The Stacey Report

May 12: Feelin’ Crappy…er, I mean Happy

Posted in Uncategorized by ohthatdeb on May 12, 2006

I got an e-mail from Stacey yesterday afternoon — she was at work, and afternoons are becoming difficult for her. She has always felt like taking a nap ’round about 2:00, but was able to get through it before. It’s much harder now, she is feeling very tired, and also cranky because her arm hurts. (This is from the swollen glands in her armpit: her arm has felt weak and swollen, and it hurts to move it around. I have personally witnessed acupuncture and acupressure help with this, but it’s a problem that may be ongoing.) She’s been going to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 lately, which is a change from her usual night-owl hours.

There’s also a bit of a problem with the Mediport: the incision is red and itchy, and may be getting infected. The oncology nurse suggested putting Neosporin on it to see if that will clear it up, which would be great because as she goes into the chemo treatments, her immune system is going to be down.

And speaking of immune systems, I read an article about chemo preparation that suggested going to the dentist before starting chemo because a) one shouldn’t have someone poking at one’s gums with sharp objects when one’s immune system is down, and b) chemo apparently takes a toll on the teeth (probably because it messes up the fast-growing cells in the mouth.). I suggested this to Stacey, who said “Gee, that’s a good idea. I wonder if I’ll do it.” So I weasled the name of her dentist out of her, called, and set up the appointment while she was still on IM. So there. Sheesh, it’s like pulling teeth!

The happy news is from the IBCRF — I had read somewhere that solid IBC tumors tend to dissipate on their own, so I was a bit confused by Dr. Browne’s reaction to Stacey’s shrinking lump. Fortunately, I had misunderstood the original article, and this was the lovely response I got:
Thank you for contacting the IBC Research Foundation with your question. I must make it clear that I am not a medical professional. I am a 5 year survivor of IBC and volunteer with the organization in order to help answer some of the questions that come to the website. Nothing said in this email should be understood as medical advice.
Fortunately, in this situation, your doctor is correct. Measurable tumors that have developed from IBC do not go away on their own. Your sister is having a good response to her chemotherapy. That is wonderful news and your sister should squeeze every bit of hope out of it. According to all the research that I have seen, the best predictor of long term survival is the initial response to chemo. Please congratulate her on behalf of the IBC Research Foundation. She still has a long way to go but progress is being made.

So! That settles that (and in future, I shall not be so quick to second-guess Dr Browne The Excellent Oncologist.) Again, we haven’t even gotten to the chemo yet, so this is great.

Also great was a research article I saw on PubMed that gave the best predictors for OS (overall survival) for later-stage IBC, and Stacey has ’em: positive for hormone receptors (HER2+) and fewer than four ancillary sites at the time of treatment. That, plus the good reactions thus far, set her up very nicely to be in the overall survivor group. Just remember that highly scientific chart:

2 Responses

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  1. Anonymous said, on May 12, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    Nice chart, Deb…Edward Tufte is jealous 🙂

    (BTW, Stacey looks like a character from an Ayn Rand cover!)

    Mike H

  2. ohthatdeb said, on May 14, 2006 at 7:34 am

    (Thank you, thank you. I’m particularly proud of the technical terms “Most” and “Some.”)


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