Saturday, January 29, 2011

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall

Odd post name, I know, but I love the quote and it's so much better then just naming this "Updates" so there ya' go! I started Thursday off with the fertility doctor, who really just made me feel old! He said that after chemo, I will begin my tamoxifen and have to do that for 5 years before even attempting to have child. So that'll put me around 37. He said my ovaries will actually be about 50+ after all the treatment - yes I will have old ovaries. So chances of having a baby will be very low. He said he could freeze my eggs - so I wait a month, get a bunch of medicine shoved into me to produce some eggs hoping that when I am 37, I can do invitro...My other option, surgery to remove an ovary and freeze it. I have always been about 90% sure I didn't want kids, but you never realize how much you think about this stuff when you are told you can't. All that being said, I don't think I'll do either of the above. If at 37 I desperately need a child, I'll follow in the footsteps of Kim and adopt; or I'll get on meth and head to the nearest Walmart parking lot...either way I feel extremely fulfilled in life and honestly don't believe I will be someone who has something "missing" if I don't that's that. Decision #1: made.

Thursday afternoon my dad and I met with the surgeon. She really reiterated what she said last week stating that she really believes all the cancer is out and that I have clean margins, but since she has a very small doubt, she would recommend the mastectomy. She said my last path report showed focal atypical lobular and ductal hyperplasia, which is just an increased risk factor for cancer. She said since I already had both of those cancers, it worries her since hyperplasia is field-wide (meaning other breast as well). She said she would support me in whatever I decided, she just said it is difficult to track recurrence in irradiated lumpectomy areas. She said she'd let me think about it for a month since we wouldn't be able to do the surgery until after chemo anyway. This is my biggest decision right now and the one I'm back and forth on the most. I would prefer (obviously) to not have one, but at the same time would hate to have this pop up again in 5-10 years. Decision #2: undecided.

Finally on Friday my dad and I met with the oncologist. No change there, still doing chemo! I was still torn between TC and CMF, the doc said he would probably prefer TC, but the choice was mine. He said he would bring the question to the next oncology board to see what others thought. I said I didn't really care about the side effects (i.e. losing hair) but I just wanted the one that was most effective. Since I don't plan on going the egg-saving route, I can start chemo after next week.  Decision #3: to be determined.

So I guess that's that for updates! Looks like I am making some forward progress so that's nice-like the post title, I may slip from time to time, but I keep on rising! Let me know if you have any questions! XOXO

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Where's Ductal??

Life is full of decisions, you meet a fork in the road and you have to go left or right, once you take one route, the other route is no longer an u-turns allowed.

Got a call from the doc yesterday, the elusive ductal is nowhere to be found. She said she was going back to pathology, to my original lumpectomy sections to see if she could cut the slides smaller and find it (mind you there are approximately 400 sections). Doc said that if she couldn't find it, her recommendation is a mastectomy. She said the other option is to follow me closely but that with my age and the rate of recurrence, she would not recommend this route. So the question now is do I do this, or just get followed very closely and maybe hope it was taken out in that first lumpectomy?? Could the ductal tumor just have been so small that we missed it? Is it best that we got the bigger, lobular out and have clear margins? Too many questions to think about right now I suppose. I have no answers right now, but can tell you that I go in to see the surgeon again on Thursday to discuss my options for surgery, then go see the oncologist on Friday to decide which chemo route I'd like to is full of decisions...u-turns may not be allowed, but yielding sure is, so right now I think I'll cuddle up on the couch next to my mom with a relaxing glass of wine and enjoy the b-ball game and the delicious steak my dad makes later!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Drugs may be the road to nowhere, but at least I'm on the scenic route...

Don't hate...
Surgery number two...complete! The morning started out quite nicely when Kari came and surprised my dad and I while we were waiting in admissions. She braved the cold and snow to come keep my dad company and help me steal another pair of hospital socks...she rocks!

From the moment I got called in from the waiting room, the entire staff was awesome! The nurses, murses and docs were all great and each one had a fantastic sense of humor! They got me prepped pretty quickly and invited "Larry and Kari" in, where my dad and the anesthesiologist discussed whether his homemade granola or Shelley's homemade granola was better (I think we won)! Soon I was off in the OR takin' a nap again (I'm so lazy) while Dad and Kari got some coffee and Kari had the grand tour of my shared cubicle (lucky gal)! A few hours later I woke in a bit more pain than last time, apparently the doc really scrapped my muscle and took out all that she could (while sparing my small A's) think after these drugs wear off, I may be hurting for a bit...We have about 7 days to wait for the results. If it's ductal, then we will be good to continue on with the chemo and radiation. If there is no ductal, then we'll discuss the options at that time.

Necklace given to me by Shelley!

Upon arrival at home, I received the best gift from gal pal Shelley!! It is a "Stand up to Cancer" necklace, but Shelley stated she did not get it for me due to the cancer part, but as my own symbol of THE one-upper!! It's perfect! This may just be the drugs talkin' but I have to wonder where I find these incredible people?? I do not know, but am so blessed that they've entered my life. How do you learn to give so effortlessly, so assumption is that the more fantastic people I surround myself with, the more fantastic I will become! So thank fantastic friends and family. Thank you for making me laugh 'til my stomach hurt while waiting for surgery, thank you for cooking gourmet meals for me and allowing me to constantly over stay my welcome, thank you for letting me complain when I need, but kicking my butt when it's gone too far, thank you for kisses and hugs and unconditional love. Love you all! XOXO

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mediocrity Rules!!

me·di·o·cre  adj  mē-dē-ˈō-kər\: Of moderate Quality, Ordinary, So-so

Have you ever heard of the mediocrity award? Most likely, if you know me, you've never had the chance to run for it...each year it goes to me, I alone am the definition of mediocre. It's not necessarily a bad thing-it's just not always my current test results! I got the DX Onco-type testing back from tumor number one (Remember...tumor number two hopefully comes out tomorrow). The result was 20...what does this mean you ask?  Well, it means intermediate. DX Onco is testing the rate of recurrence that the cancer might have. A low number and chemo is not needed, a high number and chemo is definitely needed, I am, as you assumed, in the middle. So today I met with the oncologist, of course my dad and good friend Travis were by my side. The doc said that due to my intermediate number and my age, that he would recommend chemo. He said the only way he would not have recommended chemo was if my number was in the single digits or if I was over's that catch 22 thing again, my age and health are GREAT! Meaning I will come out of this just fine...but also meaning I may have to be a bit more aggressive since I have SO MANY years left!! So next steps for me:
     1. Surgery tomorrow to remove the ductal carcinoma (we're hoping).
     2. Begin Chemo treatments - two options - 3-month treatment or 6-month treatment; think I may    
         choose the shorter one due to the active ingredients of the drug (lower chance of leukemia after 10 
     3. Radiation treatment after chemo.
     4. Tamoxifin anti-hormonal drug for 5 - 10 years. 
         **All of the above drops my recurrence rate from 35% to 15%!

                                             Outcome = better than ever! 

The only thing I am a bit concerned about now is Boston. I was hoping to get a nice 3:20 during the marathon, but may have to scale down a bit...that's all right though, I'm not worried, I'm just going there to finish and eat clam chowder. 

Until next time...XOXO 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A little cheese with that w(h)ine...

So, I ended up at my favorite local bar after work yesterday...after a fabulous martini and a couple glasses (all right, bottles) of wine, I was feeling pretty good! I got to thinking that a lot of times I will sit there, wine in hand, so I don't have to go home and sit and think by myself. When left with my own thoughts and the use of the internet, I come up with all sorts of things on what the next course of treatment will lead to (damn you webmd...damn you)! For example, I think about the next surgery, which I know will go just fine, but I'm nervous about what I'll see after the swelling goes down. I already have a "dent" from the previous surgery and I'm not workin' with a lot here if you get what I'm saying...the tumors added fullness, bounce (kidding) - will a half masticated breast be left in its place? I know that's not bound to happen and even if it does there is always a fix, but these are the results when left with your thoughts.

Then I got on facebook this morning, still wallowing a bit when an old friend instant messaged me. We picked up where we left off chatting like we'd just seen each other yesterday. I ended up telling him about my diagnosis, he has a lot of experience in that area, as his mother has been undergoing treatment for quite some time. He reminded me over and over again to stay positive, he said he remembered me as a motivator and said that he always thought of me as a positive thinker! I was and still am a cheerleader to some! Well, click the "like" button on that one! Sometimes it's so easy to get wrapped up in your own pity party that you forget how others may rely on you for strength, motivation, and positivity. You forget how you need to rely on you for strength, motivation, and positivity.

This doesn't mean that you can't have "down" days, days where you are exhausted emotionally and need a little "woe is me" time. But what I resolve to do is to stop googling, stop digging, stop searching...just to let the cards fall where they may and to come to terms with my own thoughts. Everyone knows that none of that superficial crap matters anyway! One breast, two breast, red breast, blue breast-who really gives a damn! And anyone who would judge you based on the social norm as stated by Victoria (and her stupid secret) isn't worth the breath anyway, right!! When you have people that love you and care about you for you, then nothing else matters.

Sometimes it takes days like today to realize, yet again how blessed I am. Often times the mountain seems too big, too daunting, but if you take it a section at a time and have a strong belayer on the bottom to catch you if you fall, then you'll reach the top...and beyond! So again, big hugs and lots of kisses go out to all of my belayers, my cheerleaders...I have never relied on you more and appreciate all of the incredible support-and the kick in the rump when needed (especially during my private pity parties)!! I don't think I've told you enough how much it means to me! And if any of you ever, ever need a shoulder to lean on, feel free to call me-no matter how big or small-you bring the w(h)ine, I'll bring the cheese-we'll get all those pent up thoughts out on the table, then pick each other up and remember how absolutely fabulous we are!! XOXO

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Twice as nice...

Well there’s nothing like an out of town adventure to get you prepared for a little anesthesia, right?? Honestly, is there a better way to rest up? Looks like I’m heading into surgery (again), which isn’t all bad, that means the MRI showed something! Let’s just hope it’s the ductal, we get it out of there then I can begin the next course of treatment! The doc said, if by chance it is not ductal we will cross that bridge when we get there. I have a feeling it will be though since everything has been turning out so great!! Keep those fingers (and toes) crossed! I am scheduled to go to Chicago on the 14th after having the trip canceled over New Year’s (damn Chicago fog), so it will be nice to get out of town and not think about this until I return! I don't know what it is about the number two...two cancers, two MRIs, two sports bras, two get the point and I think we all know the answer to that one! 

Hurry up and wait...

Yes, notice the number 2...for dos bras
Well I wasn’t running nearly as soon as I would’ve liked to have been after surgery and my poor family had to deal with the consequences of my bad attitude! As supportive as ever though, my family didn’t complain once-also highly supportive were the two bras I had to wear when I did start running again! Never thought there’d be a day where I would need two bras…one's usually pushing it!!

Before Christmas I headed back to the doc to learn what the surgery had determined. Great news, as always, all the lymph nodes came back negative! That is a great sign! She did find one odd thing, apparently, with all the tissue that was removed, pathology only “found” the lobular carcinoma. The ductal was not in the tissue that was removed. My doc said there are numerous reasons that this could occur stating that since the ductal cancer was the smaller of the two it could have been missed in pathology, removed during the biopsy or a number of other various explanations. She said she didn’t feel comfortable signing off on that and scheduled another MRI for me to see if we could find the “missing” cancer. It’s funny how the waiting game exhausts you sometimes, yet it’s comforting to know that when I’m emotionally burnt out, I can revert back to a 6 year old and cry on my parent’s shoulder while they hold me without a judgment to be made. Well, hopefully more news soon!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

More than a handful...

Honestly, it was this big...just got away
So this is it, my first attempt at "blogging" except for my week long tenure on facebook. Not only is it a new year and therefore a good time to start this venture, but I figured this would be the easiest way to keep friends and family informed. Most know I was diagnosed with breast cancer this year and anyone who knows a Morken understands the "fish was this big" Morken story embellishing habit. In an attempt to give anyone who's concerned the most accurate and up-to-date information, I have decided this blog is the way to go! This initial post may be a bit long, so hopefully I can just do a few short updates from now on!

Talk about all purpose...
That being said, let's start from the beginning...get everyone caught up. I went to the doc for a lump I noticed in my right breast (*Note: if boob talk makes you uncomfortable, close tab now). My doc said it was probably nothing to worry about, but referred me to get a mammogram anyway. This was an adventure in itself, not painful like most people described, I actually felt sorry for the technician. Here I was, sweaty (in true Morken fashion) and gross, this poor woman had to try to get my slippery A's into the flattening machine (as I like to call it)! After numerous shots, it was determined that I needed an ultrasound so they could get a better look at the tissue...apparently at the age of 30 you have all dense fibrous tissue that turns into fat as you age, it's difficult to make out what, if anything, is in that fibrous tissue. The ultrasound did show something, but they "weren't sure" what it was and they recommended that I have a biopsy done. They said again not to worry, I heard this quite a bit over the initial course of appointments, I suppose it's to keep you calm while you wait to figure out how your life may change over the course of the next few years if something comes back during testing. The biopsy was completed in about an hour, I had two spots that they wanted to biopsy...again, the infamous words "you shouldn't worry." The biopsy was done over Thanksgiving weekend, so I had to wait it out a few extra days before getting the results. Few people knew I had had a biopsy, only a couple close friends and my mom (who inevitably told my dad) were aware, I mean why worry everyone. Best to have the information up front.

Kim (my favorite older sister) was diagnosed with sarcoma during the summer of 2009. Thank God she caught it early and was able to get it removed. So far all of her scans have come back Great!!! Again, being a Morken and the quintessential one-upper, we all knew how the story would play out. Kim had one cancer, my test results came back showing two-invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. I like to tease Kim with the fact that my cancer has a color (pink) and a month (October)! Thankfully, like Kim, mine was caught very early! I had a meeting with a surgeon and an oncologist to determine what my next step would be. My mom came with me to the day of appointments, which took about 6 hours! My dad was there as well, but we asked him to run errands since he tends to be a bit of a worrier (as a good dad should be) which we didn't really need at that point. The 6 hours mostly consisted of waiting, a blood test for genetic testing and numerous, numerous breast exams. I think I was felt up more in that afternoon than I have been in my whole life...and I didn't even get dinner first. After a week or so of deliberating and going back and forth between starting off with chemo or a lumpectomy, it was concluded that I would have a lumpectomy first and that the tumors would have a test done on them to determine if I needed chemo and radiation or just radiation for follow up treatment.

Courage Angel given to me by my family
Being blessed would be an understatement, as the minute my family and friends found out I had nothing but support. My parents came up and attended every appointment. My boss from work and friends Sam and John cooked meals for me and made sure I was well fed. My brother and sisters bent over backward to ensure I was all right. I didn't inform too many people, but the prayers and thoughts from family and friends out of state who were aware was over whelming. Needless to say, it is much harder on the people without the cancer than the person with it. I experienced that first hand as I was being wheeled into surgery for my lumpectomy the day after my dad's birthday. I was surprisingly calm, but the tears in Kari's (my favorite baby sister) and my Dad's eyes was the hardest feeling. All of this information I have been receiving I like to keep to myself, so I don't worry people, but that in itself worries them even more I's the unknown. I knew I'd be just fine, I had thoughts and prayers and a courage angel given to me by my family to watch over me. For me, I slept through those few hours quickly, for my family it was a different experience. In the uncomfortable chairs of the hospital waiting room, they sat and waited for hours for sparse updates. They met strong people who were dealing with far more than we've had to. One young wife said her husband waited too long to go to the doctor, that the cancer he had had spread so far they didn't think they'd be able to stop it. It was a final surgery attempt for them. My dad and sister passed along the courage angel to her, she needed it more than I did.

As expected, I came out of surgery just fine, my family got me home, rented some movies and watched me sleep on the couch. In and out of sleepiness, I was visited by some wonderful friends, again causing me to realize how blessed I am. I hope to one day be as good of a friend, as good of a sister, and as good of a child as my friends and sibling are. To be the type of person to give compassionately without a second thought is something I need to work towards, thankfully I'm surrounded by the best teachers in the world...thank you to my family and friends. XOXO