The Stacey Report

September 27, 2006: Check It Out!

Posted in Uncategorized by ohthatdeb on September 27, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dudes and Dudettes, it’s a technological miracle!  You don’t have to reset your bookmarks but why the heck not because we now own…

www.staceyreport.com!

Ok, technically I own it.

Also it isn’t much of a technological miracle.

All right, it isn’t miraculous in any way, at all.

Still, pretty cool, right?

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September 24, 2006: Damn Straight

Posted in Uncategorized by ohthatdeb on September 24, 2006

I called last night to check in with Michael…

“We’re sorry, no one is here right now to take your call.”
(These people never answer the phone, you know this.)
“Please leave a message after the beep.”
(Yeah, well beep this, robot voice…)
BEEP!

“Hi Michael, it’s Deb, just checking in to see how Stacey is doing…”
(somebody picked up the phone)
“Hello.”
It sounded like Stacey.
“Hello?”
“Hello.”
It is Stacey.
“Hello! You’re up!”
“Damn straight.”

So, true to form, Stacey is up and about, kvetching about the annoying drains, but otherwise completely uninterested in her own physical discomfort.  As a matter of fact, there seems to be precious little of that: they offered her big piles of drugs when she left the hospital but she saw no need.  “Believe me,” she said, “I’d’ve taken them if I had needed them, but I just didn’t.” 

So we here at the Stacey Report hope that we can rely on TiVo and Stacey’s inner slug to keep her couch-bound for a bit, but we are highly skeptical.  Still no idea about a timeline for lab reports, but Stacey meets again with TFDC this week so we may know more then. 

September 22, 2006: Lumpectapalooza

Posted in Uncategorized by ohthatdeb on September 22, 2006

Stacey’s surgery is complete and everything went beautifully.  TFDC reported to Michael that everything looked great: she couldn’t see anything but some scarring (the result of the Great Cancer-Cell Massacre!) and had originally thought that she would have to make two incisions but ended up only having to make one.

There will be two drains (eew) one for her breast and one for her arm.   TFDC said that along with not seeing anything suspicious in the breast tissue, she also did not see anything suspicious in the lymph nodes she removed. 

(By the way, apparently they used to go after these like they were ripping up weeds, but now there is a lot more information about which are most likely to be affected by metasteses in which order, so the surgeon is able to be a lot more selective and reduce not only the recovery time but also the risk of later lymphedema (serious swelling caused by interruptions and blockages in the lymphatic system, like, say, the removal of a really lot of your lymph nodes.)) 

Anyway, although the surgeon didn’t see anything (which is good!) she did caution that she still has to send everything to the lab (which is simply normal, no more, no less) to see what turns up under the microscope. As of our last update from Michael, Stacey was still in recovery, but only because Newton Wellesley had a full house and they were trying to find a room for her, not because she needed to be in recovery for any extended period of time.  She will be staying overnight at NW and we’ll check in with her tomorrow to see how everything is going.  There is no information yet about when the lab results will come in or what they might mean either way, but we’ll keep you posted.

(I don’t know who this “we” is that I keep talking about, what, me and… Durga maybe?) In the meantime, we have This Week In Review by Stacey herself!

______________________

It’s been a very busy few days:

Monday: Went to the Breast Center (which is at the hospital) for the mammogram and breast ultrasound. Mammogram first, lots of fun, of course. Then the ultrasound, during which the Radiologist decided to “put a clip”. He could see what he thought might be scar tissue, though it might have a few cancer cells as well. Whatever it was, it was hard to find, so he wanted to mark the site to make it easier to find later. They do this by putting a small piece of titanium INTO the breast. Fun! He numbed up the area (not as well as he should have at first; I could feel it at first and he had to do more numbing) then put a big needle into my breast, guided by ultrasound, and into the former lump. There was an “inductor” involved, but I couldn’t tell if it was the needle itself, or if there was something else involved. In any case, he had a hard time getting it into the tissue, so I guess the tissue was kinda firm. He really had to put some energy into it! Then, when it was in, he pulled the trigger and the little clip was injected. After that they needed to get another mammogram to get a shot of the clip in the breast. After that they sent me back to the waiting room, where I waited and waited and waited, only to be told that they didn’t get a digital shot, which is what they needed, so they had to do it AGAIN! Because there’s nothing a woman wants more than THREE mammograms in one day. Oh, lucky me. Total time at hospital: 3 hours.

Tuesday: Treatment day. TFDB told me that we could do a triple dose of herceptin every third week instead of the double dose every two weeks. This might or might not have been a good idea, as we’ll soon see. Anyway, she also told me that she had been doing some testing of tumor markers ( http://www.breastcancer.org/testing_blood_test.html), which I didn’t know about. She said that for the CEA test normal is 2.5 and below. My original test was 45.something, but my current level is .8, so that’s pretty good. It doesn’t mean I’m cancer free by any means, but it’s indicative of things going in the right direction. So, after I met with her I got my herceptin and also Zometa. Total time in office: 4 hours.

Wednesday: Here’s where things get interesting. I had a Pre-Op appointment at the hospital. After checking in I met with a nurse who went over some medical history stuff, then checked my blood pressure. Said blood pressure was…200-something over 140. Yikes! She brought another nurse in to do it, so that she had another opinion, but she got the same thing. They sent me back to a waiting room to wiat to meet with the Anesthesiologist. After a few minutes the nurse came back to tell me that she spoke wiht the Anesthesiologist and that he wanted me to go to my doctor. They had called my doctor and I was to go right over there (she’s in one of the medical office buildings attached to the hospital), which I did. They took my BP there and it was a bit lower, but still 200+. They did an EKG, which TFDJ compared to the one they did in Aug when I had the second echocardiogram. The EKG was pretty much normal, so that was good. We also discussed the medications I’d gotten the day before. She didn’t seem to think so, but I’m pretty sure the bump in BP had to do with the triple dose of Herceptin, or maybe that along with the Zometa. My BP was normal the day before, so what else could have spiked it in just one day? Anyway, TFDJ decided that I should go on some meds to regulate the BP (because if we didn’t get it under control I wouldn’t be able to get the surgery on Friday). So, we went into her office and she tried to get some meds from the pharmacy for me. She wanted me to take them there and then and not have to drive to CVS in Sudbury. The NWH pharmacy wasn’t cooperative, though. She was going to ask some group of cardiologists if they had samples, but then thought to look through her own samples and found what she was looking for, so I was drugged right there in her office. She called the Anesthesiologist and asked him what meds he suggested (she was going to put me on two, but he said that one of them I would have to stop before the surgery, so there wouldn’t have even been time to start) and also what was the target BP he was looking for (160/100). So, when I was done at her office she sent me to the lab for some blood work, then back to the Pre-Op testing office to finish up there. I still had to meet with the Anesthesiologist. This was the same guy TFDJ was speaking to, so he knew the whole deal when I got back there. He had me sign some consents and told me some of what to expect on Friday. Time in hospital: 3 1/2 hours.

Funny thing: everyone kept asking me if I didn’t have a headache and were surprised to hear that I didn’t. I guess that if you have BP that high you usually feel it. TFDJ said that I was probably used to having high BP, so it didn’t really affect me. I don’t know; it’s never been that high before, so what’s to get used to? Anyway. At the end of the day I went back to see TFDJ to check to see if the BP was going down, but it wasn’t. Boo!

Thursday: I took the BP medicine Wed night and Thurs am. When I woke up I had a bit of a headache and it just blossomed over the day. I had an appointment to see TFDCh (The Fabulous Doctor Chang), who was covering for TFDJ (who was at a wedding), just to do a BP check. I asked her about the migraine and she said that usually the beta blockers do double duty and get rid of migraines. Well, that didn’t help much, because I did have one. To make it worse, I couldn’t take any Excedrine Migraine, which is what I would normally do, because it contains aspirin and you can’t take that in advance of surgery. I took some Tylenol later in the day, followed up by acupuncture, and felt better after that. But most importantly, the BP was down to 150/100. This is still considered high, but within range for the surgery. We’ll address the long term BP issues in a few weeks. So, it’s 11:46 right now and I just had a last snack because I can’t eat after midnight. I can’t drink anything after 5:30, so I have to be up on time in order to take my BP meds in the morning. I have to be at the hospital at 7:15. After I check in I’ll go over to the Breast Center where the wires will be put in, then I’ll go back to the Surgical Center and be surgerized. I have to stay over Friday night, so I’ll try to send an update on Saturday. By the way, I was writing this with only half a brain, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t paste this whole hog. I’d be embarassed! 

 ______________________

Well, I decided that after three mammograms in one day, Stacey’s threshold for embarassment would be pretty dang high, so there you have it!  

September 14, 2006: The News is Very Very Good!

Posted in Uncategorized by ohthatdeb on September 14, 2006

Everybody do a jig or a polka or the hora or whatever dance your people do (the WASP people don’t actually have a traditional dance, we just sort of nod approvingly…)

Because it’s called a Complete Response, and that’s what we’ve got here, kids!  According to Stacey’s surgeon, The Fabulous Dr. Cronin (and she is fabulous, and apparently quite the snappy dresser) about 10% of chemo patients actually get worse after chemo (oy vey), 20% show a slight improvement, 50% show a marked improvement, and 20% show a Complete Response.  And what exactly is a Complete Response?  I will tell you.  A Complete Response is when they do an MRI of an area that formerly showed cancerous tumors and this time…

THEY DON’T SEE ANYTHING AT ALL!

As TFDC said (after she said “this is so great, you really made my day!”) this is fantastic news for Stacey, not only because they couldn’t find anything right now, but because this is a really good predictor of future outcome.  However, she said, this puts her (TFDC) in quite a spot, because she does want to do a lumpectomy… but she’s not quite sure where to lumpectomize!

There’s a whole process to deciding that, and there is a whole schedule for the surgery, and a lot of other information, but there is also a baby screeching at me from her high chair, so for right now, I will leave you with this: Stacey is seriously kicking her some Cancer butt and the surgery is scheduled for Friday.

Everbody commence to whoopin’ and a’ hollerin’!

September 13, 2006: Race for the Cure Recap

Posted in Uncategorized by ohthatdeb on September 13, 2006

While we await any news that Stacey might be able to get from the surgeon at tomorrow’s visit (and remember, anything might happen, “Oh, gee, my bad, we forgot to take the lens cap off, could you come in again next week?”) I’d like to draw your attention to Sara’s comment below about the hugely successful Komen Rrace for the Cure.  Our personal racer Sara raked in $1820.00 her very own self… so far!  “So far” meaning that the donation pages are still open, friends and neighbors, so if you’ve got a stack of cash just sitting around doing nothing, you already know that Sara did a bang-up job!

By the by, Sara mentions that it is well worth the clickage to go to the photo site to see the pictures of the day.  I agree, even if only for my one very favorite picture.  It features two ladies of a certain age, probably survivors — I deduce this from the fact that we see them later in the pictures of the survivors parade, and from the fact that they are wearing pink bubble wigs.  They are also wearing pink feather boas, and a whole lot of other flashy, fancy stuff.  But the best part is that along with all this finery, one of the ladies is wearing a t-shirt that says… well, it’s kind of hard to tell, because her arm covers part of the second word.  The first word is “Cancer”.  And the second word ends in “ucks!”  I’m pretty sure it isn’t “Ducks”.

Stacey and I both know that all of you are sort of holding your breath, hoping that tomorrow will bring news, preferably good news.  One request, though, and I’ll balance it with a promise.  I promise that I will post anything Stacey finds out in good time here on the blog; please don’t call to ask.  The reason for the calls is very clear and very much appreciated, it’s the sheer volume of calls that gets to be tough to handle.  (Plus, either we won’t know anything yet, or we will, at which point I’ll write a post.)  Thank you!

September 7, 2006: Busy Week

Posted in Uncategorized by ohthatdeb on September 7, 2006

The chemo has ended (Hooray! Stacey is writing up a Medication Recap, y’know, just for grins) but there’s more fun to be had on this medical merry-go-round!

Yesterday, Stacey went in for her weekly Herceptin treatment and ended up getting a double scoop! Turns out that this is a gen-yoo-wine treatment option: a double shot every other week instead of one every week.  Huh, lemme see… 52 trips to the Cafe, or 26… (Jeopardy Theme plays in background)…
For today, Stacey had originally scheduled an appointment with the surgeon (a Fabulous surgeon? Time will tell…), having been told that she could schedule the recommended MRI for earlier this week.  When attempting to do just that, the MRI people said “Huh? No, we only do MRIs on Thursdays.”  Another example of wishing people would just talk to each other more often, but c’est la vie.

So, today was the MRI, always a lovely experience. The purpose of the MRI is to check on the size of the original tumor and metastases to see how well the chemotherapy and hormone treatments have worked. We probably won’t hear anything until Stacey finally meets with the potentially fabulous surgeon, next Thursday. However, the results could go back to TFDB tomorrow, and TFDB could call Stacey sooner than Thursday: we will definitely keep you posted.

And then, just because they thought she might feel lonely if she had a day without medical interventions, the docs invited Stacey back tomorrow for an ovarian ultrasound! Fun! TFDB recommended this because she noticed that on the first scans, Stacey’s ovaries looked enlarged.  She said that she’s pretty sure this was because Stacey was still nursing at the time, and that because they were both enlarged (rather than one being bigger than the other) she’s not terribly concerned, but better safe than sorry.  The down side of this is that ovarian ultrasounds are not done externally.  Any of you ladies who have had one will know what I mean; everyone else… well, they’re just really uncomfortable, why don’t you just stop the mental imaging right there.

OK, moving on!  And now, a little thing we like to call Brush with Greatness!  This is when we get to tell stories of knowing or meeting famous people.  And while I would love to regale you all with the with the one about how we once saw David Brenner walking in SoHo with a really tarty looking woman, today’s story is about your Brush with Greatness.

That’s right!  You, my friend, can tell the world that you supported Sara Schaeffner’s 2006 Race for the Cure. Yes, THAT Sara Schaeffner, the one featured in the Sudbury Town Crier!  Now that’s FAME, baby!  But you only get to tell the story if you support Sara’s Race for the Cure (which you know you have been meaning to get around to doing anyway…) The Race is on Sunday, September 10th, that’s only three days away (probably only two by the time you read this).  Not much time… but more than enough to click a mouse, right?  Right.