Wednesday, August 1, 2012

practicing... and a side of news



I arrived at Roger Maris yesterday sans caffeine and breakfast per orders for my lab test, with a headache beginning to nag.  I was relieved I didn't have to wait too long before they drew the final vial of blood for the cholesterol panel.  Hello coffee and advil- breakfast of champions.  Oh and pancakes, because the ones they make at the cafeteria aren't half bad.

I was then surprised to get a visit from Kathy my research nurse.  6 months after completion of the study I was on for tdm1, the study would like one last pregnancy test.  She arranges for me to go back to the lab after infusion.

I sit tapping my foot in the exam room, waiting for Dr. P to arrive.  His footsteps are quiet and he is in the doorway before I know it.  He breaks into a huge smile and says- "Seems like forever since I've seen you!"  It does.

He tells me everything takes him longer on the new Epic medical chart system, so just bear with him as he clicks through all the screens.  (What normally takes me about 2 1/2 hours for a complete visit, takes 5 hours yesterday.)

He then prints out my lab results and swings around to face me. I visibly suck in air...  he goes down the list in order.  My WBC is still low, not unexpected even 2 months out from chemo.  My platelets are also still low.  But they have climbed some.

He then breaks formality, and I am reminded of the parts I love about him.  In mid sentence he stops and leans closer "Is that your hair?  No? Really? I can't tell, you really look good."  His sincerity makes me blush.

My cholesterol it turns out, is high. Just a few points above where normal should be.  And my heart rate- "off to the races as always."  He mentions the possibility of two things- the addition of two prescriptions- one to lower my cholesterol and one to lower my heart rate.  But we'll watch and wait for now.

And then we get to the very bottom of the list.  My CA 27.29- my tumor markers.  To be considered in the normal range they would need to fall below 38.  Mine are 41.  BUT, they were 44.  Smile.

I'm still stable.  Not free of cancer, its lurking in there somewhere.  But, it doesn't appear to be growing right now.  Whew.  I feel God's steadying hand on my shoulder.  All shall be well.

I get a thorough exam from Dr. Panwalkar- his fingers deftly examine every possible lymph node and he finds nothing.

Dr. Panwalkar almost sounds surprised as well.  He keeps asking if I am sure and if anything at all is different. I walk in once every few weeks wondering what cancer will do.  He walks in once every hour wondering and often knowing what cancer will do.  My gratitude for what he does knows no bounds.

"Good new, bad news he says. Good news, you don't have to come see me for two more months.  Bad news, we don't get to see you for two more months!"

Lots of people ask me this all the time- I will try to explain about the treatment I am still doing that is helping to keep me stable.

I will continue on getting Herceptin infusions once every three weeks.  Herceptin targets only bad cells, and leaves the healthy ones alone.  I will also continue on my Tamoxifen hormonal treatment-one pill daily by mouth.  Tamoxifen shuts down my estrogen- estrogen feeds my tumors.  I now have hot flahses, night sweats, and do not sleep as well at night.  Trade offs I am willing to take on.

But I will remain on break from the chemo that ends up destroying both healthy and bad cells.  I will also not have blood work or doctor visits during this time.

So... what we WILL be doing is trying to plan a trip... yep, THE trip.  More to follow...




32 comments:

  1. Thanks for the update. Continued prayers and blessings to you and your family!

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    1. Thank you so much Laura- we truly appreciate it :) Blessings to you and yours!

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  2. Thank you for sharing the good news, Vicky! I'm so happy for you. Glad to hear a trip is in store for the deserving Westras!

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    1. Thank you so much Bonnie- feeling so grateful- thank you for celebrating with us :)

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  3. i think a picture of you with dr. p is in order. i have one in my head, but i need a real one to place beside it!!

    thanks for sharing the update! it has been a good summer, girl!

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    1. Jenn- its been the best summer- and last summer is pretty hard to beat. I feel very fortunate right now and grateful. Will work on that picture for you :)

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  4. oh dear friend - i wish you could see the huge smile on my face and the happy tears in my eyes - my heart was racing racing reading this!

    I am still holding you before Him; praying and fighting with you Vicky and I know you know you aren't alone and that my friend makes it all the better!

    Your grace filled heart and positive spirit is infectious and I know its part of your cure!

    xoTiffany

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    1. Sending love your way! Thanks for being you!

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  5. I agree with Jenn, a picture next time you are with him is definatel in order. I think all of us would like to give him a high-five for working with you and treating you so well.
    Can't wait to hear about your trip plans!

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    1. Ha- yep- we'll see what we can do bout that photo :) I may even get the chance to do better than a photo... time will tell :)

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  6. Well that's GREAT NEWS!!! And I am so looking forward to your pictures on THAT trip!

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    1. ME TOO... every time I see a photo of your daughter Karen, the flame of hope is fanned for me... her story makes me feel like I can overcome too :)

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  7. Great news!!!! Worthy of a major happy dance and a trip. :)

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    1. Yep- the major happy dance is definitely happening :) And a trip is just pure bonus :)

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  8. Wonderful, wonderful news, Vicky! It looks like at long last that your trip is going to be able to happen. I am SO happy for you!!! xxoo

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    1. Thank you so much Eileen- thank you for celebrating along with me. I was excited to share with all of you because you've walked with me every step of the way and I wouldn't be here without all of your support and prayers!

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  9. EgggggggSalad News cousin...
    (as a buddy of mine always says and I love it!)

    So where are you going on your trip?? I say the sky is the limit since you, I and everyone else is on cloud 9 about this good news why not shoot for the moon?

    Wherever you decide to go I know you, Rick & the boys will pack in the memories and moments and tuck them away in your hearts... This long needed trip needs to be rolled in and enjoyed like the first snow or that just raked pile of leaves... Who cares when that snow melts or if wind takes those leaves ~ just enjoy the now of it !!!!

    Love ya cuz!!
    B

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    1. Hey B- so good to hear from you! Hope you are doing well :) We're looking everything over and trying to fit in a few things we've longed to do... will let everyone know when we have more of a chance to plot it all out :)

      Love ya girlie! Hope to see you soon!

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  10. I just breathed a HUGE sigh of relief right along with you - you don't know how happy I am to read your good news. I go back to see my oncologist tomorrow and start the next round of chemo. Here's hoping I'll have good news as well.

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    1. I'm hoping and praying and hoping Melissa- you are due for another round of good news. I know when you got your break- it put it in my heart that it was possible :) Praying it is possible for you again soon.

      Sending love and prayers!

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  11. well that all sounds like great news to me !!!

    {side note: epic is a huge beautiful company just a few miles south of us. our doctors get frustrated learning the new stuff, too....LOL}

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    1. Thanks Beth :) I think once everyone grows accustomed to it- Epic will be great- just a steep learning curve right now!

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  12. YYYIIIIPPPPEEEE!!!!! I am so excited to hear about your great news!! PRAISE GOD!!! Enjoy planning your trip...can't wait to hear all about your plans!

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    1. Oh thank you Kim :) We have been talking non-stop about nothing but the trip :) Praise God- yes!

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  13. YEAHHH Vicky! Glad to hear your numbers are good and all in the right direction. :)
    Have fun planning your trip. :)

    Enjoy,
    Michelle

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    1. Thank you sweet friend! I know, you know what it is all about :) I hope you are well :)

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  14. Sounds like a lot of things to be thankful for! So thankful. I am thinking of you and can't wait to hear more about the hopeful, upcoming vacation.

    Much love to you!

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  15. Yay!!!! Yayyyyyyyyy!
    The trip! So excited to hear about all your plans!
    love u

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  16. Wow!! This is good news indeed!!
    Keep it up girl!!

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  17. This was so good to read this morning, and I'm smiling and breathing big relief breaths!!!! Whenever I come here, I always feel that I'm just a few car lengths in front of you -- just a little further down the road. I remember those first 3 month check ups. I'd hold my breath until the blood test results came in with the cancer marker things. Gradually (VERY gradually) I settled into a less nervous state. Now, 3 years out, I still walk into the cancer center a little in awe of all that has happened and wonder all the ifs, the whens, and the wheres. But we walk differently, don't we???? Somehow, we've made it through "warrior training" and we know the One who walks with us will always be there. So glad for you, Vicky! Except for the night sweats, etc!!!!! I know all about that and it doesn't go away. Walgreens has a little mat called "Forever Cool." You don't have to put it in the freezer or fridge. It just stays cool. I rest my arm on that as I go to sleep and it seems to cool me off some. Sometimes, I'm soooooo HOT that it warms up, but will be cool again within an hour. Amazing! But a bag of ice works wonders, too!!!

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  18. Held my breath while I read this! Hallelujah!! Praying, praying, love to you and yours.

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  19. Hi Vicky! I can't tell you how happy I am for you! I'm beaming end to end for God's presence and His healing touch. So glad for the treatment you are taking and the progress you are making :)

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I welcome what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to grace me with your thoughts and words!

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