Chronology of Events (most recent events at top)
Medication Treatment Chronology:
Dec 2, 2003 hormonal therapy Tamoxifen, orally twice a day and IV of Zometa every three weeks to strengthen bones
Jan 6, 2004 Arimidex replaces Tamoxifin as nausea continued. Zometa for bones and Lupron shots to chemically induce menopauseJul 14, 2005 Ovaries removed to fully stop estrogen production. Lupron injections no longer necessary.
Nov 23, 2005 Case of shingles required a few temporary drugs and pain killers.
Jan 18, 2010 AROMASIN® (exemestane tablet) replaces Arimidex as the CA27.29 pushed up a little.
Apr 30, 2010 Monthly injections of Faslodex added to treatment to slow climbing marker
Aug 19, 2011 Faslodex stopped and Femara started
Feb 21, 2012 Oral chemo pill "Xeloda" (Capecitabine) replaces everything except 6 mo Zometa IV as disease spread to liver
Sep 12, 2014 Abraxane IV chemo drug will be given weekly for 3 wk on and 1 wk off initially. Once Vic finds her groove, the dosage will be tried at once every 3 wks.
Links to Events in Chronology of Events:
February 21, 2012 Disease moves into liver
March 26, 2004 CA27.29 info & therapy meds listed
January 21, 2004 New Doc on case
December 1, 2003 Results from bone biopsy return
October 10, 2003 Initial breast biopsy returns positive
Dec 14, 2014 1p
We really wanted to go to church today, but Vic needed 2 units of packed red blood cells today to get her hemoglobin number back up above 8. As her white blood cell count dropped to 3, she will have to be really careful around anybody with anything contagious. If you see her wearing a mask, that is what it is all about. The college is out for Christmas break after Thur so chemo day was moved to Fri so we won't be rushed. Please keep praying for Vic to improve and get her numbers up to reduce transfusions. Thank You!
Dec 12, 2014 4p
Vic came home a bit early today and hit the hay. She gets really cold and tired after the chemo has roamed around her body for the night. We have plans of keeping close to the homefront so she can rest and recover. Thanks for all the prayers!
Dec 11, 2014 4p
Today was chemo restart day with Abraxane and Vic was ready until she got her labs drawn ... her platelets had dropped to 22 which made her heart drop. She was hoping that they had held but she really had just forgotten that often when she gets a blood transfusion, as she did Tue night, the platelets get diluted and the numbers drop. Anyway, she had her chemo early and was at the office back to work by lunchtime. Unfortunately, the chemo will drop the platelets further until she can rebuild them so the numbers will probably get critically low over the weekend. With nothing to clot with, a nose bleed or cut will make things difficult. Please keep her in your prayers as she is really tired and somewhat downhearted as she had become so refreshed since her trip to IU. We know that she can climb out of this again, but each time it gets harder. Optimism is so easy to expect but so terribly hard to maintain without a positive bump at least once in a while.
Dec 9, 2014 3p
Vic's hemoglobin dropped again so she is getting 2 units of packed red blood cells tonight. She could feel at work that any exertion was making her heart race and breathing difficult. This should get her ready to start chemo early on Thur morning. Please keep praying for platelets. Today's number held at 32 but if the marrow was producing properly she would be seeing much higher numbers. I did post an interesting photo chronology in Vic's Pic's 2014.
Dec 5, 2014 7p
Just returned from visit with oncologist in Evansville. Vic's labs came in with her platelets up 14% to 33 (actually 33,000) which is good for her even though normal is over 142. But, considering that she has had a low of 9 ... 33 is good. Circulating (mature) platelets only have a life span of 8-9 days so even holding one's own is evidence that production is occurring. Remarkably her white blood count bounced up 71% to 6.2 which she needs to fight off infections. There is a good chance that the Great Physician knows more about what she needs than we do.
The decision to hold off on chemo until next Thur was reached to give her time to fully recover from the previous chemo drug. She will return to Abraxane which helped her numbers a bit in the early going but produced a severe nose bleed that required blood transfusions. For Vic, she tends to start clotting at 40, so she is not fully there but we are convinced that she can manage the nose bleeds until she gets the platelets up. Happy campers here today and ready for God's blessings to continue to flow.
Please keep up the Prayers for Platelets! Thank You!
Dec 4, 2014 4p
Vic went to work Monday and I decided that Monday had been long enough to wait to get heading to IU Indianapolis for a review of Vic's treatment. So, by early afternoon we had appointments on Tue/Wed with oncologist, ENT surgeon, and endoscopy scheduled. The meeting with Dr. Storniolo went great as it did 11 years ago. Based on the extreme side effects of the Halaven, she immediately took it off the table as a "never again" drug for Vic and the endo was cancelled. The strategy at this time settles around Vic's first IV chemo drug Abraxane that caused the severe nose bleeds. Considering that Vic has dramatically changed how she constantly treats her nose, the expectation is that if she can get past a few cycles of the chemo, the platelets will climb high enough to help clotting and reduce/stop nose bleeds. We also met with a great ENT surgeon and he cauterized Vic's right nostril to help get the nose ready. Going for the embolization to stop the bleeds is not a likely candidate due to the position of the bleeds and the problems that treatment may cause with sight.
Other than feeling like a hot nail was jammed up her nose, the return home went fine. Vic is scheduled to start chemo tomorrow at 2:15p in Evansville. What we need to happen is for Vic to start producing platelets in a big way. Please pray that Vic can get into the groove of the Abraxane and get past whatever side effects she might encounter. We are so blessed with so many great medical doctors in Evansville and Indianapolis. They work great together and give us the assurance that we are on the right track. (pic is Vic so happy to be back in Dr. Storniolo's office) Vic worked today and will do so tomorrow until departure time.
Please Pray for Platelets!
Nov 30, 2014 1p
Sore throat peaked on Tue afternoon at a full 10 out of 10 which is really more like a 20, cause Vic just handles pain. Proof of the pain was her willingness to take pain pills and the fact that she could not swallow anything except the few pills and little water. The swelling went from her teeth to the base of her neck. Finally, on Thanksgiving day she was able to eat a few soft bites of food that Keni brought us. On Fri morning her blood numbers tanked so she spent the day in the hospital getting 3 units of blood. Got home late that night and she slept late on Sat. As the infusion diluted her platelets she started nose bleeds again last evening but was able to get them stopped by bedtime. Mouth sores are also bigger than before. She rested well and is feeling better today. The wait to go to Indy is not going past Monday.
Nov 25, 2014 5p
Vic worked yesterday but this morning her sore throat kept her home. Eating and drinking anything is really a problem. She started an antibiotic to be safe but the soreness is likely from the chemo. In order to check Vic's current condition and treatment we are scheduling an appointment with Dr. Storniolo at IU in Indianapolis. We first met with her in 2003 at the beginning of this adventure and Vic was really impressed. As the nosebleeds are ongoing we hope to meet with a top shelf ENT surgeon as well. Prayers are strong that Vic is on the right path already but it is time to double our tracks.
Nov 22, 2014 2p
Pictures being worth a thousand words, here are the current labs. Each chart shows the minimum reference level as a red line and the latest chemo dates with arrows. The first cells to produce in Vic's rejuvenated marrow will be platelets which she has shown are occurring. However, the chemo kicks them back down faster than she can replace. Low platelets cause difficulty clotting. Low hemoglobin levels cause her to be extremely fatigued and are dangerous for heart attack or stroke. The white blood cell count is critical as low levels put her in a position to have trouble fighting off any infections.
I do not mean to raise big red flags on her condition, but the numbers reflect the urgency that she get her marrow back in shape. Low hemoglobin can be helped with blood transfusions (which she has had 30 units). Low platelets can be pushed up with platelet infusions but they only last about 72 hours in the blood. Low white counts that allow infection can be aided with antibiotics. The new chemo has really kicked her numbers but has also likely really kicked the cancer cells. She is in better shape now than when she first started chemo in September but the time to gain ground is now. Nose bleeds are still occurring but greatly reduced in frequency and volume. Please continue the prayers!
Nov 21, 2014 11a
Vic was able to get her chemo treatment yesterday despite drop in hemoglobin (6.4), platelets (28), and white blood count (4.5). To build up the hemoglobin she will have three units of blood today. Got her admitted at 5:20a this morning and she should be home by mid-afternoon. Tomorrow will probably be her down day as the chemo kicks her and fatigue peaks. She is anxious to go one week without having to have blood but knows that for her, right now, this is part of the program. As her white count has dropped she will be donning the ever fabulous yellow med mask when out and about. I am so proud of her for being so strong and am also anxious for her to catch a break. Next week will be her off week without chemo. Her next treatment will be Dec 5. Praying that her marrow kicks in on the off week and produces plenty of everything.
Nov 18, 2014 1p
As Vic headed off to work on Friday, she felt pretty good after the transfusion chaser to her chemo. But, on Saturday the chemo effects kicked in and she found herself stuck to the couch and bed. Fatigue was the only real symptom but it lasted through the weekend. We did make it to church and Sunday school, but that was the extent. Debated to post the pic of Monday morning as she gathered the energy to go to work, but it is what it is. Watery eyes, runny nose, and minor nose bleed, but she is climbing out of the energy deficit. Today she is feeling much better and ramping up to get treatment Thursday. We have decided that Thanksgiving will be a quiet event here at home as her white blood cell count will likely be low and exposures to anything unnecessary will be avoided. Kendall is bringing us our "sanitized" meal so we will be happy campers beside the fireplace. Please understand that these self-imposed isolation periods are not optional and we appreciate everyone's understanding. Nothing comes into the house unless it is necessary. We have every expectation that within a few more weeks she will be in the groove and back to a more normal Life!
Nov 13, 2014 2p
Vic's lab numbers were good enough this morning to start a full dose of her new chemo but she has to have 2 units of blood this evening as her hemoglobin is low again. The new drug comes with a new batch of things to watch for effectiveness and a new list of possible side effects to monitor. The usual suspects are nausea, fatigue, neuropathy, reduced red cells, and now irregular heart beat. Nonetheless, the oncologist has had good luck with patients on Halaven and the sides are usually regulated with dosage. Today will add 5 pokes for labs and infusions so one of these days she is going to have to get a port to ease the burden on her arms. Show me a person that has more guts and determination and I will tip my hat and offer my full admiration also. Starting the day in a room full of patients getting chemo treatments sets the stage for a day where blessings do not go unnoticed. Chemo patients are full of faith, friendliness, and fear. It is a club that nobody wants to join but a club that does not show favoritism. We are full of faith that a huge hand is guiding this journey and good results lie ahead. The pic is at breakfast as the day started at 0530 and Vic will get home about 2300 tonight. She has work tomorrow and next chemo in a week. Thank You for the prayers!
Nov 11, 2014 4p
Sorry for delay in posting update but we have been in a holding pattern.
Yesterday we met with the oncologist and he was not comfortable with Vic going ahead with Abraxane due to its apparent cause of her grade 3/4 nosebleeds. He ordered a CT scan to see if the Abraxane was doing its job as her platelets are not climbing as he had hoped. The abdominal scan showed that the tumors in the liver have not grown. But, continuing with Abraxane would likely require Vic to undergo a risky surgery to shunt the flow or arterial blood to her nose. This would require a catheter to be inserted in her groin into her artery and then CT guided to her nose for cauterizing or gel packing of the micro arterial vessels. As her platelets are so low, they would have to flood her with IV platelets via infusion during the surgery so that the incision could clot. Not facing the surgery right now is a big blessing. Also, the scan results are a positive indicator that what chemo Vic has already received was working.
We just heard from the oncologist and Vic will be starting her new chemo "Halaven" this Thur. She will receive a weekly treatment for two weeks on and one week off, then repeating. Side effects are similar but something nobody should read. Nose bleeds are still a concern but the occurrences in the data are less. No chemo drug is without its serious concerns but the choices are quite limited so it is better to just get on with it. The cowgirl is ready to change horses with this new chemo and get on down Life's trail. Giddy up!
Nov 7, 2014 3p
Normal work day for both of us today. We are going to cruise through the weekend and get Vic ready for chemo on Monday. A few odd nose bleeds have popped up but nothing that does not stop with a little attention. We are praying that next week goes without incident. Vic is more than ready to get on with the new normal that will be her Life. This cycle of chemo/transfusion/nosebleed/repeat has really taken its toll. But, the cowgirl in her comes out and she is ready to go again.
Nov 5, 2014 3p
Vic headed off to her students at 0730 this morning. She is dragging a bit from all the fluids that she took in yesterday, but that will subside. The next hurdle will be chemo on Monday and seeing if all the moisturizing and care of her nose will handle it. Immediately after chemo, we meet with her ENT surgeon to get his assessment.
We know the blessings that keep appearing in our Life and are thankful for every one. I am personally amazed by the angels that pop in just when you need them.
Ran across a poem from a few years back and realized how blessed I am to be able to repeat it today: Something About Vicky
Nov 4, 2014 2p
Vic shuffled into the hospital at 0700 this morning and was enjoying unit 1 by 0800. She should be finished and home by 1800. It would have been nice for her to get this done last evening but the blood was not ready until late. This transfusion should get her ready for chemo on Monday. Her overall blood numbers showed that her liver function is off a bit so she needs to get on with the chemo as soon as her nose will allow. Getting her liver tuned up should help produce clotting components in her blood and extend her transfusion cycles. She will rest this evening and has students first thing tomorrow. Oh, did I mention that she did decide to get "ONE" wig for special occasions!
Nov 3, 2014 4p
Vic had a good weekend and was so excited that maybe she could skip a week of blood transfusion but .... nope.
After she taught class this morning, her labs showed that her hemo had dropped to 6.7 which is way critical. She is going in for 3 units of blood...a 10+ hour process. Ugh! Her platelets held at 42 and her white blood count held...the good news.
Oct 31, 2014 1p
With the additional week off chemo, Vic is hoping that her blood numbers will climb to more normal levels. And, based on yesterday's labs, she is moving along that path! Her hemo was 9 and her platelets were 43. Normal platelet count is above 140 so Vic has a long way to go but she tends to clot above 40 so she is pretty excited. Nose bleeds have stopped and she is feeling pretty good. Mild neuropathy is starting to show up in her fingers as pain, tingling, and numbness. This is a common side of chemo and often controls the dosage a patient can receive. For now, the symptoms are manageable except opening a pill bottle is rather difficult. She enjoyed a full week of work and we look forward to a more normal weekend without jumping from one crisis to another.
Oct 28, 2014 1p
Vicky was homebound Sunday as the nose would continue to bleed from time to time. By Monday the nose was clotted and she was able to go to work. In the afternoon, we met with her ENT surgeon in Evansville. The severity (grade 3/4 bleed) and damage to her nostrils was a curiosity that chemo rarely causes (<7%)...but if it happens it happens. Recommendation is moisture, moisture, moisture. We have added another humidifier to the house and a personal one for the office. She will coat the nostrils 3X per day minimum with triple antibiotic ointment or other petroleum products. In the event that the next chemo causes the same bleed out, then she will have to consider a more drastic measure once her platelets get up to a level to allow surgery. The procedure would involve blocking the blood vessels that feed the nasal passages through an arterial catheterization by an Intervention Radiologist.
Based on the nosebleed, Vic's oncologist is giving her an additional week off chemo to recover. This should allow her blood numbers and nasal healing to get her in a better position for chemo on Nov 10. Skipping a chemo treatment is not a soothing proposition for the patient but she really has no choice at this time. Given the uncertain outcome of the next chemo, we pray that any nosebleed is easily manageable. It is amazing the knowledge that one gathers as they travel this path. I am not suggesting a new game called "Chemo Trivia", but patients and caregivers do learn more than they every wanted.
Vic went to work early this morning and expects to work every day from here on out. Her nosebleed is almost gone and the congestion is clearing slowly.
Thank You for your prayers!
Oct 25, 2014 8p
Bleeding began this morning again and continued until Vic had labs drawn at noon. Hemoglobin had tanked at 7.5 so doctor ordered 2 units packed red blood cells (her 21st and 22nd units). Luckily her platelets have climbed to 37 so it looks like the nose bleed is tied to the chemo, platelets, and the hemo drop. Hopefully the ENT surgeon and oncologist will come up with some solutions so that she does not have to go through all of this again. To avoid the balloon, she just packed her nose old school with gauze, vaseline, triple antibiotic cream, ram rod, and elbow grease. Her first unit began at 4:30p so we should be home by midnight .... hopefully.
Oct 24, 2014 4p
Vic is a pretty happy camper today. One of her docs took out the least critical balloon this morning and we took out the bigger one ourselves this afternoon (ER was backed up). She was just way too miserable and her throat was raw from breathing thru her mouth. Bleeding is minimal at this time. Appointment with ENT surgeon on Monday to see what can be done before next chemo to keep this scenario from repeating. Word for the day is Yippee!
Oct 22, 2014 2:30p
Well crap....I had just finished today's post and the phone rang and Vic was bleeding out at work. Ran and took her to the ER where the doc evaluated and decided that she would have to have inflatable balloons jammed in her nostrils for 3 days. The gauze wrapped balloons are inflated with a syringe and the tubing just hangs for the duration. Uncomfortable to say the least. She is caught up at work so she is taking the next two days off to rest and let her platelets grow. She does not sit still very well but is learning that sometimes you just gotta do it. We are thinking that this look might be a good start to a fun Halloween costume.
Oct 22, 2014 10a
I am always saying, "Nothing just happens" and I stole that from pastor TD Jakes. So, yesterday, Vic is getting her first unit of blood after work and we are all talking about nose bleeds and the nurse tells about a patient that had silver nitrate swabbed up her nose to stop the bleeding. I was looking at Vic and a light bulb went off above her head as she started telling about the hundreds of times she had used that procedure but simply did not think about it (she has been a bit distracted). After the transfusion, Dr. Molt saw Vic and burned the open bleeder with silver nitrate sticks and packed her nose with vaseline soaked gauze. The procedure worked pretty well but Vic had to sleep sitting up to breathe. When she removed the packing this morning it started bleeding again but a repeat burn today will hopefully fix it again. Vic jammed gauze up her nose and went to work early. We know that as soon as she builds up her platelets the bleeding will stop. PS there ain't no numbing before the procedure.....this cowgirl has trophies from accomplishments in the ring but none compare to her achievements as she mounts each day.
Oct 21, 2014 11a
Weekend was pretty miserable for Vic with constant nose bleed (about 2 cups per day) despite every trick known to the internet and docs. Met with oncologist on Monday and labs tracked with the blood loss over the previous days. Her hemoglobin was critically low so she will have 2 units of packed red cells today after work. Chemo went fine with the addition of a steroid to help with nose bleed and zometa for bone strength. Somebody asked the other day, "how many needle pokes has she had?" The rough estimate of IV's and blood draws is 40 in the last 5 weeks. She has received 20 units of blood and 5 units of platelets. Of great news, her platelets are at 40, even though the minimum reference level is 142...but for her that is a record since Aug 5. Next week will be her "off" week, so the next chemo is scheduled for Nov 3. Nose bleed stopped last night and has not returned today....she is pretty happy! As her white blood count is low, we will be in partial isolation for a few days when she is home. Thank you for all the prayers!
Oct 16, 2014 2p
Some days I am so glad that I rarely use foul language, then I am reminded that lying is probably worse than a curse word from time to time....so...Shit! Vic had her labs drawn today to confirm what we already knew based on nose bleeds and her energy level. Since the numbers tanked again from chemo on Monday, she will be in the hospital Friday getting 2 units of packed red cells and 2 units of platelets. The process should only take about 10 hours...ugh. She is going to set up shop in her room and develop PowerPoint slides for work. Of good report is that her white cells are climbing despite the chemo hits. She is also producing platelets but just not fast enough to keep up yet. The trend is in the right direction but the angle is low. I know we can see the edge of the clearing but we are still in the woods. Luckily Vic is pretty keen with guns, campfires, and directions. Please keep praying!
Oct 15, 2014 1p
Quite the champ. She woke up during the night with nose bleeds from the chemo kick to her platelets but crawled out of bed at 6a, jammed gauze up the nose, and off to work she went. Her students are learning so much from her this year that cannot, and does not, get covered in text books. Once she can get her platelets up, this too should pass. Until then, she just gets momentarily pissed, throws a few words down the sink, and moves on. God knows how much this woman is Loved...I tell Him constantly....and so do many others.
Oct 13, 2014 4p
Today went pretty well. Vic had her chemo early at 0830 and met with the oncologist. The pictures tell the story:
1. Vic looks great as usual and 2. Her hemoglobin and platelets are climbing. The hemo rise is partially due to her transfusion last Thur night but the platelets are all her! Things are looking up! Onco approved Doc Lemons to add Cod Liver Oil tablets and Wheat Grass Shots to her diet. Go Platelets!
Oct 9, 2014 3p
Well crap, the chemo on Monday kicked the hemoglobin and platelet numbers down so Vic is going in tonight for 2 units of packed red cells. She was hoping to avoid additional transfusions but apparently that is not going to be possible yet. The chemo attacks cells that are dividing rapidly such as cancer cells and unfortunately, new platelet production in the bone marrow. Mature platelet cells in the bloodstream are not dividing rapidly and are spared most of the chemo hit. As platelet production comes back sooner than red cells, the hope is that Vic is now producing enough platelets to replace some percentage of those destroyed by chemo. The transfusion will improve Vic's energy and help her get ready for Monday's next chemo treatment. Optimism Lives in both of us but this routine is getting old for Vic as it comes with risk and long hours of just laying around hooked up to IV infusion pumps. Oh well, we know this is part of the path.
Oct 7, 2014 3p
Visit with onco (Dr. Stephens) yesterday went great. Vic's platelets are holding and her white count is coming up. Platelets and hemoglobin are still way low but she had to start chemo again yesterday. As platelet transfusions only last a few days, the count yesterday of 23 is all Vic. Even though the normal range is 150 to 400 the fact that it is holding is good evidence that the bone marrow is coming back on-line. Her hemoglobin of 10 will hopefully be sufficient to take the hit from the chemo without needing blood transfusions. Normal work schedule begins tomorrow and the the last IV antibiotic will be Thursday!
Forward motion of Vic finding her groove got stuck on the 20 yard line with the bacterial infection, but now that she is past that setback, on the field she goes. Start the clock....this play is in motion.
Oct 3, 2014 4p
Today we decided would be turn-around day for all that ails us. And....it has been. Vic's nasal congestion/bleeding is better and she is feeling better overall. I have no idea how many IV pokes she has had but she is blessed with great veins. Antibiotic therapy is on-track and home isolation is intact. Sorry for the need to be so careful but she just cannot risk catching any bugs that might come into the house. Once she gets her numbers back in shape we can return to social Life. Kippy is far from excited about the cooler weather with his new trim but it makes it easier to keep him sparkling clean so he can share Vic's space.
Oct 2, 2014 3p
Vic got home yesterday afternoon once the specific bacteria was identified and the susceptibility of the antibiotic was verified. She ended up having 4 units of blood and one unit of platelets while she was hospitalized. She will have daily IV antibiotic treatments as outpatient every day for the next 7 days. Chemo will restart on Monday. The house is as sterile as I can make it but we will unfortunately be on lockdown for a week or so. Thank you for all the prayers, cards, messages and concern. She is doing good and knows that the hump she was clearing has been replaced with a few hurdles. This has always been a marathon and not a sprint. So, on we go!
Sept 29, 2014 5p
Not sure where to begin...so let's start on the next day after our last writing.
On Thur morning 9/25, Vic noticed a little extra nose bleed so we knew that her platelet's had tanked again. Off to the hospital for labs and then after lunch outpatient for 2 units of blood and 2 units of platelets. She worked at the college in between getting her labs and admission...seriously. Out of the hospital that night and into bed for a short night. At 5am we popped up and I took her to her clinical practicums in Herrin, IL (about 80 mi from Fairfield). She has to have 60 hours of clinical experience for her Master's. (she already has hundreds of hours of this experience but rules are rules) Given her platelet count and overall energy level, I figured it best to be her chauffeur.
The transfusions usually make her really tired the next day and that was the case, plus the chemo had caused mouth sores and swollen lips. She performed her duties as planned but any lecture was difficult but "Oh Well". When I picked her up in the afternoon, she gargled with Orajel mouthwash, spit it in the street and said, "OK, let's go home!" God, I Love this woman!
Friday she also noticed a few hairs falling out so the time to step up and get it done was at hand.
Weekend went pretty well except for a nagging "cold" like symptom. Sunday night by midnight she was experiencing uncontrollable shivers and temp swings to 103 deg. The temp was followed with expected sickness and cramps. Once we ran out of blankets in the house, we knew we were off to the hospital again. She was admitted for observation and labs. Menu for this evening includes 2 units of blood, saline, and Levaquin antibiotic. Vic will spend the night in isolation to avoid any exposures and hopefully come home Tue morning. The chemo treatment scheduled for today was cancelled and will be rescheduled as soon as she recovers. Very likely she has a simple "cold" and is more susceptible due to the chemo. Once past this hump, she will get on with her schedule as she finds her "groove" that allows her to Live Life at its fullest.
Sept 24, 2014 4p
So, today is better with a bit more energy and a closer reach to the weekend. Vic will continue her clinical rotations as needed but with a keen avoidance of exposure to sickness or wear a mask when possible. She has 60 hours of practicum in Herrin for her Master's and will start this Friday. In the meantime, she will teach full time, study, and rest. Jammed into her schedule will be the occasional transfusion to keep her going. The following graphs show Vic's numbers since Aug of this year. The bounces are post transfusions. The goal for hemoglobin is steady numbers above 12 and platelets above 150. Typical transfusions for her have been two units of blood and one unit of platelets each time. The process takes 8-10 hours to complete.
Vic is alive today because of donations of whole blood and platelets. In this period while her bone marrow is recovering, she needs transfusions to keep her going. The American Red Cross blood drives are pretty common, but platelets are only collected at certain facilities and the process takes about 2 hours. Whole blood can be donated 6 times a year and platelets can be donated 24 times per year. Anyone interested in helping patients like Vicky please consider blood donations. For more information please contact the Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767 or http://www.redcrossblood.org/
Platelet donations can be scheduled with the regional blood centers in Evansville and Effingham at 402-280-8641.
For anyone wanting to have their blood or platelets "directed" (ie tagged for a specific patient) they may contact the Red Cross at 1-800-352-5663 for eligibility and scheduling. Vic is O+
Prayers and Platelets....that should do it! Thank You!
Sept 23, 2014 1p
Oh where to start? I guess with the past weekend....Vic tried her best to avoid getting labs so that she would not have evidence that she needed another transfusion. Finally on Saturday she gave in and the labs showed her hemoglobin at 8.2 (normal 12-15) and more importantly her platelet count was 9 (normal 150-400). The low platelets were already evidenced by her periodic nose bleed and the hemoglobin was evidenced in her difficulty breathing and rapid heart rate after any activity. In she went Sunday morning for our third weekend in a row of transfusions. As of this writing we are going to quit counting the number of transfusions and chemo treatments.
Yesterday Vic met with oncologist and had labs and chemo treatment. The latest update from the doc is that the timeline of confirmation that the chemo is doing its job is now 6-8 weeks. The telling sign that the bone marrow is becoming healthier will be the occasion of two consecutively higher numbers of platelets without transfusion. In the meantime, she will have labs drawn on Monday and Thursday and receive transfusions as needed. As this and the chemo treatment will require a number of vein pokes (4 weekly), she will likely have a port installed in her chest when her platelet count will allow it. Today her platelet count makes clotting difficult and the risk of inserting the port's catheter into the vein a bit risky. There was a time we tracked her blood maker for activity of progression, then we tracked her liver numbers for signs that the liver was recovering, then we tracked her hemoglobin to watch for marrow health, now we watch platelets to see the marrow doing its thing. All this time of watching and tracking we have been Living. Life is an amazing ride and we know that so many people take similar rides in their Lifetimes.
Vic is tolerating the chemo so far with limited mouth sores and fatigue being the main side effects. She knows that until she finds her groove in the weeks ahead the effects will likely increase. But, once we get past the next weeks and get her bone marrow back on-line she will feel much better. In the meantime, she will rest as needed and work as full a schedule as possible to keep her mind clear. She still has a lingering tinnitus that has been around since acupuncture to help with hot flashes some years ago.
So, that is the update. Vic is positive, I am positive, and the oncologist is positive. Unfortunately, Vic is the one that has to endure the physical and mental trauma. BUT, today is a good day, tomorrow looks pretty awesome, and that is enough for now. We are not going to borrow trouble by wasting time worrying about things that we cannot control. Vic's faith is strong and He is powerful.
Sept 17, 2014 2p
Vic is doing great today. Energy is up and off to work she went. Great night of sleep really helped. Her nightly dreams begin with, "What He leads you to, He will lead you through!"
Caps and scarves are in stock and first wig arrives tomorrow. A new blonde will be residing here soon!
Sept 16, 2014 2p
Round 1 of new chemo went fine yesterday. Vic will receive weekly treatments in Evansville until we know otherwise. Hopefully over time she can convert to once every three weeks. Today she is feeling a bit punk (3 of 10 for you nurses) but at work teaching lecture all day. Expected fatigue is tomorrow and Thur but she has no plans of changing anything about work or finishing her Master's. Hair will be gone by next week so she is gonna beat it and shave before. We will monitor closely and do as the doctor says. She knows that the chemo effects are cumulative so she will be making adjustments to stay in the groove that lies before her. After such a long relationship with Dr. Stephens, she is trusting in him and fully faithful to Him! As she said after the new diagnosis last week...."Let's get on with it!" Thank you for all the prayers and cards.
Sept 14, 2014 5p
Vic has been in the hospital today getting two units of blood and one of platelets. She was running out of breath and wanted to start chemo tomorrow without being empty. Her hemo today was over 8 but platelets at 15. This boost should help her tomorrow. First unit started at noon so we should get home before midnight. Tomorrow is big. Chemo at 1:30p and estimated 2 hours for infusion. Vic is ready.
Sept 12, 2014 12p
It's been a busy summer. We kept busy and enjoyed every day that Vic did not have to study for her Master's.
Unfortunately, at the end of June, Vic's hemoglobin numbers dropped below 8 again so her second blood transfusion was ordered. The results were quick and lasted for a few weeks. As the chemo was suspect in the cause of the marrow's reduced production, the chemo was stopped. Over the next weeks Vic had a couple more transfusions and more tests were ordered to make sure the shortness of breath was only a result of low hemoglobin. CT scan came back clean, MUGA scan of heart was good at 62%, but then came the bone marrow biopsy. The breast cancer has invaded the bone marrow and has weakened it's ability to produce red cells. Effective as soon as all the insurance approvals are granted, Vic will start the more traditional chemo therapy path. She will initially receive weekly treatments of Abraxane which is in the Taxol family. She will have the usual chemo side effects of hair loss and nausea but she is tough and ready to get on with it. The plan is that as soon as her marrow kicks back in she can reduce to a heavier dose every three weeks. In the meantime, she will get blood/platelet transfusions as needed and keep plowing along. We are not excited about the new path but we will deal with it. Her plan is that work and studies will stay exactly as they are now. And, she usually makes her plans happen.
God is Good and blessings are always abundant. Thank You to all that are praying for her.
Jun 11, 2014 5p
We have returned from vacation and a quick trip to Iowa to attend a great wedding. Vic is doing great and glad to be home so that she can get time to jump into the semester of studies for her Master's. She is also teaching clinicals at the hospital during Summer break....well kinda a break...
Vacation was great. We went to Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Captiva Island, FL, and Apalachicola, FL and St. George Island. Fun, great weather, and plenty to see. I have posted a few pics in Vic's Pics.
Vic is doing great on the medical front and no tests are scheduled for the Summer. Her treatment path remains the same with one week off and two weeks on the chemo pills. Hand and feet syndrome will always be an ongoing problem but she deals with it.
May 2, 2014
Doctor appt with Dr. Stephens went great. Vic's PET scan shows no new involvement. As the blood workup looks good, the treatment path will remain the same with the only change to watch the hemoglobin level more often. Vic feels great and the result of the day has her ready to ENJOY every minute of vacation (May 14-28 Florida). Amen!!!
April 11, 2014
Vic was admitted to the hospital to receive two units of blood when her labs came back with hemoglobin at 7.9 which is below the range of 12-15. The number has been around 10 for some time due to chemo. She knew it was low as she felt very tired after routine exercise around the house. Immediately she felt better and the number jumped to 10.8.
Vic's CA27.29 came back at 156.2 which is down from 224 in November...Yipee!
She is feeling better and ready to get finished with the school year so that vacation can begin!
Jan 8, 2014 5p
Vic is back in full swing at the college and ready to start her next semester of studies. We had a great Christmas break without any great fanfare....our goal. All is stable on the medical front with the usual pain in hands and feet. The cold weather has seemed to prompt an increase in joint and bone pain but Spring should fix that right up....or a move to Florida!
Dec 12, 2013 2p
Visit with the oncologist went good with nothing new to report. Vic was allowed an extra week off meds this last cycle but it did not do much to help with the hands or feet. The latest addition to the arsenal of hand healing is a paraffin spa machine. It appears that it might help remove the old skin but her hands will not take much heat so by design it is a tricky maneuver. As always, she just deals with the usual problems and moves on. We know that so many blessings come our way and we are thankful for each and every one. The Christmas season is getting close and we are looking forward to some major relaxing times while Vic is off for the break. Merry Christmas!
Nov 7, 2013 11a
Labs came back and all liver numbers look good. CA27.29 is 224 which is stable from previous numbers. We will head off to see the oncologist late next week for routine check. Bring on the feasting Holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas!
Oct 28, 2013 5p
Vic is doing great despite the constant trouble with hands, fingers, feet, and peeling. Anxious to discuss many issues with onco mid-Nov. She has had a very busy month as can be seen in her Vic's Pic's at left.
Seeing the grandkids early in Nov and then anxious to see Kendall's little bundle of joy arrive in March!
Oct 10, 2013 2p
Link to a poem from last year...it is more true than ever: "Something About Vicky"
Sept 30, 2013 5p
Vic is approaching a big mile marker in her marathon of Life....Oct 12 is her 10 year mark!
On Friday, Oct 10 of 2003, Vic finally convinced the radiologist in Evansville to do another biopsy. On Sunday we arrived home from church to a phone call from the oncologist with "positive" results. The following weeks were very busy with surgeries and seeking out the right oncologist with the right path.
We have learned many things since Vic was given a new incline setting for her Life's path. First and foremost, prognosis numbers are just that...numbers. Each and every cancer victim is unique and individual. BUT, attitude and a positive outlook is vital to passing prognosis markers along the path. Initially, Vic was handed an 11% chance to see the 3 year mark. Then, in Feb of 2012, the numbers moved to 3% to reach 5 years when the liver became involved. We knew from each marker passed that there would be more along the way, but Vicky tackles each day with strength and faith. Faith in her God, her doctors, and herself.
Today was great, tomorrow looks good, and we have plans. Vicky is working on her Master's degree to advance her teaching opportunities and she rarely sits still. The target for the cure is our aim with a magic bullet provided from research. Vicky continues to be a miracle in progress!
Aug 12, 2013 11a
Vic started back to work a week ago and all is going well. We enjoyed a last trip of the summer to Destin, FL. (pics in Vic's Pic's) On the medical side, Vic is doing good but the hands and feet really took a beating on vacation. She is playing catch-up trying to lotion as much as possible. She makes good use of what she has left in her bad wrist and just ignores the fingertip pain when working. She never complains.
July 19, 2013 2:30p
Vic is doing great and is still handling the side effects without mention. One of the sad but obvious things one learns as one travels this road is who are the real friends and who are the "fair-weather" friends. Vic has plenty to do to deal with each day without selfishly arrogant idiots crossing her path. Luckily, we are blessed with many incredibly "real" friends that always offer to help in any way possible. We have handled the last 10 years without need of outside help, but it is assuring to know that help is only a phone call away. Vic has helped countless others in their medical needs and we would much rather help than need help.
Life is pretty much normal and we can still go dancing but after I swing her around on the floor a few times she holds her bad wrist the next day but never complains.
July 3, 2013 12p
Summer is in full swing and we have managed to make a few short trips already. Many of her "to-do" items have been checked off but I suspect more will follow.
On the medical front, Vic is doing good considering she has learned to simply tolerate the side effects of the chemo. The only increased effect is nausea and sudden stomach cramps on the week off meds...oddly. Her hands and feet continue to become petrified despite constant attention to hydration and lotion.
May 17, 2013 4p
Good news on the labs and PET scan....nothing has changed. The scan showed no new areas of involvement. The labs confirmed the low platelet count but not so low as to worry. Dr. Stephens is pleased with where everything stands and wishes to stay on the current treatment path for now.
Bring on the Summer! Vic was pretty excited and happy.
May 11, 2013 7p
Interesting but not enjoyable is a new side effect of the Xeloda chemo that Vic is taking....her fingers have hardened to a point that an iPad's touch screen will not recognize them. Some days it is the little things that we get so accustomed to that we take them for granted. I assure you that Vicky does not!
Monday is a biggie. We are expecting good reports but Vic has to go through the PET scan ordeal again. It would take a lot of drugs to get me to lay quiet for an hour inside a dark tube while the scanner does its thing. Once they inject her with the radioactive sugar water she should glow in the dark.
Her labs look pretty good except for low platelet count which we already knew based on nose bleeds and gums. Marker CA27.29 came in at 205.4 which is down from 239 in January. We see the oncologist in the afternoon to review all the data.
Prayers are appreciated...they work!
April 24, 2013 5p
Vic decided that having the tests on our anniversary might not be a good idea, plus she has a graduation event that night, so all moved to Monday, May 13.
April 17, 2013 3p
Lotion, lotion, lotion...that is the new world order. If Vic stays on top of the hands and feet the cracking and peeling seems to be manageable. She has been busy as the school year draws to an end May 12....YIPEE! Once free, we will be hitting the road for a few trips to each direction. New labs, scan, and onco visit are scheduled for May 10...our 10 year anniversary! (boy, do we know how to celebrate!!!)
March 15, 2013 2p
Vic is getting tired of the side effects of the drugs but plugs along despite. When you cannot feel anything in the tips of the fingers except the pain similar to paper cuts and the nausea runs most of the two week cycle, the process gets old. Next routine scans are early May with no expectation of anything new. Early to bed is the best medicine these days. Rest does her good. We are hoping that her body will continue to adjust to the drugs and find ways to increase its tolerance.
January 23, 2013 3p
Pleased to report that Vic is on cruise control these days. She is feeling pretty good except for a bit of fatigue and nausea in week two of treatment each cycle. She has become expert at all the lotions on the market for her hands and feet and has found that wearing cotton gloves and booties in the evening helps the lotion do its job even better.
Christmas was excellent and we were able to steal away again to Naperville to play with the grandbabies. March holds a quick trip to Florida to get her feet in the water and her butt in the sand. Blessings keep coming our way and we try to see each one.
Dec 6, 2012 1p
We met with the docs on Tue:
Ortho - Pleased that the burning and numbness of the fingers is getting better but not pleased with range of motion of wrist (about 10 deg each way vs 90). Expects that range might get a bit better with time and use.
Onco - Labs and marker are stable which is great. Main side effects of fatigue, nausea, and finger peeling is tolerable but fingerprints are gone and tips feel like paper cuts, We continue to try every lotion and therapy on the market and have just about exhausted the vast selections. (Amazon Prime has to love us.) Vic just plows along. She will repeat labs in 3 months. Xeloda dosage is as low as possible to maintain efficacy.
Spent a fantastic Thanksgiving with grandbabies at Mike and Leslie's in Naperville. Fun, fun, fun!
Vic prepared a great traditional spread of a feast. Yum, yum, yum! Blessings abound if we just focus.
Nov 12, 2012 4p
Pleased to say that there is not much new to report. Vic just plows along and is handling her meds pretty well. Hands and feet are still sore but she tolerates it. Fatigue sets in about mid-week of week two of each med cycle so we slate a few early bedtimes to counteract it. We are pleased to announce that two new grandbabies arrived on Nov 7. Mike and Leslie added to their family with Madison Grace and Landon Gene. Steve and Keni were there for the delivery. We will be spending Thanksgiving holiday with them too.
Aug 15, 2012 10a
Cruising along Life's path seems the order of the day. Finger pain and slight nausea come with all that has happened but Vic just keeps plowing along. All symptoms seem to be getting slightly better every day so we take it as positive. The college is back in session so Vic is busy at work getting ready for the next batch of nurse students that arrive this Thursday. We did sneak a quick trip to visit family in Colorado before school started. (added pics to Vic's Pic's)
(PS Moved older items to the Events Chronology page so this page would load faster)
Aug 8, 2012 Noon
Vic saw the oncologist and orthopedic surgeon yesterday:
Onco - As the lab results are looking good, the doc has reduced the chemo dosage by one pill a day which will be a 25% reduction to 1500mg of Xeloda per day. This will hopefully reduce the hand and foot pain and blisters. She will stay on the two week on and one week off schedule for now.
Ortho - Excellent news, the wrist has healed and the splint is no longer necessary. Vic has less than 30 degree movement so occupational therapy will probably take 8+ weeks at 3 times a week. The arm pain and burning of the fingers seems to be from the median nerve that took a hit both in the fall and the surgery.
(July 1 on left and Aug 7 on right)
Vic starts back to work tomorrow with students beginning in a week. She is anxious to get back into the swing of things.
Aug 03, 2012 4p
Just returned from a quick trip to Denver to visit family. Vic had her labs Thur and her liver numbers are good and her CA27.29 has dropped to 213 from its earlier 523 in Feb. YIPEE!
She hopes to get rid of the splint on her arm and start OT on Monday. Also hoping that the chemo can be reduced to one week on and one week off to reduce the hand blisters. She is still having pain in the wrist and arm but optimistic that OT can work that out.
July 19, 2012 9a
Vic was beyond excited to have the pins removed on Tuesday. She still has her wrist in a splint to the elbow for another three weeks but she is much more mobile. X-ray shows bridging across the break. She is handling this next round of chemo very well with the usual hand and feet redness and tenderness. All indications are that she is doing great and on a better path now that her system is accustomed to the drugs. (added pics to Vic's Pic's)
June 14, 2012 11:30a
Well, last weekend Vic headed off to go horseback riding with her sister in the Shawnee Nat'l forest about 75 miles from home. When she arrived she was spraying the horses with bug spray and one of the "bomb-proof" horses lunged back and then forward and knocked her to the ground. She knew immediately that she had broken her wrist so she wrapped it up and drove herself home to go to our local ER. Yep, the x-ray showed a break at the wrist. On Monday we met with the orthopedic surgeon and surgery was scheduled for Wednesday. She has pins in her arm and hand so that they can adjust the alignment of the pieces. Hopefully the pins will come out July 25 and then she will have a cast for two more weeks...just in time for school to start again. Ugh!
We still plan to travel as much as her arm will allow but this little addition makes everything more difficult. Other than this latest development she is doing great.
June 1, 2012 5p
New PET scan shows remarkable improvement in the liver. Notice the scan on the right taken Feb 19 which shows the liver as bright yellow from the uptake of the radioactive glucose that was absorbed by the disease. In the scan on the left taken yesterday, the liver shows greatly reduced uptake. This improvement is also reflected in her labs that showed improved liver function.
Vic will stay on the chemo treatment with a slight reduction in dosage. She will still be on treatment for two weeks and off one. This will be the course for the foreseeable future. With the reduced dosage the hope is that the side effects will reduce as well.
May 12, 2012 3p
Vic is feeling great as she starts the next two-week round of chemo. Her hands and feet are in good shape, even though she has just about lost her fingerprints. Her labs came back this week and everything is looking better. The PET scan on May 31 will tell the full story of the treatment's effectiveness.
Last night she gave a great keynote speech to the graduating class of 2012 from Frontier Community College. I have included it here: Vic's Keynote Speech
April 18, 2012 3p
Lab test numbers look good and liver function has improved. Doc still wants her to stay on the current dosage and schedule so bring on the lotion and cool footsy soaks. We can do this. The program requires limited walking and standing but once she is on Summer break, she just has to sit in the passenger seat and enjoy!
April 16, 2012 9a
In the saddle of the week off meds and all is well. Vic's feet and hands are still sore and a little leathery but blisters are minimal. Blood tests this week should tell us what is happening. Hoping for great numbers and a reduced level of chemo to improve the hand/feet issue. Four more weeks of school and then it is Summer break! Got plans to hit the road.
April 2, 2012 4p
Vic started on the meds again last Friday and already the heat in the feet is becoming an issue. The doc wants her to try to stick it out a few more days then stop again before the blisters get out of control. Needless to say, she headed to work today in a not so good mood....actually pretty mad. She wants to take the meds! Still trying to find the right mix of quantity and timing.
March 27, 2012 11a
Vic is doing great today getting ready for round 3 Friday.
Some questions were sent regarding why the hand/foot syndrome is a side effect:
Following administration of chemotherapy, small amounts of drug leak out of very small blood vessels called capillaries in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Exposure of hands and feet to heat as well as friction on the palms and soles increases the amount of drug in the capillaries and increases the amount of drug leakage. This leakage of drug results in redness, tenderness, and possibly peeling of the palms and soles. Best remedy is to keep off the footsies. We are now the proud owners of every kind of skin cream on the market. Best so far is udder cream and peppermint foot cream...plus it is cooling. Soaking in cold water also helps reduce the redness and pain. (Updated pics in Vic's Pic's on the left)
March 26, 2012 10a
Round 2 of meds were stopped last Fri as the side effects popped up again. The foot pain and blisters started appearing on day 7 of treatment. Vic was pretty good about staying off her feet over the weekend but is back at work today. She will be off the meds for the week and start again on Friday. The dosage has been reduced again now to 1500mg AM and 1000mg PM. Schedule will stay 14 days on and 7 days off. She knows that the chemo is working from the results of the first round. Finding the maximum she can take is still the search. Powering through the nausea and pain is not the problem but the blisters. If they get out of control we will have a bigger problem to deal with than we want. I cannot imagine an immobile Vic.
Drafted a little poem for her the other day and post it here if you would like to read it: "Something About Vicky"
March 14, 2012 10a
Made a quick trip to Orange Beach, AL on March 3 to get away and enjoy the beach. Unfortunately, Vic started her chemo on Feb 24 and by March 6 the med was taking its toll. She was pretty much resigned to the couch with nausea, foot pain, and blisters on her feet. The drug is known to have these side effects but we had hoped that would not be the case. The doc stopped the meds on the 6th as the problems would only get worse.
We met with the oncologist yesterday and the path has been adjusted. The goal is to find the maximum dosage/frequency that Vic can tolerate without causing severe problems. BUT, at the same time, find a way to take maximum dosage to do the job of halting the disease.
She will stay on a two week on and one week off chemo schedule but the dosage has been reduced to 3,000mg per day vs the earlier 3,600mg per day. She will anxiously, but reluctantly, start treatment again this Friday.
We had a great drive back home on March 9 and the side effects are just about healed.
On a very positive note, about day 8 of treatment, she noticed a reduction in a pain she had been having that she thought might be gall bladder but turned out was the enlarged liver. We know that the drug is working and the doc said that in patients that it is most effective it is also usually most problematic in side effects. Luckily, Vic has the strength of a fence post and will do what she must.
I do need a favor: We have heard from the rumor mill everything from our sudden trip being a trip to some exotic treatment clinic to much worse scenarios. Please stop any rumors that you hear and simply insert the facts that you now know. Vic has a hell of a fight on her hands but she is ready.
As has been the case since diagnosis in 2003, she will always be on meds. For now it is chemo and that will be the case for months to come. On the horizon is a new drug that allows hormone therapies that were no longer effective to once again become a stop sign to the disease. Our goal today is to plow through the next months putting this disease back in its place and then switch to a less toxic line of defense. Please keep the prayers coming....they work...yesterday was a blessing!
February 23, 2012 4p
Preliminary pathology report is back and it appears that the disease is the same as in 2003. Doc is ordering her new meds and she should be on the chemo pill "Xeloda" within a few days.
Well, we have been waiting since 2003 for something else to pop up....and it appears to have happened. When Vic's labs came back before she had her 6mo Zometa injection, the liver function numbers were high so the oncologist ordered a PET scan and other labs. The PET shows that the liver is involved. We are sure the disease is a spread of the original breast disease that had already gone to bone in the beginning. Vicky will have a liver biopsy on Wed morning to confirm the exact disease and then a treatment path will begin to reduce the enlargement of the liver and halt the progression. Results of the pathology should be in our hands by early next week. Our expectation is that she will be able to handle this with an oral chemo pill that has limited side effects but shows good results. The drug is "Xeloda" (Capecitabine). Like conventional chemo drugs, this should halt cell splitting of the disease.
On the bright side, the PET showed a reduction of the earlier bone involvement and no spread to other organs such as brain or lung.
Vicky is strong as usual and ready to tackle this new opponent.
Please keep her in your prayers.
Sometimes when browsing the internet for medical research and trying to find that magic cure, you reach a point that it is best to close the browser and open the Bible.
Vicky is blessed with an outstanding team of medical professionals on her side and she has full faith in their path and capabilities. Dr. Stephens is the lead physician on this case and God is guiding the path. On that note, while we appreciate all the incoming information from well intentioned research by friends and family, we have got this. But, thank you for your Love and concern. Positive energy is the force that drives a positive attitude. Thank You for your prayers!
October 26, 2011 5p
Vicky is doing great. We are in full swing of getting ready for Kendall's wedding the end of November.
She feels good and we are absolutely enjoying the Fall weather. (new pics in Vic's Pic's)
August 19, 2011 6p
Great day with the oncologist today. God works in very mysterious ways but finding this doctor was in no way a coincidence. Dr. Stephens is exactly the right doc for Vicky and their interaction over the years has proven to be about as good as any medicine on the market today. His reassurance and extreme thoughtfulness is awesome. So here is the plan: Since the CA27.29 marker is no longer proving to be a reliable indicator of disease stabilization it will be discontinued so that we don't worry about it each test. As the monthly injections of "Faslodex" appear to have been ineffective, it will be discontinued as well. Another drug, "Femara" that is from the aromatase inhibitor family will begin today. This drug is in pill form so Vic will not have to have the monthly double shots in her back side. It will act in a manner similar to her earlier drug "Arimidex" in its design to stop the production of estrogen in her system. By eliminating the estrogen in her system, the disease is starved of its growth agent. Luckily Vic's hormone receptor-positive status gives these drugs a chance to slow disease growth. Follow-up will be every six months unless a symptom pops up that indicates progression. As there are no symptoms today this current course seems logical. Given the CT scans that Vic had after her fall, the need for another scan at this time was avoided. The scans show no abnormalities in organs. The six month IV injection of Zometa will continue to strengthen bones.
Vic starts her class with new students on Monday so she is gearing up and getting ready. The rule around here stays the same as it has always been: "Don't borrow trouble and don't worry about things that we cannot change." (so easy to say...so hard to live)
So today was great, tomorrow looks great, and keep out of her way.
August 16, 2011 12p
Lots to report on this writing. Vic got back her labs this week and her CA27.29 is up to 234.7 which is only an 8% increase over her test in June. She is having a bone scan today and her Zometa injection.
We meet with the oncologist on Friday to go over all the labs and tests. I am sure we will stay on the current course for the next 3 months.
On July 24 she decided to fall down the steps on her bottom at 7:30 in the morning. She said it was just like the cartoons. The fall knocked the wind out of her and she could not talk so off to the ER we went. After X-ray and full CT scans, the conclusion was a badly bruised diaphragm. We spent the day at the hospital for breathing treatments and meds. She is still a bit sore. On the bright side, we have a full set of CT scans that we were not expecting and nothing of significance appeared. And, if there were any weakened bones the fall would have probably broken them.
We were able to take in a quick trip to Kentucky lake for a week before she starts teaching her next class. We had planned on a longer drive to Denver but the long ride was just not something that was possible.
June 30, 2011 5p
As there are no new symptoms the plan is to re-test in early August and go from there. So, we will just enjoy every single day of July. Tons 'o fun planned as Vicky is off until mid-August. Yippee!
June 22, 2011 3p
Vic's marker came back at 216 (up 41% from March). She has called the doc to see what he would like to do. I guess we will return to praying on bended knees again. The curse of this test is that it can bounce around at will sometimes. In Vicky it has been a reliable marker and has tracked her therapies progress and shown problems when they existed. So, you test to gain assurance that all is well and hope that when it bounces it is an anomaly. Many docs discourage marker tests and lean heavily on symptoms...which Vic has none that are new. So, so, we will be thankful that no new symptoms are happening and hope that this is a bounce that will return lower next test. (Of course the waiting is the detail that does not go without its due distraction)
June 18, 2011 2p
Vicky is doing great. She has had a busy past few months with graduation of her 2010-2011 LPN class and a trip to Florida with her great friend Debbie. We were also blessed with the birth of Logan Michael Lemons to Mike and Leslie. July she will have her labs run and visit with the doctor. We pray the prayer of thanksgiving for all the blessings that come our way.
March 21, 2011 11a
Great news today on Vic's marker, it has dropped a bit to 152.9
We visit with the oncologist tomorrow but all is going smooth at this time.
New pics of our Spring break trip to Nashville and Florida are posted in Vic's Pic's at the left.
A great trip, wonderful weather and Vic found another Chico's store......OMG.
Big thanks to Keni for holding down the fort while we were gone.
February 25, 2011 10a
We did it! On Feb 12 at 7:12p, Vic walked through the door thinking she was bringing me a replacement microphone and "Surprise" went the crowd of over 70 friends.
We raised $975 for Susan G. Komen and had a great time. It went so well we plan to do this annually as a Valentine's Day Benefit Dance. DCI, Inc (Steve's company) sponsored the event and paid all expenses. (Vicky made Steve promise to NEVER EVER surprise her like this again...or the consequences would be severe.) more pics in Vic's Pic's
January 18, 2011 12 Noon
Vic's CA27.29 marker came back in December at 163.8 which is only 2% above the previous marker in September 2010. Her monthly treatment of "Faslodex" has now been doubled as the double dosage is showing better outcomes. As the marker is holding, we are optimistic that the new therapy is doing its job. Vicky continues to show remarkable energy and plenty of bounce in her step. Our Christmas was great and we look forward to the New Year!
November 30, 2010 10a
Now that a month and more has passed since our Indy trip, we have realized that the "in your face" broad brushed strokes of charts, graphs, tables, and data left a measurable mark on our mind. Albeit the presentations were professional and current, the "finding Vicky" in all the data was too often off the charts. This disease is an "exclusive" one-on-one, no-two-alike, dilemma. Vicky's path is unique and we really like it that way. We also came to realize that this event hit us while we were already feeling "pink" fatigue from all the other breast cancer events of the year. Few people know that Vic is the local "go to" girl when someone gets diagnosed. She is very willing to help in any way and often escorts women through the process...literally. Her experience, first hand knowledge and attitude put her in a good position to help others. She accepts that this is her calling and responds in kind. As I watch from the sidelines I can see it take it's toll but she stretches her wings and shakes it off. In no time at all she is back off the ground and soaring again. Once airborne she can handle pretty rough turbulence before she looses any altitude. Anyone can achieve better altitude if they just get a better attitude.
October 18, 2010 10a
Trying to find the right words to describe our past weekend is really tough. Let's start with "interesting", mix in a bit of "overwhelming" and end with "extremely important".
We went to Indianapolis to attend the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network's annual conference at Indiana University. The audience of approx. 425 was comprised of survivors, caregivers, and medical professionals.
Vicky's superheroes start with the Dr. George Sledge (shown above) group of oncologists and his team at Indiana University where her primary doc, Dr. Stephens, served his final residency.
The all day conference; "Emerging Advances & Current Approaches to Metastatic Breast Cancer" was a full-on in-your-face presentation without fluff or sugar coating. Numerous doctors from the team presented specific topics throughout the day. With few exceptions the audience handled the facts without incident. Face it, once you are past the initial diagnosis and settling time, the facts become part of your Life and seeing them in color slides does not really change one's personal outlook. It is either positive or negative, before and after. I would suspect that the audience on Saturday was comprised of the more optimistic of the spectrum.
Vicky handled the day extremely well and we came away with the latest information on treatment options that are here and what is coming down the pipeline. Her list of questions for her doc is pretty impressive.
A few bits and pieces from my notes:
- While the estimate of how many women are currently living in the U.S. with stage IV breast cancer is 155,000 the actual number is expected to be much higher.
- Thirty percent of non-metastatic breast cancer survivors that reach the 5 year mark will have disease progression to stage IV.
- While there is no known cure for stage IV breast cancer, there are patients that find themselves in remission with no detectable tumors and stay that way for years.
- The survival rate that exists is outdated and much better today due primarily to the concept of treating the disease with therapy rather than immediately attacking the patient with aggressive and toxic chemotherapy.
- Advances in hormonal therapy (Vic's current path) are broad and impressive and it appears that even some of the drugs that have seemed to become ineffective in Vic may be effective again after a specific drug holiday. This would be a drug leap frog effect.
- Treatment of stage IV is a marathon not a sprint.
We came away with a renewed optimism of what is happening in the world of treatments and encouraged by the impressive progress that is being made. Still, today is the best day to make the most of today and tomorrow is another exciting day yet to happen.
September 28, 2010 1p
Vicky's current total: $1,665
to all of you who donated. You got Vicky to #3 out of
September 24, 2010 11a
We went to the oncologist Wednesday and he was pleased with Vic's latest marker at 160.5
Of course, we would rather have it lower, but it is what it is and the result seems to show that the new drugs are taking hold. Hopefully, the next test (each 3 months now) will show a lower number.
She is doing great and will stay on the current therapy of monthly injections and bone meds.
Also, Thank You! to all of you that contributed to Vicky's Susan G. Komen goal of $1,500. She has met the goal and will even exceed it once all the monies are input. All of you made it happen!
The walk is Saturday morning in Evansville and she is going with a crew of supporters.
"A great cure in the future is her cure for a great future"
August 18, 2010 3p
Again this year, Vicky is gathering support for the Susan G. Komen organization as it is one of her favorites. Last year she met her goal of raising $1,000 so this year she is upping it to $1,500. Anyone wishing to support her in this cause can donate from her secure link at:
Thank You so much.
August 11, 2010 11a
Dr. wants to stay on course and re-test in 30 days. So, that is what we will do.
After reading tons of posts by women in Vic's circumstance, the layman summary looks like this:
The CA27.29 marker is so individual that "normal" is such a subjective issue. What is important is the trend of the number for those women that have shown a correlation between marker and the disease activity in the body. In Vic's case, the marker has tracked along with the effectiveness of the treatment as far as estrogen level is concerned. Her previous meds controlled the level of estrogen production to reduce the enhancement of the disease. Now that those meds have shown to be less effective, the new drug works so much differently that the marker level may be "normal" for her at a new level. Vic's earlier hormone therapy meds worked to block the production of estrogen. The new med "Faslodex" works to block the reception of the estrogen by the disease. Many women have reported that their marker found a new level and then dropped after 4-6 months of this therapy. Even though many doctors do not use the CA27.29 marker, it has seemed to be an effective element in tracking Vic's progress. Given that the main role of the oncologist is to treat symptoms and progression of the disease; without symptoms the treatment options are limited. If and when symptoms occur, or scans show further involvement, the vast world of treatments that are specific to the disease will be available.
And, all the while, new research continues and new therapies are becoming available.
Do we worry? Yes.
Will we waste time with worry? Not much.
August 10, 2010 12p
Vic got her lab results back today and the CA27.29 is up to 159. While this is not a good number, the percentage of increase since April's number is 25% which is lower than the past few readings. We are waiting to hear from the oncologist to see what is the next step.
July 9, 2010 3p
We have been busy enjoying Vic's first summer off. She is doing great. Fishing, Cardinal's game, trip to Colorado, trail riding, and running all over the place have kept her busy. Vic will have her labs next month and we will go from there. We made a conscious decision to focus the summer on fun and not worry about things that are out of our control.
April 30, 2010 5p
Just returned from the Doc's in Evansville. As expected, Vic is now on a new drug, Faslodex. which different than her earlier treatment, this one blocks the receptor of estrogen at the cancer cell itself. So, the depletion of estrogen is no longer the goal but rather that this drug will stop the cancer cells from taking in estrogen to grow. She will get a shot every two weeks for the first month then monthly thereafter. She will wait for 3 months before repeating the CA27.29 marker test to see if the drug is doing it's job. Given that Vic has no symptoms and all her other tests look good, we are going to really enjoy the summer and enjoy every single day.
Apr 28, 2010 9a
As Vicky expected, the CA27.29 marker came back yesterday at an unfortunate 127.6
We have an appt with the Dr this Friday morning. The likely move will be to a new shot that halts the path of estrogen. Since the news was not really a surprise, Vic is doing good.
Mar 31, 2010 10a
Sad to say that the latest CA27.29 marker came back at 78.3 yesterday. We now reset the waiting clock and wait until the next marker test in a month. As the PET scan in January showed no further involvement we are optimistic that the new meds have not had time to do their job. Dr. Stephens will review the next marker and if it is higher Vic will move to the next inhibitor which is a monthly shot. Vic has no new symptoms.
Mar 15, 2010 1p
Vic had a bit of an adjustment period to her new meds after all. She was pooped for most of Feb but seems to have stabilized. We grabbed a quick trip to Nashville, TN to play at the Gaylord resort, downtown, and the Grand Ole Opry....what fun. All is well and we accept all the blessings that God has sent our way. Vic is looking forward to May for the Summer break.
Jan 18, 2010 12p
Vic is doing great. The new med AROMASIN® (exemestane tablet) is not causing any new side effects. We will be anxious for April to see that the marker numbers have dropped back to low levels.
Jan 8, 2010 5p
Just returned home from busy day in Evansville. PET scan shows no further involvement of disease ... Yipee! God is good!
Doc changed Vic's daily med to a new inhibitor that should yet again reduce the estrogen available in her body and hence push back down her CA27.29 marker. She will re-test in April to determine if the new drug is doing its job. Thank You for all your prayers and concerns.
Jan 6, 2010 11a
Following up on the elevated CA27.29 marker from last October, Vic repeated the test this week and it came back at 52.7 which is high. The doctor has ordered a PET scan and will then decide the course after the results. We hope to have the scan yet this week. Please keep Vicky in your prayers.
Dec 18, 2009 3p
All is well at the Lemons' home. Vicky is doing great and busy getting everything just right for Christmas. The trees (yes plural) are up, the decorations are in place, and the cookies and candies are being prepared. If I can just get around that "naughty/nice" list there might even be a present somewhere. We wish all of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Nov 24, 2009 10a
Vicky is doing great. She has recovered from the sinus/flu/allergy round and is enjoying feeling better. She has been busy at the college and is now getting ready to host the family Thanksgiving. We are all looking forward to a long weekend.
Oct 21, 2009 9a
Meeting with Dr. Stephens was very reassuring in that the number fluctuations were not in themselves cause for worry. His positive outlook and ability to assure Vic that, "this thing will not get away from us" is always a boost to calm her concerns. To be on the safe side, we are going to re-test in January rather than wait the normal six month interval. If the numbers are still up he will order additional diagnostics to see what is going on. There is no way to value the blessing that this single doctor brings to our lives. Thank you for all the prayers that flew Vicky's way over the past few days. Each of you reading this are a part of her survival over this, now, six year journey. Thank You!
Oct 14, 2009 1p
Vic is a little disappointed today as her six month labs came back with her CA27.29 at 32.5 which is higher than her previous numbers. Levels below 38 are in normal range but she always looks for a low 20's number which she has tested in the past. She meets with the doc next Tue so I am sure it will be discussed. A few prayers of reassurance will be greatly appreciated. I am sure she is fine and the number may be a bit higher from her cold and meds she has been playing with for the last few weeks.
She is really getting into the new job and has a great group of students. Of course, I have always contended that good students come from a good teacher. (just a bit biased here though)
Sept 9, 2009 10a
Vic is getting over a cold but doing great. She is fully engaged in the new job and seems to be enjoying it despite all the extra study time. Blessings abound.
July 22, 2009 10a
WOW! You have all been great to help Vicky meet her goal for the Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure - 2009". Her goal was $1,000 and this week she beat the goal (she tends to do that).
The results are posted at: http://rfce.convio.net/site/TR?pg=personal&fr_id=1090&px=1200103
There is still time to contribute at the same web site. It is amazing how much support she receives from her friends and family. Thank You!
She is doing great and anxious to start her new full-time teaching career. The LPN's that come out of her class are in for a treat. They have no idea how much she cares for their chosen profession. Over the next year, they will come to find out how much she will care for them as well.
July 9, 2009 8a
Vicky continues to do great. She is excited to take on a new job in August as the instructor for the LPN program at Frontier Community College, here in Fairfield. Her background lends itself perfectly to this position. We have had a busy summer and new pics appear in Vic's Pic's at the left.
Thank you for checking up on Vicky. Feel free to drop her a line at her email address: email@example.com
April 27, 2009 3p
Vic's doc appointment last week went great. He is pleased with her lab numbers and simply thinks that she is being blessed. We know that she has specific purposes and she never shuns from the opportunity to help someone else.
April 1, 2009 9a
Vic's latest labs came back last week and her CA27.29 marker was 24 which is good. Since our last post, we took a quick trip to Florida with Keni for Spring break. Had a great time and the girls spent every possible minute at the beach. Vicky is busy wrapping up her first year with CNA students in her class and all is going great. Amazing how tans make everybody feel better.
February 24, 2009 10a
Vicky is doing great except for the local cold that has hit about everyone. Her involvement with breast cancer awareness continues with ongoing presentations to local organizations. Her "Health Careers" students are flourishing and she is encouraged as she watches them grow in their path towards involvement in health care professions. Her connection with the students extends far beyond the classroom. We talk often about how much fun it is going to be to watch her first class of students and see where they end up in the medical community. She is blessed with some of the brightest and best ... and so are they.
January 23, 2009 3p
Luckily nothing new to report. Blessings continue and Vicky is doing great. We had a great Holiday season and look forward to 2009. (posted a few Christmas pics in Vic's Pics)
October 13, 2008 10a
5 Year Mark (just the beginning!)
Vic has reached the 5 year mark since her diagnosis and just gets stronger and more determined in her Life's path. Five years ago on Sunday morning we came home from church to receive the news that her biopsy had come back positive. Now, looking at her life today, she is touching the lives of more and more women who find themselves in the club that nobody wants to join, but find comfort in meeting "positive attitude" survivors like Vicky. She recently spoke at the Susan G Komen "Race for the Cure" in Evansville and here in Fairfield at the kick-off of this year's "Make a Difference Day" which will raise funds for local support and awareness of breast cancer. Nothing like being married to a celeb.
September 24, 2008 10a
Vic had her CA27.29 marker test yesterday....and yipee...it came back at 21.8 which is down a bit from 22.9 back in March.
All is well in Illinois.
September 22, 2008 11a
Vicky was honored to speak yesterday at this year's Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure in Evansville, IN. She did a great job and her friends helped her raise over $600 for the event. Thank you to all that helped. During the day she bumped into many old friends from her days with St. Mary's.
The Fairfield hospital sponsored a team so she had plenty of support for the 3mi walk.
Keni joined us to make it a very special day. Vicky is doing great and enjoying "every today".
Pics and video in Vic's Pics.
July 3, 2008 12 noon
All is great. We made a quick trip to Venice, FL again last week. Schedule conflicts pushed up our plans but we had fun anyway. We had planned to go again in September but Vicky is about to venture into a new position at the hospital.
recent press release follows:
Fairfield Memorial Hospital is working with Frontier Community College and local high schools to develop a pilot program for high school students called "Health Careers." The program is for high school junior and senior students, and is designed to give them real world, career information and career exposure in various healthcare fields. RN Vicky Lemons is the Health Careers course instructor. There are 17 students from Fairfield Community High School and Edwards County High School enrolled for this fall with a limit of 20 slots available this first year. The curriculum will include the study of health careers, basic anatomy and physiology, training toward a CNA certification and hands-on clinical experiences with real patients.
This will be a great position as it will eliminate call duty and put Vicky back into an office environment. In addition to her role as instructor, she will be working within the hospital in CPR training and risk management. Her resume fit this position perfectly with experiences in each element.
May 12, 2008 3p
Vicky is doing fantastic. Vic's doctor visit in April went great. Her tests and treatments will now be extended to a six month schedule. After reviewing her chart, the oncologist simply looked her in the eyes and said, "Your status is nothing short of a blessing from God". We are so blessed to have such a caring physician both here and in heaven. A miracle in progress.
We slipped away to Florida again in April to visit Venice.
March 28, 2008 4p
Latest CA27.29 numbers are in and at 22.9 Vic is pleased. I have added a chart of her past numbers at the left under CA27.29 Markers. She is doing great and extremely anxious for Summer to begin.
January 29, 2008 10a
Vicky is doing great. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and an amazing vacation to Florida this month. As a matter of fact, everything has been so great that I have been remiss in updating this site (sorry).
Blessings abound and we appreciate each and every one of them.
Vic does not go to the doc until April as she is on a six month interval now. Really incredible.
Her work is going good and Kendall and I keep her plenty busy the rest of the time.
October 3, 2007 5p
Good Golly Miss Molly, Vic is happy today. She had her labs completed for her quarterly visit with the doc next week. Bone density, chest X-ray, blood panel...all Great. Plus, her CA27.29 marker came back at a low 17.2 Yep, she is happy.
On the job front, she managed to receive the hospital's "Employee of the Month" for September.
What a great little star on this planet we call home.
September 17, 2007 9:30a
Vicky had a great day yesterday with dear friends as they walked in the Susan G. Komen', "Race for the Cure" in Evansville. They left the house at 5:30a and the weather was perfect. The walk was a pleasurable three miles with tons of support at every corner and over 16,000 participants. .
Of course, after the race a little nourishment and shopping was in order. The support of great friends and family means the world to Vicky. Thank You so, so much!
August 28, 2007 9a
Vicky is doing great. She started working on her Masters in Nursing yesterday. Mostly online she will be busy every spare moment but she seems to like it that way. We were able to steal a few days to play on the river in Missouri. (pics in Vic's Pic's)
July 5, 2007 8a
news: Vicky's latest labs on Monday came back and her CA27.29 marker was at 17.4
In March, the number was 22.7 which was good, but we will gladly take the lower number.
Vicky is feeling great and busy as always.
I posted a few pics under Vic's Pic's of our mini-vacation to Alabama.
June 7, 2007 4p
Reviewed Vic's website today and realized it had been too long since an update was posted. Delightfully, there is nothing new to report. Vicky continues to be a miracle in progress and works as hard as ever each day. Her visit with the doctor last month went great. All the numbers are within their ranges and the doctor has become convinced that the meds are doing their job at halting any further progress. We know that we are so blessed that the right doctors came alongside Vicky to help her. Summertime will include a few mini-vacations to get us out of the normal routine but our real vacation this year will be this Fall to New England to check on the leaves.
March 29, 2007 1pm
Vicky had her CA27.29 marker tested this week and it came back at 22.7 which is very good. She meets with the doctors in April for her six month checkup. We know that she is blessed, especially when we see the people in the news the last few days. Presidential candidate, John Edward's wife, Elizabeth, has now received the same diagnosis that Vicky received over three years ago. We hope and pray that her treatment plan is effective. Cancer management is becoming a concept that is very effective for many patients. Living alongside the disease can be accomplished.
Thank You for all the prayers. Attitude and Faith are powerful medicines.
February 20, 2007 11a
Vicky is doing great on the medical front. She is however very saddened today by the passing of her Grandmother, Elma Johnson. At the tender age of 94, Elma was a part of Vicky's life from birth to today and beyond. She will be missed but leaves a treasure trove of loving memories.
December 29, 2006 4:00p
All is well here. Vicky had her marker test and Zometa treatment yesterday. The test came back at 22.9 which is great. Everything on the medical front seems to be running smooth.
We are sure that Jan1 will bring the usual resolutions but we are also sure that soon thereafter we will forget them. We wish a Happy New Year to everyone!
November 15, 2006 11a
Vicky is doing great. She keeps as busy as possible. We are looking forward to the Holidays as they seem upon us.
We have added a few pics to the Vic's Pic's and Kippy Pic's.
October 13, 2006 11a
Vicky's visit with the doctor this week went great. Her labs look good and the bone density scan shows well within normal ranges. This week is notable in that it was this week three years ago that the biopsy came back positive. That moment in time is one that will never leave memory. Vicky is able to be a positive influence for many that pass her path in her daily career. Unfortunately, from time to time, the patients that share her path do not have much path left in their Life. When their path comes to an end it is especially hard on Vicky. She is incredible at handling the load but each cross that erects behind her is a marker on the landscape of reality. Vicky knows that she is so blessed and with each day come those that face their fate, fill their pack with faith and positive attitude, and start their walk. Fill someone's pack today with Love and encouragement. It really helps focus one's vision on the future.
September 28, 2006 9a
Vicky's latest labs came back and the CA27.29 marker was 22. As this is well below the range limit of 38, she is pleased. All is going great. She will have her quarterly meeting with the oncologist in a couple of weeks. In addition to working every day in the operating room, she is also teaching a health class at the local college. Busy is her favorite mode.
August 7, 2006 9a
Life has changed quite a bit around the Lemons' home. Kendall has moved from Denver to attend Frontier Community College here in Fairfield. We are delighted that she made this decision and now lives with us. Vicky wrapped up her part-time teaching gig at the college and is doing great. She attended the "Women of Faith" conference in St. Louis last weekend and really enjoyed the big event.
July 5, 2006 3p
Thankfully, Vic's labs came back today with the CA27.29 down to 17.2 (yipee)
Vicky is doing great. We had a restful 4th. Thanks for checking-in and for the continued prayers.
June 26, 2006 1p
Vicky is doing great. She has been working plenty of hours and has even added a teaching gig to her schedule. For 8 weeks, she is teaching "Medical Terminology" at the Frontier Community College here in Fairfield. Classes are 3:30 - 6:10p on Mon and Wed. As she loves to keep busy, this fits in great.
Her last labs came back with her CA27.29 marker slightly elevated at 21.5 (up from 16) but still well within the acceptable range. But, since it is up, the doc suggested that she retest in a month rather than wait for the quarterly check. So, early July she will retest when she has her Zometa treatment. We know that the tests and waiting for the results are something that takes patience....not easy for her.
Vic helped with the survivor lap and sign-up at the "Relay for Life" this last weekend. (new pics)
June 1, 2006 6p
Just returned from a mini-vacation to Colorado. Attended Kendall's graduation and then hit the mountains for white water rafting in Glenwood Springs and of course shopping in Aspen. Vic is doing great and we are embarking on a solid diet and exercise program.
May 9, 2006 9a
We enjoyed a great weekend in Chicago with Mike & Jess. At Shedd Aquarium, Vic's fave were the seahorses ...duh. She is feeling great and enjoying yard work in the evenings.
April 24, 2006 2p
Vicky had a great time with her mother and sister at the Nashville flea market. (pics in Vic's Pic's)
She is feeling great.
April 12, 2006 1p
The doc appointment went great yesterday. Vic's marker at 16 is the standard that the doctor sees as the most realistic indicator that all is going well. Vicky will continue her quarterly Zometa treatment for bone strengthening and a routine bone scan in six months. Vic's arthritic symptoms correlate to the hormonal therapy of Arimidex. We know that the blessings of great professionals in Vicky's care are not an accident. The professional and positive attitude of the examination allowed us to end yesterday with a renewed strength and knowledge that all is going great. And, whatever comes up in our future, the best of the best are ready.
March 15, 2006 2p
Vicky had a great (albeit quick) vacation to Florida with her sister. They were blessed with great weather and plenty of sunshine. So, when Pocahontas showed up at the door, Kippy and I were surprised. Vic is brown+. As a preliminary test before her April checkups, she had her CA27.29 marker drawn and the result was an absolutely phenomenal 16. Even better than the last test of 18. She has decided to forego the Indianapolis trip and limit her April follow-up to Dr. Stephens in Evansville. We are blessed.
February 27, 2006 1p
All is well here. Vicky is heading to Florida with her sister for a short vacation to hang out at the beach and enjoy the smell of salt air. She is doing very well medically, and will see both her Evansville doctor and the Indianapolis group in April. It's that time again for check up and tests.
January 18, 2006 2p
Vicky is doing great. With the extended schedule for Zometa bone treatments, it seems that the aches and pains that occur one week post infusion are going to be a bit more intense. To the day, the one week mark sees the peak of arthritic joint and bone aches. With daily Arimidex hormone therapy the arthritic symptoms are expected. She is taking on a more aggressive exercise program to help alleviate some of the symptoms. Compared to the average and overall population she is still a stronger and more focused person than anyone else I know. Given the facts, statistics, and prognosis of the disease does not and will not take precious time away from daily Living. When the ball dropped on New Year's Eve to welcome the year 2006, we both felt a gut kick at seeing the date. When the prognosis in 2003 was three years, our brains did the same math and the date was noted. However, the National Cancer Institute's prognosis numbers were last calculated in 1998. And, since that date, many new drugs and new therapies have improved both quality of life and survival rates. Not so long ago, the logical reaction to stage IV disease was aggressive chemotherapy which often in itself reduced survival rates due to heart and other maladies brought on by the chemo alone. Now, as in Vicky's case, the avoidance of chemo and the dramatic effects of hormone therapy for those that are receptive to its benefits are strongly in Vicky's favor. We also know that a tomorrow holds the cure. While we Live today, the brain exercise is really quite simple: Nobody knows their tomorrow. What a tragedy to worry about one particular element in one's Life only to have some other ailment or accident take center stage in one's Life. That in itself would prove the worry needless. Or even greater the possibility, one looks back after a decade or more of worry only to find that they are doing great and the worry did nothing but distract from the best that Life had to offer. Live Today. Love Today and Give Tomorrow its chance!. As Vicky Lives her oft spoken line, "I'd rather wear out than rust out". What a gal.
December 29, 2005 11a
Most symptoms of the shingles have gone away with the exception of the occasional shooting pain. Vicky enjoyed a short vacation to Denver to visit the girls and sister-in-law for Christmas. The weather was great for the long drive. We wish all a Happy, Healthy, and Faithful New Year!
(updated Vic's Pic's)
December 2, 2005 9a
Vicky is feeling much better. She had not taken any of the pain meds that she had been prescribed for any of the previous procedures, but this little bugger drove her to the meds. The hot knife feeling has reduced and all appears to be healing. She is gaining ground again. Normally, the shingles would be a diagnosis of despair but when aches and pains cause concerns beyond the norm, the diagnosis was received with a strange degree of satisfaction and relief. Everything in Life is relative. As we wander down Life's path, the distractions that we accept are relative to the options that are real, perceived, or feared. How to reduce this to only those that are "real" is the task. So much worry is unnecessary. Live Today! Nobody really knows their tomorrow, but we can all make something of today.
November 24, 2005 5p
Vicky has been fighting a chest pain for a few days with suspicions of "shingles". Sure enough, she went to the doc yesterday, and her diagnosis was confirmed. The meds are in the system and the pain is manageable. Overall she is blessed that it happened on this long weekend.
A little (very little) shopping is on the books for Fri and then rest. Had a great day at her Mother's with her sister and family. Wishing everyone plenty to be Thankful. We are Thankful every day.
October 13, 2005 11a
The visit with Dr. Stephens went great. Blood markers look good, the bone density scan shows near normal results, and medical symptoms are coincident with medications. Vicky will reduce her Zometa treatments to three month intervals and have marker tests at the same time. Every indication shows that the disease is halted and as the doctor said, "the longer it looks good the longer it usually stays good". This sounds a little confusing at first, but the meaning is that as the disease has shown a response to the treatment plan, the result is expected that at this two year mark since diagnosis, the medical future looks uneventful...which is exactly the goal. Blessings abound. Vicky is feeling good and anxious for every tomorrow.
October 5, 2005 9a
Vicky is doing very well. She is excited that the temperatures are starting to drop as the hot flashes are still a daily/nightly nuisance. We will venture to Evansville next week for her six month checkup and review of tests. Today she will have her monthly infusion of Zometa for bone strengthening.
All that we know looks good, and all that we believe feels even better.
September 18, 2005 5p
Kippy was a winner at the Fall Fun Fest's Dog Contest. He won for "Most Unusual Color".
(New pics in Vic's Pic's and Kippy Pic's)
September 16, 2005 3p
Great News! Vicky had her CA27.29 blood marker test and the result came back at 20.5 !!!
It is expected that the number might drop even lower over time post-surgery. The oopherectomy did its job and the estrogen production is obviously halted. The Arimidex continues to keep the remainder of the estrogen in check. Vicky is swinging from the vines today and the jungle is in harmony. She is spending part of her time this week at Fairfield's Fall Fun Fest volunteering at the American Cancer Society booth.
September 8, 2005 3p
Vicky is doing great. She will have tests updated in October to verify that the surgery did the job.
Path's came back negative on the ovaries. The meds are still causing the same minor symptoms of aches and pains but all is taken in stride. All is well on the home front and at work. Vicky hopes to start a Parish Nursing program at the church this Fall/Winter with monthly meetings to educate members and visitors. She is helping man the American Cancer Society booth at this year's Fall Fun Fest, here in Fairfield Sept 14-17. We appreciate our blessings every day.
July 19, 2005 9a
Vicky is gaining ground each day. She says that it feels like a dozen camels decided to take a walk on her tummy. A little swelling but she is feeling good. It is good to get this behind and to stop the Lupron injections. As with any drug, there are sides that make themselves known now and some that might appear later. One less drug means one less worry.
We had a pretty restful weekend with a brief departure to eat out and do a little shopping with great friends. And, of course, she went to work on Monday and is back in the swing of things.
July 14, 2005 4p
The surgery went to plan and Vic is sleeping off the drugs. She will be resting this weekend but hopes to return to work on Monday.
Thanks for the prayers it went great.
July 12, 2005 9a
Vicky's latest CA27.29 test came back a bit high at 40. After another batch of tests, it looks like the Lupron is not holding the production of estrogen at bay and the increased estrogen level is throwing off the marker. A similar occurrence last October makes us believe that this is what is happening. So, this Thursday, Vicky will have her ovaries removed to solve this problem. The surgery will be here in Fairfield. Please keep Vic in your prayers. Another marker test will be performed in a couple of months to confirm that the problem has been fixed. On the good side, the surgery will alleviate the need for the expensive Lupron shot each four months and any consequential side-effects that it might be presenting. Little bumps in the road make us appreciate each blessing each day. Vicky is such a champ at simply doing what has to be done.
June 14, 2005 1p
Vicky returned safely from a week in Florida with her friend Debbie. Of course, the trip included shopping and then some shopping and just to be safe...some more shopping. The weather was mostly cloudy but that did not have any impact at all. The girl's week out seemed to be just the right celebration of graduation. A big Thank You to Debbie and Bob for such a wonderful present.
Vicky is feeling great and back to work today. God's blessings are unbelievable.
May 19, 2005 6p
Last Saturday (May 14) we ventured to McKendree college for Vicky's graduation. Her best friend Debbie from St. Louis, her mother, and myself were in attendance. After 9 years of working to get her BS, she has done it.
The ceremony was typical but exciting to watch. Unfortunately the weather forced the ceremony inside, but it was great to see this long time project reach the finish line.
Vicky is feeling great and we have new pics in Vic's Pic's and Kippy Pics.
April 18, 2005 12:20p
God's blessings brought us a few "first's" late last week.
First, Vicky's oncologist used the word "remission" for the first time. Obviously, that brought a big thrill to Vicky. All test results are consistent with a diagnosis that the cancer is in remission and not going anywhere. The next first came when Vicky had her port removed on Friday. It had been a constant irritant since it's implant on November 7, 2003. She had to take it a little easy over the weekend but she is back to work today. Vicky will continue to get her monthly Zometa treatment via IV, but as she has good veins the port won't be necessary.
We do so much appreciate all the prayers and concerns that flow Vicky's way.
April 4, 2005 12:40p
Excellent news...Vic's MRI results show no new growth and her CA27.29 marker came back at 14 (the lowest ever). Vicky is understandably smiling big today. This miracle in progress continues.
At the top of the list to discuss with the doctor on the 12th is the removal of the port.
Spring can now formally begin at the Lemons' residence.
March 16, 2005 10a
Vicky debuted her new breast cancer awareness presentation to her sorority sisters last night. Topics covered were: Breast Cancer Basics, Self-Exam, Staging, Detection Tools (Mammography, CAT, Ultrasound, MRI, PET, Biopsy, etc.). She did a great job and got the message across very clearly that, "Your Body, Your Choice". If necessary, do not be afraid to stand on the doctor's desk and demand attention. Vic is so qualified to discuss the subject that she titled, "Detection Without Doubt". We know that modern medicine is not an exact science, but the fact remains that so much more could have been done. The grudge is not what happened, but what did not happen. Out of tears of sadness, she exclaimed to the ladies, "If only one of you can be diagnosed sooner than later, my goal is complete." Obviously, the ultimate goal is that the disease be eliminated, but with (in the US alone) an estimated 211,000 diagnosis coming in 2005, and over 40,000 lives taken, the success of detection is critical. Vic will be repeating the one hour presentation to other groups in the area.
On her medical front, she is doing great.
March 5, 2005 12p
Vic is off to school today. Graduation will be the end of May. She is doing great but has a little extra ache from this week's Zometa treatment. Her full tests are scheduled for the first week of April with MRI and markers. All in all, we are blessed every day.
Kippy loves to help her with her school work (see new pic in Kippy Pics).
February 23, 2005 3p
Vicky is busy with work, college, and the puppy. All is well at this end.
The website has been moved to this location as we are changing our primary ISP.
Yippee ... now broadband high speed!
Vic's email stays the same.
February 14, 2005 10a
Vicky is doing great, but she has to have a root canal later this week. She is also working on a few breast cancer awareness presentations for local meetings. Given her medical background she knows that she is in a unique position to educate others.
February 3, 2005 6a
Vicky's CA27.29 test came back at 19. Great news. On Tuesday she received her Lupon injection and Zometa treatment. Next round of tests will be in April with MRI and blood tests. Given good outcomes, she will probably have the port removed as it continues to be a source of irritation.
January 26, 2005 11a
Vicky is doing great. Back in school for the final semester...yipee! On the medical front, she will have her CA27.29 marker test, Lupron injection, and Zometa treatment the first week of Feb. We are expecting that everything is stable but each and every test cycle we still get a little anxious. This too shall pass. Still getting accustomed to getting accustomed. (updated pic of Kippy in Kippy Pics)
December 27, 2004 9a
What a wonderful Christmas. Santa brought Vicky her wish....a new puppy...Kippy.
Pics at Kippy page or click wagging dog. The breeder, Kris Robards performed above and beyond to deliver Kippy on Christmas Eve at Vicky's mother's house. Vicky had no idea and was completely surprised when Kris and her husband John appeared in the driveway. Kris, Mandi (the dam), and Kippy all had on Christmas attire with red ribbon and Santa hats....wow what a treat. A few tears of joy made the experience very memorable.
Vicky is feeling great. She met with a local doctor to handle the monthly treatments here in town. Everything is going GREAT!
December 15, 2004 10a
Delighted to report that the doctor visits yesterday went great and nothing new to report. All the numbers and tests reflect stability. Vicky will see the oncologist again in April and until then have her treatments here in Fairfield.
December 9, 2004 6p
Vicky is doing great. Between work, college, and all the Holiday extra's she is keeping extra busy. We are anxious for the next doc appointment on Dec 14. (new pics in Vic's Pic's)
November 19, 2004 9a
The lab results are in on the latest CA27.29 marker and we are delighted that it dropped to 18. Undoubtedly the short term of hormonal activity caused the rise and is now back under control. Now that we are watching for the symptoms Vicky will be able to catch it early should it happen again. Vicky is going to discuss a surgical solution on her next doc visit on Dec 14. As we are hosting Thanksgiving for Vicky's family the Vic'ster is filling every spare minute getting things ready. I do my best to keep out of her way as if I stand still for more than a minute I get dusted. And, if I stand still for more than an hour, I get thrown outside. Thank God it's a big house. And, speaking of God, our prayers of Thanks go up daily for His active role in Vicky's continuing miracle in progress.
(New pic in Vic's Pic's of Vicky at the hospital with fellow surgical nurses. Photo appeared in the local newspaper)
November 16, 2004 9a
Vicky is doing great. We just returned from a week long road trip to Florida. She helped me with a convention that I had to work and we were able to make the trip a mini-vacation. Medically, she has a blood test on Wed to compare the marker to last month's slightly higher reading. Zometa treatment will be at the same time. The new job is working out great and we find great uses for the extra time.
October 21, 2004 10a
Vicky's latest lab results are preliminary but look good. Her MRI brief shows no new growth in the bone of the thoracic spine. The CA27.29 blood marker is slightly up (from July) to 36 from 16. Numbers below 38 are within the range of normal. She had noticed a few menstrual symptoms a few weeks ago as well as a reduction in the hot flashes. A blood test found that the Lupron shot was not holding its 4 month effectiveness in shutting down estrogen production in the ovaries. She had her November Lupron shot a few weeks early to counteract the shortcoming. The few weeks of estrogen production probably caused the CA27.29 marker to climb a bit. We take the overall report as great news and forge ahead.
The new job is great and she has jumped right in. Everyone at the hospital has welcomed her and she is so thankful that the drive time each day has been eliminated. It is so good to have more time together each day.
October 7, 2004 1p
Yippee! Vicky has accepted a position here in Fairfield. She will start next Monday at the hospital as a scrub nurse in the operating room. These job offers in Fairfield do not come along too often, so Vicky jumped at the chance to eliminate the drive each day. She really enjoyed the job in Mt. Vernon at Good Samaritan but the drive was not getting any shorter. All seems to be on track on the medical front and Vicky puts more and more into each day. By the way, the circumstances around this job opening were way more than coincidence. Answered prayer would be at the front of the explanations.
September 21, 2004 12p
Nothing new to report. Vicky is doing great and had her Zometa treatment at work on Friday. We journeyed to St. Louis to spend the weekend (weekend before last) with Bob and Debbie for the Ram's opening game. Great fun. The school work keeps Vicky pretty busy on top of her job. But, she seems to thrive on too much to do rather than too little.
September 8, 2004 10a
Vicky is doing great. She has decided to dig in and finish her Bachelor's degree. This has been a big desire for her and with two more semesters and a couple of elective courses, she can wrap this up by mid-2005. Her current schedule includes one evening course on Thursday night and alternate Friday evenings and Saturdays in Marion. On the medical front all is stable. As a result of the meds she has resized a few of her favorite rings as the meds do cause bone swelling and arthritic symptoms but she just keeps plowing along. Please keep her in your prayers. She feels them.
August 23, 2004 1p
The doctor appointment on Friday went well. The doc is pleased with the test results and will see Vic again in November. She will continue on her therapy regimen with monthly injections at her work. The next MRI will also be taken in November for comparison. Given the harsh realities of this disease Vicky is responding well to the treatment and the doctor feels that this is going to be a long, long, marathon. Our prayers go up daily that the magic bullet that offers a cure will be in the near future. Until then, the Great Physician is in charge.
August 5, 2004 11a
Vicky is feeling good. We had a very restful trip to Kentucky Lake last Thursday -Sunday. Friends, food, and rest were definitely in order after the move. Vic has her next appointment with the oncologist on Aug 20.
July 27, 2004 10a
Vicky is doing great. She has been busy setting up the home at break neck speed. We have unpacked all the boxes and have the basics in place. (New pics at Vic's Pic's).
July 20, 2004 8a
The miracle of His healing power continues! Vicky is delighted that she got back her blood test results yesterday. The panel looked good and the CA27.29 cancer marker has dropped even further to 16. (info in Chronology section) The meds are working and the progress is remarkable. Hot flashes and bone aches from the meds are now a normal part of daily life but Vicky handles it with no complaints.
All with the move is on schedule and life will be much simpler as soon as we are in one place.
July 16, 2004 8a
We are busy getting the house ready for the final move on July 21. Vic is doing good but is probably working too hard but she cannot help herself. She will get her monthly Zometa treatment at work today. All is well and pretty exciting times.
July 7, 2004 8a
Vicky is doing great. She is real excited that we have closed on the new house and have sold ours. We will be getting the new place ready over the next few weeks and plan on moving July 23. She will see the oncologist at the end of August. All indications are that she is cruising.
June 28, 2004 9a
The Relay for Life event was filled with emotion, inspiration, and hope. Vicky looked great in her sequins. Her sorority performed a dance skit that received rave reviews. (pics in Vic's Pic's)
June 23, 2004 9a
Last night we attended our first Relay for Life Survivor dinner. Vicky held it together but it did have its moments. We were amazed at the size of the crowd of over 200 attendees. Considering that each survivor had one guest, the 100+ survivors were in themselves very inspirational. This Friday night is the Relay for Life event at our city park. This little community has gathered over $100,000 per year in recent years. Vicky's sorority is putting on a dance skit and she has just the right sequined dress. I will try to post a pic this weekend. Last year we attended the event and it is amazing how much different it will feel this year. Cancer is totally indiscriminate and affects so many lives. Watching the family of cancer survivors interact is a testament of the human condition of all that is good in everyone. Reaching out to those in times of need is one of God's blessings that is realized through His children. Please keep Vicky in your prayers as she faces the stark realities of this Life over the weekend. She is such an inspiration to others and gives of herself so unselfishly. The power that she draws from inside is possible from the Love of her friends, family, and faith. She feels the comfort of prayers so regularly and has come to the ability to sense the energy as if it were a sixth sense. Thank You for all the Love that is so freely given by so many. There are so many times that I feel so incapable but I do know that her faith carries her. Supporting her faith is sometimes all that I can do. And, always all I need to do. Life is a gift. Live it.
June 16, 2004 8a
Vicky is doing great. She was on call last weekend and had to work both days. So, she is running on fumes. We are trying to play catch-up this week. She will get to her email soon...sorry for the delay.
On Friday she will have her Zometa treatment at her work. We have learned that exactly one week after the treatment she has a peak of aches and pains as the med does its job on the bones.
All is moving along on the house. We should be moved by end July.
June 7, 2004 8a
Spent the weekend in Chicago with Mike and Jessica. Had a great visit.
Vicky is feeling good. We will try to catch up on our rest sometime this week. Vic's hot flashes are still very active and now include periods of chills but nothing major. She will have her monthly Zometa treatment at her work later in the month.
May 28, 2004 3p
Vic continues doing great not to mention that she was awarded "Employee of the Month" at work...that's gonna cost me.
We have a restful weekend planned with plenty of walks and little projects.
May 21, 2004 1p
The doctor is pleased with the scans and blood tests. The new MRI's are much more detailed than the last set and do show more clearly the areas of involvement. Vicky will have her Lupron injection and Zometa treatment next month at her work and not need to visit the oncologist until August.
We have found the right home and plan to move in late July. (pic in Vic's Pic's)
May 17, 2004 11:30a
The preliminary report on the MRI scan shows that the bone structure looks stable with no new lesions and no fractures. By all appearances the therapy is working and has halted the cancer in its tracks. Vicky is feeling great and relieved that the news is what we were expecting. This miracle is in progress.
We had a very busy weekend with a reasonable amount of time spent contemplating the outcome of the pending tests. We know that we have to become graduates of the school of waiting without worry as this is now our path in life. (new quick pic in Vic's Pic's)
May 10, 2004 2p
Vicky continues doing great. On May 17 (Monday) she will have a thoracic MRI of her back to compare to the last MRI of November. Our optimism is very high that the scan will show that the cancer growth has been stopped by the hormone treatments. On Friday, May 21, she will visit with her oncologist about the results.
April 28, 2004 9a
Vicky had her Zometa treatment at work on Friday. The infusion caused the usual minor bone aches for the weekend but nothing major. The hot flashes are leveling off with an occasional biggie. Energy continues to improve and the weight is back to normal. We have found the balance of work, rest, and exercise to maximize well being. Vic's Grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday on Sunday in Benton. (New pics in Vic's Pic's page)
April 19, 2004 10a
Excellent weekend. Long bike rides, plenty of walking, a little shopping, and plenty of rest.
Vicky is feeling great. Prayer is an awesome gift. Miracles do happen! Vic will have her monthly Zometa infusion on Friday with the next bone scan scheduled in mid-May.
April 12, 2004 10a
Vicky spent Fri night at her Mother's with her sister. On Sunday, we were honored to offer the welcoming remarks and opening prayer at the church's Easter celebration at the high school. Vic continues to feel strong and even the hot flashes seem to be leveling off a bit.
April 05, 2004 1p
Vicky had a great weekend. Nothing like yard work to make everybody happy. She is feeling stronger each day.
March 31, 2004 9a
Yippee times two! Vic's oncologist had her CA27.29 blood marker tested again last Friday because the test was performed at a different lab last week. The result this morning was 21.5 which matches last weeks findings. Everyone's cancer is so unique and personal. Vicky is fortunate that her cancer appears to be so responsive to hormonal treatment that without estrogen to feed on, the cancer growth is halted. We know that credit belongs to medical advancements in treatment and we also know that prayer plays an even bigger part in all of our Life. Please keep the prayers active. This bend in the road is making remarkable changes in our lives and promoting renewed faith that goes straight to the heart.
Vicky is feeling great. The hot flashes and night sweats are still on the rise but knowing that the hormone treatment is being effective makes the ordeal so much more tolerable. A few new pics have been added to the Vic Pic's page and also new entries in the motivations section.
Vicky just visited the oncologist and is excited that her CA27.29 blood marker has dropped to a rating of 21. Normal levels of this biomarker are below 38. Vicky measured between 50-60 since the first marker test in December. The test is not in itself a completely reliable element, but it is a piece to the puzzle and we will take good news whenever and wherever we can find it.
A tumor marker is a substance (protein) shed by a tumor into the bloodstream where it can be detected with a blood test to differentiate cancerous from normal tissue. The CA 27.29 (i.e., Cancer Antigen 27.29) test is most useful when it is used regularly to monitor the course of disease and response to treatment. A decrease in CA 27.29 indicates a good response to treatment while an increase indicates resistance to treatment and progression of the cancer. (more info added to the Info & Links section at the left)
Discussing the MRI of December, the doctor does not see any limitations on Vicky's physical activities as the bone involvement is minimal. In May a second MRI will be performed to compare for determination of progression, stabilization, or reduction. All indications today show that the disease has been stopped in its tracks and the therapy regimen is working. Given a good MRI in May, Vicky will have the port removed from her chest as the monthly infusions at this time do not require port application. The port is a constant irritation and was probably not necessary in the first place given that her pathology report indicated 16 out of 16 lymph nodes positive. The likelihood that the disease had spread past the breast should have been a reasonable expectation. Vicky is so pleased with the new oncologist and the positive and professional manner of the staff. (God answered one of my prayers which went up early)
Vicky's current med list includes:
Arimidex - Anastrozole is a medicine that is used to treat breast cancer. Many breast cancer tumors grow in response to estrogen. This medicine interferes with the production of estrogen in the body. As a result, the amount of estrogen that the tumor is exposed to is reduced, limiting the growth of the tumor. (daily pill)
Zometa - Zoledronic acid is used to strengthen the bone and to treat hypercalcemia (high levels of blood calcium) that may occur in cancer patients. It is also used to treat certain types of bone metastases (the spread of cancer). (monthly infusion)
Lupron - Leuprolide causes the ovaries to shut-down estrogen production. This forced menopause brings with it hot flashes and night sweats. Hormonal treatments that are normally available to women experiencing the symptoms of menopause are not possible for Vic as the hormone treatments would encourage estrogen production. (@4 month injection)
Prayer - Daily and continually!
Vicky is on the path to a long and normal daily walk. Watching the Lord work in her life is a daily treat.
March 23, 2004 4p
Just cruis'n. Vic has her next doctor appointment this Friday. Usual infusion of Zometa and blood check. She is feeling great. Night sweats are pretty interesting but nothing she can't handle. Trooper plus.
March 19, 2004 8a
Vicky is doing great. The weight is back to normal and the energy level is climbing. Of all the blessings we enjoy, the arrival of Spring is a great addition. There is nothing like the Life force that is so obvious in the outdoors. Our backyard is a festival of birds, squirrels, and all the botanicals that brighten the landscape of our vision. We hope to squeeze some yard work in between the rain showers that are expected this weekend. Odd how we fertilize the yard to get it to grow so plush just to curse the need to mow it so often.
In preliminary prep for the upcoming tests and scans in May, we studied Vic's scans of November and can see the little spots on her spine that are the focus of her therapy. It is so odd that the areas of concern are displayed so brightly on the dark film...no wonder they are called negatives. We have full faith that prayers and positive attitudes will be the force multipliers that will enhance the success of medical intervention and healing. The Great Physician is at work in Vicky's Life. (Life should never be un-capitalized)
March 15, 2004 7a
Sorry for the delay in update. I was on the road to Massachusetts last week on business.
Vicky is doing great. The hot flashes are still marching on but mostly at night. Vic struggles with an annoying pain/numbness in her left arm that seems to get better at a very slow rate. Most likely this is due to nerve damage from the surgery. Of course she never complains and just keeps plowing the fields. The weekend was restful with a quick side trip on Sunday to visit her folks in Benton.
March 05, 2004 8a
Vicky is doing good. The aches in her back and chest continue a bit but we are sure it is a result of the Zometa infusion and the horse riding. Vic's work schedule has been including work in the OR and dozens of epidural pain procedures. She really enjoys the hot flashes when she is wearing the lead shield.
She is so thankful for the support and concerns of the great staff at the hospital. They have been a blessing from the get-go. Being in the business, they understand what Vic is going through.
The weekend plans will allow for good rest and hopefully some outside time in the sunshine. Fridays are Great! Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend.
March 02, 2004 11a
Just a quick note to thank all who take the time to send emails and prayers. The messages give Vicky a positive boost and the prayers are the ultimate love.
March 01, 2004 8a
Vicky had only a few bone aches from the injections on Friday. The hot flashes are more frequent and a bit more intense but not intolerable. She had a great time playing with the dogs and riding the horses at her sister's over the weekend. New pic in Vic's Pic's.
February 28, 2004 5p
All went well at the doctor's visit. Vicky received her monthly Zometa infusion and a 4 month depot injection of Lupron. The lab work from last month looked good so on we go. The doc indicated that another MRI to determine the effectiveness of the treatment plan will probably occur in May. With our very positive anticipation of good results, Vicky will be able to have the port removed after the MRI shows stabilization. Attitudes are at full throttle in the positive.
February 26, 2004 9a
Each day brings its mix of emotions. Today is one of anticipation and reality. We pray for the best of normal and the optimism and expectation of healing. Prayers on deck fill today's game plan. Reaching for the sweet fruit of the berry is sometimes only possible through the briars. We reach nonetheless.
February 24, 2004 9a
All is well. Vicky continues to get the weight back in line. Maybe now that she is eating better I can stop eating for two. We are anxious to visit the doc this Friday. Vic will get her monthly Zometa infusion for bone strengthening and a depot (3 month) injection of Lupron for ovary shut-down. The physical part of this drama is taking its place in our daily lives and the mental part is up to us.
February 16, 2004 12p
Vicky is feeling very good. We have added a mandatory rest period on the weekends (all of Sunday afternoon) and that helps Vic recharge the batteries a bit. Her work schedule has her back in the OR and she is back in sync again.
February 9, 2004 4a
Absolutely delighted that there is nothing new to report. Vicky continues to stabilize her weight and the new meds are showing no signs of nausea. Overall energy level is still a bit behind the curve but Springtime probably holds the cure for that one. Winter has had its flurry. Added Vic's medical team to info page.
February 5, 2004 7a
So far so good. Vic is feeling no nausea from the Arimidex. She headed off to work this morning in a pretty nice snow storm.
February 3, 2004 1p
Vicky started taking the new hormone drug - Arimidex - today.
February 2, 2004 9a
Pretty restful weekend. Vicky is anxious to start the new hormone drug this week. Symptoms of existing treatments are pretty isolated to hot flashes, strange sleep patterns, lack of appetite, and noticeable body twitches when she sleeps. I don't know if she is having dreams or if the meds are causing the twitches but they don't wake her up. Her next doc appointment for Zometa infusion and Lupron injection is Feb 27. She is feeling pretty good and continues to be strong. We learn each day how to better balance the awareness, anxiety, and heartache, with willpower. Some days even my armor gets a chink or two.
When a gentleman (whom we have only met once) stops you in the grocery store parking lot and says to Vic, "Excuse me, but may I ask how you are doing?", you know you are living in the right place. We are blessed with so many caring and loving friends including so many that have become acquaintances from this web site. The e-mails that hit Vic's inbox are so inspirational to her. Thank You so much! This is indeed a battle that has its moments but the love of friends, family, and God help us see the blessings.
January 28, 2004 8a
Vicky continues to feel better with less nausea in the morning. She is anxious to start the Arimidex next week. Of interesting note, both the Zometa and Arimidex drugs were approved in 2002 by the FDA. These drugs are new to the hormonal therapy route but show real promise in keeping the disease at bay and treating this chronic condition. Leading oncologists now consider breast cancer with mets to the bone a chronic situation in a similar light to diabetes. Management of this disease requires a life long treatment with constant monitoring. The profile is certainly serious but each person's response to therapy is unique. Vicky's cancer profile exhibits a very slow growth pattern and should respond very well to the treatment plan. In addition to tracking Vic's blood markers each month, an MRI will be scheduled in a few months to determine if the bone involvement has decreased. If the involvement shows signs of stabilization or regression the disease is expected to track the same pattern elsewhere. Learning to play the waiting game is a process that we are forced to navigate. We will.
January 26, 2004 7a
Vicky had a restful weekend and continues to feel better every day that she is off the Tamoxifen. We are anxious and hopeful that the new hormone drug (Arimidex) will not cause the nausea problems that were obvious with earlier meds. She will start taking the new med in a week. The Lupron is bringing a few hot flashes but minor at this time. The bone pain that she felt with last month's Zometa infusion were not realized this month. Our decision to change oncologists was once again confirmed when the new doc took the time to call on Saturday to check on Vic. "Care" is a key part of "healthcare". Despite the icy roads, Vicky made it to work today without any problems.
January 22, 2004 4p
Vic is feeling good today and headed to work this morning. There were no ill side effects to the drugs of Wednesday. Attitude is Everything.
The visit with the new oncologist went great. Vic's new treatment plan was begun today with a shot of Lupron to shut down the ovaries and hence stop the estrogen production. She also received her infusion of Zometa for bone strengthening. After the Lupron has had two weeks to do its job, Vic will start taking Arimidex pills to shut down the conversion of estrogen in the bloodstream. This approach will remove the estrogen which the cancer needs to grow. As before, the blood markers will be monitored for changes that might indicate new concerns. The level of professionalism, detail, and positive attitude that was presented to us today was probably the best medicine that Vic needed. We reviewed the visit with the team at Indiana University and they will also be tracking Vic's case.
January 17, 2004 11a
Vic's treatment on Friday was postponed as we have decided to discuss her profile with another oncologist. The treatment of cancer is so much more than just the medications that are administered. The method of care and the success of treatment requires a full belief that all is being done. This condition is serious to us and we must feel that we are doing the best, with the best, to manage its treatment. Vic's primary care will still be directed by the team at Indiana University. The oncologist that we are considering was a top flight graduate of IU and has impeccable credentials.
We did meet with her family doctor to work on the nausea issue and overall health. As her weight has somewhat recovered it is certain that the Tamoxifen was causing some problems.
We do have an appointment in Evansville on Wed morning (Jan 21) to review Vic's case and get started on the next round of meds.
January 13, 2004 4p
Just returned from Denver to visit the girls and celebrate 50th birthday at my sister's. Vicky did great on the trip but tired. The nausea is still an issue in the morning but certainly better as no hormone drugs have been in system since Dec 29. She will start new regimen this Friday.
January 7, 2004 3p
Vic continues feeling better but the sleep pattern is still jumpy. She awakes at 3am and struggles to fall asleep again. She is anxious to get new drugs to work, but doc assures that the delay will not effect the therapy plan. Will be on the road for a few days so next update will be January 13 or 14.
January 6, 2004 4p
As Vicky is feeling better, the culprit seems to have been the Tamoxifen. The plan of attack is now being changed to start new drugs on January 16. That date will allow her system to detox from the Tamoxifen and recover some of the weight she lost. Arimidex will be the new drug for hormone therapy to replace the Tamoxifen. She will continue on the Zometa to strengthen the bones. And, this will be extra important as Arimidex is less bone friendly than was the Tamoxifen.
The Arimidex approach to anti-estrogen therapy is to lower the amount of estrogen being produced by the body. This method is different than Tamoxifen, which blocks estrogen’s ability to "turn on" cancer cells. Limiting the amount of estrogen produced means there is less estrogen available to reach cancer cells and make them grow. In post-menopausal women, estrogen is no longer produced by the ovaries, but is converted from androgen, another hormone. Aromatase inhibitors (like Arimidex) keep androgen from being converted to estrogen. That means less estrogen in the bloodstream, and less estrogen reaching estrogen receptors to trigger trouble. Since Vic is pre-menopausal, she will be given injections of Lupron to shut-down the ovaries (ovary obliteration) and essentially push her into menopause.
January 2, 2004 4p
Vic seems to feel a little better and has been able to eat a bit more. The doc has decided to keep her off the Tamoxifen until Monday and then try it again. Based on the outcome after another week, we will see if alternatives are necessary.
December 30, 2003 5a
The doc has insisted that Vic stop the Tamoxifen for three days to see if it is causing the nausea. If it is the culprit then there are options of other hormone therapy drugs. Vicky made it to work yesterday and as usual, once she got there and got busy the symptoms improved.
December 27, 2003 11a
Vic had a tough morning and little sleep last night. One day is good and the next is bad. We are not sure what to do except tough it out....easy for me to say, I am not the one sick. I am sure that this will settle into a routine that is less nauseating and more stable. The hormonal changes seem to be pretty dramatic. As Vic is so hormonally receptive (95%), my suspicion is that the effects are harder for her. Plus, she started this in a pre-menopausal state, What nature meant to take a few months to process, Vic will process in a matter of weeks. The receptive part is very good as the therapy should be very effective in starving the cancer of the needed estrogen. The weight has dipped to 123 lbs. This current condition has all the earmarks of old fashioned "morning sickness". If anyone has any tricks that worked, please let us know.
December 26, 2003 9a
Vic headed to work today. Morning sickness was a bit better. The doc had suggested a pause in the Tamoxifen to see if it was the culprit of the nausea, but Vic wants to try to keep it on the active list as there are a limited number of hormone drugs available. And, the nausea is likely due to the hormonal changes that will happen with other drugs anyway. Once Vic gets past the 3am to noon timeframe, the symptoms improve. (Photo moved to Vic's Pics.)
December 25, 2003 7p
Today was a pretty good day for Vicky. Yesterday she had a pretty good appetite and was doing good until about the usual 3am. The morning nausea continues to march ahead but we are going to adjust everything to find the solution. Santa Clause did a great job in bringing the presents and plenty of warm comfies for Vic.
December 23, 2003 4p
Vicky took the initiative at work and had a blood panel. The numbers were mostly in range so she sent it to the doctor along with a phone call. Yipee! new meds are on the way. A different nausea med and an antibiotic will be in the system tonight.
Wishing everyone that visits this site a very, very, Merry Christmas!
December 23, 2003
Vic will be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas day in Benton at her folks. Her Aunt Sue is coming in from Mobile, Alabama and her sister, Mary, will be visiting from Indiana. She is feeling about the same but plowing ahead anyway. If the meds are not making a dent by next week we will change something to try to stop the weight loss, nausea, and sleepless nights. Among the ton of food that will be present over the next few days she will surely find something that tastes good.
December 22, 2003
Vicky was able to go to work today. The nausea seems to be getting better and she was able to eat a bit at work. The latest tummy and "happy" meds are slated to take a few weeks to really reach their peak, so the nausea should get better with time. We know that we have to find a way to deal with the treatments and medications because this is a life long treatment plan. We pray that research comes up with a magical cure somewhere down the road.
December 21, 2003
Vicky had a pretty tough day for her birthday. The nausea kept her down most of the day. We do not know if it was a reaction to the drugs or a touch of the flu. Anyway, she was able to get up and out for a while with her stepson and his wife from Chicago who came down for the weekend. Intake for the day consisted of about three bites of birthday cake. She really did enjoy all the cards.
December 19, 2003
Just got back from doctors in Evansville. Vic's first Zometa treatment went as planned with no immediate sides. The radiation treatments on the spine are being postponed for now as the radiation oncologists do not feel that they are necessary at this time. The next CAT and PET scans in 5 months will tell the story as to how well the hormone therapy is working. Meds were adjusted and a few new ones thrown in for the nausea and appetite. Vicky is feeling good and planning to make the Holidays as normal as possible.
December 18, 2003
Vic has decided that it would be better to not sleep than it would be to feel drugged all the time. So, starting last night the drugs stayed in the cabinet except for the Tamoxifen. Unfortunately, the nausea woke her up in the night and some of the meds will have to be taken. Will discuss with doc on Friday.
By the way, Saturday (Dec 20) is Vic's Birthday. Emails are welcome!
It gives her such a boost to hear from friends (old and new).
December 15, 2003
Vicky had a pretty restful weekend. We have learned our lesson and rest on the weekend is mandatory. The Tamoxifen is kicking-in causing emotional swings and nausea. This is supposed to pass over the next weeks.
December 11, 2003
Attitudes are POSITIVE at the Lemons' residence. This condition will not be given one more day than is absolutely necessary. It may make certain demands, but the attitude and faith that Vicky displays are getting stronger and stronger every day.
Vicky is feeling pretty good. Her next appointment is Dec. 19 for her first infusion of Zometa and blood check. She expects to start the 5 weeks of radiation on her spine very soon. The port in her chest has settled down and now is just a basic nuisance. The post surgery pains in the chest and upper left arm are getting better but really, really, slowly. The best news today is that the weight is starting to climb. Now maybe I can stop eating for two.
December 8, 2003
Vicky had a great weekend but we might have done a bit much. It will take us time to find the right mix of busy and rest. Busy is good for the mind, and rest is good for the body. The meds kicked in with mild hot flashes and a hint of the emotional roller coaster that is expected. She is remarkable and resilient. When asked at the Christmas parade about the test results, she replied, "the results were that we would make the most of every day".
December 5, 2003
It's Friday! The weekend is planned to include movies at home, Christmas shopping, and rest. For some reason we both wake up at 4am every morning. I believe we awake, take a moment to see if we are living some kind of bad dream, and then the realization keeps us awake. Vicky is doing great and is doing her job as a newly established advocate for breast exams and persistence. As her news has spread around the community, she is inspiring women to do it, understand it, and keep aware. "Go to your exam wearing combat boots. If the doc says, "it's only fibrous tissue", remind him about me and tell him the boots have steel toes".
December 4, 2003
Vicky jetted off to work this morning at 6:00am. The best way to make a normal day is to simply have a normal day. Work is the best therapy right now for both of us. We have had our moments and we will probably have more. Vicky is feeling pretty good but gets tired by day's end from the meds, surgeries, and the unavoidable anxiety. This should improve as we get farther down this road that is so new to us.
The side effects of this round of meds are pretty limited. Vic has to be careful to watch for blood clots and for that reason, we cannot fly or drive long distances at this time. The possibility of super PMS is also in the wings as the "change" is going to be compressed to a very short timeline.
Yesterday we both felt positive and comforted. There is every reason to believe that God has answered our prayers even though the outcome at this time might seem otherwise. We know so very little in the big picture that is His specialty. A negative biopsy would have triggered aggressive "dose dense" chemo which is a dangerous path at best. As we don't understand "why" a cure is not possible, we know so little. Maybe a cure through chemo is not necessary. Maybe it is already occurring without man's intervention. Vicky and I believe that only man deals with the triviality of "maybe".
I have added some of my thoughts to the "Steve's Views" page linked at the left.
December 2, 2003 3:25p
Just returned from the oncologist in Evansville. Vicky will start hormonal therapy today with Tamoxifen, orally twice a day. She will also be receiving an IV of Zometa every three weeks to combat bone damage. At each three week interval they will draw blood to check the CA 27.29 marker which will indicate any increase in involvement which would trigger CT or PET scans. Within a few weeks she will start a series of radiation treatments (probably 25) for her spine. Her spirits are extremely good and she is now on a plan. The decision to go the hormone therapy route is the result of the advice of all the specialists that we have consulted. Aggressive chemo at this time would not extend the end point of this battle and would beat her up in the process. At a later time chemo will be available if it is needed. We are hearing examples of patients with similar prognosis that have followed the hormone therapy path for many, many years. Vicky is strong and we both feel very positive that each and every day is what we make it.
Unfortunately the bone biopsy results came back positive. From what we have been told, the breast cancer has existed for a very long time and went undetected to reach this level of involvement. As it has now spread to the bone, a treatment plan for a total cure is no longer on the table. However, we have every reason to expect a very long timeline through maintenance. Vicky will be the unfortunate victim of a lifetime of treatments. We will be meeting with the oncologists this week to determine the course of action. The incline on the treadmill of life has been cranked up a few notches. Vicky is strong and we know that it is up to us to decide what is a normal life. In Vicky's favor are many new hormonal therapies that have proven effective in preventing further growth of the disease and in many cases even reduction. We are also optimistic in new drugs that are coming in the near future that may be the magic bullet against this insidious disease.
I have tried my very best to understand the imperfections of modern medicine but I also know that the healthcare system in which Vicky was a part for so long has failed her miserably. Additional tests, additional biopsies, and additional concern, could have done a great deal in preventing this outcome.
Luckily, the God that we serve does not make mistakes and is the one and only "Great Physician".
December 1, 2003 7:50a
Vicky had a good weekend. We had a good visit with family and friends. We expect results today from the latest tests. Vicky is feeling pretty good and extremely anxious to get on with a program of treatment. The only pain she is having is post-surgery healing in her chest and left arm. It seems that the nerves are trying to reconnect and the process is a burning sensation and tightness.
November 26, 2003
Vicky and I want to wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving. We will count our blessings and the friendships that enrich our lives will certainly be on the list. Thank you so much. Steve & Vicky
November 25, 2003
Vicky rested well last night. It appears that the doc has found the right med for Vic's tummy. Her appetite is better and her weight is holding steady. We will be spending Wed night and Thanksgiving day at her Mother's in Benton.
November 24, 2003 5:00p
Just returned from Indy. Vicky had another MRI and a bone biopsy through a small puncture in the middle of her back. Results should be available on Wed or Fri. Once we know the outcome, we can get on with a program.
Vicky is feeling pretty good and will return to work tomorrow.
November 21, 2003
Vicky is at work today. She is feeling pretty good but does struggle with her anxious stomach. As you know, when she gets twisted, she doesn't eat. We feel this will get better when she gets past the tests and into the program. The waiting is tough. Please know that she really enjoys all the cards, emails, and prayers. More than once in the past weeks, we have looked at each other when one of us felt a moment of comfort and said, "did you feel that". Each time, we have both felt it. Prayers work.
This weekend we will search for whatever foods sound good to her.
November 20, 2003
We will head to Indy again on Sunday for tests on Monday the 24th. Vic will have another MRI that morning and a CT guided bone biopsy in the afternoon. She went back to work this morning and will work Friday.
November 19, 2003 5:05p
Just returned from Indy. It took two days due to additional tests. We feel that we met the best of the best. This whole episode reminds me of public safety where hours and hours of boredom are broken by brief moments of pure adrenaline and emotion.
Vic had an additional MRI of the spine and endoscopic node biopsy to try to confirm the suspicious results of the earlier PET scan. The node biopsy came back negative but the MRI shows suspicious bone involvement. As the decision of which treatment plan depends on the existence of metastatic tissue, an actual pathology of some tissue somewhere is needed. We are to return to Indy in a few days to have a bone biopsy.
Vic is doing pretty good but has a sore throat from the endoscopy. The bottom line is at this time we are either dealing with a potential cure through aggressive chemo or a maintenance program to treat a chronic condition. All this based on the outcome of the pathology. We are both pretty beat but anxious to get to the bottom of this and live life.
November 17, 2003
The weekend was good with plenty of rest. Vicky's sister, Mary, spent Sunday afternoon with us and the girls had fun playing with new hats. We are beyond anxious to get to Indianapolis and get the facts and the program underway. We will leave this afternoon and spend the night in Indy. Thanks again for all the great email. Vicky just beams when she reads each one. Positive attitude and sincere faith are the order of the day. We may be away for a few days but I will update as soon as we have news. Thank You for keeping Vicky in your prayers.
November 15, 2003 (from Vicky)
Thanks to everyone for all your prayers, cards, calls, e-mails. I am feeling really good and so anxious to get on with this so Steve and I can get on with life. The waiting is so very hard, and you all know patience is most certainly not one of my virtues. I just remember "What He leads us to, He will lead us through!" We are leaving Monday for our appointment on Tuesday at Indiana University Cancer Center. Will be so glad for that information. Please keep us both in your prayers.
With Love, Vicky
November 14, 2003 3:30p CST
Vicky has an appointment with IUCC on Tue Nov 18 at 11:00a in Indianapolis. We are looking forward to a weekend of movies at home, pizza, popcorn, and whatever Vic wants to eat. Please accept my apology if the phone goes unanswered, we sometimes just have to have some quiet time and the answering machine helps us out.
November 14, 2003 6:15a CST
We have temporarily been placed into a holding pattern. The oncologist called last night to explain that there is a discrepancy between the results of the PET scan and the CAT scan. As a second opinion is the best choice at this time, he is sending Vicky to Indiana University Cancer Research Center in Indianapolis. Our hope is that we can get an appointment next week. In the interim, chemo is postponed in the event that an experimental regimen is charted. Dr. Sledge is well renowned and his team will handle the study. Given that patience is not a virtue for either of us, this is not easy. However, we will not borrow trouble. Is it possible that cancer is Latin for "wait" ???
Vicky went to work today and we are thankful that it is Friday.
November 13, 2003
We received the preliminary results of the PET scan yesterday. The mapping showed suspicious activity in additional lymph nodes. The primary areas are the left and right supraclavicular (nodes at the base of the neck) and on the left side in the internal mammary nodes. On the good side, the mapping and CAT scan did not show any activity in the bone, brain, organs, or lungs. We were already expecting that with 16 of 16 nodes testing positive in pathology, that some cells had gone farther. Vic will check with the oncologist today but we expect the treatment and long term prognosis to remain the same. Considering what the results could have been, we are taking the news as pretty good but not what was hoped which was "all clear". Vicky is a little set back, but launched off to work with a pretty good attitude.
November 11, 2003
Vic is feeling better today and we think her "punk" yesterday was the result of her flu shot on Friday. Chest feels a bit better.
November 10, 2003
Vicky is doing pretty well. She is feeling a little "punk" today, but at work anyway.
The port has been bothering her but we think it is only because she does not have much meat on her chest and the port is stretching the skin and pushing against the muscle behind it. The port is about the size of a stack of 4 quarters and sticks out of her chest about the same.
Her next big test is this Wednesday with a PET SCAN test. Her CAT scan last week was clean so we pray the next test is clean also.
She is gearing up to tackle the chemo which starts on Nov 21. We are shaving her head on the Friday after Thanksgiving so that she won't have to deal with it falling out.
She has a couple of hats to get her started and really ready to get on with the treatments.
We will get through this and are thankful for all the blessings that are coming our way.
Please keep Vicky at the top of your prayer list.
November 10 - Vic back to work.
November 7 - Port Surgery
Vic had the port installed to handle the chemo treatments.
November 4 - Vic back to work
November 3 - Oncologist Visit
We met with the oncologist for over two hours and the chemo will start on Nov 21.
The news was mixed as 16 out of 16 lymph nodes tested positive. The chances that the cells have passed into the system are pretty high. For this reason, she will be given the maximum dosage of the maximum drugs. Vic's chemo therapy will be 4 treatments each of: Adriamycin, Cytoxan and Taxol.
Treatments will be every other week for 24 weeks. Then, 25 radiation treatments directed at lymph node sites in the chest.
How this got missed by so many docs is beyond us. Vic did all she was supposed to do and we at least feel fortunate that it finally was caught. The msg for today is if anyone suspects a lump or bump and the doc's keep saying "fibrous", think very seriously about a second opinion and keep persistent.
Oct 30 - Surgeon Update and Pathology Report
The surgeon's update was good news in that it appears that the cancer cells were contained in the tissue removed. Of course, since the lymph nodes tested positive the chance of a few cells getting through is on the list. Systemic chemotherapy and radiation of the chest wall is likely. After a bone scan and CAT scan, the oncologist will schedule treatments.
This type of cancer does not image well on MRI, mammogram, or ultrasound. That is why it went undetected.
For the sake of prevention as this type of cancer (lobular) can appear in the other breast, a second mastectomy will be scheduled later.
Oct 27 - Surgery
The lump was bigger than expected and had fingers that spread out beyond the tumor. The lymph nodes also tested positive so they opted for a full mastectomy and removed a number of lymph nodes. Vicky is doing good and we got home about 5pm.
Oct 22 - Pre-Surgery Labs
Pre-surgery labs and the blood work and x-ray came back in good shape.
Oct 14 - MRI
We got the results from the MRI, and nothing new popped up... and that's good!
Oct 13 - Surgeon Update
This type of cancer does not image well on MRI, mammogram, or ultrasound. That is why it went undetected.
Vicky had a breast biopsy for a suspicious lump and on Sunday, the doc called and the results were positive for breast cancer.
Vicky has tracked her fibrous issue for a long time. Each time she went for her regularly scheduled mammograms, the doc's kept saying, "It's only fibrous". In fact, she had many mammograms in between annual check ups. Prior to the biopsy, she went to Evansville to just be sure that her established doctors said everything was OK. Mammograms in California came back "fibrous".
Please understand that she tries to keep up with e-mails but sometimes it is a bit overwhelming. But, know that she sees every email and appreciates your thoughts so much.