Leanne, Ryland, Kaitlin, Jeff & Maryn

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!