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November 2011 - Denise Neish

Latest PET scan results

Posted by | PET scans, Radiation | No Comments

Latest PET scan results

Written Nov 29, 2011 10:30pm

Today I spent all day at the hospital.  I got up at 5:45 and left the house at 6:15.  Branden’s mom was kind enough to come over bright and early to be with our kids again.  Man!  What would we do without her?!!?!

Branden skipped work to come with me for my PET scan.  I have been looking forward to getting my PET scan and feeling optimistic about it, but I did feel kind of emotional yesterday as I thought about it and prayed fervently for a good result.
When we got up to the hospital I drank the nasty drink and got injected with the radioactive dye and sat in a dark quiet room for 75 minutes so that my brain wouldn’t metabolize the glucose as much.  Then I got strapped into the big PET scan machine and laid perfectly still for about 30 minutes, occasionally following orders to hold my breath and breath normally.  When it was done I went and met Branden in the waiting room.  It would take a couple of hours for the test results, and we had about 2 hours to kill until I could meet with Doctor “B” (which was next on my long agenda of appointments for the day).  So we went  out of the hospital and got some food and went shopping for a little bit and then went back to the hospital.
Dr. “B” came in and got right to the point because she knew that all we wanted was to know what my results were.  She said that she was very pleased.  There was no sign of any new tumors anywhere, and everything looked good in the breast and lymph node areas.
There were originally two spots on my spine that looked malignant, and one of those spots now looks clear of cancer.  The other spot on my spine and the spot on my left hip look better than before, but there is still something there.  They call it a “lesion” on the bone, and it could be either cancer or healing tissue in the bone where the cancer was.  The amount of metabolic activity in those areas has decreased from my first PET scan, but it is in a gray area and is impossible for them to really know if it is cancer or not.
At first I didn’t know how to take this news because I think Branden and I both thought we would get a more definitive answer about the cancer than this.  But Dr. “B” explained it this way:  Radiation actually works better than chemotherapy for killing cancer.  (I didn’t know this before today!)  But they can’t radiate your whole body because there are too many things in there that would get damaged from it, so they will only radiate very specific areas.  That’s why they usually do chemo first because it is a systemic treatment for the whole body, and can get some stray cancer cells that may be in random places in my body.
So now that we have done chemo and have found out that it has worked in reducing the cancer in my body, now we can radiate those specific areas where cancer was detected.  Then, since radiation is so effective, we have a good chance of getting rid of the cancer in those areas.  So, it is definitely good news!
As for the rest of my body, we will not know if there is cancer anywhere until some time has passed.  We will continue to do PET scans every three months for a while, and then every six months, and if anything shows up or is growing, then we will deal with it at that time.  If not, then after a few years we will know that we probably got it all.  I will just have to get used to not knowing all the answers for a while, but for now, my PET scan results are good, and I am still feeling very optimistic about beating this cancer!
After my appointment with Dr. “B” I went to the infusion room and got Herceptin (which I will continue to get every three weeks until at least next summer), and I got Zometa (a bone strengthener that I will get every six weeks.)  I also got my prescription filled for Tamoxafin, which is an estrogen blocker, and I took my first one tonight.  I wonder how that will make me feel?!
After all of that, we had to race down to American Fork hospital so that I could get my radiation for today.  Then we went back to get our kids and picked up a pizza.  We had a fun evening playing with the kids in the basement until bedtime.  I always miss the kids when I am away from them all day.  Whew!  I am glad today is over!!  Thank you everyone for all your prayers!!

Radiation and Turkey Trot

Posted by | Radiation, Updates | No Comments

Radiation and Turkey Trot

Written Nov 25, 2011 7:33pm

I started radiation on Monday, and I have had three treatments so far.  Radiation is Monday through Friday for about 7 weeks, but this week I did not get treated on Thursday or Friday because of Thanksgiving.  So far radiation is no big deal.  For some reason I was a little nervous about it, but it only takes about 15 minutes once I get all set up on the machine, and of course I don’t feel anything.  It is just like getting an X-ray.

Yesterday I entered a 5K.  That is 3.1 miles for those of you who aren’t runners.  I got so happy when I went the night before to pick up my packet and race number.  My sister-in-law and her friend did the race too.
I am slow right now due to treatment, but based on my treadmill running I thought I would be doing well to be under 29 minutes.  Mostly I wanted to run the whole thing and not walk any of it.  When the race started I just felt so happy to be in a race again!  I let the crowd of people carry me along, but I didn’t want to go too fast because I didn’t want to have to walk.  I didn’t see the one mile mark, but I did see the two mile mark, and my time was 16:19.  I was so surprised that I was running 8:10 mile pace.
During the third mile I was trying to catch a little boy who was beating me, but he started pulling away and I had to give up on him!  I was really tired with about half a mile to go, and had to slow down a little bit, but I got the the 3 mile mark at 23:58.  I couldn’t believe I was keeping an 8 minute mile pace!  Nothing to brag about normally, but I have not been able to run even 9 minute miles on my treadmill for the whole time, so I was very happy with it.  I finished in 24:44.  Much better than I expected.  I really needed that!!  It made me feel so good to feel strong, and to feel like a runner again!!  I am excited to get done with ALL of my treatment and to get a clean bill of health and get ready to actually compete in some races.
My PET scan is Tuesday.  I will start my hormone therapy then too.  I will write again after my PET scan results.

Done With Chemo!!!

Posted by | Chemo, Updates | No Comments

Done With Chemo!!!

Written Nov 6, 2011 10:42pm

I don’t know if it has really hit me yet that I am done with chemo, but I am!!!  It will probably be more real for me this Friday when I DON’T go spend the day in the hospital!!

I brought Alec with me on Friday and we stocked up on snacks and brought a Christmas video and some reading and drawing materials, and had a fun day together in the infusion room.  I know it was probably a little strange for him to see me as a patient and to see me all hooked up to the drip with the chemo drugs going into me.
He asked me a couple of times if it hurt.  I assured him that it didn’t.  The nurses were very nice to him, but they did tell me that they don’t like anyone under 12 to come in the future. Good thing for me I am not planning on going back for any more rounds of chemo!!
I was definitely mentally prepared to be done on Friday, but there was a moment of uncertainty after my blood work came back and my white blood cell count was lower than their standards.  My granulocite number was also slightly low.  I had to wait for approval from my doctor to go ahead and receive my last dose of chemo.  I was relieved when the approval came, because I would have been disappointed to have to wait another week to be done.  So now I have to be extra careful this week to not get sick, because my wbc count is low, and I received chemo, so now it is probably going to go even lower.
When I was almost done, the nurses in the infusion room came around and sang me a little song about being done with chemo.  It was very sweet!  They also gave me a blanket as a parting gift.  This is what they do for all patients when it is their last day of chemo.  I have really been treated well at Huntsman, and have made good friends with some of the nurses there.  I will still go up every 3 weeks for Herceptin until next August, so I will still see them, but I had a spring in my step as I left the hospital on Friday knowing that I was done with Taxol!
My PET scan is scheduled for November 29th.  I will also meet with the radiologist next week to determine the plan for radiation.  But in the meantime I have about 3 weeks to recover from chemo and to not be treated.
I am so thankful to be done with chemo and to be feeling well!!  I signed up for a 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, and am so excited to be getting ready for a race!  It will be my goal just to run the whole thing.  I am very slow when I run right now, but it just makes me happy to think about doing a race again.  I will run with a friend and with my sister-in-law.  I am looking forward to doing things that make me feel like myself again!!
I really love all of you who have been reading my blog and encouraging me through all of this.  Thank you so much!  I am looking forward to getting my PET scan and seeing how the chemo has worked.  Because it was looking good halfway through the summer, I anticipate a good result, but how good, I do not know.  I also want this scan to be clearer, and it should be because we will wait a little longer to get all of the drugs out of my body that can interfere with the clarity of the image.  I will write again after I get my PET scan results on the 29th.
Yay for no more chemo!!!!  =)