LONG OVERDUE UPDATE
I believe my last post was right after my last chemo treatment. It's been way too long. Following is a time line of events through this long process:
Sept 2010 — Cancer diagnosis
Sept 16 and 21st — Biopsies
Oct 5 — Port-a-cath installed
Oct 18 — First chemo treatment
Nov 8 — Second chemo
Nov 29 — Third chemo
Dec 20 — Fourth chemo
Jan 10, 2011 — Fifth and final chemo
Feb 22 — Spine biopsy
March 1 — Mastectomy
March 25 — Last of 3 drains removed
April 12 — First radiation treatment
June 1 — Last radiation treatment
Aug 22 — 1 year followup scans
Sept 19 — Back and hipMRI
Oct 2 — Hip biopsy
01/09/11, 2:06 PM: Preparing for chemo number 5 at 7:30 am tomorrow.
I met with Dr. Haq at his request on Thursday. He was concerned about my complaint last Thursday when I went in to have blood drawn. I mentioned to the nurse that was experiencing some neuropathy in my fingertips and toes. Nothing severe; just a little annoying. Dr. Haq did an exam of my breasts and made that "hmm" noise doctors sometimes make and I thought "uh oh." He said, "Well Miss Janie, it looks like you have had a very good reaction to your treatments. It's like there is almost nothing there." I felt like jumping up and hugging him — even with my breasts totally exposed! But, needless to say, I didn't do that. I just said "Really? That's good news!," and he said "Yes it is."
Many thoughts crossed my mind when I heard my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time. I am very thankful that many of my concerns have been addressed with the continued good news of treatment success. The ability, willingness and knowledge of medical care that Jeff and Mandy have provided have addressed the support concerns I had.
The concern I have decided to tackle is: How will we pay for the care my mother needs and deserves? With this in mind, I created a paypal account that donations can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have assisted. In this current time of financial and economic uncertainty, it truly means a lot to my family that you all have found a way to give back to a lady that has given so much. As a former soldier and Iraq Veteran, I would like all of you to know that I consider all of you Heros. Thank You!
Treatment number 2 yesterday. Mandy and Jeff went with me. I'm so glad to have them by my side through this. My baby sister also stopped by on her way to work just like last time. I love you, Mary.
I only received two of the three chemo medications I've been prescribed because there is a national shortage of one of them. Dr. Haq told me that the two I did receive were the most important ones, but I'm still a little concerned about not receiving all three. I plan to speak further with him about it. He did a quick exam of the right breast and stated that the chemo seems to be working very rapidly for me. He stated that the tissue is a lot softer than it was. I also noticed this last Sunday. He asked about side effects and I told him that the only ones I'd had were some hair loss and about 3 days of fatigue. He said that I could expect about the same thing this time. If the side effects don't get much worse I'll be able to handle it very well.
Laughter, it seems, is still a potent medicine. Meet Minnesotan Christine Clifford, a Minneapolis / St. Paul mother and entrepreneur who spun her own diagnosis and battle with breast cancer into a book, Not Now ... I’m Having a No Hair Day. She’s also the impetus behind The Cancer Club, a source of inspiration and gifts for people living with cancer.
Janie’s portacath site was tender and pink Friday morning after the Thursday surgery. We were instructed to let her surgeon Dr. Miranda know of any high temp, nausea or other suspect physical symptoms. We thought everything was probably fine but just to be on the safe side (and to avoid a long drive to his office), we snapped a quick photo of the implant site and emailed it to her oncologist Dr. Haq’s office, which forwarded it along to Miranda. After viewing the photo, Miranda told us it was okay. Ice packs were prescribed.
After our initial meeting with Dr. Haq, his office gave us a packet with various resources and info regarding Janie’s pending chemo, including a video DVD from Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc., designed to introduce patients to the process. Aventis is a member of the sanofi-aventis Group, makers of Taxotere® (docetaxil), which is one of the three injection concentrates used in her “chemotherapy cocktail.”
After our meeting with Dr. Haq on Sept. 27, I observed Janie’s anxiety level rise drastically. Whose wouldn’t? She seemed edgy, distracted and ... well, scared. The fear of what could be had now been confirmed and given a dark name: Cancer. The strain played heavy on her face; I quietly hurt with her. Dr. Haq’s careful but honest, understandably frank approach left no question: without further tests, the foe may even be unbeatable. With hope, she and we pushed on. She had a busy week ahead ...
janiesjournal.com launched by jumping mid-stream into Janie’s story, at a point when she was less than two days away from her first chemo treatment. As initial journal entries focused on that anxious upcoming day, little back story was provided to give a sense of the months which lead to that point. I’ll attempt to remedy that in the next few days, filling in as many missing steps as possible.