I got THE call. The call you don't want after your PET scan. No news is good news. There is news.
The first thought.
I cut to the chase- How bad is it?
It's not horrible but we have progression and we need to discuss options. I can tell you right now what I'll recommend.
So what we know... the short story is I have some new growth and we have to switch up our chemo to get the cancer to knock off it's nonsense. Metastatic Breast Cancer is a chasing game. We treat, we hope it works, we rescan and hope it's still working. Most chemos for mets last for a short time before the crazy cancer misbehaves and works it's way out of time-out. Our job is to be attentive and keep it in time out for as long as possible. My cancer needs to be put back in time out.
15 months ago I had lots of round spots in my lungs, bones(femur, iliac, spine, arm). In March- most of those spots had disappeared(major yay!)- except for a shadow on my femur. That is called complete response- all those misbehaving cancer patches- had the chemo and went into time out. So we continued because it worked.
My cough is back, which is a daily reminder that I am not as healthy as I pretend to be. I do feel pretty ok. Which I am really grateful for. Although there is still activity in my lungs of cancer cells- the old spots are pretty stable. That is good news. Unfortunately there is a new spot in my hilum(middle of the chest- part of the lungs) that's bigger than I'd like, a bunch of new bone spots-in new locations- and the right femur spot of old is pretty angry. On top of that there is a little adrenal spot- which adds yet another organ affected- not good- but also reminds me of Lily kayda's adrenocortical carcinoma and freaks me out. Breast cancer can metastasize to the adrenals- but it could also be new tumor. So that is something we will have to watch carefully and evaluate. For now we treat it like a met- because it is small.
When new spots grow- there has to be a change in plan. If what you are on is working- there should be no new spots. Mind you the stress of the past month's brain mets- physically and emotionally- probably are weighing heavily on my body. But we have options. We hoped for stable- but we deal with what we have.
We need to throw some more at the hormoniness of these tumors- they are hormone positive meaning they love estrogen and progesterone -which women's bodies make. I got rid of the organs this summer- but the amazing body has many ways to do things- like creating estrogen from other molecules. There are pills that I can take daily that will stop this conversion- to make sure we have less estrogen feeding the cancer cells. Of course the down side to this is some crummy side effects and bone weakness- which is already a problem due to the mets. But looking at alternatives- you have to get rid of the biggest threats. So I will be starting an Aromatase Inhibitor(AI) called Arimidex. It's a pretty standard hormonal treatment for breast cancer after the ovaries are shut off(post menopausal). SO plus side- no extra trips for infusions with this med.
Since I have new bone issues and will be adding the AI- I keep taking the Xgeva- which helps my bones hold on to calcium and prevent breaks from the weak spots. That is a shot and will still be every 3 weeks.
Then we have to address the new growths. We will be trying a chemo called Kadcyla(TDM-1- which Phil has taken to calling Touchdown Molecule 1). It is a drug we seriously considered doing first- but recommended that we keep it in our back pocket and give the other chemo a chance. It's a buying time proposition and we try and eek out each step. We got 15 months out of my cocktail- I would have liked a bit more but am so grateful for this past year- ups and downs and seeing new milestones for my kids and the together time and reconnecting with family and friends. There was a time years ago where there were not these options. I hope for my children's sake and all other fighters out there- there will be even more down the road.
Kadcyla is essentially Herceptin- with the chemo attached to it that finds the Her2 receptors and latches on to the cancer cells. It is very directed chemo and they have seen good results. It will probably have a similar side effect profile to what I was on before- but we will see. My doc called it the iPhone 7 of herceptin- kinda wished he had shot for iPhone 8- the 6 was released much too soon. But it will be an infusion every 3 weeks- very similar to what we have been doing. The nurse ordered it today- so we will wait to see if it comes in on time for me to keep on my Monday schedule.
So the take away is that we have continued hurdles- but I remember how bad it felt to see all those tumors light up over a year ago and here we are today. We take it a day at a time and live our best life and try to find as much love, comfort and fun along the way. I am very thankful for all the positive energy, love, words, juju, prayers and offers. It truly makes a difference, for all of us here. I also want to say- if you feel like calling -call- or text or drop a message or a card. Please don't be afraid to reach out. I know it's hard to know the right thing to say- because sometimes there isn't anything that can help- but I can tell you how much it means to just even hear I'm thinking about you- and it gives me a chance to respond and let you know that I'm thinking about you too.
And a HUGE HUGE Thank you for the Team Mallory Support- my friend Gina was kind enough to start the fund up again for a 3rd SALE! If you are interested in grabbing this fantastically designed Tee by Hope Friedman - it will be up until February 8. There's a new ladies fit too! We've been using the proceeds to have the housecleaned every 2 weeks and tip the Valet guys at Tripler generously. Oh the difference it makes!! I still am completely in awe that we have a t-shirt- but adore seeing pictures of all of our friends sporting Team Mallory. I'm hoping to get to tell you about the gamma knife experience soon- I'm still waiting on my superpower to show up...as my good friend Trish says- I wish my super power wasn't sprouting tumors!
|TEAM Mallory Until FEB. 8|