Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I'm Going to Need More Fingers

I think it's time for me to stop and count my blessings. The people in my life are awesome...and they love me. This is -hands down- the greatest way for a people person (like me) to be blessed. Friends, family, and acquaintances will send me things, bring me things, make me things, and write me things - all things that take away the sting of losing so much to something so insane.

A good (and hilarious) friend of mine started a heart chain for me on Facebook. She got a crapload of people to post pictures of hearts for me. They were cute, funny, creative-as-hell, and each one made me happy-cry in ways that also made me grateful to be at home where people couldn't see my happy-cry face.

Another friend is a doctor at City of Hope. When I found out about my humerus last week, she asked if I was going to COH for a second opinion. I told her I was...but...I couldn't get an appointment until February 24. Not even 24 hours later, I get a Facebook message from her telling me that she snagged me an appointment on Monday.'s the thing: I hate missing work. Not only did she get me an appointment super quick, she also made it on a day I already have off. Seriously, nothing could be better.

This story is going to be kind of cheesy-hopeful, but bear with me. I thought I was going to be starting chemo, so in my mind, I did all the preparations. I thought about how I should cut my hair short, buy all new skincare products, rearrange my work calendar, etc. all around my having to get chemo soon. Luckily, I was able to go to COH first, where the oncologist told me a whole mess of stuff that was awesome and terrible all at once.

I learned so much in this consultation on Monday and after today's consultation at UC Irvine, C and I are so ready to move onward and upward. It's hard to write this blog sometimes, because I want to share everything and document everything in decent detail. Unfortunately...things happen SO quickly. Decisions are made, information is given, and plans change. So in quick-ish outline form, here is what happened:

To recap: My PET scan showed a new cancerous spot on my humerus (where my right shoulder is). Other tumors measured larger. I started tamoxifen on October 28, 2013. My oncologist in OC says we should start chemo soon.

At City of Hope: I get scolded for declining Lupron shots. Lupron is the shot that will shut my ovaries down completely and have me go through menopause in a manner of months. The COH oncologist tells me that it would have been for sure better to have started Lupron months ago. We did not know that. I cried and immediately felt embarrassed (for crying). We learn about flares.

Flares are something that can happen on the road to hormone therapy working.
Many patients in my situation will experience a flare in the beginning stages of hormone therapy.
Flares will cause tumor growth and pain.
Flares often indicate that hormone therapy is working.

At UC Irvine: The newest doctor I've met with lets us know that he recommends we continue with hormone therapy (we told him nothing about what COH said). He wants us to consider using a different drug (to replace tamoxifen).

So C and I now have to decide if I want to give tamoxifen a chance for 2 more months (COH) or switch to Femara (UCI). I'm leaning towards tamoxifen.

How blessed am I to have had a thoughtful friend intervene and get me a faster appointment at City of Hope before I cut my hair or did something crazy!?!?!?


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