Monday, May 16, 2011

The Battle Begins

Like the strongest of armies my loyal, strong, loving soldiers assembled immediately. My Amazing husband rushed home from work as soon as he heard the news was "not good". My Dad and Becky extended so much love, warm embraces and nurturing as they took us to their home and fed us, loved us and helped share the devastating news with family and friends. And we all know my wonderful, die hard Momma would have been here the second she heard my broken hearted little voice, but I was in cahoots with my awesome Step Pa Scott who was helping me ensure she got home safely from work before I told her the news, that I knew was going to break her heart. She and Step Pa rushed down as soon as I told her...of course! and YES, I AM BLESSED!!!!!

Of course I was terrified about having cancer, but I was also amazed by this overwhelming feeling of love and comfort from others as I shared the news of my diagnosis with my friends and family. I know I said this to a few people I talked to that night "If someone has to go through this I'm probably one of the better people to do it because I have so much amazing family and friends who are going to support me through this...I've got an army to fight this battle with". And that was it. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to fight this hard. no question about it. Cancer picked the wrong bitch y'all!! (Sorry that is my favorite cancer saying so far).

So what do you do the day after you get diagnosed with cancer and you wake up and you think "ohh yeah I have cancer!". The temptation to go sky diving was there but I decided to hit the town with as many people as I could rally and have as much fun as possible...ok maybe that's called avoidance but it was really really FUN! My mom, step pa, BFF Erica and her amazing hubby Scott, Mike and Lindsay Brenner and I hit Capitola and Santa Cruz hard! Drinking, bowling, drinking, SC boardwalk, drinking, mini golf, video games, Wii party! It was an amazingly fun day and my family and friends helped me cry and laugh through a tough day. Thank you all so much for that day!

The next day it was time to face reality a bit. We met with Carol, who is a nurse navigator at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) where I am being treated. Carol was great! She gave us SO much information on breast cancer and introduced us to the many many intricacies of breast cancer including the different types, the testing process to determine what type I have, the different treatments for the different types, fertility issues...This is where my heart broke a little. I was armed and ready to fight breast cancer, but I had not even thought about breast cancer impacting my ability to have children. Peter and I were excited about getting pregnant sometime in 2011, but we realized this was going to delay things, but never did either of us think this might take our chance away, we were both a little heart broken. This is still the one part of the whole cancer battle that is hard to handle.

Carol helped us understand the slue of  doctors we were lined up to meet over the next few days and the roles each of them would play in my treatment. First, we met with Dr Dakkuri a surgeon at PAMF and a real sweetheart. Dr. Dakkuri was wonderful in helping me and my entourage (Peter, Dad, Mom and Step-pa) understand more about the type of Cancer we could be dealing with, the testing that would determine the type  and my options for treatment and surgery. Dr. Dakkuri had me return to Carol for the blood testing that would tell us whether or not I had one of the breast cancer genes (called BRACA 1 and BRACA 2) The following day we met with Dr. Glen Wong an oncologist at PAMF. He elaborated further on the types of breast cancer and the various treatments. We discussed all the possibilities and then we waited for the results...

The results came a piece at a time. First, I got the call that it was "triple negative" breast cancer. I cried. Then I laughed because I couldn't remember if that was good or bad, so I called my Dad who explained that it was good for my chances of having a baby naturally because I wouldn't need long term treatments, but also was considered by the doctors "more agressive" because it was not growing off hormones or proteins. Then I got the call that I had not one but BOTH GENES!

BRACA 1+ BRACA 2= Stanford Cancer Center

Having both genes, I found out later, was extremely rare. I had a 1 in 400-800 chance of having one gene and....drum roll please.....bddddddddd....1 in 640,000 chance of having both genes! Craziness. Having one of the genes qualified me for a clinical trial at Stanford Cancer Center and having both of the genes made me "the golden child" of the Stanford clinical trial :) Well at least that is how the study coordinator and I described the doctors and researchers excitement at the ability to see how someone with both genes, ME, responded to the treatment. Especially since women who had one of the genes were responding significantly well to the treatment.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My funny Valentine...

February 14, 2011. Valentines Day. The day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. WOW! What a shock. Here I am getting into the best shape of my life and now I have the C-word! I am still not sure that the shock has worn off yet... So here I am sitting in Stanford Cancer Center getting my chemo and starting a blog. My amazing girlfriends and I wanted to start a blog so that we can team up together to keep in touch and share the details of my journey with all of my amazing friends and family...My Army...My Team!

It was January 2011 and I was hard at work on my New Years resolution, mastering push ups. I have always struggled with push ups and my trainer friend had been encouraging me to conquer them. I had been working hard and I was sore and tight in my chest area and the top area of my breasts felt firm....strange!?! I waited thinking that the firmness was a result of my hard core push up training. Then after a little over a week the soreness and tightness were gone, but my right breast was still very firm...it felt like a golf ball was trapped inside. After another week and no change in the golf ball I called and set up an appointment with my primary care doctor on February 5th. My primary doctor felt the golf ball and was surprised at the size and the short time in which the golf ball had appeared, she stated that she was pretty sure that the golf ball was a cyst and could be removed or drained (gross!). The doctor also examined my left breast and felt a small growth in it and then suggested that the best course of action was to have a mammogram and ultra sound on both breast.

February 8th, 2011 I went in to have the mammogram and ultra sound at Palo Alto Medical Center in Santa Cruz. The radiologist was shocked as I described my discovery of the, according to him, “3.9cm wide” golf ball size lump in my right breast. He asserted that "we need to biopsy this and figure out what this is"...Ohh crap! I thought we were all sure that this was just a cyst? Now I was signed up for biopsy on each breast for February 10th.  I was completely freaked out. I requested sedation. Needle insertion into the breast…need I say more it was unpleasant. Fortunately I had taken some time off of work. It was a Thursday so that meant we had to wait until Monday for the results…Happy Valentine’s Day!

I spent the weekend mostly trying to distract myself, stay busy, drink wine, all those great “coping skills”. Hahaha! “Remember your coping skills” that’s what I tell the kids at work. Peter and I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Sunday evening because he was going to have to work late Monday night. I spent the beautiful sunny afternoon cooking for our romantic night. I took a moment that day and sat out on the deck in the sunshine, which was playing a game of peek-a-boo using the clouds to momentarily hide and then burst through with its warmth and light onto me…I felt something greater than me and then an epiphany. I suddenly knew what the news was going to be for me the following day; it was going to be Cancer. I asked God “Is this what you need me to do? Is this what I need to go through?” . The warmth of the sun covered me and I felt the answer and I felt my faith. Whatever this journey was going to bring I believed what my Aunt Anna told me “If he brings you to it He will bring you through it”.

Monday morning came, I went to work and was greeted with Valentines from my co-workers. How did I such a wanna-be Martha Stewart forget to bring Valentines or atleast some candy or cookies for my co-workers?!? If you know me this was SO out of character for me!I went on with the work day with the anticipation of my test results weighing heavy on my mind. I was on my way to a important meeting at The Department of Children’s Services when I received a message from my primary care doctor that she had some results for me and “it was not good”. What the heck!!??!! “Not good”! So now I had to sit through a 2 hour meeting wondering what “not good” meant. I hopped in the car after the meeting, called my doctor and headed over Hwy 17 to get there asap! Realizing I didn’t want to hear the news alone I tried to call my Dad…no answer. Then I called Becky, my amazing step-momma, who of course rushed over immediately to be with me. Umm yeah my step-momma is way cooler than yours all I gotta say! Becky was awesome she held my hand and held me up as I heard the hard news…you have breast cancer.