The Good News and Everything Else

The last few months have been busy. Lots of traveling in-between medical appointments and tests.

All the gallbladder testing and imaging did not turn out as expected, which in this case, is good news. There are no plans to remove it. It appears to be working just fine. Unfortunately, not much else has changed, so my GI doc (Dr. D) has put plan B into place. I’ll get into that in a bit.

Last month, I spent a few days in N. Carolina to take part in an advocacy project for METAvivor called The Serenity Project. It has two parts – an interview and an artistic part. The ‘artistic’ involved being in and underwater which was challenging. I sure no one wanted me to drown, but there were some times I was wondering….I’m JOKING. The entire project includes 10 Metastatic patients in all and will be debuted in December at the largest breast cancer conferences of the year, The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS).

In addition to the “work” of the project, there were some fun things that had been planned, like yoga on horseback – yes, I did yoga on a horse. I also learned how to groom a horse too! Having never been on a horse before or even around them, I was excited to do this. Of course, the horse I ended up with was ‘hangry’ and wanted to do nothing but graze. She finally calmed down after she ate a bit of grass.

Shortly after coming home, I was back on the road to NYC. It was time for my 6 month PET/CT scan and check-up with my Oncologist. More good news, scan still showed no new evidence of disease.

Once my appointment wrapped up, hubs and I were back on the road to take a much-needed break in Florida. There is nothing better than morning walks on the beach, feeling the sand in your toes and finding shells along the way. If there is something better, I don’t want to know about it.

Now, for the ‘other’ or that Plan B I mentioned earlier.

The main issues are that I can’t stop losing weight and I have significant pain every time I eat. I must have another ultrasound of my abdomen and an upper GI with barium (yum). Dr. D also put me back on Omeprazole to make sure it’s not GERD, something my Oncologist at Sloan brought up mainly because I’ve had that issue before.

If all of that is negative, exploratory surgery is next. In anticipation of that happening, I have a consultation with a surgeon. If it were up to me, I would skip the tests, jump right to surgery and get to the bottom of this crap.

Then he hit me with this….sigh…I have about 10lbs wiggle room but that’s about it. If I continue to lose weight and get to or below that 10lbs, we will have to have conversations about a feeding tube or a PICC line for nutrition. (Link included to explain what all that is). That’s a hard pass. Nope. No thanks.

So that’s what’s happening and where things stand.

As for where my travels are taking me next, I’ll just leave this here…..

When “It’s Nothing” Becomes “It’s Something”

If you’ve been following my blog, you’re familiar with my track record of “aches and pains” that turn out to be nothing or have no explanation. It’s become kind of a light-hearted joke between me and my Oncologist. She will ask me how I’m feeling and I usually respond with something like: Does it matter? Because it will end up being nothing anyway. And then we laugh.

At my last appointment she wasn’t laughing. My continued weight loss has now gotten her attention and not in a “you’re gonna rock that bikini this summer” kind of way. When she asked me how I was feeling, I casually mentioned some discomfort I was having on my right side. It’s particularly bad after I eat. It’s not unusual that I go a day or two without eating until the pain subsides. That conversation earned me an appointment at the end of the week with my GI doc.

I like my GI doc. I haven’t seen Dr. C in a while but he listens and doesn’t shrug off symptoms or why you’re there.

He looked concerned from the moment he walked in. He had spoken to my Oncologist. He asked all the typical questions about why I was there; typing all my answers into my chart on the computer. The physical exam was next. He pushed and pressed all over my abdomen. When he pressed on my right side below my ribs I saw stars and the look on my face caused him to nod. He matter of factly told me my gallbladder was inflamed and it needed to come out. Huh?? But it’s always nothing. Now it’s something?

He began writing orders for tests. He wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be any surprises for the surgeon. Swell.

Ultrasound, Upper Endoscopy, HIDA Scan and then surgery. They scheduled the ultrasound later that afternoon -no time like the present. Endoscopy is this coming Wednesday. Doctor C isn’t messing around.

Hopefully, when it’s all over with I’ll be more comfortable and eating won’t be a nightmare anymore. I’m not going to lie, if I start gaining weight again, someone’s going to hear about it.

So this year, instead of a birthday party, I’ll be having a “Going Away Party” for my gallbladder! Everyone’s invited!

A New Chapter

In a previous post I mentioned that my Oncologist suggested I take a break from the Exemestane I’ve been taking since my diagnosis.  I had been complaining about my increasing weight and my inability to lose any. That was in June.

Fast forward to today and I’m now down 17lbs and I’m walking a half mile to a mile almost every day. In fact, this week I can happily say I walked about 7.5 miles in total.  That may not seem excessive to some but the bone and joint pain I was experiencing on the Exemestane was crippling. It not only affected me physically but it affected my personal life because it made me cranky. When you don’t feel good you can’t be the way other people expect you to. I’m not a person that can stomp down the pain, frustration and exhaustion and put on a happy face. This isn’t Hollywood and I’m not an actress.

Physically, I feel really good. I do have some pain in my hips but the Gabapinten I’m taking helps dull the ache. I’m starting to feel lighter…finally. I still have quite a ways to go but I’m making progress and that only makes me want to continue to lose the weight and keep walking.

I’ve met some really nice people on my walks too!  Mostly, folks with dogs that want to male friends with Bella and others that just feel like talking beyond a passing ‘Hello’.

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The other morning, while Bella was being curious and sniffing what I assume to be another dog that had been by, an energetic older women approaching me yelled out, “We are wearing the same colors.”  And we were. Right down to our white sneakers. She stopped and commented on Bella and then we walked together for the next .69 miles. She told me about her children and even her estranged relationship with her mother.

I told her about my diagnosis and the story of how I found out. I explained why I was walking and my desire to get my ‘pre-cancer’ body back. She was sweet and thankfully avoided all battle language but she did say she would put me on her church’s prayer list and that for the next 2 weeks I’d be prayed for round the clock.

My goal is to be at my desired weight by October. Before it gets too cold to go walking and the snow flies.

When I see my Oncologist again in September, I plan on telling her that I will not be going back on Exemestane or any other Aromatase Inhibitor. It may seem like a foolish decision but my quality of life is more important to me than living with the daily pain and fatigue.

I am putting my cancer away. I’m done with it. Everyone says I’m doing great and should enjoy life and that’s exactly what I plan on doing. Although I don’t exactly know what that will look like for me, I am eager to see how it all unfolds.

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