Update 11/3/2014

November 2nd, 2014 § 29 comments

IMG_9141Last week didn’t quite go as planned. I was hoping to post more pieces here to finish out October with some of my favorites. I will still try to get those up in the coming weeks. What prevented me from doing so was a week that became dominated with medical appointments.

Monday I saw my cardiologist to try to get some information about some symptoms I’d been having. My echo (and later in the week, the CT scan) showed there is some excess fluid around my heart. For now it is not causing any effect on heart function but we can’t rule out that it is a problem. I’ll have to repeat tests in a few weeks to try to see if it grows in volume (this would indicate a more sinister issue, and we would need to rule out a malignancy). For now, though, that goes on the back burner.

Tuesday I had bloodwork and IV fluids. The bloodwork is still a bit unclear about if the current chemo (Navelbine) is working. The rise in tumor markers is slowing but we need some definitive results this week, I think, to feel confident in interpreting them. The bloodwork also revealed I was anemic again, so on Thursday I went to New York City and got a transfusion of two units of blood.

On Friday I had a CT scan to compare to my last scan and help us make decisions about treatment. The CT showed both some good news and some concerns. While the lymph nodes and malignant tissue in my chest have resolved (chemotherapy in the last six months has worked and reduced those areas), my liver unfortunately shows two tumors.

The best thing at this time would be to biopsy portions of them (to gather tissue for future testing; my cancer has rarely been in areas that we can actually get samples, so this presents a rare chance to grab some) and also do ablation on them. Ablation is a localized procedure that when successful, destroys tumors of a particular size with very few side effects.

So, a lot is up in the air at the moment.

Because it is only Monday morning I don’t know what this week will bring in regards to chemo. We also don’t yet know if the interventional radiologists will decide that I am a good candidate for the ablation.  For now, I wait.

Palbociclib, a drug I received through the expanded access (formerly “compassionate use”) program from Pfizer should arrive this week. That process took approximately 9 weeks and usually takes longer than that. I am fortunate my oncologist kept the process moving in such a timely manner (all applications and documents for such use must be done by the physician, not the patient).

I’m not feeling that well and have been primarily staying home for the last month. Now that I think about it, though, I’ve been basically staying home for the last ten months. Many days my half hour in the morning driving the older two kids to school is my only outing of the day. But I am patient.

At this point the options are still very reasonable and typical for this stage of the disease. I’m waiting for the next treatment proposal and then onward we go.

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§ 29 Responses to Update 11/3/2014"

  • Erika Robuck says:

    Hemingway said “Courage is grace under pressure.” He must have known someone like you.


  • Marisa Birns says:

    You are very patient and it is this quality, among many others, that make you such a voice of reason in the chaos that this disease brings.

    Hoping that Palbociclib helps a lot.

  • Ellen M says:

    Being patient with you.

  • Joanne Firth says:

    Thank you for this update. You have a lot going on and I am in awe of how much you know about your cancer and treatment. I have so many questions for you, for now I look forward to how you respond to the Pfizer drug and if you will have a liver biopsy and subsequent ablation. Sending good thoughts and hopes that you will be feeling better soon. xo

  • Elizabeth Von Stur says:

    Dear Lisa,

    All I have to say is your continuing courage, strength, grace, and dignity in the face of so many unknowns and unfortunately some not so great news, astounds me. You are my hero. I wish you the best, as always.


  • Diane D'Angelo says:

    Thank you for the update.

  • Wishing an easier week for you this week. And lots of cozy blankets. xoxo

  • Lisa, you are the voice of rationality, strength, courage and grace. My thought are with you, from across the country, every single day.

    Wishing you comfort, physically and emotionally.

  • Julia says:

    Thinking about you Lisa. These updates are so helpful. Hoping things improve soon.
    – Julia

  • meri says:

    Always thinking of you, Lisa, and your updates are much appreciated! When you don’t post I re-read past essays; but in any event, we learn from your patience. XO

  • Leslie says:

    Lisa, I think of you daily and continue to learn and be inspired by you.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for the update. Hopefully, things will go better this week.

  • Thank you for the update, Lisa. I am glad to know what is going on with you. I send a huge hug, and hope I can come visit sometime. Or see you in the city, perhaps. xxxooo

  • Rebecca says:

    Thank you for finding the strength to give us all an update Lisa. I wish I was a better candidate for donating blood. I’ve been turned down more times than accepted because of low iron levels. Reading your blog is a good reminder of how important giving blood is.

    I hope you were able to enjoy Halloween weekend with your children. Also hoping this week brings you better news and fewer side effects.

  • Carol Graham says:

    A teeny bit of good news here. I think any little bit of good news, is … good!

  • Thank you for the update, Lisa.
    Here’s hoping the biopsy is able to give your doctors some additional knowledge for best treatment options!
    Sending hugs as always, and thinking of you daily.

  • Gail says:

    Everyone else has already said what I wanted to say, so I’m just here to send you love. Lots of love.

  • Lisa,
    I always appreciate your thoughts and updates. It takes energy to keep sharing, particularly when the news is mixed. You remain in my thoughts as you continue your journey. Sending hope for good news and as much healing as possible.

  • Pam says:

    Thank you, Lisa!

    I’m glad there was a little bit of good news. I hope the new treatment plans bring you more good news.

    Sending love.

  • Meredith says:

    First comment here…you are very patient and strong. Much positive energy towards you!

  • Susan says:

    Hello Lisa,

    I also have metastatic breast cancer,( bones, brain tumor and more.) 3 kids, (teens) one with special needs. On chemo, hormones, did brain radiation, checking into brain surgery. Almost three years since the metastases were diagnosed.

    You are always in my heart though I do not know you. I resonate with your writing so much.
    I am walking a similar path too, and want to share something for other Stage 4 followers of yours suffering the cancer-related fatigue.

    My fatigue (cancer-related and anemia) was so bad that my quality of life totally dropped away. I rarely got out of bed. I could no longer do the things that gave me joy. Even talking to my beloved children felt like a burden. The palliative care unit prescribed me Ritalin and it has been a godsend. 10 mg 2x per day and within a few hours I was cooking, laughing and enjoying my kids again.
    This article written by a doctor with cancer describes the fatigue issue and RItalin more elegantly than I ever could.

    Blessings always,


    It does not cure anything, it just gives energy. It does not work for everyone, but seems to work best on those with the most extreme fatigue. (I was one of them) The underlying conditions are still there.
    It is a quality of life matter. My quality of life has gone way up. I just had to share.

    I have been blogging a few months. You helped to inspire me to start! I did a story about driving my kids to and from school about the only thing I could do for a while too.
    If you’re interested, it is called, “I am Batman.”
    Love and Blessings,

    • Lisa Bonchek Adams says:

      I did try Ritalin. I never found a dose that helped me and discontinued after a while of trying increased doses. I do know it does help some people and is worth a try! Glad it helped you.

  • Hi Lisa,

    You are AMAZING. I just found you from Twitter, where it seems all my friends follow you already. I am late, as usual. I just wanted to wish you luck with everything. You are really strong and a wonderful human, super mom and a great writer. Please, stay with us! I am another one praying for you starting today. I have been praying for the right job to come for myself for two years now, and when I read your post, I said… “I have no clue what patience is… This woman, she is the ultimate patient being.”…. Thank you for waking me up, and telling me to be stronger too.


  • Mandi says:

    *hugs* May you find the answers you need! My fingers are crossed for Palbociclib.

  • Kathy says:

    I just read an amazing article by Cord Jefferson about his mother and her cancer diagnosis and something he said made me immediately think of you:

    “The world takes from us relentlessly. It takes our friends and first loves. It takes our parents. It takes our faith. It takes our dignity. It takes our passion. It takes our health. It takes our honesty, and it takes our credulity. To lose so much and still hold onto yourself is perhaps the most complicated task human beings are asked to perform, which is why seeing it done with aplomb is as thrilling as looking at dinosaur bones or seeing a herd of elephants. It’s an honor to exist on Earth with these things”. I think of you this way and I’m sure so many others do too.
    As always, wishing you well

  • Sue says:

    Lisa, ever since I found this site I’ve been checking back. I’ve been on Faslodex for about 1 1/2 years. I had breast cancer that metastized to the lung. Over time I’ve had increased systems. My latest questions have involved around shortness of breath. Had an echo and need to go back to talk to Dr. about shortness of breath and fatigue. I’ve been trying to walk again but run out of breath. Have gained about 12 lbs all in stomach so I’m constantly trying to be active but know that no amount of exercise will change this until I’m done which my Drs. nurse says is forever. Glad to get everyone’s comments and find out that I’m not alone. Thanks, Sue

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