Leanne, Ryland, Kaitlin, Jeff & Maryn

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.