It has been an interesting few weeks. While the news that my cancer has been subsiding has been good, I continue to deal with small niggling issues. One of them is odd intermittent pain in various places. It never lasts long and rarely occurs in the same place over periods of time. However, the painful headaches I had in succession, albeit briefly, last week were a bit disconcerting given their intensity. They took my breath away. I mentioned it to my oncology nurse, like I have a whole succession of pains over the last few months, which have generally been acknowledged and shelved by the doctors.
I guess to some extent with metastatic cancer, pain is simply a given. It is a question I get asked every time I go in. They seem to be looking for the cases of excessive on-going pain to see if it is indicating new growth and to deal with the pain if it’s bad — but that’s it. In any case, this time they insisted on an MRI and wouldn’t let me leave the building or give me my chemo until this was done. Bottom line — the MRI took place pretty quickly (and was cake) and the results showed that while the brain tumor has shrunk further, there is some swelling, which may explain the pain.
Apparently, the brain is not crazy about any changes in the brain (OK, I guess I understand) and so swells when anything moves around. For those of you around me, you should be forewarned that the solution for the next few weeks will be steroids! Yikes! I should be on over-drive and hope to get lots done though! My apologies in advance for any untold behavior on my part that may seem out of line. I really don’t mind (and would welcome) input if I’m not really being “me.” :) It’s kind of interesting because I can be pretty self unaware in terms of the drug impacts.
In the coming month I will be getting a whole host of tests to ascertain whether I am ready to get off regular weekly chemo. Although things look good, please keep your fingers crossed. Even if I am able to get off chemo, even if the tumors all disappear eventually, even if my life is blessedly less stressful, even if I’m healthy otherwise and feeling optimistic, the chance of recurrence is very real for those of us who are metastatic. In addition to my current life prognosis of 5-10 more years, the oncologist is very clear that once you’ve gotten to this point, the risk of recurrence is always there. It’s just a persistent reality. It may sound crazy but I can deal with that. It helps me live in the moment which is something I am trying to do any way. The fact that there will be unknowns is a known. OK. I will take it a day at a time and live each day like it is precious. I want to make the most of what I do have and to love it while I have it.
In the meantime, things are pretty hopeful. The drugs I’m on are obviously working pretty well. The issue is the long-term and how that works out. As I’ve noted before, the oncologist sees this as a very strategic process. You have to keep using the drugs that do work until they stop working and try to keep some options up your sleeve. She is very optimistic about having the Herceptin hold the cancer in check for a while. It’s worked well for some others. However, Herceptin can be tough on the heart and a time will probably come when either my heart can’t take it or it’s no longer working to keep the cancer at bay. The real hope is in the development of new drugs over the next 5 to 10 years that can replace it.
I can’t underscore the importance of funding for new breast cancer research. It really, really makes a difference. To be very personal, it could make the difference between whether or not I (or anyone else in the same situation) can be there for the key moments in my life including milestones such as watching the girls grow up, birthdays, graduations, trips and just the joy of being with friends and family and feeling like I’ve given and gotten everything out of life that I feel I can. You understand.
There are so many opportunities for making a difference in cancer research and you have heard of many of them already. I just want to acknowledge two specific efforts under way that are personal to me and might be of interest to you. I would be most grateful to for your support in helping these two friends in making a difference in this area that is so critical to me and others in my situation. Thank you Jamie and Todd for all you’re doing and thanks to Chris, Carolyn and many others who contributed $14,000 to the Komen Race for the Cure here in DC in June.
- Jamie Schreifels-Corbett – My amazing sister in law who has run and walked to raise funds many times and who works in the medical field specifically with women with breast cancer so sees cancer first hand regularly
Yes, I’m doing it again – I signed up for the 2010 Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure! I had such an incredible experience doing the Komen 3-Day for the Cure last year. I’ll walk 60 miles over the course of three days with thousands of other women and men. This event isn’t easy, but I promise you, I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t believe 100% that it was worth every muscle ache, weary night and training walk! I’ve agreed to raise $2300.00. If anyone is able to donate please visit
http://www.the3day.org and visit my participant page listed under Jamie Corbett.”
- Todd Wilson — Our wonderful neighbor who has inspired us by running multiple marathons to celebrate turning 40!
“As some of you may know, a few months ago I signed up to run the Marine Corps Marathon to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure to help fight breast cancer. This marathon will be my third (and, as I realized the other day, my third in a year), but it will be my most important one so far because of the people it will benefit.
The Susan G. Komen foundation has helped me set up a fundraising web page with information about why I’m running this race (there are some people very close to us who are our inspiration) and what the foundation does. Please visit my page at the link below, learn, and please contribute if you can. Every donation helps!
Thank you very much!
Thanks for your support!!