Tuesday, October 31, 2006

One less thing

So we managed to avoid the biopsy… After long debate we understood that the biopsy is really unnecessary. Dr Gordon has agreed that we are just as well off simply trying the alternate hormone therapy and seeing how it goes as we would be if Rebecca had the biopsy… so why have the biopsy.

IF the hormone therapy doesn’t help, and Rebecca has to do chemo, then it might be worth doing the biopsy to check the efficacy of adding herceptin to the mix… but, as George W. like to say… we’ll blow up that bridge when we get to it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

next update

The interventional radiologists decided that they would not perform a biopsy. However, the pulmonary surgeons have said they can do a biopsy easily. They say that by going in down the throat with a camera they can get what is needed in a procedure that is no more risky than having a wisdom tooth pulled. They say that they do 3 of these procedures a day.

Rebecca will probably be scheduled for the biopsy later this week or early next. I’ll let you know when I know.

Meanwhile, Rebecca has started the journey into alternate ways of addressing the cancer. She has started by radically evaluating her diet. She is currently on an exclusion diet where she has cut out a lot of food from her diet. Next week she will start reintroducing these foods and monitoring how she feels with the addition of each.

We have also been getting lots of information about alternate cures for cancer. The volume of testimonials of people being cured from cancers that doctors say can’t be treated is overwhelming and can’t be ignored. Given that Rebecca’s doctor has said ‘this isn’t curable’ it seems that relying on conventional medicine alone at this point would be pretty dumb. Now we are researching to which options we should try first. Rebecca is confidant that she WILL beat this.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Oncolgy Update

So I will start with the facts as I have understood them so far. I will try to fight the opposing urges to either paint too rosy a picture or, on the other hand, to sink into morose exclamations of gloom.

Dr Gordon showed us Rebecca’s CT scan on his computer. There were several small ‘lumps’ in her lung that are still very small, although apparently larger than last time. Dr Gordon said that these are not what worry him. He then showed us some lymph nodes in the area in front of, and between, the lungs that are inflamed that either were not on the last scan or have grown since the last scan; these, he said, worry him. Coupled with the fact that blood work done last week showed highly elevated ‘tumor markers’ leads him to be ‘sure’ that this is a reoccurrence of the breast cancer. The bone scan came back clear.

The doctor made it clear that ‘recurrent breast cancer is not a curable disease’ BUT that you can live a long time, with good quality of life, while undergoing treatment.

The next step is the hope that the interventional radiologist will say that he can biopsy one of the lymph nodes. The reason that the doctor wants the biopsy is not to check if this is breast cancer or not but rather to tell some characteristics of it. Rebecca’s original cancer was HER2 negative and Estrogen Receptor Positive. A recurrence after such a long time may or may not have the same characteristics. If Rebecca’s cancer is still hormone receptor positive then Dr Gordon feels we can try a course of hormone therapy to treat it. If it is not hormone receptor positive then there is no point going down that path and he would recommend going to a chemo therapy. If the cancer is now HER2 positive then they could add something to the chemo that would ‘help’.

All of this depends on whether a biopsy is possible. Because of where the involved nodes are they are hard to get to; one is nestled up against her heart and another is up against an actuary leading from the heart. The third involved node ‘may’ be far enough out in the open that they think they can get to it safely.

If they decide that they can’t biopsy then Dr Gordon recommends starting a course of hormone treatment and then monitoring the tumor markers and the size of the nodes to see if it effective. Because we have caught this very early he is comfortable ‘trying’ this less aggressive treatment first to see if it works.

If the hormone treatment is effective, and Rebecca tends to be very receptive to treatment, he said this treatment could be effective in keeping this in check for years. This is great as these drugs are not meant to have large side effects. Rebecca did try one of these in the past it didn’t go that well but we aren’t sure if those ‘side effects’ weren’t actually just a flue that was going around at the time.

If the hormone treatment proves ineffective then it’s time to consider chemo.

Rebecca is upbeat as always; she acknowledges that western medicine says that they can’t cure this. She is going to use the western medicine to buy her time she needs to find the healing tradition that can cure it. In the last week we have spent a day with a Tibetan Lama, gone to synagogue and spent an evening with some shamanic spirit channelers (one of whom brought forward the spirit of Hiawatha). It might cure her, it might not, but it looks like it’s going to be an entertaining journey… I’ll keep posting here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Rebecca had a bone scan today... First she had to go be injected with some nasty stuff, then she left for a few hours and went back for the scan. I joined her for the second half. The radiology tech is a strange guy! He tries to be friendly but has NO social skills, it's kind of painful. One thing about this whole cancer thing... It sure brings into focus how much I love being with, and around, Rebecca; even if we are just hanging out in a doctors waiting room.

The scan results should be ready for our meeting with Gordon on Monday.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nothing to report

There’s not really much to say at this point. Rebecca will be having a bone scan on Thursday and the results should be available for her appointment with Gordon on Monday. I’ll let you know what Gordon has to say on Monday night.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Here we go again

Well, we talked with Kelly and she pretty much said that we are talking about a metastasis on the right lung. The interventional radiologist said he may be able to attempt a biopsy. It sounds though like they are sure enough about what this is that they might just say, start Chemo and then watch for it to shrink on the ct scans. This is probably all premature though as Dr. Gordon, Rebecca’s oncologist, is on vacation and will not be able to weigh in until the week after next. It’s him that is going to be able to lay out the options for us the best.

I feel like I’ve been preparing for this for the last 5 years so I’m not as rocked as I could be. I might also just be in shock and not letting the impact really hit me yet. I can’t really get my head around what this all means.


It's Saturday afternoon now. I called Kelly last night and she said she would get some information for us within 24 hours. She called back about an hour ago, at about 2:00, saying that she hasn't forgotten us but she is in surgery and she will call later when she has had a chance to have her radiologist have a look at the films.

Meanwhile we decided to talk to the kids about why we are acting stressed out. We told them, Ravi looked sad and Gideon didn't really get it. Later I talked with Ravi about the fact that people might ask if her mom is going to die. I told her that people used to always die of cancer but that isn't true any more. I implied that everything would be OK, I hope it's true. I'm glad I brought it up as her response was, "yup, I thought people always die of cancer".

Friday, October 13, 2006

First of Few

With any luck I will write in this blog a couple of times and will stop because there is nothing worth writing. If I do write it will be about what’s going on with Rebecca, the kids and I while we get an understanding of what is going on with Rebecca’s health.

It’s is Friday afternoon, October 13th, yes, Friday the 13th.

Three months ago Rebecca had PET and CAT scans as we have been concerned about some swelling in her arm that we couldn’t explain. There was nothing found that could be attributed to the arm problem but an ‘anomaly’ was found in her chest area described as ‘under the zyphoid process’. After briefly discussing a surgical biopsy it was decided that ‘it was probably nothing’ and that we should just wait three months and have another set of scans. If the ‘thing’ was bigger it would be bad, but probably it would be gone.

Earlier this week Rebecca went in for her follow up scan. We had thoroughly convinced ourselves that there was nothing wrong so I went, as scheduled, on a business trip to New York on Thursday (yesterday).

I’d been in New York for a couple of hours when I got a call from Rebecca… Kaiser had called and said; “The spot on the lung seems to have grown and where there was previously one node inflamed under the zyphoid process there now seems to be several”

They never said anything about anything on the lung first time round… so is this all just a clerical error and Rebecca just got someone else’s results? Wouldn’t that be nice.

So I jump on a plane and returned from NY and here I am.

We know way too little at this point. The implication is presumably that she has metastastic breast cancer on her lung. We have NO idea what that might mean, how bad that might be, what the treatments might be, etc. It doesn’t even seem like we should go too far down thinking about that option until we actually know if that’s what the doctors are saying. They may be talking plura, it may be something else altogether.

So now it’s the weekend and we get to wait till we can start talking to the doctors again next week. I might try to call Kelly, Rebecca’s surgeon, right now.

We haven’t told the kids anything… what would we say? We aren’t telling anyone really, not until we know more, but people can catch-up by reading this if they want.