Friday, January 15, 2010

Update on Mom

In case some of you haven't heard the whole story of my mom's journey with breast cancer...

In 2006 (my junior year of high school), my mom was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. We had all hopes that it was a one time thing, easily cured. Unfortunately, in the summer of 2007, she found a lump under her arm. With Stage 4 (recurrent) breast cancer, she had six months of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation, and a year and half of preventative treatment, called Herceptin. We were thrilled that scans showed no signs of cancer. Then, this past summer (2009), after having trouble with her arm/finger movements, severe headaches, and a trip to the ER (as a result of very high blood pressure), we found out that she had 4 spots on her brain. Because chemotherapy and Herceptin (preventative treatment) do not break through the blood-brain membrane (and therefore don’t protect the brain), she had to have several radiation treatments, followed by the Gamma Knife procedure. Those tumors have shrunk in size or remained stable. She was on another preventative treatment called Tykerb (a pill) that protects the brain. At the end of 2009, following regular check up scans, we learned that she had spots on her liver and lungs. She has completed half her chemotherapy treatment and started Herceptin again.

Last week she had scans to check the spots on her liver and lungs. Everything remains stable – no growth or spreading. The radiologist that read her scan is not convinced that these spots are metastatic lesions (though what else could it be?). She has 2 more months of chemotherapy. Next week she has an MRI, which will include her brain and show the spots that had stabilized.

She has gone to UNC for a second opinion, and doctors there are on board with her doctors at home. While at UNC, she also did gene testing. Those tests would show whether she carried the gene for a particular type of breast cancer, which could tell us whether my aunt and I could carry the same gene. My mom, mom’s maternal aunt, and mom’s paternal aunt had breast cancer, as did my paternal grandmother and paternal aunt. She did not test positive for the gene, though there was a mutation on another gene. Research has not been conclusive as to whether the mutation is significant in breast cancer or not. They recommended that I start having mammograms at age 35 (duh).

So that’s where we are now. She has chemo once a week for three weeks followed by a week off. Please pray that these spots are resolved without complication, the MRI results are positive (perhaps shedding light on the lung/liver lesions), and we all keep a positive attitude. We know that God is the Great Physician and there’s always a way with Him! I’m totally open to answering any questions about her journey or what I’ve learned about breast cancer over the last few years (which is a lot).

We have great friends and family that have been so supportive and generous. We are so grateful for each of them. Please pray that God will bless them as He has blessed us.

laura ann

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