The good news is that the tumor they radiated responded to treatment. The bad news is that at least five more popped up in my liver over the last six weeks, some as big as 2cm (that’s really fast and furious, folks…going from 0 to 2 in that span of time is impressive…proving once again that I am the best at growing cancer…not something I’m likely to put on my resume, though). Unfortunately, it’s fairly devastating news. I mean, we understood that Stage IV breast cancer was incurable and that this is what would eventually take me out (save getting hit by a bus…why is that always the example?), but some more time between the first round of mets and this one would have been nice. We were pinning our hopes on years, and this puts us back in the ‘months’ category. The average lifespan after a mets diagnosis of metaplastic carcinoma is eight months, so we weren’t kidding ourselves by thinking that my diagnosis wasn’t serious, just hopeful that I would be an anomaly… I still might be, and research and advancements in the field of oncology have come a long way in recent years (i.e. since studies were published throwing out numbers like eight months…), especially with directed therapies based on gene sequencing, so we’re keeping hope alive.
The plan is to move forward with systemic treatment (it’s all that’s left since surgery and radiation are not viable options at this point…), which means some sort of chemo/targeted therapy. There are a couple promising clinical trials I would have access to here in Madison, and I did finally get authorization for a consult/second opinion at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston where there are oncologists that specialize in metaplastic breast cancer, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we will hit on something that knocks these tumors back, or at least keeps them stable for as long as possible.
It tends to take me a few days/weeks to fully absorb the reality each time we get bad news (not like Kevin, all the feels hit him straight away…give him a hug if you see him!). I react initially feeling battle ready, then the sadness and anger settle in, and finally the acceptance that allows for some peace and contentment. I have been fighting in recent weeks/months to regain a foothold in life outside my cancer diagnosis and was back to feeling happy and alive for the first time in a looooong while. More like Jenn again…living with cancer, but LIVING. I was able to accept the things that would likely never come to pass, like growing old and gray with Kevin in retirement or meeting my future grandchild(ren). Being able to view these eventualities with less emotion and more of an analytical mind has been a difficult process, but also liberating. Of course with a new diagnosis it seems all the sentiment comes bubbling back…it’s hitting me in fits and starts now (will I get to see Maggie graduate high school?), but will no doubt overwhelm me in the near future and I’ll have myself a little breakdown. I’ll keep ya’ll posted about the time and date for the big ol’ pity party (bring tequila!).
Bah…the ups and downs, the uncertainty, feeling you have no control…this is cancer. Like Kevin said, we’re feeling a bit broken right now. I imagine if you are reading this you feel similarly, and I’m just so sorry we all have to go through this because it’s no damn fun. The seriousness of my medical condition has hit home for Maggie and she’s feeling pretty out of sorts right now, too (as long as you’re handing out hugs…if you see her, squeeze her!).
But, hey, I’m not dead yet…and that’s no small thing! Keep on keepin’ on.
Made it through a whole post without an emoji 😀 Nope.