Monday, December 1, 2008

Times of trial

I have been trying to keep everyone updated, but I'm loosing track and can't remember who knows what, so I decided that this might be the easiest way to check-in on me. I will do my best at keeping this blog updated over the next few months and you're all more than welcome to keep emailing me privately.

Since I can't remember who knows what, I'll start from the beginning. Back in August, I felt a lump. A mammogram, ultrasound & biopsy later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer on October 9th, 2008. Never did I think I would be dealing with cancer in my lifetime, especially not at the age of 33!

I am very blessed to have a great Breast Surgeon, she is the assistant director of the Breast Center in Christiana. Due to a cancellation on her schedule, I was able to meet with her right away. I had a lumpectomy & sentinel nodes biopsy done on October 24th. My final pathology report says that I have IDC - invasive ductal carcinoma, an aggressive type of breast cancer. Mine is graded 3, the most aggressive type. The tumor was 2.5 cm putting me into a stage 2 cancer. All 3 lymph nodes taken out tested negative for cancer, it had yet to spread :)

I had my first meeting with my oncologist on November 4th. He's just a great oncologist and we feel that we can trust him. He's also been practicing since the 70's, he's seen a lot! More testing needed to be done on the tumor to determine if my estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and HER2 (something to do with proteins in the tumor) status were positive or negative. This helps decide what kind of chemotherapy is needed. They also did a test to determine my recurrence score of having breast cancer returning within the next 5 years which helps decide if chemo is needed or not. On a scale from 0-100, my score was 57, definite chemo! I'm also a triple negative: ER, PR & HER2 is negative. We went back last week to get all those results, then were sent home with different chemo options to think about.

After our initial meeting, we went to Hopkins for a second opinion. I wasn't very fond of the oncologist over there. He gave me the feeling that I was going to do whatever he decided because HE was the doctor and I was the patient. Well, it's my body being destroyed by the chemo, I should have somewhat of a say! My pathology slides were also sent to 2 other labs, mostly agreeing about my diagnosis.

On December 1st, we met again to make the final decision on treatment. We were very happy to find out that the treatment we like most is also the recommended treatment from my oncologist. Due to such a high recurrence score, I will be doing 6 rounds of chemo instead of the typical 4. The chosen treatment is called TC - Taxotere & Cytoxan. This is an aggressive treatment but also not so toxic for your body. He believes it to be the chemo of the future.

On Wednesday (Dec. 3rd), I will be having a port installed to be able to take chemo. The fact that I had the sentinel nodes biopsy done, they removed some of my lymph nodes in my left arm. I can no longer have any blood pressure, blood drawn, IVs in my left arm as it could trigger lymphedema in my left arm which is an irreversible condition. My arm would just start swelling and it would never be back to normal. Believe, I will be over-protective of that arm as I already have lymphedema in my foot. All that to say, I'm left with my right arm that has lousy veins, the port is just what it is, a small port they insert under your skin through surgery so that they can give you chemo without poking your arms with an IV. It is also much better on your veins.

On Thursday, we're going back to the oncologist for a chemo teaching class. I guess this is when we get to find out about all the little fun things about chemo that we might not already know!

Chemo will finally be starting on Monday, December 8th. 2 months from diagnosis to treatment start isn't that bad. I have met many ladies online that have been waiting longer than that. I will be receiving chemo treatment every 3 weeks for 18 weeks.

When chemo is over, the fun isn't ;) I will need daily radiation treatment (Mon-Fri) for 33 days (7 weeks). I am very looking forward to next Summer!

We'll be trying to enjoy our last weekend of "normal" life and resting at the same time as I need to be very healthy throughout this entire treatment. A small cold can drop my immune system even lower than it is on chemo and could postpone treatment. If postponed for too long, chemo might have to be restarted from the beginning. Homeschooling is actually a blessing since the boys won't be taking home everybody else's germs.

Another test I was going to forget about is the genetic test they did. They were looking for 2 gene mutation that can lead to breast cancer & ovarian cancer. We patiently waited for the result and were so thankful to find out that it was negative. Gotta have some good news through all this :)

For now, that's about all we know and it's bedtime, so more later!


Jesonis said...

Woah. I am overwhelmed for you, and really impressed at the same time. You guys have such a positive attitude and you seem prepared to FIGHT. We'll keep asking how we can help - we'd love to make you some food, watch your kids, whatever. With love,
the Jesonis clan

Anonymous said...

We Love You So Much And We Will Be With You Every Step To Beat This ! Love Aunt Diane & Uncle Mike

Anonymous said...

We are all praying for you! Thanks for making this blog, definitely easier to keep up. :) I wish I could be there to help out! Miss you all!


Wendy said...

Caroline, I've just gotten off the phone with you and want you to know that you've encouraged me today...your energy and positive outlook is infective - in the best way. But it looks like you've got plenty of "back-up" and love to spare from those who love you, should that energy're definately not in this alone. We are praying for you and your family daily...Love, The Winsteads

June said...

The DelCostello Family is praying for you Caroline. If you need anything please don't hesitate to ask. We are here for you.You are such a strong willed person and I know that you are going to be just fine.
With Love,
Leo, June and girls

The Stackler Clan said...

I started an e-mail to you and never quite finished it. We are praying for you. Please let us know how we can help. Driving, cooking, company, or watching the kids.
You are going to do awesome!

becca frank said...


Thank you for being so brave and willing to be transparent about your journey. This is an awesome way for me to keep up to date and pray for you daily. Keep smiling!

Anonymous said...

Caroline, we will be praying for you! You are such a brave and upbeat person, and I really admire your courage! Thanks for starting this blog, so I can keep up with how you are all doing.


Kelly Heckert said...

Hi Caroline,

Thanks for creating the blog. Praying for you. Love you.

I am hear to help, please let me know.


Alli said...

I'm just starting on my road and reading your blog is an inspiration. I love the fact that your children cut your hair...

Love Alli XX

The Cebulas said...

Thanks Alli. I hope this can be helpful to you as your moving with your fight.