Hakuna Mata

 

 

Going in for surgery on your brain during a lockdown – on the one hand, yes, I am so very grateful to be having the treatment. On the other hand, I was scared, terrified.

 

After the past three months, I have been slowly starting edge my way back into the wild.

 

At times,  I am nervous and scared going into these repeat scans.

Today I will have a repeat MRI to check on the progress and swelling of my brain.

I will also have a full PET scan on my body. It has been six months since the last.

 

From my original diagnosis in 2016, I have been considered a stage four metastatic breast cancer patient having cancer in several areas of my body.

 

After my original chemo treatment and continued medication, my body scan has shown no change. NEAD (no evidence of active disease).

 

Yes, a feat on its own. And a reason to celebrate as a triple-positive breast cancer patient Herceptin has worked for me.

 

If you know me well, I hesitate to talk about this subject, let alone write about it and throwing it out in the universe.

 

Maybe you are out of the loop.

 

I had a craniotomy on June 3, 2020, to remove one growing tumor.

 

Honestly, the shit show scares me more than ever while awaiting scan results.

I feel that I am in “the” right place, both physically and mentally.

 

But I can’t stay in a safe bubble forever.

 

It is time once again and take the plunge and face the reality of metastatic breast cancer.

 

Scanxiety doesn’t serve me, so I’m once again releasing that energy.

 

It is a day to day and scan to scan learning.

 

I am accepting whatever will eventually show up again. Because the truth is that is what happens with metastatic disease.

 

Metastatic breast cancer remains without a cure. Many patients live beyond their diagnosis as I have and will continue for many years.

 

I am not able to control what is in my body.

But I can choose and control how I feel about it.

I will continue to serve myself and my heart.

I will not obsess about what I can not control.

Don’t worry, just be happy.

 

The game you play

Steve and I often refer to the treatment of stage 4 cancer as whack-a-mole.

It is constant and rarely takes much of a break.

My almost four years since diagnosis has been smooth sailing for most of the time.⁠

I am one of the lucky ones, and I have outlived my prognosis.
.
The MRI showed that the three spots have increased in size since the last scan, which was approximately a month ago.⁠

Yes

I am happy to report that steroids have helped with the headaches and given me a fantastic boost of energy and mental clarity.

No

Taking the steroids did not reduce the edema or the growth of the three lesions.⁠

We are in the same place that we were last month when we first met with the neurologist.

These three little buggers have been around since 2017.

First, we have already treated the three spots with radiation.

Stereotactic treatment quieted the lesions down for a year. But most likely also has caused some brain necrosis. Thirty percent of all patients treated with any radiation in their body ends up with disease in the area. And is referred to as necrosis.

So now what?

We have been crossing off possibilities.

And I am ok with that. This is what it looks like when you have metastatic breast cancer.

Doing the steroids and repeat scan was one way of waiting before surgical removal of any of the lesions.⁠

We will speak with the neurologist soon.

In the meantime, a new PET scan will take place to make sure that the rest of my body is still considered NEAD.

I can be thankful for Herceptin helping to keep my lungs, liver, and bones in this state.

As I write this update, we are all dealing with the desperate situation of the coronavirus.

I send my love to each of you.

My medical team is growing

**********************************************************

I had my first appointment with a neurosurgeon this past week.

Steve and I were impressed and happy with who my oncologist recommended.

I prefer to have my doctors be blunt and to the point.

And this one did not disappoint.

 

He had already seen my MRI that shows the three tumor areas. He also had my medical records showing that I have been in treatment for almost four years.

The first thing out of his mouth was; 

“Well, you look a whole lot better than what I expected. I thought you would look sick”.  

and second

“You have outlived your prognosis.”

Then he mentioned that he hoped that did not offend me, but he is blunt.

It was strange to hear a doctor mention it. I was thrilled that he did.

 

He said he was looking at edema from the prior radiation as well as the three tumors. 

After a long conversation, which included learning new things, the next step will be three weeks of Dexamethason to reduce the water/edema. Hopefully, this will help with the headaches.

I will have a repeat MRI, and a follow up with the neurosurgeon.

I was happy to hear that he was confident that two of the spots are operatable. The third may be as well, but he would have to study the area more to determine if it would be safe.

 

Depending on the outcome of the March MRI, we will have more information to make plans and next steps.

A biopsy of at least one of the tumors will most likely be needed to determine if my actual treatment protocol will need to be changed.

In a needle biopsy, he will drill a small hole into the skull, and a narrow, hollow needle is placed into the incision to extract a tiny portion of the tumor or tissue. A stereotactic biopsy uses 3-D imaging technology, as well as data from CT and MRI scans, to examine a tumor or a piece of the brain.

I have taken 2mg of Dexamethason before bed the last two nights.

I have to admit I enjoyed the energy that I had today. I feel like my old self. My stamina is impressive. Today was the first time since I can remember that my entire house is clean at the same time and I didn’t pay someone to make that happen.

***********************************