If Ryland's heart rate responded well to the stress of the contractions, they would send me home. If his heart rate continued to dip, they would deliver him by c-section.

It turned out that my contractions were frequent & strong enough to monitor and that I didn't have to be "induced" for the observation period. Ryland's heart rate seemed to be doing better during the contractions, but was still between 160-200bpm. Given the fact that I had a previous IntraUterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) baby, was Group B Strep Positive, and had a fever of 101 degrees & felt crummy 2 days prior, the OB decided that I was going to be induced on Fri & was going to have the baby one way or another. Since I was already dilated 3cm & was 75% effaced, the OB figured that my induction would go well, as long as Ryland's heart rate stayed consistent.

Fri afternoon, the nurses started me on a light pitocin drip. Taking my cousin's advice (she's a doctor & had a previous pitocin induction), I asked early on for the epidural before they turned up the amount of pitocin I was receiving. I had to wait about an hour due to the anesthesiologist being in the OR for a c-section, but once I received the epidural, the nurses turned up the pitocin to bring on the stronger contractions. I was talking to Jeff and Stacey in the room when the nurse came in to look at my strip.

She told me that she was going to bring in a couple other people, and suddenly there were at least 10 people running into my room. They switched me laying from my back to my left side, then to my right side. After that happened, they turned me over and had me up on my hands & knees with my head down. Meanwhile, the nurse was moving the paddles all over my belly saying nothing. Before I knew it, I was being unplugged, my IV bag was hooked to the bed, and I was being wheeled away into the OR. Through the mass chaos, nobody said anything to me or Jeff. In the background, I heard one of the nurses say "we lost him." At that moment, my heart sank to the bottom of my stomach, thinking that something horrible had happened to my baby.

When we got into the OR, the anesthesiologist must have noticed the look of horror on my face, and started to calm me down. He told me that they found the heartbeat, but the heart rate was very low, so they were going to do a c-section & I would be holding my baby soon. He also told me that it was a good thing I got the epidural when I did, or I would've had to been put under general anesthesia for the surgery.

He numbed me up from my lower rib cage down, and the OB made the incision at 3:43pm...right after the incision was made, the nurses brought Jeff into the OR. Ryland Jeffrey was born 2 mins later after tons of tugging and pulling, at 3:45pm. They took him over to the warmer and it took a couple of minutes for the pediatrician to stimulate him, then he wouldn't stop crying. That was the best noise I heard all day! Jeff went over to look at him, while the OB sewed me up. They brought Ryland over so I could finally see my little guy & pointed out a birthmark on his little forehead. It was the most amazing thing to see him - I still get tears in my eyes just thinking about how scared I was, and how relieved I was that Ryland was perfect. His APGARs were 8 & 9, and he had tons of hair on his little head.

After the OB finished sewing me up, I went to recovery, while Jeff went to the NICU with Ryland for his first bath & for additional monitoring. He had fluid in his lungs and his oxygenation levels weren't stabilizing, so he ended up staying overnight in the NICU, but came to my room late the next morning. I stayed in the hospital until the following Tues...was given the option to go home on Mon, but the lactation consultants suggested I stay the extra day to work on Ryland's latch. My milk production was extremely low & he was having a difficult time keeping a good latch, so we stayed.

I am healing well now. I can't believe how painful the c-section recovery was for the first 5 days or so...honestly, I never really looked into the c-section procedures/recovery info that much. I guess I just figured that if it had to happen, it would...and it did. BUT, wow - I would've much rather had the vaginal delivery. Obviously that wasn't Ryland's plan though. He's amazing, and we are so in love! I can't imagine life without my two kiddos and feel so blessed that I've been able to experience motherhood for a second time.

Ryland Jeffrey's Stats:
Born May 18, 2007
5 lbs 12 oz
18" long

Sunday, May 6, 2007

May 6, 2007: Belated Update

Hi everyone...

I have to apologize for it being so long since I've last written! I keep putting it off to the next milestone, and it seems that there's always one around the corner, so I keep waiting. I am doing well - finished Round 5 of chemo about 3 wks ago, and am now on a break until 4-6 wks after the baby arrives. Woohoo!! Boy does it feel good to have a little break! I tolerated the first 5 rounds pretty well - very minor symptoms compared to what I read & imagined. I was even able to work 2-4 days/wk & have a pretty normal life chasing after a VERY active little girl.

We met with my Oncologist on Tues, and we have decided to forgo the final round (6th) of the CAF regimen due to the 3 month gap in doses. The docs think it would be more beneficial for me to move on to the next regimen - Taxol + Herceptin. The plan is that I will start when the baby is 4-6 wks old, I will finally have my baseline PET scan done to see if I have cancer anywhere else in my body, and will start going in for Taxol every week for 12 wks - the Herceptin will be every 3 wks for one year. Once I've completed the Taxol, I will start radiation daily - still looking at 38-40 rounds of radiation (8wks). That will take me out until Nov roughly...then I will continue the Herceptin every 3 wks until approximately July '08 & will start Tamoxifin orally for 5yrs. My calculated risk of recurrence right now is approx 17.5% with the chemo & radiation I will/have received. I've decided that I will likely undergo a 2nd prophylactic mastectomy to reduce my risk even further (I'd like to see our kids grown and the lower the chances, the better!!!), and will have to wait on that until at least 6 months after concluding radiation. I will likely have breast reconstruction at that time as well, but haven't firmly decided on that yet. I think it would be nice to not have to wear a bra!! =)

In other news, we have a name for our baby boy! It only took us almost 30 wks to name him, but he will be called Ryland Jeffrey. Jeff & I had a very difficult time deciding on a name - mostly because we couldn't find one that we both agreed on and loved. Ryland is it! He is doing very well in his growth, unlike his big sister when she was still in the oven. We had a growth ultrasound Tues to follow up on him, and he is approx 5 lbs 4 oz at 35 wks gestation. Maryn was only 4 lbs 5 oz when she was born, so looks like we have a healthy boy in there! I had a visit to the OB on Wed, and surprisingly, I'm dilated 2cm already....it could be any time now! Ryland's due date is June 5th, but looks like we will be having a May baby. I've been having a lot of contractions lately, but nothing regular. I will go in 3x/wk now for monitoring & if it looks like Ryland's heart rate drops or that my amniotic fluid is decreasing, the docs will induce me.

We are all keeping busy. Maryn is 100mph all day long when she's awake. We celebrated being off chemo by making a mad dash to our favorite place on earth - Boise, Idaho. We got to spend two wonderful weeks with Jeff's parents & my family and best friend. It was so incredibly nice to relax, enjoy the weather, and know that I had two wks free of doctor's appts. Our trip was amazing (with the exception of the very snowy & cold drive up there), and we can't wait to go back. I'm hoping I'll have another gap in appts after the baby is born, so we can make another trip north before I start chemo again. I won't have a break for 5 months at that point, so we'll be stuck in California for the summer & fall. I think we are going to celebrate the end of all of my treatment by taking a trip to Italy...alone! We'll have to hit up the grandparents & see if they are willing to watch both kiddos, but I think it would be nice to have some quality time with my amazing husband after this roller coaster of a year.

SO, that's the latest news in the Lusk household. Once again, I have to apologize for those I have not written back to....my email inbox is still swamped. While I've read the emails, I haven't found the time to sit down and write back! Life never seems to slow down around our house. =) We hope this email finds you well, healthy & enjoying life!!!

With love,
Leanne, Jeff & Maryn

Thursday, January 4, 2007

January 4, 2007: Holiday Update

Family and friends,

We hope you had a wonderful holiday! Ours was exciting, as it was Maryn's first Christmas...and boy, did she get spoiled! Jeff's parents were here until the week before Christmas, then Kaitlin (Jeff's daughter) flew in on Dec 26th. We drove up to Idaho for the week to visit our parents, family and friends up north while Katie was in town.

I figured I'd wait until the end of the first round of chemo before giving the report. Overall, it wasn't too bad. I didn't experience much nausea (and the anti-nausea meds are great!), but did have a severely decreased appetite, fatigue, some pretty intense bowel irregularity, cramping, headaches, etc. The day 7 blood tests showed that my red cell count had dropped, but the Oncologist decided to let me ride it out to see if my body would recover (the other options are a shot of Procrit, which is so-so in pregnancy, or a blood transfusion). I thought I was going to make it on the hair, but I only got to keep it for Christmas! As you can see in the attached pics, it started falling out on Dec 26th, and quickly became bald on one side by the following Saturday. I was surprised at how fast your hair falls out, when it finally decides to go. On Saturday, we decided to have a shave fest, where Kaitlin did the initial honors of giving me a mohawk, my girlfriend, Heather, took a run at it, then Jeff cleaned everything up with a #3. It turns out that I'm a finalist in the 2007 Homer Simpson look-alike contest, between my bald head & growing belly.

While in Boise, I came down with a nasty throat infection (couldn't eat/swallow, throat was on fire, everything was swollen to the point of almost being closed up in the back of my throat, etc). The Onc prescribed some antibiotics, and after a couple days of being in sore throat hell, I felt much better. I went in on Tuesday for more blood tests in preparation for round 2. My white cell count has dropped, but is still within the normal chemo limits, but my red count didn't recover from the last round of chemo and dropped further. We got the Procrit shot okay'd by the Perinatologist (high-risk OB), and I went in yesterday to start round two - with an added shot of Procrit. I should gain some energy from the Procrit, so I'm looking forward to that...but what exactly should I blame being tired on??? A 1-yr-old running daughter, being pregnant, or on chemo??? I think I'll be tired regardless - and I'm perfectly fine with that!

In other news, Jeff and I went to have an ultrasound on the baby on Tues as well. We are in total shock - it turns out that we are having a boy!!! We both knew that we were having another girl, and had even picked out a name for her. We have never agreed on boy's names, so this little man is going to remain nameless....maybe we'll call him "Hey You" - but with a unique spelling (Hai-U?). We are over the moon that we are having a little boy - and he is completely healthy. I'm 18wks pregnant, and he measured at 18wks 5 days, so he is growing perfectly. I was a bit concerned about his growth, because I have only gained 4 lbs so far in the pregnancy, where I should have gained 10-12 lbs by now. At this point, the docs aren't concerned, as long as I continue gaining weight & the baby's growth isn't affected. We go in for another growth ultrasound in 2 months to make sure all is well.

So, that's the latest news from the Lusk household. Maryn turns a year old tomorrow (where has the time gone!?!) and my mom is flying in to help out for the next two weeks. Maryn can't wait to see her Mema. We hope you all have a happy and healthy new year!!

Leanne (& Jeff and Maryn)