Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Other "C" Word- an update

This was me on Monday.

Sh*t. No that doesn't make me feel better.

F*ck. That one isn't releasing the anger I feel inside either.

Is there a curse word anywhere that can express how I feel?

NO, NO, NO!!

Monday, I saw my scan. One mutinous 13 millimeter spot in the middle lobe of my right lung glowered at me. It gave proof to everyone in the room that my cancer was growing, no longer responding to TDM-1. 
The image is not mine, but you get the idea.

But . . .

I had done my research.

"Could radiation be targeted at that one spot to push it back giving me more time on my current treatment since it is working everywhere else in my body?" I asked.

I knew the options left for me were far from being side-effect free. If I could avoid them, that is what I wanted.

My oncologist opened her eyes wider. "Stereotactic Radiotherapy. Yes, a possibility."

Hope was in the air.

This was me on Wednesday.

Walking out of the cancer hospital, the plastic bag I carried ripped exposing all I carried in it. My water bottle, soda, and sweater scattered on the concrete walkway. I picked it up and moved away toward the building's side in order to reorganize my belongings. As I knelt placing each item in a different bag my body shook, my hands reached upward and cupped my eyes. Exploding through my brain were thoughts of the words I had heard no longer than 10 minutes before. 

"I think there is a potential for a CURE."


I knew the statistics. I knew what I had been told and read about concerning people like me with stage IV breast cancer.

I said to the radiation oncologist, "Please don't say that to me".

He said, "I am not bull-shitting you. (Really--his real words!) I am positive and also a realist. I think this is possible. You have responded so well to treatment and are showing only one tumor. I say we essentially cut it out with radiation without actually cutting and continue treating you with TDM-1."

That is the plan I was hoping for.  (And, he said my oncologist was brilliant. I guess he didn't know the idea was mine.)

This guy was everything I could ever ask for in a doctor--energetic, positive, wanting to treat aggressively, willing to take chances when the opportunity to make a profound difference in someone's life presents itself. The description of a doctor's role to "comfort always, treat often, and cure sometimes" was being applied to me in every way.

I stood up, glanced around to find two women staring at me, checking to see if I needed help. Catching their eyes, I smiled and uttered, "I'm all right." I suspected they knew what I might be feeling, after all they were sitting outside a cancer hospital.

I found my car, unlocked it and sat in the driver's seat. My neurons were firing off through to the end of my fingers. I had to message my family. I wanted to tell the world what had happened. Someone is trying to save me.

While I waited for my heart to slow down and my senses to bring me back to reality, I confirmed to myself--I am a realist. Despite what he said, I knew this could all fall to pieces. But at this moment I want to believe what he said is true. For now, I am holding onto his words. The words I have been longing for.

The other "C" word, "cure", is the most beautiful word in the English language even if it only means living long enough to die of something else besides cancer.

Details to come. 


  1. When is there more to come about this update? What is this doctor's name so we can sing praises to the heavens that he is not bull-shitting you? Why didn't I hear you shouting it from the rooftops? I just got chills, I am crying and I am still praying this is all huge in the other "c" word for you! P.S. Lovely LOVELY photo of you posted from this week! You always make me smile and you are just as beautiful as ever!! xoxoxoxoxo

    1. Sandie, thank you for the compliment! It helps that the camera was far away.
      I will write about this experience as I go along. The doctor's name is Dr. Timothy Zaggar. I decided not to shout from the rooftops because I feel like what he said is a fairy tale. I want to believe otherwise. If I find in five years that I have no evidence of active disease then you will indeed find me yelling on many rooftops, my blog, Facebook, or any other social (or not) place I might find myself. Thank you for caring so much for me. So many people in my life have disappeared, but you still remain.

  2. Loreen, It is amazing. Little glimmers of hope can be huge. Thank you for letting me know what you thought.

  3. You ARE brilliant! I hope for the very best for you. Please keep us posted. XO

    1. Thanks, Jen. This is the first time my oncologist considered my idea better than the switching drug option she had presented. If not for the internet, I would not have known that cyber-knife could be an option. A PA once told me to stay off the internet. Not going to happen.