Wednesday…Mammogram Day..Feb 6, 2013

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 I hit my five year mark. Five years living with metastatic breast cancer. Being diagnosed at Stage 4 means I’d unknowingly been living with cancer for a while. This was just the day I first heard “you have cancer”. I’ve been blessed the last five years with so many memories. Tonight, in reflection, I’m going back to my first ever blog post. I actually started the blog for my sister who lives in North Dakota. It grew into so much more. You all have become a huge part of my life and I’m grateful. 💕💕💕

Tammy Carmona

Today’s Wednesday. I love Wednesday, it’s my favorite day of the week. My Javiee is off on Wednesday, so it’s always a special day for us. We go out to breakfast on Wednesday, then we go shopping and get what we need for the week ahead. I know it sounds pretty simple, but it’s our time and we enjoy every second of it. Today’s a little different. Breakfast and then a mammogram (I found a lump in my left breast). I’m thankful my Javiee is with me for my appointment. I wasn’t really worried, I thought it would be nothing. The lady doing my mammogram was so nice, but when she saw the image and said wait right here a minute while the doctor looks at this, he may want to do an ultrasound , I knew there was a problem. Ten minutes later another lady is doing an ultrasound…

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Time to say goodbye to Afinitor–A Scan Update

Some treatments are easier to handle than others.  Afinitor was fairly easy on me. I had many adventures and made lots of memories this summer while on Afinitor.  I wish it would have worked longer.

My new scans showed two tumors in my liver.  I had cancer in my ovaries and I had them taken out.  I can’t just take my liver out.

Time for a new plan.  Xeloda is what’s next for me.   I’m not ready for new side effects and fatigue.  It is what it is.  I will adjust and carry on.  I have so much love in my life, so much to live for.  That keeps me going.

I love you guys!  I’ll keep you updated! 💕

 

 

 

Scan Results

There are a few impressive words on my scans this month.  My favorite is STABLE!  It says I have widespread bony metastases that show NO PROGRESSION since 02/06/17.  I’ll take it!

So where are my mets?

In my T3, T5, T6, T7, T11 and T12 vertebra.  There are multiple mets in my lumbar spine.  L3 is the worst and it hasn’t grown in the past three months.  There are multiple mets in my sacrum, iliac, pubic rami and my right femur.

Are they painful?

Yes.  Some more than others.  There is one on my spine that causes shooting pain if I move a particular way.  It’s close to a nerve.  I take hydrocodone and get on with life.

I also had brain mets and I have a brain MRI scheduled the first of June.  My last brain scan was clear.  I’m praying for the same result!

Remember the tumor in my lung?  Well, there is stable scarring in the left upper lobe.  No evidence of lung metastasis! Wow!

The pea sized knot in my neck seems to be my immune systems way of dealing with allergies. Good News! Gotta love it!

It’s always good to hear stable and nothing new!   What’s a girl to do?  I’m off to Mexico soon with my Javiee.  He’s working two jobs to pay for our trip (imagine not seeing your family for 11 years!).  Our tickets have been purchased and we’re going no matter what my brain MRI shows.  Time to make some memories!!    I love you guys!💕💕💕

 

New Scan Results

My latest scans showed progression to my ribs, spine and pelvis while I was on Ibrance.  I have multiple new pelvic and femoral lesions.  My spine has many new lesions (T5, T7, T8 and T12).  The good news is there was no new growth in my organs and the tumor in my lung is 2 cm smaller. My tumor markers are also still dropping.  I’m at 132 now!😀

I have a lot of pain in my hip.  My oncologist was concerned and thought I may need a pin in my hip. He referred me to an  orthopaedic oncologist, Dr.Gajewski, I loved him!  He’s a great addition to my team.  After x-rays and an exam he said no pin!  The pain is muscle and nerve pain from my spine.  I aggravate it by driving a five speed.  I guess it’s time to get another car.  He also said yoga will help.  Time to start a yoga class!

As of February 8th I have lived with metastatic breast cancer for 4 years.  Though I’m sure I had it years before I was diagnosed.  I find it sad that I was told I didn’t need a mammogram until I was 40.  I can’t help thinking at 35 I would have caught it before it spread.  It is what it is.  I’m thankful for the past four years.  Even during treatment, my days have been filled with memories.  I’ve had more time with my family.  I’ve watched T.J. grow into a young man.  So many special people have come into my life the past four years.  I am so grateful.  Let’s not forget….I became a glamma!  I’m so in love with little Jaxon.  He is perfect.  In May I will be a glamma again!  To a precious little girl.  I hope she looks just like me!!😂

Living with metastatic breast cancer isn’t easy, but I’m living!  That’s all that really matters. Get out and make some memories!  I love you all!💕💕

 

Look at my new wig my sweet Javiee bought me.  I love it!  My hair is beginning to come back on the sides.  The top is still bald.  I call it a nohawk.

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My CyberKnife Experience

Just hearing cyberknife and knowing it was for a tumor behind my eye was beyond anything I could imagine.  Then I was told it would take 3-4 hours and I would be awake the entire time.  This was not an appointment I was looking forward to!

I have to tell you it sounds worse than it is.  It actually doesn’t even involve a knife.  It’s a robotic radiosurgery system that delivers beams of high dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy.  No cutting and no pain involved.  I was fitted for a mask the week before surgery.  For me, this was the only uncomfortable thing about the surgery.  The mask is screwed into the table and it’s tight.  Here’s a picture of my mask.  I see a Halloween costume in T.J.’s future, it’s scary!

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They gave me an Ativan before the surgery.  I was worried about being awake during this.  If they had said we give you ativan before we start I would have had no worries.  I remember my mask being attached and getting up.  That’s it.  I won’t have a new brain MRI until the end of October.  I’ll update you when I get results.  Waiting is always the hardest.  I just try not to think about it and go on with life.

This is a picture of the Cyberknife System.  The robotic arm moves to hit targeted areas.

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Now for the aftermath.  I vomited for 2 weeks and lost 15 lbs.  I couldn’t eat.  Everything I tried to eat tasted so salty and I would get sick to my stomach instantly.  The medical term for this is Dysgeusia.  I ate chicken nuggets for two weeks.  Now I’m eating fish, rice, cantaloupe, chicken nuggets, cheese on unsalted crackers and cheesecake.  My Javiee is still making me juices and I’m keeping them down.  I do miss his cooking!  Chocolate and red meat are the worst right now.  I never thought I’d see the day that I turn down chocolate!  I still have days when I’m just completely exhausted.  On those days I celebrate going to the grocery store! On the bright side I’m having more good days than bad now!  That’s really something to celebrate!

 

I have to end with a picture of T.J. holding my grandson Jax.  I think this is the first time he held him since the day he was born.  He was completely uninterested in holding him during the slobber and spit up days.  I honestly didn’t think he’d hold him until he was out of diapers.  I was so proud of him!

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Get out and make some memories!

 

 

 

What you should know before an Oophorectomy

One day after completing 15 rounds of whole brain radiation I went in for my Oophorectomy.  It was an out patient surgery.  My surgeon told me the recovery would be easy.  I shouldn’t be in pain and I should feel ok the next day.  Just take it easy and no heavy lifting.

Here’s what he didn’t tell me.  Don’t lay down after surgery.

I went home and went to bed.  I woke up the next morning in horrible pain.  Not abdominal pain, it was shoulder pain.  The gas that had been used to expand my abdomen during surgery had set up in my shoulder.  I should have slept sitting up in a recliner and I would have felt fine the day after surgery.  I wasn’t told that and I took pain meds and cried with shoulder pain for about five days.  It was bad!  If this surgery is in your future remember that and you should have a fast recovery.  I have four tiny scars from the incisions and they healed within two weeks.

Now for what was hiding in each of my ovaries:

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That’s a picture of a tumor that was in my ovary.  There was one in each ovary.  This is the largest one (2.0 cm).  How did a tumor this size not show on my scans?   The good news here is that we had it tested and it’s still er/pr+.  That gives me hope that the new medication I’m on can work on my bones and lung.

I go in for new scans next month to see if Faslodex and Ibrance are working.  I’m a little concerned because my tumor marker keeps getting higher every month.  Then in October I will have a new MRI to see what all the brain radiation has accomplished.  Until then I’m staying positive and living every good day to the fullest.  I’m also sleeping a lot.  I don’t know if it’s still exhaustion from radiation or my new treatment plan but there are days when I just don’t want to get out of bed.

I want to send a big thank you to everyone that has messaged, called and came by to share their love.  I even received  care packages from Australia (I ♥️You Emma!) and from Arizona (I ❤️ You Sally!)  You all make my world brighter!

Get out and make some memories!  💕💕

 

MRI Results and A New Treatment Plan

What a week!  I’m exhausted, mentally and physically.  I had an IV steroid treatment last week to reduce the swelling in my head.  I was then put on an oral steroid that I am taking two times a day.  I’m not a fan of steroids.  I hate not feeling like myself.  They make me irritable and nauseous.  They make my blood glucose out of control.  They have relieved my headache, but I have decided I’d rather deal with a headache.  I quit taking the steroids yesterday.  Today I slept until 1 p.m. and I’m feeling a little better.

I saw my radiology oncologist, Dr. Smather’s, last week.  I really love her!  We went over the results of my Brain MRI.   She is confident that this is something we caught early and can control.  There are tiny spots all over the cerebellum (the back of my brain).  It’s almost as if someone has taken a Clorox bottle and sprayed it on my brain from behind.  Because these spots are scattered our course of treatment will be WBR (whole brain radiation).  I have always known I didn’t want to do WBR.  However, this is the plan.  This is what I will do.  My youngest son is 13.  I cannot discount any treatment.   I will do whatever I have to for the chance to see him graduate high school.  So, here’s the plan…

15 days of WBR starting this Thursday.  The following Friday I will leave radiation and then go over to the hospital to have my ovaries removed.  While all this is happening I will also be adjusting to the new chemo I will be starting this week.  When WBR is completed we will do a new MRI and decide if we can do targeted radiation to the tumor behind my eye or if we will gamma knife it.  Geez!   I believe this is going to be a hard month!! (understatement of the year!)

My doctors are confident, as am I.  I have so much left to do and so many more memories to make!  I am hopeful that this is just a temporary setback.

Thank you all for your love and support.  I will do my best to keep you updated.💕💕

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Here’s a picture of my Javiee and I on our latest road trip.  I’m focusing on a family cruise when this mess is over!  Take time to make memories!💕

Back to Cancerland

The past two years have been fantastic.  Zoladex and Femara have served me well, until now.  I ended up in the emergency room on our beach trip with a massive headache.  I was treated for a migraine.  My headache never went away.  I had blood work done at the cancer center when we returned home.  My tumor marker was on the rise.  Scans showed a tumor in my ovary, two on my hip, on my ribs and on my spine. A brain MRI showed it had also metastasized to my brain.

There are no words that can begin to express how devasting this news is to us!  What a change in only three months!  We have cried, screamed and cried some more.  There is nothing left to do but fight this.  My big girl panties are back on. (Thanks to words of wisdom from a dear friend, Anya)

So, what’s next?  Tomorrow I will see a radiation oncologist.  I will find out exactly what the brain scans show and get ready for radiation.  I will be starting a new chemo (Ibrance and Faslodex) next week.  Three weeks on and one week off.  I will be getting xgeva monthly for my bones.  I will also be having surgery to remove my ovaries.  Wow!  This is not what I had planned for this summer!  I will keep you updated.  I’m grateful to have all your support!  You all make my life brighter!💕💕💕

I have so much to share about our Little Pink Houses Of Hope trip.  Life has been crazy!  I will share pictures from our trip soon!

 

Happy Birthday Jaxon!

The joys of being a glamma!  My grandson Jaxon turned one this month!  I felt so blessed to be there when he was born.  I cried like a baby the first time I held him.  I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I was to be at his first birthday party!  He is such a happy baby and he has the sweetest soul.  He is the greatest gift and I am so blessed to be his glamma!  Thank you to my son, Kori, and to Emily for making me a glamma.  It is a title I treasure!💕

You know pictures have to follow!

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That’s my oldest son, Kori, Emily and Jaxon.

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This is Jaxon with his cake face.

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Jaxon and his Glamma (me)!

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That’s T.J. my youngest son.

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Grandpa Javiee with Jaxon.

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This is my precious Jaxon! Could he be anymore beautiful!?!

 

 

 

 

 

In Memory of Another Stage 4 Sister

Sara el Hassani is now dancing free of pain. She lived with metastatic breast cancer for over six years. Through it all she never stopped dancing.  She was such an inspiration to me.  She will be missed.

 

You can find Sara’s blog here:

https://saraelhassani.wordpress.com