Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More highs and lows

Oh where oh where to begin. First of all, post surgery recovery is going well. I was pretty uncomfortable for a day or two after surgery and I spent a week sleeping downstairs on the pull out (which isn't very comfy) since I couldn't walk up the stairs and I was sleeping sitting up anyway. Six days after surgery I had two of my four drainage tubes taken out (Yeah!) and each day I get a little stronger. After St. Melissa left, my husband, Steve, took over as my nursemaid as I'm still pretty much a lump on the couch. lol He has been doing a wonderful job cooking meals and keeping me hydrated along with anything else that I need. I also have "fuzz" on my head! :-) I'm now sleeping upstairs in Rachel's room and still sleep semi propped up, but it's all good...except for Cubby and Frankie hogging the bed!

I had a round of doctor's appointments this week starting on Monday. My dear friend Mary (from school) picked me up and drove me to my oncologist. This was my first visit with him since I had finished chemo. He examined me said I was doing well and then told us to meet him in the consult room. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to hear what he told me. (here comes the "lows") Even though I am cancer free (definitely a "high") in order to keep me that way, I must have my port put back in (surgically!) because I need to receive infusions of a drug called
"herceptin" for up to one year!!! I can honestly tell you that when he was telling me this, I was unable to process it. I just looked at Mary (thank GOODNESS she was there with me) and started to cry. Just when I thought the light was visible at the end of the tunnel, it turns out that it's just a dull glimmer. Herceptin is an antibody that targets Her2 Neu, a protein on the surface of certain breast cancer cells. Sadly, my cancer is Her2 Neu POSITIVE. :( Which means that taking this drug will prevent my cancer cells from reforming...which don't get me wrong is a GREAT thing! But I was unaware that this was an option for me, so it came out of left field and left me visibly upset. The infusions will be given every three weeks, except the first three, which need to be given three consecutive weeks in a row to make sure there are no reactions.

OK take a deep breath now. I KNOW it's a lot to take in. But as my mother told me, "Joanne, it's just an unexpected bump in the road, and it's a bump that will keep you CANCER FREE." Of course I said that I was planning on going back to school this Fall, and they told me that there was no reason why I couldn't. That's all I needed to hear. Herceptin is not like chemo. It does not keep hair from growing, or have any of the horrible side effects that chemo does. ( fuzz can keep growing) It specifically targets the bad cells and keeps them from reproducing, which is a WONDERFUL thing!!

After the oncologist left the consult room, the physician's assistant came in and I told her how shocked I was to be told the news. Of course I asked why? She told me that nothing about my cancer journey has been "normal" or followed a regularly prescribed route. LOLOLOLOL Mary and I began to laugh, and Mary said, "She's EXACTLY like that a school, and always marches to the beat of a different drummer, why should her cancer be any different!!!!" Of course, those of you that know and love me know how true that is. Yes, I do love being an "ORANGE" person, but who knew that being orange would extend into cancer as well! (for those of you who are clueless...there is a personality test based on the colors blue, gold, green, and orange. When our school staff was "tested" lol I was the ONLY orange person on the staff!)

So, as someone special that I know says, "Onwards and Upwards!" I'll be darned (kids read this blog) if I've come this far, fought this long, to let this get me down now. I will do whatever it takes to get to the finish line. And I WILL be back at school this Fall...just watch me.

Today's appointment boys and girls is with the plastic surgeon where the process to "pump me up" (as our favorite Calif. governor would say) will begin. I also have a consult a week from today to begin my radiation. Is your head spinning? I know mine is! This is the immediate plan:

Port Replacement (back to hospital to have this surgically done in O.R. in a couple of weeks)
Weekly "pumping up" from plastic surgeon
Herceptin Infusion weekly for first 3 weeks, then every 3 weeks after that (back to camp chemo)
Radiation daily (yes I said daily M-F) for approx. 5 weeks (I'll let you know when that will start
after I see that doctor next Wed)

So dear friends, I still need you more than ever! With your love and support I've come this far and I will continue the fight.

All of my love to everyone reading this.


  1. We will get through this together! Love you! <3

  2. Love and support continues from Texas and I really enjoyed spending time with you at the pedi place.

  3. Joanne,

    You are a very strong willed woman. Our thoughts are with you everyday:0)

    The Rossignols

  4. Joanne,
    You are and have been in my thoughts and prayers daily!!
    This is the next step and you will face it and get through it as strong and bravely as you have this far!!
    You are an amazing woman!!
    Love ya,

  5. Goodness - I am happy for the highs (Yeah! Cancer free and fuzz to boot!)and know that you are in my heart regarding the lows.

    With love,

  6. Joanne,
    I just wanted to let you know that you are in my prayers.

    Shannon Lieurance