The Cancer Chronicle

Seriously, after having a double mastectomy you start feeling a little secure thinking you are finally free and clear. Even though that surgery was at the behest of a recurrence of the breast cancer I’d been diagnosed with six years previously, I truly was surprised when the ophthalmologist broke the news to us – you have cancer in your eyes.

I’ll recap for those who haven’t read the post on Facebook. The rest of you feel free to skip ahead…

July 11, 2019 – edited for brevity.

The third week of May I began suffering terrible migraines and had a shadow in my right eye. I ended up at the retina specialist thinking I had a torn retina. After a full day of angioplasty, ultrasound and many many photos, it turns out I have lesions in both of my eyes. Tiny little tumors, specifically, metastatic breast cancer.

An MRI and a PET scan later reveal many (13?) small lesions (cancer) on bones in my shoulders, in lymph nodes under my collar bone and breast bone, on four vertebrae, and on my pelvis and femur, besides the lesions in both my eyes.

I am fortunate in that I have the best medical institutions at my disposal. I am now, thanks to Jen, under the care of a team of doctors at Mass General Hospital.

Do not believe the appalling statistics concerning MBC. I am not a statistic and they do not necessarily relate to me, or my prognosis. Please read Jay Gould’s essay “The Median Isn’t the Message,” which sums up my attitude on that subject.

No worries, I’m not going anywhere just yet.

July 15, 2019

That catches you up to this weekend’s turn of events. I began experiencing a constricting ball of pressure in my mid-back. After exploring the usually litany of ailments I suffer from, I came to the conclusion that the pain must be from one of the tumors.

Today’s visit with my radiology oncologist, Dr. Rachel Jimenez, confirmed as much. She has arranged for me to have a short course of radiation, five doses. I’ll be going to MGH Danvers, thankfully avoiding the drive to Boston for those six visits.

My medical oncologist, Dr. Dejan Juric wants to start meds asap. We are awaiting blood biopsy results. The clinical trial drug will have to wait til I have bone biopsy.

I’m not sure if it is being put off until I have the radiation or not, but we are still awaiting a biopsy app’t. They will be going in to my hip for that one. They need to type my tumor (previously ER+, HER2-) in case it has changed/mutated and they need to do a further study for a new receptor panel.

The two drugs I know I’ll be taking are Fulvestrant (Faslodex) which is a medication that blocks and damages estrogen receptors that is sometimes used in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. And CDK 4/6 inhibitor palbociclib (Ibrance). I’ll tell you about the third clinical trial drug when I find out if I can take it. I’ll write more about the drugs when I start them.

I also have an app’t with MGH’s oncology ophthalmologist to check in and get him on my team. For now, I don’t need any other treatment but the hormone regime for my eyes.

Basically, I have an incurable disease that we’ll treat as a chronic illness. As each symptom appears, it will be evaluated and treated. Currently, I have breast cancer tumors that will be treated with a cocktail of drugs that could put me in to remission, or partial remission or in the least, halts the progression. The radiation will kill the lesion causing me pain.

Then we wait.

Our Relay for Life Team

My apologies. It’s been way too long since I’ve posted but I’m sure you’ll understand. I’ve been in a frenzy writing a cookbook for our Relay for Life team the Marvelous Purple Spuds.  My daughter decided to raise funds for the American Cancer Society, and enlisted her parents as team mates, go figure.

Initially, I was stumped as to how to raise money, but after a little brainstorming, I finally figured out what I could do. I was surrounded by cookbooks planning a birthday celebration for friends which would take place over the course of three days. Lightbulb flash! I can cook, and plan menus. I’ll write a cookbook, my husband, who works in printing, will design and print it. I am a genius. Bonus, I can use the party-goers as guinea pigs!

I’ve been making brunch for twenty years, it is my forte, so a brunch cookbook seemed doable. I had plenty of recipes that I’ve doing for years, already tried and true meals I felt comfortable utilizing. I could have just thrown all those in the book and been done with it, but no. I had to have an angle, a theme beyond brunch, something to design around.

But wait. The insecure writer in me reared her ugly head and taunted me to justify my offering up a cookbook as I have no formal culinary training. Doubt began to creep in. Who are am I to write cookbook? Then I began recalling how many times a year I actual make brunch, how many years I’ve been doing it, and who my audience is. My friends, my family, my neighbors, they’ve all been eating my food for years and they keep coming back for more. Yes, darn-it, I have enough experience and knowledge to back this up. If I write it, they will buy it.

The final concept, Brunch-a-Month: A Year of Menus and Recipes. WooHoo. Let’s do this thing!

March 23rd I began entering the recipes, researching sources, rewriting every recipe, deciding which ones needed testing or retesting, and imagining what the final menus would look like. Ack, the printer gave me deadline of May 17th. What? I can’t write a cookbook in 8 weeks.
Guess again, mon frere.  Although I didn’t quite have everything ready for him, and he’s still waiting for the Introduction, I did have the majority of it finished by the deadline. I have a few more tweaks to make on two recipes I’ll be making for friends this weekend. But, mostly it is done.

Paul’s done a beautiful job on the interior and cover. Though it is a fundraiser, and the quality isn’t expected to be that high, we have a reputation to uphold and we both hate the idea of putting something out there that someone wouldn’t be proud to own, or give as a gift.

I’ve been considering posting an ebook version for those who don’t live in our area.  Maybe they can make a donation through me to The American Cancer Society, and download it. Just speculating.

And I did buy the domain for what purpose I’m not sure as yet. Could be just for fundraising. I’ve never seriously considered being a food blogger. But now it feels like an endeavor I could meet the challenge of. Of course does the world need another food blog? Could I generate enough interest? Can I learn enough about photography to make it worth while? Putting that line of inquiry away for now.

Whew. Now that you know what I’ve been up to, I hope you’ll forgive me the lengthy pause between posts. So much has happened since the last one. I’m sure you can imagine, I might have something to say about the bombing of my hometown Boston. I did start a post about it but it was too close to my heart to do justice to, too raw to express. I needed perspective only time can give you. I’ll get back to it soon. And I’ll have a review of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to self-publish a book by Guy Kawasaki.

Cheers for now!

I am a cancer survivor. Check out my Relay for Life page.