Wednesday, April 7, 2010

where it first began!

When we moved into the house in November mom had pain in her arm pit but assumed she pulled something and just kept on working and lifting everything like she always does. Throughout the holidays she had more and more pain and soreness but again thought nothing of it. well in January she started to actually complain of pain in not only her arm pit but her left breast also. she scheduled an appt. with her OBGYN but, shocker, that appt. got moved many times. Mom and Dad were given the opportunity to take a vacation to San Francisco over Valentines Day weekend, for their other business "Agel". they ended up expanding the vacation from a couple days to 5 days, since dad used to live there he wanted to show mom all around and site-see. So since i ended up commuting this semester, I watched the pets and took care of the house. They had a blast out there, the weather was amazing, they got to go wine tasting, travel up the mountains and more.
They got back on a Tuesday, and Wednesday mom pulled me aside that morning to tell me that she didn't think her left breast looked right and since i am in nursing school she wanted me to look and see what i thought. When i saw it, i knew it was time to stop moving the appt. and she needed to get into her OBGYN asap. So she got into her doctor that week and he told her she needed to get a mamogram and an ultrasound because there was a lump in her breast and her arm pit. so that was scheduled for Feb. 26th.
Of course that Friday both dad and i went with mom for her mamogram and ultrasound. Now keep in mind mom has no insurance because she is considered self-employed, working at Tucker. Thanks to so many donations to the breast center at St. Vincent's hospital, they paid for both her mamogram and ultrasound. It only took at 45 mins. until the radiologist was able to read the results and tell us what they were. We all gathered in a room and he was very blunt. He told us that it was breast cancer and the tumor in her arm pit did look cancerous too. not this was just from the x0rays he was reading, so for an oncologist or breast surgeon to see my mom they needed a biopsy results, because there are so many types of breast cancers.
I was actually able to sit in and watch the biopsy. it was much more intense than i thought. but they took three samples from both the breast lumpy and the lymph node in her arm pit. After this they set up an appt. with a breast surgeon, Dr. Kim, and we were to meet with her on March 3rd. Of course the results didnt come until Tuesday the 2st, so we had all weekend to stress and worry. When they called us with the results, and it was breast cancer in both the lump in her breast and in her lymph node. This meant it was stage 2b, which if you google, means the cancer had broken through the breast ducts and into the lymph system.She also was HER2+, meaning the tumors are fed by estrogen. So of course another appt. was made for her to get a PET/CT scan which tell if the cancer spread any further into more lymph nodes, or into organs. The breast surgeon sounded very confident that she didnt think that it had spread any more, and they mom would need a mastectomy, chemo, and radiation.
On March 8th, mom had her PET/CT scan at community east hospital. I had my nephew, Kolton, with me so dad, mom, Kolton, and I all drove down for her scan. The scan didnt take long, maybe 45 mins, but she was injected with radiation so it could be read by the scan, so she had to stay 3 feet away from Kolton and I, so it couldnt "mess" us up. haha.
On Friday March 12th, the results came in and Dr. Kim called us with the results. They were not good. Dr. Kim even teared up while reading the results. Mom was told that the cnacer had spread, Ther eare 4 tumors in her liver, one the size of 4.5cm, two in her pelvis, and a couple smaller ones down her spine. To say the least we were devastated. So what did mom and i do? of course went ad got out toes done, to get out minds off of cancer for an hour. That night mom and dad had a company dinner at Sullivan's Steak House, so she decided to go to keep her mind busy and to see all of her friends.
Night after night mom could not sleep, stressing and worrying but also having horrible night sweats. (she was taken off her estrogen pill the week before, because that was just feeding the tumors) On the folowling Wednesday March 17th, we meant with the oncologist, Dr. Bhatia. (Body-ah) He is extremely intelligent to say the least. He said things we wanted and didn't want to hear. One being that she was in stage 4 breast cancer, and that their goal is remission but it is incurable. He talked about many options but that he recommenced the newest treatment that had just came out 45 days ago. First she needed to get a shot called, Lupron, that would put her straight into menopause, to cut off all estrogen in her body, again estrogen is what is feeding the tumors and causing them to grow. Then she was to combine two pills, one being Tykerb (which targets the tumors, it is basically chemo in a pill form) and Femara (which is another anti hormone therapy, but to the tumors looks like estrogen and is absorbed but really will shrink them).
We were very happy to hear this new treatment and mom was happy to hear no chemo, because what girl wants to loose her hair! So the first step before starting treatment was to get a blood draw to make sure her kidney and liver function was good enough to sustain the treatment. March 22nd, mom was scheduled for a heart scan, because the two medicines can be hard on your cardiac muscle so she needed to be checked of the strength of her cardiac muscle. Luckily, the nurse was able to tell her right then and there that he muscle was the strength of a 20 year old, so mom was so happy to finally hear good news.
March 26th Mom and i went to the doctor for her to receive her first shot of Lupron, (which she will get once a month for a year) and to hear her blood results on her kidney and liver function. We were worried about her liver function. When we got in the room at the Cancer center, the nurse had the shot ready. Well mom may be really go at handling pain but when she sees a shot she turns into a baby.haha well on top of it the nurse opens the directions on the shot. so I look over at mom and her face is gradually turning white. the nurse leaves the room because she wanted to make sure she had it ready correctly. The nurse was gone for about 10 mins. but to mom, it felt like hours. Praise God, another nurse came in with a new shot ready, the other nurse broke the first one, and i warned her not to show mom the shot. mom had to stand up because it is a muscle shot so it needed to go into her butt. She sat down after the shot and felt light headed but after 5 mins. she felt much better. then in comes, Trish, the nurse practitioner that sees mom the most. We found out that her liver function and kidney function were normal! this shows that the part of her liver that has no tumros is very strong and her kidneys, the first time in her life, are actually acting normal! she was so happy to hear this.
He last scan was on March 30th was her bone scan and shoulder x-ray, which were needed before she started the Tykerb and Femara. So mom and i went to Community North Hospital and she received her shoulder x-ray first, only because mom keeps having pain in her left shoulder and she cant straighten her arm all the way. the x-ray read fine so that was good. then she had her bone scan, which just checks the bone density, because the treatment is hard on your bones.
Then it was Easter! After attending 9:30 mass, we went to Kraig and Andrea's house and had cheesey taters, ribs, veggies, and lots and lots of desserts! Thank God the weather was gorgeous and we all ate out side, played with Kolton and enjoyed the beautiful day.
On April 2nd, mom and i went to the doctor to find out her bone scan results and to get the "teach" about her prescription pills she was about to start taking. the bone scan read fine her bones are strong, but at her next appt. she will get getting an infusion of Zometa, which keeps her bones strong! She will be taking 6 pills of Tykerb at once and 1 pill of Femara combined in the morning, on an empty stomach! We had to hear al lfo the side effects and when to and when not to call them depending on the side effects. The only major side effect is diarrhea but that has to be watched because it can get out of control if not handled correctly. Trish came in to talk with her and to measure her tumor on her breast, so they can see if the tumor is shrinking, and base it on the rest of the tumors. she will get a PET/CT scan 3-4 months after treatment starts to see if the rest of the tumors are shrinking. But anyways Trish said the tumor was softer!!! she thinks this was already from the Lupron shot, the cut off of all estrogen. we were so excited to already hear a small, but huge change!
We were told that she could start the Tykerb that day and then she would receive the Femara later that week and she could start that immediately when she received it. So when we got in the car, mom took all 6 pills of the Tykerb. That whole rest of the day she felt good, obviously tired because of the long appt. and errands she was tired but nothing unusual. then on Tuesday she had some upset stomach but was able to keep it under control, the worst for her is just not sleeping through the night because of her night sweats.
Today is April 7th, my parents 31st wedding anniversary and she had a rough day but tonight feels much better. We sat down and had a nice family dinner, dad brought her roses, and just relaxed and watched TV. Hopefully the Femara comes in the mail so she can start combining it with the Tykerb.

thanks! keep praying..


  1. Thanks for posting K..........I'm keeping you all in my prayers!

  2. Thanks Katelyn. You're one of the strongest "girls" I know and your Mom is right there with you! The pictures are beautiful..and I'm so happy that your Mom and Dad had a great time in Frisco. I'm so glad that you're all living together now..your Mom will have the very best love and care right at home. You and your family are always in my prayers. Love to you all :)