Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A plan for the first quarter

The good news is that my brain, bones, and organs appear to be cancer-free.  The left breast, as suspected, is full of cancer, and so are some neighboring lymph nodes (boo!).  The right breast is questionable (boo again!).  We'll repeat all of the scans before surgical decisions are made.  

I suppose there's no additional bad news other than the cancer itself (which is estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative, and H-2-new positive [I have no idea how that is really spelled, but that is how I hear it]).  H-2-new positivity is a good thing because there are great drugs against that, apparently.  Unfortunately I was robbed of my time to celebrate the good news by being launched into a lengthy chemotherapy briefing, which was a bit traumatic.  Tomorrow I will have a port put just under my skin on my chest, and that is where my injections will take place.  I don't know about you, but when I heard "port" I thought that there would be this thing in me allowing free passage of fluids and preventing further pokes.  Pop the lid off and we're good to go.  That is not true.  There will be a thing in my chest, under the skin, and it will facilitate the passage of fluids from needle to vein; there will still be a poke.  I think people with a different perspective, such as having frequent pokes related to diabetes, would be thrilled with a port, but I myself am still getting used to the idea.  Call me old-fashioned, but I am already looking forward to the removal of the port.  

So, port at 6:30 am.  Then chemo round one at 10:30.  Chemotherapy will last 18 weeks, plus the continuation of one of the three drugs for a year.  Three drugs once every three weeks, and one of those three drugs every week.  The every-week drug shouldn't be so hard on me, and in fact won't affect hair loss, but the other two sound rather unpleasant, including swift hair loss.  After the chemo, all tests will be repeated and the extent of surgery will be assessed.  Then radiation, but we didn't even talk about that (or surgery, really) today.  There's no way to know how I personally will be affected by the chemotherapy, but I was told that the fatigue is real and Ian already picked up my anti-nausea medication.  I'm sure that you have many unanswered questions, but that's about the best I can do tonight.         

Poke tally:
left breast  1
left arm  3
right arm 3


  1. Heather, I was so happy when my mom called with the good news that Ian reported today. I know that this has been a very traumatic week and that chemo will be a difficult road. Please let me know if there is anything you need (materially, emotionally, financially, insert relevant adverbs). I found on the American Cancer Society website that they have a "Patient Navigator Program" - so somebody who might be able to help you and Ian get more resources in line in addition to your medical care. The number is 1-800-227-2345. I love you, Iowa Allens!

  2. Heather - so glad the cancer wasn't in any other organs. Hang in there with the chemo! I remember my Mom losing her hair and that she was very very tired. She also took various pills afterwards like you mentioned. BUT, she is now taking absolutely NOTHING, meets with an oncologist once a year, and feels better than ever. Light at the end of the tunnel......

  3. Heather, I am so so happy to hear the "good" news! Now there is a plan in place and you're going to beat this! Good luck tomorrow! Get the worst (the chemo) out of the way and then it will all keep getting better from there. *big hug*

  4. If I can tell you anything.....one day at a time girl! Michelle Arnburg is finishing her chemo in 8 days. She also has a port in her chest and no one can tell. She also had the cycles and owns an array of hats! Keep your head held high! You are a strong girl and can fight this! Just take one day at a time and soon it will be a distant memory! We are thinking about you and praying for you!

  5. Heather, I am so happy about the good news that it hasn't spread. Now you need need to get busy kicking cancer's ass!

  6. I just want to praise God that no cancer was found in your bones or you organs. A great positive for you to be sure.

    And yes the chemo will be hard and it will make you tired. But if you can be that woman that gets out of bed each morning and your feet hit the floor the devil says, "Oh heck, she's up!" - well then I think you will have the right mind set.

    My husband is forever telling me that things will be easier if you just take your emotion out of it, and it is true. But for a woman, emotion is everything. And I am always replying to him that I am an emotional woman, that's the way God made me. And in reality that is really what he probably loves about me the most.

    I say get your mind set ahead keep focus on what is positive about the day. And have fun with it. Dreariness is a given with someone who has cancer, you know you are going to have bad days as far as how you feel. But my hope for you is that you allow yourself to look at the goodness that God can bring you.

    And if it comes to your hair falling out, tell everybody you want them to cut theirs. It would be quite the distraction, don't you think? :D
    God Bless You Heather!

  7. From "You've got cancer" to chemo in one week. You poor kid.

    I'm relieved to know it hasn't spread to other organs etc. and H-2-New-positive sounds like a good thing. I'm also glad your doctor isn't messing around and is getting down to business. I hope these things bring you some comfort too as you head into what sounds like a not so fun day. Love you!!! Marthy