As many of you probably know, in September 2018, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer; Her2 positive cancer cells. It’s a progressive cancer, but thankfully there are two immunology drugs for treatment. As of March 1, 2021, I am now 2 years NED (No Evidence of Disease).
Sadly, my heart hurts for those still on the journey, and those whose journey ended.
Some of you might know Michael Hulshof-Schmidt. His blog is Social Justice For All. Michael’s husband is leaving the blog up, and I am grateful for that.
I don’t quite remember when it was that Michael and I met. It may have been in 2013 or 2014, but we became blogging buddies. Michael went through chemo for colon cancer, a massive heart attack, and then the cancer recurred in his liver. He put up a courageous fight, but on January 30, 2021, he transitioned.
Then there are other courageous people on the journey who find time to encourage others, such as Ilene of the Cancer Bus.
Now, I’m on conservative follow-up of every 6 months. My cancer marker tests have consistently scored 17 for over a year now. Any score under 30 is good. Meanwhile, I had surgery on my left foot in February and currently have sterile-strips on my big toe. Hopefully, I’ll be able to wear a closed-in shoe in a week. Read the rest of this entry
Actress and singer Olivia Newton-John was diagnosed with recurrence of breast cancer after 20 years. Actress and singer Dianne Carroll recently died after battling breast cancer. She was first diagnosed in 1998.
In my latest visit with my oncologist I brought this up asking how breast cancer returned after so many years. He explained to me the difference between estrogen receptor and Her2 positive breast cancer. Although I had an aggressive type of cancer cells (Her2 positive), the prognosis is better at having no recurrence after 5 years. Something he said also made me very sad. He said that estrogen receptor breast cancer never goes away. What causes breast cancer to return?
In July 2018, the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, published a study titled “Breast Cancer Stem Cells”. The study was funded by a National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute grant.
Researchers, as well as many cancer patients, have wondered why there is recurrence of cancer. As long as there is possibility of the cancer returning, patients live on egg shells. Read the rest of this entry
One in 833 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer. According to Breast Cancer.org, in 2019, about 2,670 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
This post is to encourage men to not neglect lumps or nipple changes of their breasts.
Men carry a higher mortality rate than women because they are generally unaware that they can have breast cancer and are more likely to delay diagnosis and thus, treatment.
Risk factors for men include exposure to radiation, high levels of estrogen, and a family history of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Read the rest of this entry
This is bittersweet. It’s bittersweet because I know others who are at stages or points in the journey and I want so badly for them to be healed. By sharing this, I hope cancer patients reading it are filled with hope.
There are no words to express the appreciation for the support I receive. This has been some journey, and along the way have been friends who are consistent in contacting me. Some have busy lives, but they always find time to check-in with me. They have helped to keep me positive.
In addition to the above, much appreciation goes out to friends and relatives who took time to understand the type of cancer and treatment. Not all breast cancer is the same; it depends on the receptors on the cells. Everything we read about cancer on the internet and in advertisements does not apply to all types of cancers.
Cancer treatment is not a one size fits all.
On March 1, 2019, I had surgery due to breast cancer. Within weeks, I received the news of the pathology reports, but didn’t want to post about it until I got a printed copy. On April 29, 2019, I saw my oncologist and received a copy. I am now cancer free but not really because there is no cure for cancer known to man. My former oncologist repeatedly told me that there is no cure. Why then, should patients put themselves through treatments that at times makes them think they are better off dead?
The more my former oncologist told me there is no cure, the more I researched in effort to learn what I can do for self-help. I asked God to rebuke that oncologist’s pessimism. It’s not that what he said isn’t true, but he added no hope in the equation.
In December after spending 4 days in the hospital because of the negligence of my oncologist to treat me for a urinary tract infection, I changed oncologist. My new oncologist discovered that the former one staged me incorrectly. My former oncologist should have ordered a cancer marker test before assuming the cancer in my right breast traveled to my left side through my lymph system. I learned in December that he made that conclusion without ordering a cancer marker test. (The cancer marker test in January 2019 returned a low score, indicating no cancer cells in my blood stream.) The new oncologist took time to go over the first PET Scan taken in September 2018, and the second PET Scan taken in November 2018. He sent me through a battery of tests, all with very encouraging results. Read the rest of this entry
Where women get their mammograms matter.
An article published in the Chicago Tribune says;
“In Chicago, black women are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer when the disease is at a late stage, making it more difficult to treat. Black and Hispanic Chicago women are less likely than white women to get diagnosed with breast cancer early, when the illness is more treatable, in part because racial minorities are less likely to be diagnosed at high-performing centers of excellence in breast cancer care, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.”
This is not an old article. It was published on January 3, 2019. I do not live in Chicago but experienced how difficult it is to get a mammogram and even more difficult to get aspirations and biopsy.
Until last year whenever I called for an appointment, I was given an appointment with no questions asked. My primary physician’s office is located in a medical center. In the same center is a Prompt Care facility, a Women’s Center, labs, and diagnostic equipment. However, when I phoned last year to schedule a mammogram I was asked if I had previous issues. When I answered “yes”, I was told that I needed a diagnostic mammogram that was only given with a doctor’s order, and only at the Women’s Center located in the hospital. No problem.
I called my primary physician’s office. There, I was helped by someone other than my physician or his nurse and was instructed that if I was having issues to go to Prompt Care because my physician did not have an available opening until three days later.
I went to Prompt Care and the physician examined me and wrote up the order for a diagnostic mammogram. Then I waited to be contacted by the Women’s Center for an appointment. That didn’t happen. Read the rest of this entry
Hello wonderful friends, followers and visitors. First, I want to say thank you to all followers. I’ve not been blogging much lately so having new followers is truly appreciated. Because of my health issue, I’ve not been able to keep up with all the blogs that follow me, nor able to follow new followers. Currently, there are more than 900 Word Press notifications in my in-box. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to catch-up, but after recuperation, I’ll do my best to stay current.
Today I was discharged from the hospital after having a double mastectomy and 3 lymph nodes removed. I figured I would get this post done while the pain killers are doing their job. Sleeping is a problem because I’ve never been one to sleep on my back so whatever online time I’ll have is subject to how good I sleep.
Thanks to all of those who stayed in touch with me, gave me well wishes, prayers, and positive thoughts. They worked and are working. Read the rest of this entry
When I read that Olivia-Newton-John once again continues her journey with breast cancer, my heart sank. Olivia, now 70 years old, first entered the journey in 1992. She underwent a mastectomy and 9 months of chemotherapy. She was declared cancer free. Twenty-one years later, there was a recurrence. Olivia was in a traffic accident and a lump on her right shoulder turned out to be metastasized breast cancer cells. She underwent conventional and natural medicine, which she says helped to boost her immune system. It’s now been over 25 years since her first diagnosis and in September 2017, a tumor was found on her spine.
Olivia and Suzanne Somers (diagnosed in 2001) both used a combination of traditional and non-traditional treatment on their journey kicking breast cancer’s butt.
Since Olivia has used non-traditional, natural methods on her journey, I thought I would share a segment of my own journey thus far.
One of the things that is not widely known is that when some women are declared “cancer free” medical professionals do not advise them how to stay cancer free through diet, herbs, and vitamins. The thing with cancer is that even if the doctors believe that the cancer cells have not metastasized, there’s no guarantee that they haven’t. All it takes is one of those mutated cells to get into the blood stream, end up in an organ or a bone, and when the environment is right, start dividing and creating a tumor. I read a story by a woman on her journey who was told she was Stage 1 and with the tumor removed, she was cancer free. About 5 years later, her hip started hurting and there was a tumor consisting of the same breast cancer cells.
Olivia Newton-John is proof that even with metastatic breast cancer, patients can use natural methods to keep it in remission for 20 years or longer. However, it takes lots of research to find out just what works for each individual because not every breast cancer patient has the same cancer cells. Read the rest of this entry
Yesterday, my new oncologist prescribed dexamethosone. It’s a long, nightmarish story for why that is necessary. In summary, it is due to another oncologist administering a chemo drug to me that was unnecessary just because he had the authority to do so. It started in October with this being a reaction to the same drug;
That’s necrosis, folks. After it healed in late November, the oncologist appeared to not like that another oncologist jumped in leading to that healing, so on December 6, 2018, he had to try to undo it. This time around, things did not end up with outright necrosis, but some of the skin texture did change, with purple swelling and burning pain. The administration of that same drug did result in me being admitted to the hospital for 4 days because of life-threatening issues it caused. That oncologist resigned his practice on January 17th. Read the rest of this entry
There appears to be lots of commercials for medications to treat cancer and currently, there is one for a drug called Verzenio. The commercial says that Verzenio is for POST MENOPAUSAL women with metastatic breast cancer with certain receptors. At about 40 seconds into the commercial, it begins with warnings about what the drug might cause.
Then it enters into stupidity. The commercial actually says to tell your doctor if you are pregnant, breast feeding, or plan to become pregnant. WHAT?!? Does whomever wrote the commercial know what post menopausal means? I actually did a rewind 5 times to make sure I heard the commercial first say that the drug is for post menopausal women.
Last week I had my first cycle of chemo for Stage IV breast cancer. The results of the PET Scan were not as bad as expected. I do have Stage IV breast cancer, but that’s because it has moved to the lymph nodes underneath both arms. No cancer cells were found in my organs nor bones.
That doesn’t mean it won’t spread because my insurance company is denying my oncologist the drug that stops division of the cancer cells.
Also this week, as friends and families educate themselves to help me get through this, I’ve found that I have to keep reminding them that there are different types of breast cancer cells. As my friends and family talk to cancer survivors and read things online about breast cancer, survival rates, etc. it’s important for them to remember that breast cancer has different cells. The type of cells are important for diagnosis and treatment.
The parasites that are trying to give life to themselves by eating my body from the inside out are HER2-positive cancer cells. They are aggressive. Four days after the biopsy, the tumor had grown 2 inches. By the time the PET Scan was taken and the results in, the MUGA Scan was taken, and the first chemo scheduled, that parasitical, invasive tumor was even larger.
If you’ve been reading this blog for years, then you probably know that I’m one who trusts in vitamins, herbs and other supplements. I do not reject traditional medicine. I also follow Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo’s Blood Type Diet as close as possible. It all seemed to pay off for me because in order to start chemo, I needed a MUGA Scan score of at least 50. My MUGA Scan score was 72. My blood pressure and blood work were all fine.
I had been taking supplements all along, but after my diagnosis, I looked for specific supplements. I want my body to heal in between treatment cycles. But first, I needed to know more about my enemy. I tried reading reputable websites, and found Healthline.com.
“When you have a breast biopsy, the tissue is tested for hormone receptors (HR). It’s also tested for something called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Each can be involved in the development of breast cancer.”
“HER2 is a gene that creates HER2 proteins, or receptors. These receptors help control growth and repair of breast cells. An overexpression of HER2 protein causes out-of-control reproduction of breast cells.
HER2-positive breast cancers tend to be more aggressive than HER2-negative breast cancers. Along with tumor grade and cancer stage, HR and HER2 status helps determine your treatment options.”
My insurance company tossed a wrench into the battlefield.
Without naming my medical providers, staff, or other identifying features, I will name my insurance company. It is Humana. This week, my first chemo cycle was delayed for about an hour as my oncologist informed me that he had been on the phone with a doctor with Humana who first denied one of the drugs to be used in my chemo.
The drug, Taxotere and cyclophosphamide (TC) destroys quickly dividing cells. It can be given either to shrink the size of the tumor before surgery to remove it, or after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may be still present in the body. The goal of TC is to cure. But there are only two sites where I was able to find that it’s the drug’s goal. One site is guess what? That of trial attorneys. More on that later. Read the rest of this entry
Earlier this year, an itchy rash appeared on my left arm, then my right arm. The appearance of the skin indicated to me that it was an allergy. I had not eaten anything unusual, so was very puzzled what could be causing the reaction.
Then, my doctor placed me on an anti-biotic. The rash went away. Also this year, I’ve had recurring sinus infections more than usual. The rash on my arms reappeared about two weeks ago. It was worse than the first time.
Last week Friday while getting ready to take my second dose of Vitamin D3, I happened to read the ingredients. Mostly, I order vitamins and supplements from a company that advertises no preservatives, artificial coloring, etc. In fact, I’ve ordered from that same company for years and trusted their products. Such it was with Vitamin D3 which I began taking this year.
For those unfamiliar, Vitamin D3 contains vitamin D, calcium which is necessary for the body to process vitamin D, and magnesium.
On the label of the Vitamin D3 was “calcium source; oyster shells”. I am allergic to shellfish! So all year, I’ve been consuming something in the Vitamin D3 that I am allergic to and didn’t know it. It’s been 6 days since I took that brand of Vitamin D3. The rash is clearing. My breathing is no longer shallow. Then I noticed another ingredient in my vitamins. Soy.
That caused me to start researching soy, and I was shocked by what I found. I stopped taking those vitamins that contain soy and since doing so, my sinuses have immensely improved. I began to check the ingredients on other things in my cabinets and refrigerator. A short list of what I discovered contains soy, or soybeans, or soybean oil includes:
Canned tuna in water; Green Giant brand frozen broccoli, including with cheese, and with carrots; Three different brands of salad dressing; Miracle Whip; Worchester Sauce; bread, including hamburger and hot dog buns.
It’s all in the garbage now.
Since part of my reason to learn about soy is to decide on what is best for me as a cancer patient, I began by researching soy and breast cancer. Is soy safe or not? That depends on what you read. The Mayo Clinic says:
“Studies show that eating a moderate amount of soy foods does not increase risk of breast cancer — or other types of cancer. A moderate amount is considered one to two servings a day of whole-soy foods, such as tofu, soy milk and edamame. Soy contains protein, isoflavones and fiber, all thought to provide health benefits.”
“So where did the idea come from that soy increases breast cancer risk? Isoflavones, which are found in soy, are plant estrogens. High levels of estrogen have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. However, food sources of soy don’t contain high enough levels of isoflavones to increase the risk of breast cancer.”