Hi everyone! What a week/weekend! Lots of testing, doctors appointments….and our friends’ wedding to cap it off. We have 2 of 3 test results back so I wanted to fill everyone in on what’s new. Same Q&A Format 🙂
Question: What tests did you have this week?
Answer: I had a CT scan of my abdomen (to check my liver), a bone scan (because of the bone mets in my sternum), and a chest x-ray. (Disclaimer- we don’t have the results from the chest x-ray yet).
Question: Why did you have a CT scan instead of a liver MRI? Which test is “better”? What were the results from the liver test?
Answer: Technically, a MRI would be a “better”/more detailed test from what I understand. However, while I have tissue expanders (they will be there until I have breast reconstruction) a CT scan is the next best option to check my liver. Why is that you ask? Fair question. My husband’s analogy of the situation pretty much sums it up.
Mark: “I’ll elaborate. MRI is a big magnet. Tissue expanders have metal ports. Not good to mix the two unless you want your boobs stuck to a machine the size of a backhoe.” I will say, Mark does have an uncanny ability to be succinct. (I’d like to improve on that…..but getting to the point isn’t something I’ve ever been wildly proficient at, just ask my parents). Anyway, I had a liver MRI in January of 2019 before my double mastectomy, but that was right after a LOT of IV chemo, so I was a little nervous about the results of this scan. When the doctor came in to give us the results, he started talking about some things that I wasn’t quite understanding (probably because I was so nervous) and I just blurted out (as he was talking) “ARE YOU ABOUT TO GIVE ME BAD NEWS??”. He smirked and said no, your liver is stable.” THANK YOU LORD. Hurdle #1 complete.
Pic below: Casually sipping on some Barium in paper pants before my CT scan at 7am. Tip: if you have one of these scans- wear workout pants without any metal if you don’t want to sport the paper pants.
Question: What were the results of the bone scan? What did the doctor’s tell you about the results?
Answer: This was another BIG test because Mark and I have been told that realistically, if the cancer comes back- a common place for it to return would be in my bones. Full disclosure, I could see some of the images on the screen while I was getting my bone scan (obviously the person administering the test isn’t allowed to discuss the images or give opinions…..and they aren’t actually the ones reading the results, that is up to the radiologist). Anyway, during the test I could see dark spots on my sternum on those images (in that moment part of me was thinking CRAP CRAP CRAP……please don’t let that be something bad). But I didn’t google anything….I didn’t frantically start making calls……Mark and I just said a prayer before (and after the scan). It was in God’s hands at that point. Fast forward a couple of days, a sleepless night, and a lot of “prayin in public” …..sure enough there WAS an explanation for the dark spots. The scan showed HEALED/HEALING bone metastasis in my sternum but NOT active cancer. BOOM. When my doctor started discussing the results I wasn’t sure what else they had found….but after she explained the situation with my sternum I asked……”was there anything else?” She paused for a few seconds and then she smiled and said “nothing else“. Cue the waterworks. I cried, Mark teared up, and I think I saw some happy tears from the nurse as well. ALL. THE. FEELS. Thank you Lord. Thank you. Prayers answered.
On the topic of feelings, a lot of people love to watch the groom’s face at a wedding when the bride walks down the isle, and I’m no exception. There aren’t many times you get to witness a (typically) stoic guy “feeling all the feels”. It’s such an authentic moment and when I have the opportunity to share that with a couple on their wedding day it makes me feel special to be included. Here’s an example of that moment from the wedding we attended this weekend for our friends’ Jeff and Jamie. I mean……does it get any better than this? (Side note: this wedding day moment I’m referencing and the feelings associated with it are universal- regardless of the gender of the couple. Love is love).
Why am I bringing this up? Well, it’s not the same situation by any means, but I do feel lucky because I get to watch my husband’s face when we get positive medical news. Mark has always been SO strong during this process, since day the day I was diagnosed. He doesn’t fall apart in front of me (even though he has EVERY right to do so). Even on our wedding day he held it together somehow…because that’s what he does. A couple of days ago I watched Mark’s reaction when the doctor was gave us the results from my bone scan. When the doctor said the words “and the rest is clear” – that is a moment I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Not just because of the amazing news, but because of the way Mark looked when he heard the news. He isn’t a man of many words, but his face in those moments shows me how much he loves me. Sometimes I have a terrible memory….so I’m sharing this mostly because I don’t ever want to forget how I felt on Friday when I saw pure joy, relief, pride…..and a little disbelief wash over my husband’s face all at once. It was pretty special. (Moreover, I wish I had the elevator surveillance video of the two of us right after we were leaving the doctor’s office. #VictoryDance
Question: Are you so relieved? How does it feel?
Answer: YES. RELIVED. HAPPY. THANKFUL. It almost doesn’t feel “real” yet. I’ll be honest….it’s hard (as a human being) not to brace yourself for bad news. But the truth is, you’re never ready for bad news- so “preparing for it” in the form of worry isn’t going to help. The pain associated with bad news is going to be there whether you were prepared or not. With that goal in mind, I try not to make myself miserable with “SCANXIETY” as it’s known in the cancer world. Do I fail at that sometimes? Of course. But I still try to be hopeful and positive. Mathew 6: 27 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” I believe the answer here is no 😉 For example, here’s what Mark and I were up to right after the scans (before the results). Humor always helps 🙂
Question: Does this mean you are in remission?
Answer: I did have to google this one because I’ve been asked so many times. I believe remission means that you have not had a reoccurrence in the last 5 years. BUT I think I am now finally considered “NED” (no evidence of disease) assuming the chest x-ray comes back clear (which God willing, we think will be the case). N-E-D!!
Question: How was the wedding?
Answer: Amazing. We loved spending time with friends and soaking up the good news. Here are some pics/video from the weekend 🙂
Explanation on the video below…..you can probably fill in the blank at the end re: Mark’s sentiment towards cancer….. 🙂
Question: Are you still on the chemo pills?
Answer: Oh yeah. I’m actually on Cycle 2, day 14 (each cycle is 3 weeks/21 days long). I take the pills on day 1-14 and am “off” on days 15-21. Chemo pills are cumulative so you’re actually still feeling the side effects on the off days as well. I will say, reducing my dose to 3,000mg per day vs 3,500 mg per day did help. I have been sick to my stomach, tired, etc. But it’s manageable. Not ideal by any means, but I’ll take this all day long over IV chemo if that’s what it takes 🙂 I started getting the foot blisters yesterday but they aren’t as bad as last time. I can still walk, my hands and feet are just tender. I’ve also had to accept that I need a REAL CARB when I take the chemo pills which has helped I think. If everything goes according to plan, I should have 6 more cycles of Xeloda after this one. I’ll have a Pet Scan in November to check my progress. (…..and if you don’t hear from me about the chest X-ray then all is well) 🙂
As always, thank you for the prayers, support, and love.
⭐️Holly Hollis Stars⭐️