February, 2011

Heart Function Bounced Back

I had a Muga heart scan again yesterday to see if my heart function improved or not.  Usually I don’t hear results until next visit, but this time I received an e-mail from the oncologist in the same day. My doctor must have been pleased with the good result,too.  According to her, my number recovered to 74%, almost to the first test result, which was 77%.

I am so thankful that my heart recovered without permanent damage and now I can resume Herceptine that has been held-off since two weeks ago.

Herceptine is the important drug that I have to continue for one year even after chemo and radiation are completed.  Probably I will have to hold-off again and again since it affects my heart but I hope I can continue it till the end.

I will have a scheduled 6-month bone scan tomorrow and see the surgeon to discuss a possible biopsy and removal of the left-over two lymph nodes.

Possibly Lymph Nodes Excision

“ If I were you, I would cut them out,” said the surgeon.  She also said, “ We don’t know if chemo was working or not until we become an old lady.”

According to her (who also was a breast cancer patient), once cancer spreads to other organs or tissues, it is considered  not curable, but treatable, aiming to keep the quality of life as long as possible, but until then the treatment should be aggressive.

Cancer cells migrate to other organs and tissues through the lymph or blood systems.  Then even if I remove the two lymph nodes, it doesn’t mean I will be safe.  Yet, my cancer had spread into lymph nodes in the right armpit and was so resilient that it didn’t respond to the first chemo.  The surgeon affirmed my concern that the two lymph nodes could be cancerous.  In order to have a biopsy, the surgeon will remove them because they are too small to cut a sample.  The procedure will take 5-6 hours; a same day surgery with a risk of lymphedema.

If today’s bone scan result is clear, we’ll pick a day for the surgery.  I have to stop Navelbine this time instead of Herceptine if I have a surgery.  Risks are always there ,  but I have to trust my good doctors and I must take every step to beat the cancer believing that “Aslan” is leading me.

Fall Down but Rise Up Again

Negative Bone Scan

E-mail came from my oncologist.The result of the bone scan I had last Friday was NEGATIVE!! Praise the Lord!  I could pass one more test!  Now I will discuss with the oncologist when I will hold off Navelbine to prepare for the next hurdle, the excision of the two lymph nodes.

Cancer Family Support

Starting this year, Grain of Wheat Inc. is supporting cancer families in the LA Japanese community.  Fighting with cancer is distressful, but how much so if you don’t have enough language skill or a family and friends to depend on?  The purpose for supporting Japanese speaking cancer families is to encourage each other providing language support, various information, and opportunities to share concerns or experiences.

One of the families was recently told that their daughter had a stage 4 cancer and they spent sleepless nights fearing that they would lose her.  Yet, overcoming the first chemo side-effects, the family has raised their spirits and started collecting information to fight back.  As the father even offered me rides to go to have my chemo, his voice sounded stronger than ever.  When Mrs. B found out her husband had a rare type of cancer that is incurable, she said she didn’t remember how she got home, but since he has been doing well after his stem cell transplant surgery, she can now talk with smiles.

Sharing stories with them, I felt like I am not the only one who is fighting for life, but I can find a sense of togetherness. “Stumbling 7 times but rising up 8 times.”  I hope we can keep holding this positive energy and passing it around with other fighters.  I hope to keep sending the message; “Courage, friends, whether we live or die Aslan (The lion=Christ figure in the story of Narnia) will be our good lord.” –I wonder that this might be my mission from “Aslan” in the adventure of breast cancer.

Two More Rounds to Finish Chemo

Yesterday was a day of a clinic with the oncologist.  As we talked about the date of the lymph nodes excision, I was told that I had two more rounds to finish my chemo.  Though I was concerned to hold off on Navelbine in order to have the surgery, it is almost over anyway. I knew that my chemo would end soon, as it was a six month therapy starting  last October, but I wasn’t aware that there were only two more left.  This gives me a strange feeling; I am glad to reach the end but at the same time I am a little nervous.

Two days ago, I read articles stating that lymph nodes dissection is not necessary for breast cancer patients who are in the early stage.  Yet unfortunately this good news doesn’t apply to me who had 13 out of 21 cancerous lymph nodes.  If my two left-over lymph nodes are cancerous, it means that the cancer didn’t respond again.  If they are non- cancerous, however, it doesn’t prove that the current chemo was effective and the cancer was responding because those lymph nodes could have been non-cancerous in the first place.

If the biopsy turns out positive, I will continue chemo with new drugs.  If it’s negative, I will move on to radiation therapy. I know every patient goes through the same, but it is like a gamble to finish chemo without knowing if you are cancer-free or not.  My rollercoaster ride will continue for a long time.

Yesterday was also George’s and my wedding anniversary.  Realizing that nobody is guaranteed tomorrow, I feel strongly that everyday is a gift.  “Until death shall we apart”, we affirmed to each other that we would make the most of each day.

♱ “Though Our Bodies are Dying”

As I was walking my dog, I ran into Iris, who lived in a senior home in our neighborhood. She noticed something wrong with me; I was wearing a beanie  instead of a wig. I explained that I had been fighting against cancer.

“ Are you ok?”  she said, immediately worrying about me.

“ Lots of concerns one after another, but I am doing fine.”

“I’ll pray for you. Even if things get tougher, there is always hope, you know?” she continued.

“Yes. I know.  I believe there is hope beyond our deaths, and even at this moment, God is right here between you and me.” I answered.

“ Good!  Go for it, girl!” she answered in a strong voice raising her fist in the air.

Being encouraged, I remembered the Bible verse:

“ That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”—2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Bleeding

At night at the bathroom, I was alarmed finding I was bleeding.  I had hysterectomy due to fibroid tumors several years ago and haven’t had menstruations any more, but it looked like I was having  my period.

I have taken an antibiotic again for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)again, for a week.  Though I just took the last dose, I still have irritation.  Is UTI the cause for bleeding?

I went to an exercise class last Wednesday after many years and then I could barely lift up my leg because of muscle ache. Was it too much?

I don’t want to think of it, but is this bleeding related to the cancer?

As I told about it to George, he immediately Googled  it and said that it could be a side effect of chemo.  So I did the same, and surely I found that bleeding could be one of Navelbine’s side effects.

My next appointment with the oncologist is on this Tuesday, but if I continually bleed tomorrow again, I will e-mail her.  I hope this is nothing serious.