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Not Done, Yet
As you know, I finished up my final radiation treatment last Thursday. Thank you for all the cheers of support! I admit that I wrapped things up in radiation oncology with mixed emotions. I was glad that my skin was going to get a much-needed rest, and I was looking forward to a break from the daily drives to the medical center. On the other hand, I was also guarded. I had a feeling that I wasn’t “done” yet. Unfortunately, my feelings were confirmed the following Tuesday during my medical oncology appointment.
What I expected to hear when I met with Dr. Cristofanilli was that I would begin a five-year regime of a daily, oral estrogen blocker called Tamoxifen. Although not totally thrilled to be tied to a drug for the next five years, I knew that my life wouldn’t be all too interrupted with this particular treatment.
What I wasn’t prepared to hear was a recommendation that for the next six months, in addition to Tamoxifen, I receive a once monthly infusion (like chemo was delivered) of a drug called Zometa.
Dr. Cristofanilli explained in the following way: Because I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, there is a chance that cancerous cells migrated to my bone marrow. I was confused; I thought the bone marrow aspiration that I had before chemo ruled out micrometastasis to the bone. I learned that this is true, but there still is a good chance that because cancer spread into my lymph nodes, inactive cancer cells made their way elsewhere (probably to the bone marrow as that can be one of the first places cancer shows up after a diagnosis of breast cancer).
I couldn’t help but wonder about chemotherapy. I thought that was a system-wide treatment. Although also correct, apparently Taxol and FEC only wipe out the active cancer cells not the dormant ones. This is where the bisphosphonate, Zometa, comes in. The hope is that it will stomp out any lingering dormant cancer cells.
So yesterday afternoon, I found myself on the 8th floor of the Mays Clinic, again, getting my first of six, 15 minute infusions of Zometa. The good news is that my hair and nails will continue to grow, but there are possible side effects with Zometa including: flu-like symptoms, aching bones and joints, nausea and so on, much like the symptoms I had from the Neulasta shot I got during FEC.
I really thought I might sneak by without experiencing any of the side effects, especially because during treatment, last night and early this morning, I felt nothing. It wasn’t until I was about halfway to work today when I took a deep breath and felt pain in my ribs. By the time I peeled myself out of my car and was heading into school, I was walking more slowly than usual, and by mid-morning, I was turning out the light to my office and heading home. Chills and increased bone pain in my ribs and hips were nagging at me. Plus, I was exhausted.
When I got home I crawled into bed and luckily fell sound asleep for a couple of hours. After waking up this afternoon, I still struggled with aches and chills, so I cranked up the heat in the house, threw on extra clothes, took a couple Tylenol and covered up on the couch. Clearly, I had not escaped the side effects of Zometa. Additionally my I-am-not-out-of-the-woods-yet feeling was confirmed with the administration and very uncomfortable side effects of Zometa.
Here I am tonight; it's a little over 24 hours since I had my infusion, and I’m in bed laying under two wool blankets, a down comforter and two blankets still trying to warm up and get comfortable. My head is covered with a wool hat, and I’m wearing socks, leggings and two shirts. I’m hoping to fall asleep within moments of posting this note. I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow morning, but I have wishes of waking in the morning pain-free and warm.
I’d like for my body to get a break – at least until my next Zometa treatment.
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Hang in there Lady! You've already proven you can do just about anything. Six months isn't insurmountable. I want to compliment you on the way you have taken this journey with dignity and grace!
Good Morning! You're always in my prayers! I admire your strength and positive attitude. Hang in there. Love you tons!
Hang in there Dear Lisa: We feel your pain and as always, salute your eloquent if brutal honesty. I can tell that for me and many of your readers, your words evoke waves of loving and healing thoughts being sent your way and I hope you feel and derive some comfort from them. This new treatment does NOT reflect new and bad news that something in your condition has changed--rather, the shock is due to a new level of understanding of what as been all along, apparently. While this distinction does not lessen the disappointment at putting off the timeframe to feeling better or take away from the immense discomfort, at least it is not due to any actual and ominous findings. Hang in there......
Bummer You continue in the D's prayers and positive thoughts. We admire your courage. Here is hoping for the best. You deserve it. B. and N.
Keep Warm Your message of trying to keep warm reminded me of the many warm thoughts and prayers that are coming to you right now at this very moment - I hope that you can feel a corporate anointing coming down on you from the top of your hairy head to the bottom of your stockinged feet. Know that we at Goodson are standing in the gap with you as you continue to fight the good fight with grace and valor. YOU ARE REMARKABLE!!
You can do it! You can do anything you set your mind to...I am a believer of that! Just look at the grade book issues...they were saying that there isn't a problem...you persisted...and now it looks like they fixed it when they came out yesterday!!!! YEAH!!! :)
My thoughts and prayers are with you... Know that P. and I are praying for and thinking of you...You probably have no idea the impression you made on me the first day I walked into Goodson to move my stuff (my gabiliion lamps) to my room. I was getting ready to sign out and a parent came in looking to speak to someone. I looked around the office and poked my head into your office and you were SO nice! You were obviously busy, but took the time to talk to me, to ask about me, where I came from, etc. That made a huge impression on me and I have the utmost respect for you as a co-worker and person. Hang in there---hope to see you before too long! :) Hugs, W. :)
A minor setback I'm sorry that you have to endure yet another treatment and one that you didn't expect. It’s amazing how we know our bodies and that instinct is worth cultivating; it will also tell you when you are successful in dealing with this disease. That is the good part.
Given a choice I suppose that I would rather be cold than hot. One can always add layers and you seem to have done that. But its not fun and it doesn't sound cozy. I hope that you awoke comfortable and rested with a normal body temperature. Hold on to the fact that your hair and nails will continue to grow. We send you the warmest of hugs and hope that the cats snuggled under the covers with you. There is nothing quite like body heat.
Goodson Grizzles Lisa We miss your smiling face. I can't imagine what you’re going through, but every time I see you around school, you always have a big smile. That really brightens up the day. You are continuously in my prayers and thoughts. --S. W.
Another prayer Lisa May God protect you and heal you. Come back to us soon :) M.
thoughts and prayers You are an incredible person and a wonderful coworker. You are in my thoughts and prayers. n. b.
Thinking of you This morning when I was driving to school, you popped into my head and the voice inside me told me to say a prayer for you. So I did. I know that it was God speaking to me because when I got the message yesterday about you going home and then reading your CarePages this morning, He knew that you needed lifting up. I know that you are tired, disappointed and discouraged. It is like that when we just want a trial OVER that we have been going through for awhile. Trials are our test. He watches over us every step of the way and He never gives us more than we can handle. You have done so well with all that you have been given to deal with and you someday will be a testimony to someone who will go through your exact situation. You can not be that if you do not get totally healed and that is what this treatment appears to be for. I have always heard that cancer generally moves about to places that we would not even expect. We get treated for the initial place of origin and it is way more important to get rid of it in the places that we do not know of because we want it gone; completely. Cancer is meant to break the body, not the spirit and you keep yours up. Your perseverance is going to be more important during this treatment than any other. And you will continue to have many of us here right along with you helping you and lifting you up to help you get over this hurdle so that you can once again embrace life to its fullest. Take care and know that I am praying to Him on your behalf:)
moved I am profoundly moved by your courage and acceptance of things as they are today. I will remember this and hope that by the time you read my note you feel warm and cozy. From B. K., a long time friend of Prue's
Thinking of you I found myself holding my breath as I read your posting. I recently heard someone say that change doesn't happen until a person feels uncomfortable. Can I say ENOUGH! for you!!!! You have cornered the market on that saying!!! I know the saying is referring to a person's emotional state, and you are right there with it all. I hope that you are resting and feeling better as I write this. million hugs! M.
Rest and recoup! You must have felt better to brave the Curriculum Council meeting. I didn't get a chance to talk to you, but I loved the new fuzz. I am praying that this new monthly treatment's side effects will not linger. I am always amazed at your resilience. I am believing that you are killing the cancer and healing your body. As always, I hope and pray for the best for you.
Thinking of you I'm so sorry you have to be made sick again in order to be well. I'm sure it is very hard. Our prayers, love and concern are with you. O. L.
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