Blood Work and Mammograms and MRI’s OH MY!!!!

“Time for your checkup, time for your checkup!” Ok so I’ve been watching way too much Doc McStuffins. Please forgive me. But seriously it’s that time of year when I am so lucky to not only get my semi annual blood work, but it’s also my annual mammo and Breast MRI time. I never really give any of this much thought as I’m always busy doing “mom” stuff these days. That is until the day of the screening. And then, I’m consumed with the screening itself and more importantly, waiting on the results. Luckily I have a fantastic doctor who phones me as soon as my results are in (for the MRI). But first up is the ever wonderful mammogram.

You see I had one a few months back but could only do one side due to my recent delivery and my desire to breast feed my child. In May I stopped breast feeding and pumping, going exclusively to formula. I was very lucky that the transition was easy on my baby. I struggled a bit but held on to the fact that I made it 4 1/2 months with only one milk-producing breast. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

I had to wait a few months for my hormones to normalize before I could have the mammo. Fast forward those few months and boy was I nervous as I sat in the little cubbyhole changing room waiting for the Radiologists to tell me the results. When I heard those words “all clean”, I sighed. Thank you thank you thank you! I knew the MRI was next up but I would sail into that screening on this positive note. (P.S. 3-D mammograms are now available at most imaging centers. If you are young or have dense breast tissue, I would recommend having this done. Unfortunately, there is a cost associated with this. Check with your center. The Breast Center at AAMC charges $50. I believe it is worth it to get a better image.)

My MRI was much like my mammo in the fact that I was totally fine until I walked into the MRI room. For this scan they hook up a little IV to you so they can run a dye through your bloodstream while taking the images. This contrast dye is suppose to attach itself to abnormal areas which “light up” on the imaging screen. Unlike the mammo, you have to wait until your doctor’s office contacts you with the results. So waiting is the name of the game.

As I said before, I’m lucky to have a doctor who calls me immediately with the results. “Everything looks great”! Music to my ears. Another sigh and more thank you’s!!

Last week was my semi-annual appointment with my oncologist. Before every appointment I go to the lab in the basement at the hospital to have my blood drawn. I had emailed her regarding my blood work and asked if she could add my Thyroid and B-12 to the list. I was a couple weeks overdue to have my thyroid checked as my endocrinologist let me stop taking the meds and told me to wait a few weeks then have it tested to see if I could stay off the medicine all together. Rather than getting stuck twice I wanted to see if I could have it all done there and the results sent to my other doctor. My days of being a human pincushion were long gone! As for my B-12, about 3 months ago I made the decision to stop eating meat, dairy and eggs. I really want to elaborate more on this but I want to do it in a post of its own as I have a lot to say on the topic. However the main concern I had was am I getting enough B-12 now that I don’t eat meat.

Results are in and my levels are all perfect! No more thyroid medication! The only thing that came back of concern is that I am Vitamin D deficient. So I have to take a weekly prescribed dose for the next 3 months and then continue with a daily over the counter dose. I also just need to continue my bi-weekly B-12 dose. I take Deva Nutritional sublingual tablets 2500 mcg. She also made it very clear that exercise is extremely important in keeping recurrence at bay.

I was struggling with exercise as I just couldn’t find the time. But I decided I needed to make the commitment to do it given the importance. I have so much to be thankful for and one amazingly handsome little fella to live for. And wouldn’t you know it, right after I made that commitment, my little boy began sleeping through the night. Now I get 8 hours of sleep and am well rested. I have time to get up, work out and get ready for work all before he gets up in the morning! I’ve also added some mediation in the evenings before I go to sleep. It’s been so helpful with clearing my thoughts and focus.

Life is good. I am beyond blessed. I have to stay focused on the positive. I believe that positivity is the key ingredient to a long happy future. Add in a healthy diet, exercise, rest, friends, family, hope and love and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success!!!

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Link

About a month and a half ago I received a call from a young professional at Capital Style Magazine. Elisha Sauers informed me that she had come across my blog and found my story interesting and inspiring. She asked if I would be willing to do an interview with her for an article in the October issue of Capital Style. I quickly told her that I had done an interview with the Capital Newspaper last year around this time and didn’t want to beat a dead horse. She let me know that she was aware of the previous article. However she was interested in sharing the whole story much like my blog, and bringing it full story to our son. I agreed and we made the necessary arrangements and set up a time for the interview.

I was nervous and afraid because I don’t want to come across as someone searching for attention. I’ve never hunted out the media. After all, people have heard my story. And is anyone really listening anymore anyway??? Well, I guess they are. Which in a way makes me really happy. All I’ve ever wanted was to tell my story, reach people who may be going through the same situation or have a family member going through it, and make a difference in how they get through it. The fact that I might actually inspire someone was not a thought. But it turns out that’s what has happened and it is truly humbling.

Check out the link below to read the full article. I was very pleased with the outcome. Thank you to Elisha Sauers for thinking of me. I hope my story continues to reach people and help those who find themselves lost in either of the situations I’ve gone through.

http://www.capitalgazette.com/capital_style/ph-ac-capstyle-amber-blose-1019-20141019,0,319549.story?page=1

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Back to Cancer, On a Good Note!

aamc article

aamc cover A few months back I had the pleasure of being interviewed for the AAMC Blog. I was then contacted by their media personnel who wanted to conduct a photo shoot as my interview would be featured in the upcoming fall edition of the AAMC Magazine. What an honor! Not to mention the shoot was a lot of fun. At the beginning of September I was informed that the magazine would be coming out at the end of the month. They also sent me a preview pdf copy. Imagine my surprise when I opened up the attachment and found not only the article, but I had been selected for the cover!!!! Holy Cow!! Very exciting news indeed. Since the magazine has come out, I have been stopped numerous times by not only co-workers and friends, but complete strangers. And each time they have told me what an inspiration me and my story are to others. This is by far the most amazing compliment I could ever receive. The fact that somewhere my story is making a difference to someone is the reason why I am an open book and will continue to tell my story to anyone that will listen. Here is the link to the article and I’ve included a copy of the photo and article as well.

http://aamc.flippublication.com/Issue/2C9A2173-AC60-0C4D-6E401C1614904643/Fall2013/index.html

Surgery #…..Oh Hell I Lost Count

Up and at em at 5 a.m. I don’t remember the last time I was up and it was still dark outside. Been awhile. We are about to head out to the hospital but just wanted to get this out first. Feeling a little nervous but mostly because I will be awake for this surgery. And I’ve never been awake for surgery before. So I guess I’m just asking for some prayers today for a smooth surgery and speedy recovery. I’ve got incredible faith in my doctors and know I’m in good hands. So off we go! More to come in a few days!

QUICK UPDATE:

Surgery went very well! I can definitely say that having a spinal and being awake for surgery is a new and very strange experience! But not as scary as I thought it might be. Even got to see our little wiggle worm after the procedure was finished. He/she was just as relaxed as could be. I’m now home resting and relaxing. Looks like I will be rendezvousing with Netflix for the next few days! Next up, our follow up with Dr Sweeney at the Center for Maternal and Fetal Medicine on Wednesday. I will begin my weekly progesterone shots and we may have the big gender reveal!!!!! Stay tuned!

And thank you all for your continued prayers and well wishes! Xoxoxo

The Red Devil

Yesterday was our Chemotherapy Teaching Day at the infusion center. I learned a lot about what my treatment will consist of. It’s AC followed by T. First 4 rounds of chemo are AC with Nuelasta. The A is for Adriamycin (or Doxorubicin hyrdochloride) more commonly known as “The Red Devil” because it is a red liquid that comes in a tube and is super toxic.  Put it this way, if it drips on you or out of your IV,which I surely hope the nurse gets correctly in my vein, it can scare the hell out of your skin.  Oooo please sign me up!  It belongs to the general group of chemotherapy drugs known as anthracycline antibiotics. This chemo drug stops the growth of cancer cells causing the cells to die. Cancer cells grow quickly, so do the cells for hair and nail growth as well, hense the side effect of hair loss. Common side effects are decreased white blood cell and platelet count, loss of appetite, hair loss, nausea, and vomiting. Sounds fun right?

Then there is C which is for Cytoxan or Cyclophosphamide which belongs to a general group of chemo drugs known as alkylating agents. It has the same effect on cancer cells as Adriamycin. The side effects are decreased white blood cells, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, sores in mouth, diarrhea, stopping of menstrual periods in women, and tiredness.

Now while I am getting these drugs I also get pre-meds that consist of decadron (dexamethasone) a steriod used to combat nausea (and make me gain 10 lbs, Kim Allafi-I will be in Crofton Bootcamp when this is over!), Ativan for any anxiety if needed, and some other drug also for nausea that is slipping my mind right now. After I get these two drugs on Chemo day, I go back the next morning for a shot of Neulasta. This shot helps to boost my bone marrow to make more white blood cells to aid my immune system. I only have to get this shot after the AC regimen portion of chemo (first 4 cycles).

The last 4 cycles of chemo consist of T for Taxol. Taxol is in the general group of chemo drugs known as taxanes. It is a mitotic inhibitor as it stops cell division resulting in cell death. Common side effects are the same as above also numbness and tingling in hands and or feet and muscle and bone aches for 3 days after treatment. Good news is I won’t endure the nausea with this part of treatment so they tell me. The nurse I was with today is a breast cancer survivor and endured the same treatment as me only hers was for a longer duration. So I’m feeling confident taking her word for it. Chemo starts next Friday the 12th. I know I will loose my hair so I’ve made a plan to go back to Amy’s of Denmark and have my hair cut before that happens. The nurse says it will most likely begin at the start of my second treatment. I figured I would dictate when I am going to loose my hair and not cancer. I don’t particularly like being told what to do. Take that cancer!

Chemo sure sounds scary. But aren’t the possible side effects of any drugs always scary? I’m trying to enter this phase of my journey as positive as possible. I know staying that way will be hard, but it’s mandatory for me to get through this with a smile. (please remind me I said this when that smile starts to fade)For now til chemo day I am just going to try and enjoy my time as much as possible. Feels strange not having any doctors appointments to go to for the next 10 days.

Results!

So we finally got the call from the dr. First the left side showed nothing but fibrocystic tissue. No masses or anything suspicious. That is one piece of good news. We’ll take it. Second my chest X-ray, blood work and bone scan all came back clean with the exception of my vitamin D which shows I am deficient. Something my doctor says we will tackle after treatment. Now for the big results. All the invasive cancer has been removed! The tumor is gone.

However there is one margin of tissue around the tumor that didn’t have a clear enough edge which my surgeon is not pleased with. This means another surgery to re-excise that area to get the clear margin. Not to bad. But the best news I saved for last. My nodes tested negative! This is huge. Bigger then I can comprehend says my dr. I’m beyond happy with this. And I think for the first time Chris can breath a sigh of relief knowing I’m not going anywhere.

Surgery and other tests

My MRI results came back and they are showing a suspicious area on my left breast area. Oh joy. But first things first, surgery. On September 13th I had my lumpectomy and a sentinel node biopsy. This should remove the tumor and remove the first two lymph nodes so the can see if the cancer has spread. This will all decide if I’m still at stage 1 or if we are dealing with a whole other set of rules.

While waiting for my results which will take a couple days, I have to have an X-ray of my chest to check my lungs, more blood work, and a full body scan. These are all tests that aid in staging the cancer as well. I also have to go and have the left side checked out. This means a mammogram and an ultrasound. If they locate something then another core needle biopsy to be sure. I’ve been told that mri’s sometimes give false positive results especially in the area of the breast because the tissue is dense. Sure hoping there is nothing to worry about. We could definitely use good news.