Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Embracing...









Dr. Panwalkar walked in a few minutes later than usual and sat down right away to begin downloading images.  The computer takes awhile to load and I fight off the urge to being barraging him with questions.  

On the right side was my PET scan from 2 years ago.  On the left was my scan from 2 weeks ago.  The initial images were white, black and grey and were of my brain.  I panicked for a moment and said, "Its not in my brain is it?"  

No, he replied, I hope you didn't assume the worst? It is worse, but not terrible.  I repeated the "not terrible," part, laughing at his description, and he laughed back saying "Sorry, not a great use of words on my part."  

But I am reading him well and garner strength from his calm demeanor.

He is still shuffling through the layers of scans and and when he gets to my chest we begin to see the color yellow.  Yellow he tells me is cancer activity. He points out anatomical structures so I am oriented and then shows me the lymph node that has grown and is glowing yellow. ( Not a surprise, I've felt this one grow and he acknowledges this.)

Another small yellow dot appears, its the "lump" I felt that brought me in several weeks ago to be examined.  It doesn't appear to be a lymph node, but it doesn't matter, it glows yellow- it shows cancer activity.

He then continues down the scan and several more yellow spots appear and I see now, its back in my left lung.  The three spots I had before (last February) are growing and so is a new lymph node located next to my lungs.  

We now compare CT scans from last year to the one taken a few weeks ago.  The lung tumors were shrinking last spring and that is what enabled me to come off chemo for awhile.  

But it could be they never went away completely, and have just been remaining stable for awhile.  

The lung tumors are now back to about their beginning size, which if I recall, were still considered small.  

But I scan his face and he is calm.  So I quickly say- so no cancer in the brain, no liver, no breast, no spine, or any of the other places from before?  

No.  Nothing else.

It feels so odd, to feel relief while still facing and hearing "you have cancer in your lungs."  

So...

He wants me to go back to chemo.  Its the drug that was a part of my original study- called Perjeta, or Pertuzumab.  He thinks they did actually hear from the study proctors, that I did NOT get Perjeta in the study and I therefore would be able to get it now, since it is FDA approved.  

I would have it infused once every 3 weeks, along with my Herceptin.

Milder side effects- no hair loss.  

So that is plan A.  Perjeta plus Herceptin 1x every 3 weeks.



Plan B would be an oral drug called Xeloda- much more harsh side effects, but we will cross that bridge later.  



Also discussed:

Having my ovaries out- not until after my trip.

Having radiation for the lymph node if it starts to become a daily nuisance.

And the possibility of radio frequency ablation to the lungs if say two tumors respond, and one doesn't respond to Perjeta.  

Lots of variables, but lots of options.



He then asked if I had any more questions and I said just one, 

Will you take a picture with me?

And then his face broke open into a wide smile and he laughed his hearty laugh.  Thats it?  That is your question?

Yep.

Of course, he replies.

So he embraces me tight, and Rick grabs the phone and fires off a quick couple of shots.

Then we chat casually and he tells me about his ski vacation and how he learned how to ski for the first time- along with his daughter.  


See you in 5 weeks, he says.

Lets just try to knock it back and keep you going for a long time.


The sun is shining and I feel bathed in light and warmth the whole way home.  

 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness..."

2 Corinthians 12:9


























73 comments:

  1. Tears of joy are streaming down my face. Praising God it is not worse sweet Vicky. Love that there are plans...many plans. Love.

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    1. Thank you Kelly- I do think I am blessed its not worse- it could be - and I am just thankful to take what has come my way :)

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  2. You are incredible and amazing Vicky. You have a gift to always find the "light". You always seem to find Him. How do you do that? God gave you such a beautiful spirit. I will be praying that this new treatment plan heals you. Praying for you always.

    Love,
    Crystal

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    1. Thank you Crystal- its sooo much easier to find the light then to hide in the darkness friend, it truly is. HE is everywhere- and I am so surrendered to His will- its the only thing I have that I can truly count on- the rest is simply not up to me.

      Love to you Crystal~

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  3. My sweetheart,

    with tears in my eyes I read your post!

    Embracing you with all my power over the ocean and back.

    I am so thankfull!

    I love you so much!

    Bussals from good old germany
    Mimi

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    1. Sweet friend- I am filled with your warmth and embraces all the way over the ocean and back- thank you - love to you- I'm dreaming of Germany :)

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  4. Sending you a warm embrace from Zurich - just sat down here after finishing dinner. So glad to see this report -- to read about your wonderful doctor's words of reassurance. The Lord will keep giving you the strength you need, of this I am sure.

    BTW, he looks like a nice guy :-)

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    1. He is a very good guy - thank you Susan for the warm embrace- Zurich happens to be one of my most favorite places btw!!

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  5. Such a beautiful post. Felt like I was right there with you as I read--trying to figure out the doctor's body posture and expressions.

    I'm hugging you from Georgia, Vicky. LOVE how you didn't ask questions and just wanted a pic with him. Priceless!! xo

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    1. Thank you for coming along Julie- yes- I have learned to just wait and listen and he tells me everything in his own way -but usually I have lots of questions- so he was so not expecting the one I had :)

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  6. Everything is relative - isn't it? Given the situation this IS good news and it is always good to have options, expertise and support - and it sounds like your medical care offers you just that. Of course all the love you produce, share and receive is a whole other source of healing. Really makes me believe 'all shall be well' ...

    Love and light ...

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    1. I really believe so Bonnie- yes- and the support of all of you showing up here is absolutely a boon to my health and well being :) love and light to you-

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  7. Your friends here are so eloquent, Vicky, and I second all they have said. You knew something was up but I'm glad it is not the something that most worried you. SO GRATEFUL for plans and options and keeping things settled down. I don't know how you do all you do but I am grateful you always press on and I'm happy for news that you feel is manageable. Praying for grace to know what to do at each step and which path to take when two roads diverge. Love and big hugs to you and I love the picture with Dr. P.

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    1. I feel fortunate Robynn, in so many ways- and pressing on is such an honor- because I've been given the chance to! Time and again, I have been blessed with fortitude and equipped to just keep on- so I will :)

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  8. Vicky you are such an inspiration to everyone, whether ill or not. How can anyone not have a positive outlook when you've gone thru sooo much.. So glad you are blessed. Keep 'fighting like a girl'. ;o) God Bless You.

    Many HUGS

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    1. Oh thank you Jean- I do appreciate that- God's blessings to you!

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  9. I can only echo what the others have said and continue to pray blessing and healing for you.

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    1. Thank you Susan- your faithful prayers sustain me so much- blessings to you!

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  10. His face is truly that of a kind man, I bet it makes all the difference in the world.

    Glad the news was not the worst, and you can plan to keep fighting the fight, and living the LIFE.

    Sending love and healing thoughts your way - xo

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    1. First of all- thank you for the springy look- so refreshing! He is very kind and I think we are at a point where we get each other and that helps :) yes- just going to keep living life full!!

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  11. I have been trying not to 'stalk' your blog, but have been eager for an update and you are so sweet to update those of us who are checking so frequently. I HATE that the spots are back and that the scans are glowing yellow in areas, but am thankful with you that it hasn't spread beyond that. The conversation and photo with your doctor brought tears to my eyes because I think you have the same type of cameraderie that I have with my doctor and I am so thankful for you--it doesn't always work that way. Praying that you can have the most effective and least invasive chemo possible.

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    1. Becky- I am so grateful for his treatment of ME- yes, he really allows that cameraderie and it I think it really helps... I still remember the photos of you with your doctor and I saw the same level of honor you seemed to have for each other. Thank you for your continued prayers... I hope you are well Becky!

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  12. I wish you could know the relief I feel for you. I have been trying not to stalk your blog, hoping for an update. One of my favorite parts was the phrase "after my trip" because I have just been hoping and praying along with you that it would not have to be canceled.

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    1. I know- me too- he didn't even hesitate to say we could go...

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  13. Vicky - I love you.

    Praying always
    Romans 12:12

    You amaze me!

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    1. Oh Cheyenne- you are too sweet- I love you right back :) thank you sweet one...

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  14. Vicky, I don't think I've written before and we've never met, but I was introduced to your blog through a friend. I wanted to let you know I keep you in my prayers and that I'm absolutely inspired by your faith, optimism and beautiful way with words. You are a very gifted, honest writer.

    Many prayers,
    Amanda

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    1. Hi Amanda-so great to hear from you- thank you for your sweet and kind words- I am very honored! Thank you as well for the prayers- I truly appreciate them- blessings to you!

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  15. What an amazing post. You are so gracious in the face of unbelievably difficult times and stress. Enjoy your trip, you deserve every moment and more.

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    1. Thank you Joan- we have several busy weeks before we can go but the countdown is on!!

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  16. Such a lovely post Vicki and you are fully embracing life and what it deals you, good and bad. You are an amazing woman and your blog is a power of good for so many people. Your Doctor looks just as I imagine. Very warm and caring. Thanks for sharing. It is such a great picture. I am so glad that things are manageable and that the treatment will continue to fight the beast. It clearly works and it will again. It must be a relief for you in many ways. Now, that trip is going to be so sweet for all of you knowing that everything will be managed as you have before. Breathe easy and have a fabulous time. I hope there is lots of sun and surf and sand where you are going. You are a pleasure to read always - I love reading every one of your powerful words. I hope that course is going well. xx

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    1. Hi dear one- thank you for the gentle and caring words- how are you these days? I need to catch up on Lilly!! We are looking forward to sand and sun, and maybe surf? The water will still be pretty cold but we will have a pool nearby so perhaps that will work? It'll all be good! Hope you are well!

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  17. Your post made me smile. To see your doctor's photo makes me feel so much better. Always praying for you Vicky!

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    1. Lisa- Dr. P has a very reassuring presence and demeanor and I do think it comes through in the picture- thank you!

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  18. I've been thinking of you all day, Vicky and just now came to see your update. You are very blessed to have such a caring doctor. We've heard so much about him that it is nice to finally put a face with his name. And, to see him embracing you tight, just proves how much he cares.

    I am so happy to read that you will be able to manage this with more treatment and STILL take your long awaited trip. As they say, "Where there is life. There is hope." Continue to embrace that hope, my friend.


    Love and hugs, Eileen

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    1. Thank you Eileen, I most certainly will embrace that saying- it truly fits and is how I feel these days.

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  19. Well I guess it's going to work eventually if you just hang in there, stay calm and eat well.

    Did you hear about the baby they cured of HIV?
    Today everything is possible.
    You have to eat and stay strong to be able to handle treatments.
    There are so many of them and one of them will be the one for you.xoxoxoxo

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    1. Yes- I did hear about the baby! Every time something like that occurs it gives hope that the researchers are coming up new and better things to keep trying. The magic bullet for my kind of bc could be just around the corner :)

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  20. Hate that there is yellow and thankful that there is treatments available. Tears threatened while reading and prayers thanking God for His goodness. You are such a sweet lady and I'm thankful to get to know you a tiny bit through your writing. Miss keeping up with you & others on FB, I may have to open an account again........
    My best to you!
    TeresaL

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  21. Teresa- if you do decide to return to fb, by all means please come find me! I like being able to catch up with you too :) Thank you for reading and leaving such heartfelt comments- I so appreciate all the support!

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  22. Can't help to have shed some tears reading this. "Your' strength and peace is overwhelmingly strong. I'll be praying for you! How are the kids dealing with this? I hope your calmness is VERY contagious. Much love.

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    1. Maddy- I feel like I've had almost two years now to try and fully grasp the reality of this disease and all that it does. And the kids seem to just take it in stride- right now they are so focused on the trip, that me doing chemo again isn't a big deal for them. Anxious to come and check up with YOU! Thanks sweetie :)

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  23. Vicky - thank you for yet another beautiful post - sharing your faith, grace and strength with all of us who are praying for you and your family and cheering you on. The "embrace" was the first thing I noticed about your photo with your doctor. I'm so glad to hear that there's a treatment plan ready to roll for you! Take care, Patrice

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  24. Vicky, I continue to admire and am in awe of the grace and dignity with which you carry yourself. You are an inspiration to all. My thoughts and prayers are with you always.

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    1. Thank you so much Elizabeth- I so appreciate your thoughts and prayers and continued presence in my life :)

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  25. Vicky, so glad it's not terrible and that there is a plan that will work! And it will! Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! Enjoy your trip!

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    1. I still chuckle at the "not terrible" part... Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers and continual support- I couldn't do this without all of you :)

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  26. I am, as always, in awe of your strength, your presence, your courage, your deep faith.

    Sending prayers of hope and continued strength to you, Dear Vicky.

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    1. Hi Marion- so good to see you here- thank you for your sweet and gracious words. I hope you are well! Thank you for your continued prayers.

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  27. hi friend! You already know what I am doing - you already know --- asking big - praying big - hopeing big!

    love you big!
    xoTiffany

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    1. Hey girl- thank you for asking, and daring BIG for me :) Love you!

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  28. I am so thankful that it's not "worse". I am praying for you. Thanking God for the strength He's given to you and asking Him to continue to strengthen you. You AMAZE me!

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    1. Barbie- thank you - I don't always feel strong- only doing the next best thing to keep going- but thank you for believing in me :)

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  29. tears for you. I woke up Monday praying for your day and the news you were receiving. Although we always pray for the more, I am so grateful for the news, the options for treatment and a road map for the treatment. Reminds me years ago when my father in law went into the hospital and ended up being flown from Savannah to Chapel Hill to have treatment there. The doctor was so kind and told us some things that were not for the faint of heart and yet, the fact that he was prepared and had a plan was tremendously helpful. I pray the day brought some measure of comfort to you even though the treatment to follow may not be easy or what you had planned for.
    I am so excited you get to start with a trip soon. Continually praying for you. Love and hugs sent your way.

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    1. Thank you Jenny- so grateful for your heartfelt and gracious words. Your prayers continue to nourish and sustain me and truly make a difference. Love and hugs to you!

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  30. Vicky, I don't have the words...

    Yours filled my eyes with tears at the hard and the beautiful.

    How you can convey really hard reality and inspire at the same time; how you can leave us feeling so hope-infused.... it's really something at which to marvel.

    I've not been reading blogs lately, but yours is one I always come back to. I talk about "my friend Vicky" and mutter to my husband that I wonder how you're doing.

    Praying for you in all of your moments.

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    1. Jennifer- I think of you so often- what a wonderful surprise to see you here. I follow your fb updates and love- love seeing your beautiful girls and their creative and active imaginations at work. Thank you for your prayers and sweet words- I return those prayers for you and yours. Hugs sweet girl!

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  31. Sweet, beautiful Vicky....
    You are a true inspiration...you really, really are.

    I want you to know I'm thinking of you and sending many, many warm hugs.

    Keeping you in my prayers sweet friend.

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    1. Oh Jen- you are so kind and sweet :) Thank you for thinking of me- hugging you right back!

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  32. Am I happy to read this?
    Does a cat have a butt? (Gotta think that it does.)
    Happy, happy, happy!! (as Phil Robertson would say.)
    And, I'm glad to see the photo of you and Dr. Panwalkar. You make him look good! (Don't tell him that...he might not have our quick-witted sense of humor...) :))
    Love the embrace...and so glad to read that there are plans A and B. Continued hugs and love to you, my friend.
    I LOVE your header!!! Beautiful!!!!

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    1. Jackie- my header is compliments of Karen and she always does an amazing job- I feel blessed for sure! Ha- and I assure you Dr. P is indeed quick witted and would laugh at your joke :) I hope you are well! I am catching up on blogs slowly :) Love to you!

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  33. Hugging you tight and sending you love xoxoxo

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    1. Hugging you right back- love to you Anyes! xxoo

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  34. Hi Vicky! It's 1:35am here in Los Angeles and for some reson you came to mind. I have been touched by your story and I just wanted to stop by and say I'm still praying for you.

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    1. I'm always so honored to get a comment just like yours- I feel so blessed that you would think of me and then come here and leave a sweet comment. Blessings to you!

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  35. ah,Vicky. I knew if I came over here you would make me feel better. Not because of your cancer, heavens no, but because of the incredible strength of character you have, because of the brightness of your soul, your perseverence in the face of so much difficulty.
    I have had one brain surgery, and fear that another is on the horizon.
    I have been feeling sorry for myself, scared, overwhelmed.
    Then I thought........I'm going to go see how Vicky is doing.
    And you humble me girl.
    I aspire to be as tough as you are, and as full of grace.
    much love to you.

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    1. Hilary- I'm so sorry to hear of your possible surgery! My goodness- I had no idea- please let me know how/if I can pray for you. Thinking of you Hilary- please feel free to email me with details if you feel like it. Know I am thinking of you!! Thank you for your kind and gracious words.

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  36. Totally moved to tears!!! No words... Bless you! Bless you! Bless you!!!! Heartfelt hugs!! :))))

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    1. Thank you Janay! Hugs back to you :)

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  37. Oh!!! A wonderful photo as well! So nice to "meet" this Dr. Panwalker who has been taking care of you!

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    1. Yes- I thought you all might like to see him :) The response I've gotten tells me you all did!

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