Paclitaxel (Taxol). Back where I started.

I’m back in the chemo chair. I’m revisiting Taxol, the first chemo regimen I ever did. It worked the first time so I’m hoping since it’s been 5 years it will work again. I’m doing three rounds at once every three weeks instead of one round every week for three weeks. I was told the side effects would be harder but liked the idea of only going once every three weeks. I’ve had and I’ve recovered from round one. I actually like doing three rounds at once. I was exhausted for eight days. I even fell when I stood up to get out of bed because my legs didn’t hold me. It left me with a nasty rash that cleared in a few days. My port has been removed because it had cracked. We went into a vein in my arm which was a mistake. It burnt my arm and my fingers. I’m having a new port surgery before my next round. I had a little nausea and the skin is peeling off every one of my fingers, top and bottom. It’s not painful, just ugly. I can deal with these side effects. I’m just praying it works! Here are some pictures of what round one left me with……

I should be having my next treatment this Tuesday. I’m putting it off for a week because my aunt and uncle gifted me with Lynyrd Skynyrd tickets for next weekend! I grew up with that band! Not missing that!

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Thank you Aunt Cindy and Uncle John! You couldn’t have ever given me a better gift!❤️

Last week my sweet mama drove me almost six hours to see Kris. We talked and had an 8 hour food fest. She’s doing so good! It made my heart so happy to see her! We had pictures made. They will be here soon and I’ll share them then! I love you mama! Thanks for always being there!

Here’s the cherry on top! T.J. started 10th grade! He was in 4th grade when I was diagnosed. I cried like a baby once he left for school. I’m so blessed!

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I love you all! Thank you for the love and prayers! Thank you for sharing my life with me!❤️. Now get out and make some memories!💕💕💕

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Brain MRI Results

TAMMY CARMONA

FINDINGS

BRAIN AND EXTRA-AXIAL SPACES: In the interval, there is significant enlargement in the multifocal areas of enhancement in the medial right temporal lobe since the previous exam of 04/23/2018. There is a dramatic increase when compared back to 01/22/2018. The inferior component of enhancement is without significant change measuring 1.3 x 1.8 cm (transverse by AP), as seen previously. However the superior component measures 1.6 x 2 cm and previously this measured 0.9 x 1.5 cm. In addition there is a more anterior component of enhancement that measures 1.3 x 1.1 cm that previously measured 0.8 x 0.4 cm. Thus, there is significant increasing enhancement in the medial temporal lobe. Surrounding edema in the right temporal lobe extends back little more posteriorly than previously. Perfusion images however do not show significant increased perfusion. Perfusion images suggest that these changes are related to radiation necrosis. However given the significant progression, I am concerned this is progressive neoplasm at this site..

The 2 mm focus of enhancement laterally in the right cerebellum on image 23 of series 10 is unchanged. The small focus of hemorrhage superiorly in the left superior cerebellum is unchanged.

No new areas of enhancement are visualized.

VENTRICLES: Normal in size and configuration.

SELLA/PARASELLAR REGIONS: Partially empty sella is again visualized.

VESSELS: Normal flow related enhancement in the major vessels of the circle of Willis and the major dural venous sinuses.

CALVARIUM AND SKULL BASE: No calvarial abnormalities are identified. PARANASAL SINUSES/MASTOID AIR CELLS: The paranasal sinuses, middle ear cavities and mastoid air cells are well-aerated.

ORBITS: Within normal limits

CRANIOCERVICAL JUNCTION: Within normal limits

OTHER FINDINGS: No other significant findings are seen.

IMPRESSION:

1. Interval significant increase in enhancing multifocal areas in the medial right temporal lobe since the previous exams of 4/23/2018 and 1/22/2018. Although this could still be radiation necrosis, recurrent neoplasm is an increasing concern.. MR cannot definitely differentiate these.

2. Unchanged tiny punctate focus of enhancement in the right cerebellum and small focus of hemorrhage in the left cerebellum.

3. No new areas of abnormality.

I love my radiology oncologist. She’s always honest with me. She’s says this is not good. We are not sure if it’s cancer or necrosis from radiation. There will be a meeting on my case on Monday. Then we will have a new plan. Right now the plan is to add another drug to my Xeloda and rescan in 2 months. If the progression is still as fast as it has been the past two months then brain surgery is my option. This plan may change after the board meeting. They will also consider some clinical trials. It seems to be another wait and see.

For now, I’m going to enjoy summer! I’m still going to the beach for a week and then the 🍒 on top is Lynard Skynard in September!😂. This has already been an eventful summer! I tell myself daily that I am blessed to be here and still be making memories! I have watched as T.J. got his first job, his first checking/ savings account, and finished drivers ed! He will be driving me around next week! I told him one day he will wish he didn’t have to work. I said don’t you want to hang by the pool, kayak and do things like that this summer? He said “Mom, I’m building my resumé”. 😂. How do you say no to that? I’ve also had so much quality time with my precious grand babies! You know I’m including pictures!

Thank you all for your love and support. You all bring sunshine to my life! I may make cancer look easy, but it’s not. When you see my adventures on Instagram or Facebook, know that I’m in bed on pain meds the next day. It’s so worth the memories I’m making! Life is so good! Get out and enjoy it and make some memories!!!!!Sending love to each and everyone of you!💕💕💕💕

Rising Tumor Markers

I have lived with metastatic breast cancer for five years. Throughout this time my CA 27.2 marker has been an accurate indication of what’s going on inside my body. It’s steadily been on the rise. This month it jumped another 170 units. My hope is that cancer is dying and not growing while I’m on Xeloda. I have a new brain MRI and a chest and abdomen CT scheduled in two weeks. If the tumor in my brain is bigger my only option seems to be surgery. I’ve decided to have the surgery if necessary. But first, I’m going to the beach for a week and I’m going to see Lynyrd Skynyrd the first weekend in September! I’m going to enjoy summer, make some memories and not stress the outcome of my scans. If I have to deal with it I’ll do it in mid September.

Here are my recent tumor markers. They seem to be rising since I started Xeloda.

CA 27.2

1311.8 units/mL
Date:
Jun 11, 2018

1141.6 units/mL
Date:
May 11, 2018

1084.6 units/mL
Date:
Mar 16, 201

1037.9 units/mL
Date:
Feb 16, 2018

1057.4 units/mL
Date:
Jan 26, 2018

968.0 units/mL
Date:
Jan 04, 2018 n

263.3 units/mL
Date:
Nov 24, 2017

268.7 units/mL
Date:
Oct 26, 2017

216.2 units/mL
Date:
Aug 11, 2017

232.8 units/mL
Date:
Jul 27, 2017

199.3 units/mL
Date:
Jun 28, 2017

160.1 units/mL
Date:
Jun 01, 2017

Despite all this cancer chaos, I’m still alive, so I’m still smiling. My Javiee and I celebrated another anniversary on June 5th. Here’s a picture….We went to The Conundrum escape room in Asheville. If you haven’t been to an escape room, you should definitely go! We didn’t escape but we had a blast! Here’s our picture…..My precious granddaughter, Evie, had her first birthday! You know a picture is coming!

Thank you all for your love and prayers! I’m sending love to each and everyone of you! It’s summer! Get out and make some memories!💕💕

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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What Living With Advanced Breast Cancer Looks Like…A Healthline Article

I was in Mexico when this Healthline article came out.  I was one of the women featured and I wanted to share it with you.  I especially loved what Mary Gooze had to say.  It mirrored what I said.  💕

Here’s  the link…..

http://www.healthline.com/health/breast-cancer/understanding-and-managing/this-is-what-looks-like

Thank you Healthline for continuing to represent the metastatic community.  I have lost so many friends to this disease.  We need to talk about it.  We need funding for research.  We want to live!💕💕💕

 

Hello April!

I’m happy to say hello to a new month!  March was probably the craziest, busiest, most stressful and most rewarding month I’ve ever had!

I flew to Vegas and filmed a television show (and signed a confidentuality agreement). So there are no details about the show that I can share with you. Sorry!  I would love to because I think it’s going to be amazing! You guys will just have to wait.  It was a fantastatic experience and I met the most wonderful people while doing this project.  My Javiee bought me a new wig for the filming and there was a professional makeup artist there so I felt beautiful…..here’s a picture!

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I have to include a picture with my Vegas partner in crime, Marilyn.  Ok, so no real crimes were committed, but we had a fabulous time together!  Thank you Marilyn for taking this journey with me!

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Two days before I left for Vegas my husband was on a plane to Mexico.  This was the stressful part of my month.  I share my family and my life with cancer with you all.  There are somethings that I haven’t shared with many people.  One of these things is that my sweet Javiee was illegal.  I mean walked across the desert for 6 days illegal.  He told me before we even started dating.  Honestly, I didn’t care.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  I also knew it would be worth it.  It’s been eleven years and I wouldn’t trade a minute of our time together for the biggest house or the fanciest car on the block. He has loved me during the good times and held me up during the bad.  He has worked so hard to help T.J. become the confident young man that he is now.  He is a grandpa to Jax and will always be there for Kori and Kristen.  We are all blessed to have him in our lives.

Sending him to Mexico for his immigration appointment was so stressful.  If denied he was facing a ten year bar from returning. Talk about nerve wracking!  He was approved and is home now ( the process took four years). He’s legal, has a social security number and a drivers license.  Talk about life changing.  Freedom (don’t take yours for granted)!  I have watched my Javiee be taken advantage of SO many times because he was illegal.  That won’t happen anymore.  Now is his time to get what he deserves and I’m so happy for him! And us!

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Here’s the sad part.  If I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer he would have never been approved.  He was approved because of a hardship waiver.  I know most people think you can apply and go through a process and become legal if your married to a citizen.  It doesn’t work that way if your here from Mexico illegally.  Now if your a citizen and want a Russian bride you can just go apply for a K-1 Visa and that’s that.  Ridiculous if you ask me.

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Here’s one of the first pictures that Javiee, T.J and I had taken together.  Javiee has always been there for us and I can’t imagine life without him.  We are so blessed to have him home!💕💕

The month ended with a baby shower, a week with our precious little Jaxon, a new car (new to us) and an all day wrestling tournament with T.J.

A few pictures from the baby shower.  Kori and Emily will be having a little girl soon!

imagePictures from our week with Jax.  He is the sweetest. I love spending time with him and I love hearing him say glamma!

imageHere’s a picture from the wrestling tournament.  It was T.J.’s first time wrestling Greco Roman and freestyle.  He came home happy with two third place medals.

I have to thank two beautiful souls before I end this post Linda and Windy.  Remember I told you my doctor wanted me to stop driving our 5 speed because it was aggravating the pain in my hip and spine.  We had planned on buying a new car when Javiee came back from Mexico and went back to work.  The immigration process took what money we had saved so we decided to wait until we could save money for a decent used car.  Having a car payment is not a good thing when you have cancer because you never know what medicines or treatments won’t be covered by your insurance the next month.  I lost the last new car we had because I had to pay for my first surgery and was out of work.  I thought it was better to just keep driving the 5 speed for a while.  Well, thanks to Linda and Windy I’m no longer driving that 5 speed.  They gave us a car this week.  How do you say thank you to such a kind gesture?  They are special ladies and we are so thankful to them.  We love you Linda and Windy!  I wish I had a picture of them to share!

What a month, right?  Six months ago I was doing WBR and a new chemo.  I was so sick.  It was the first time I had ever felt like it may be the end of my life here.  I remember a consult with my doctor about changing my meds.  My mom was there and she knew how sick I was.  She asked me if I really wanted to start a new medication and add more to what I was already dealing with.  I would do anything for more time/memories with my family.  I did start the new treatment regimen and I’m so glad I did.  One new medicine can change so much.  Look at the month I’ve had!  I would have missed this!  Donating to research is so important to those of us living with Metastatic Breast Cancer.  Please support Metavivor.  100% of your donation will go to research.

I Love you guys!  Thank you for sharing my life with me.  I know there will be the random person that comes across my blog with opinions about immigration and such.  It’s fine, your comments are welcome.  One thing that cancer has changed in me is that I don’t mind criticism.  I don’t need approval.  Think about your life.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be free, not to worry about what everyone else thinks.  Life is short do what makes you happy and make those memories!!!  Sending love to you all!

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!  💕💕

 

A Big Thank You To Healthline!

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I received news yesterday that my blog was chosen as one of Healthline’s Best Metastatic Breast Cancer Blog’s of 2015!  I am honored to be included in this list.  I knew nothing about metastatic breast cancer when I was diagnosed.  I found solace by reading some of these blogs.  You can find the list here:

The Best Metastatic Breast Cancer Blogs of The Year

I want to say thank you to Healthline for not only recognizing my blog, but recognizing the metastatic breast cancer community.  I am grateful. I wish more organizations would follow Healthline’s lead.  Metastatic breast cancer needs to be talked about.  More of the billions of dollars raised every year in the name of “the cure” needs to go to metastatic research.  There will be no cure until that happens.

Thank you Healthline!

 

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