August, 2011

Blowing Away the Dark Cloud

Remained Lump

It was January when I found the lump under my arm.

Though an ultrasound found out the lump was a fluid collection, it also caught two lymph nodes.

I had a surgery for a biopsy of those lymph nodes in March, and they were actually cancerous, and the lump came back not less than a week after the surgery.

When I went back to the surgeon, she aspirated more than two syringes of fluid and told me to come back if it accumulated again.

As she predicted, the same spot under my arm raised back not many days after.  Yet because I had to start the radiation, a radiation doctor told me to wait for the aspiration until after the radiation; the lump remained.

Dr. Glaspy at UCLA, whom I visited after the radiation,  examined the lump and told me, “ The radiation was like dropping an atomic bomb, so even if there were cancer, it is bleeding and dying.”

I went back to the surgeon for the aspiration again.  She didn’t suck out any fluid from the lamp  and  told me, “ It is still small, and you just finished the radiation.  So if I were you, I won’t worry about it.”

New Lump under the Old One

While I have been observing this lump every day, ghastly I felt a new lump under the incision a few days ago. I feel this hard lump when I wear a bra.  It goes away somewhere, maybe deep under my skin, if I take off the bra.

I am going to have an ultrasound to check this out on the 9th.

Yet, bleeding, a swelling around the left clavicle, and the new lump – a dark cloud surged over me and a big wave of anxiety rolled on me.

Last night as the throbbing pain woke me up, I  opened a book my son gave me as a birthday gift last year: The Joy In Loving by Mother Teresa.

“Everything starts with prayer.”

The words I was familiar with caught my eye.

So I prayed.

If I l’m getting sicker , can George keep ministering to 500 members of the church, as a spiritual leader bearing their burdens?

I can’t lose this battle not only for me but also for him.

May I get strength to fight back!

The Prayer was Granted

This morning, it was sunny without even a bit of clouds in L.A., and so was my heart.  My anxiety was locked-up tightly and, instead, my heart was filled with joy as I spent time with numerous friends this week.

I spent extra time to cook breakfast for George, who had Friday off, and then I invited him to walk on a local beach.

The sun beam was strong, but the breeze was brisk.

Bikers and joggers were passing by. Sailboats were out at sea.  Shocking pink bougainvilleas, tall vigorous agapanthuses, and colorful roses were entertaining our eyes lining up from the residences along the beach.

How blessed I am being able to live in such a beautiful place!

It doesn’t matter how many times I come here, I feel the same way.

“ Even if we live for another 50 years, or we die tomorrow, we have to enjoy each day God gives us,” we talked as we walked.

In the afternoon, finding an interpreting volunteer NPO in Japan on line, I registered myself thinking that maybe even from L.A. there may be something I can do.

I could have a good day today because my prayer was granted.

Tomorrow, George and I will see his cousin’s family, who are visiting L.A., and our son and his wife.  May we have a great day tomorrow again!

Celebration!

I went to have the ultrasound.

The result was clear!

It didn’t show anything suspicious!

Although the cancer tried to take away my peace, I could overcome because of prayers!

If I am challenged by fear so often, each time I beat it, I need to celebrate.

Dancing, laughing, and toasting, George and I celebrated this small victory.

Cancer Breakthrough News

Scientists found a new way to beat cancer: Using HIV virus they succeeded to transform immune white blood cells called T cells to recognize cancer cells and kill them.

Our body is so fascinating, and it is so amazing to know that HIV virus, which causes AIDS, can save us from cancer, also.

I can hear steps of the mighty “Terminator” who is coming to rescue cancer patients!

We’ll get the victory.  It’s almost there!

Our prayers will be answered soon!

Go, go,  scientists!

Breast Cancer and Thyroid Hormone

A blood test showed that my thyroid function was low; I have hypothyroidism.
Recently I have gained weight, felt tired quickly, sluggish, and the skin has gotten dry – these are typical symptoms of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is not a life-threatening but chronic disease that accelerates aging.

About ten years ago, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, but I was healed miraculously that time. The last test’s result for thyroid I had in 2007 was perfectly normal.

It is disappointing to know I have hypothyroidism again, and I wondered if this was something to do with breast cancer, so I researched.

As I suspected, many women who experienced breast cancer are also diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Apparently it is a common women diseases.
If enough iodine is not taken, it may cause hypothyroidism, and maybe breast cancer as well, according to many sites.
Yet, there are also many reports saying that women with hypothyroidism have breast cancer much less than women without hypothyroidism. I guess this means that a treatment for hypothyroidism can prevent breast cancer.

I wonder if the radiation might be the reason, and it could be.

Scientists has noticed some link between breast cancer and thyroid hormone or iodine for a long time, but they haven’t been able to put their fingers exactly on it and in fact they warn that increasing the intake of iodine could worsen the thyroid problems. It isn’t so simple.

Regardless of the cause, I have a new problem. I hope medicine for thyroid will fix all my symptoms before worsening the side effects on my heart, liver, skin, or whatever from chemo.

I’ll have another ultrasound for kidneys and a bladder tomorrow.
I have to find the cause of bleeding, but  hope it will come back negative.

Kidneys & Bladder Were Clear

The ultrasound result came back negative!  The cause of bleeding is still unknown, but I am happy with the result.   If I see bleeding again, I am going to visit a urology specialist.

The cause of hypothyroidism is most likely Hashimoto’s disease, an auto-immune disorder, according to a doctor.

I am wondering if two antibody drugs I have been taking has affected to my Thyroid antibody and caused this disorder.  I will ask the question to my oncologist.

Now I am waiting for a result of a mammogram of the right breast I had last week.

Then next test will be a PET scan.

Another good news is that I have been on 4 tablets of Tykerb for a month and miraculously no rash so far!

Though the swelling and the pain around the clavicle ,as well as the new lump, are still a concern, I imagine that Tykerb, which finally got in gear, and Herceptin are attacking cancer cells from outside and inside.  Go away cancer!

Mammogram Was Clear

My visit to the oncologist is every three weeks.

The doctor always takes enough time and, today again, she took almost one hour to answer my questions.

First, the mammogram on my right breast I had last week came back clear!

Second, the high level of my Thyroid antibody (>2000 vs <5.6 as standard!), which was the reason of a diagnosis of  Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is not a sign of cancer. Also, it is not because I am taking two antibody medicines, so I can continue them.

Third, I will have an MRI instead of a PET scan to find out what is going on under my left chest where I have pain, swelling, and a lump.

The PET scan will be scheduled in October because it may misdiagnose the tissue-scars from the radiation and it takes about 3-4 months for the scars to heal from the radiation.

Fourth, I will increase Tykerb from 4 to 5 tablets starting tonight.  I was content with 4 tablets after all hassles with the rash, and thinking of increasing the dose if cancer comes back.  Yet the doctor told me that it wouldn’t be so simple if cancer came back; I have to throw away even this excellent combo of two antibody medicines and find a new medicine.

A Partner to Share

At night I called a friend who was also battling with HER2+ breast cancer.  She had had a mastectomy last year, 7 years after her lumpectomy, followed by a reconstruction and a hormone therapy. Now she will have an MRI, also, for a check up.  We promised to pray and regularly encourage each other.

After I hung up the phone, George came up to me and said, “ She doesn’t have anyone to talk to while she waits for tests and even after she hears results because she lives alone.” He encouraged me to be thankful and to pray for her.  He is right.  I am thankful I have George I can share anything with any time, but how difficult if you don’t have such a partner.  I am blessed.

Dear Father, please hold people, who are fighting with their sickness or aging all alone, by your big arms and give them hope, peace, and encouragement, letting them know you are always with them!