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Initially diagnosed June 4, 2009 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Stage II,Grade II tumor size: 2-3 cm node positive ER/PR postive HER2 Neu - negative Current Diagnosis: Metastatic Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Grade 3 Mets: Scalp/skin, Liver, Spine, Bone ER/PR + HER2/NEU -

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Last day first cycle

Today is the last day of my first cycle of Xeloda.  I take it twice a day for seven days, then skip seven days and start again.  So far it hasn't been too bad.  I have not experienced any major side effects. 

I have been a little tired, and itchy.  My scalp is extremely itchy.  I'm not sure what is causing this. I've tried a few things too treat dry scalp like using mayonnaise to moisturize my scalp and using a dandruff shampoo (even though I have no signs of dandruff).  I also tried benadryl. None of these things have helped.

I was hoping to see some sign of Xeloda working this first week, but have not been able to physically tell a difference.  I'm going by the way the skin tumors feel, which isn't a very exact method.  I cannot tell that any have reduced in size.

I spent some time this morning trying to find information regarding how long it typically takes Xeloda to start working.  I wasn't able to find any data on this.  I may go back and search through the pubmed study data to see if any thing was recorded regarding response time.  It may take more than one cycle to see or feel results. 

When I go in for my blood tests, they will measure my cancer tumor marker level and if that shows a decrease, it would indicate the drug is working.   There will also be periodic scans where the internal locations will actually be measured and compared to previous scans.  These tests are more exact than me just trying to feel the skin tumors and may show smaller amounts of effectiveness.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Zometa side effects

The side effects of Zometa showed up today.  I had chills, fever, muscle pain, and bone pain.  It was almost like having the flu.  I took a nap about 5 pm and woke up a little while ago. I am feeling a little better now.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

How Xeloda Works

Check out the link below to see a short animation on how Xeloda works.
How Xeloda Works 

Started chemo

I started chemo today.  It's called Xeloda.  It's given in a pill form.  I take 3 pills in the morning and 3 in the evening.  I take it for 7 days, then skip 7 days, then repeat. 
The main side effects are diarrhea and hand-foot syndrome.  Hand-foot syndrome is caused by the small capillaries (blood vessels) leaking chemo into your hands and feet.  This causes the hands and feet to turn red, become dry, crack and peel.  I was advised to avoid hot showers or baths.  I read up on it, and it says I can't wash dishes in hot water, should avoid cutting things with a knife, using a screwdriver, or anything that has to be strongly gripped.  It also said to avoid walking alot, jumping, etc.  Not exactly sure how I'm going to be able to do this long term.  I will probably be on this drug as long as it appears to be effective.
I start Zometa on Monday.  I believe it's given once a month in a 15 minute IV infusion via my chemo port.  Side effects are too many to list, so if you're curious, you can read them from this reliable source.
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oncology Appointment Tomorrow

Finally managed to get an appointment with my local oncologist scheduled after multiple voicemails, phone conversations and voicemails.  Again, we had to escalate to the nurse manager to get it done.  Appointment is tomorrow, before the biopsy.  My local oncologist it's recommending two chemo drugs together: Xeloda and Taxotere.  MD Anderson only recommended Xeloda by itself.  I am going to see what her thoughts are regarding the additional drug.  I want to know if there is a potential benefit and weigh it against the side effects to see if it's worthwhile.  They are both recommending a drug called Zometa , also.  Zometa is used to treat high blood levels of calcium caused by cancer (hypercalcemia of malignancy). Zometa also treats bone cancer that has spread from elsewhere in the body.

Chemo port installed

Just got out of surgery a while ago.  Chemo port surgery went well. Waiting to be released.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Got the T-shirt

Finished my radiation for my shoulder bone metastasis today.  When I was done, I received the mask as promised, a diploma, and a t-shirt.  I literally did radiation and got the t-shirt!

Tomorrow morning is the chemo port surgery.  I had one back in 2009 when I had chemo, and I had it removed afterwards, thinking I wouldn't need it again.  This time, I guess, it's here to stay. The surgery wasn't too bad last time.  The worst part for me is the anesthesia.  I absolutely hate anesthesia.  I've had other surgeries done with a local and they are much easier for me.  I doubt there are any doctors who would believe me if I said I wouldn't freak out when they are inserting a tube directly into the main arteries going to my heart.  Oh well.  Hope this one goes smoothly because I have the biopsy Friday afternoon.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Heading home

Writing this as we cruise through Dallas on the way home.  I will post more tomorrow regarding our awesome get away.  A bit too tired to do it tonight.

This week schedule is going to be hectic, but I'm ready to hit this full on.

Tues - back to work and radiation #9
Wed - radiation #10 and done for now
Thurs - have chemo port reinstalled
Fri - excisional biopsy (for MD Anderson) they want to take the majority of the confirmed tumor above my ear for gene analysis.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fighting Like Your Life Depends on it.

For the past several days, I have been trying to get my chemo port surgery scheduled and have been getting the run around from my local oncologist's nurse.  This is the same nurse who told me to deal when I was in pain and the same nurse who refused to give me my bone scan/ct results.   How can she not realize that someone who is dealing with this crap has enough to deal with already?  Anyhow, here's the story:
Sunday, November 10, 2013

Breast Cancer Vaccine

You might remember in a previous post I had mentioned a breast cancer vaccine trial I may be participating in around February.  Here is a link to an info graphic giving more details on this vaccine.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Aymz Blog Now Available on Facebook

Sorry if I spammed a few of you with email subscriptions to the blog, but I have spent some time over the past few days creating a Facebook Page for my blog.  I did this mainly as a convenient source I could use to automatically send out the messages saying my blog has been updated.  If you "Like" or "Follow" the blog, you will get facebook notifications from the Aymz Blog Facebook page, in your Facebook feed, anytime I make a new post here. 

Those of you who want to subscribe can click the on the links for "Like" or "Follow"  in the right hand column under the Facebook badge, or you can go to the site directly by clicking here: Aymz Blog Facebook Page and then click on the "Like" button and choose "Notifications" and/or "News Feed" depending on how you would like to be notified. 

UM Researchers Take New View in Understanding Metastatic Breast Cancer

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Today's Thing

Today, I emailed my local oncologist's office to follow up and see if they had called scheduling to schedule my chemo port installation.  I did not receive a reply, but I made an effort.  I also went in for my 5th radiation treatment today.  
Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dr. Don Dizon on Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer from MBCN's 2013 C...

IF you really want to know what it's like and understand what metastatic breast cancer is like without hearing it from an actual person living from it - this is the best you can get (from my small experience).  I agree 100% with every word this man has to say.  It's amazing to hear the exact philosophies and ideas from someone who isn't going through it.  Take the time to listen to the very end if you are really interested in knowing about this disease.  Thank you Dr. Dizon!

One Thing Each Day, Right?

Yesterday, I committed to complete, or start at least start, one thing each day.  Today, I contacted MD Anderson and spoke with another nurse in the Breast Center to clarify a few questions I had regarding the excisional biopsy (complete removal) of the mass above my right ear.  This is the one they are wanting for research to help me or maybe someone else in the future. 

Susan G. Komen® | Fifteen Leading Charities and Advocacy Groups Join Forces to Change the Way Metastatic Breast Cancer is Understood and to Increase Focus on Research

Fifteen Leading Charities and Advocacy Groups Join Forces to Change the Way Metastatic Breast Cancer is Understood and to Increase Focus on Research
Metastatic breast cancer causes 40,000 deaths each year and an estimated 155,000 women and men are living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S.
New York, NY – October 11, 2013 – This October, between the survivor celebrations and screening messages, you will be missing some important facts about breast cancer.
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Exhausted Today!

I think I had a rather insane, but productive day today.  I'm trying to make a point to get some of the things I need done each day.  At the very least, just one thing completed or started each day.  There are so many things I need to schedule and do to get things in place to be easier once I start chemo. Here is what I did today:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Scared to Hear What the New Plan is Tonight

People started talking about Obama care and brought back this old memory.  In 2009 I had a reporter from the Dallas Morning News ride a long to one of my chemo appointments and discussed my views on government ran healthcare.  My views on Obama Care have not changed much since 2009.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Trick or Treat at Texas Oncology Radiation Center!

I posted a link for you the other day describing the radiation process.  Did you do your homework and read the generic, boring text about mask making, radiation set up, and all that fun stuff?  I know a bunch of you aren't readers, much less technical readers, so for today's lesson I've decided to post something the non-readers can enjoy.

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