Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Albie Aware

Long time, no post. I have been due for my annual MRI and Mammogram since August 2013. Since I started a new job which doesn't offer Kaiser, I had to change to a high-deductible plan- meaning all Dr. visits and procedures are paid for out of pocket until the $3,100 dollar is reached. Since I don't have $3,100 sitting around for a rainy day, I decided I would try and save up in an HSA until I could afford it.

I finally let my new Onco know what the hold up was, and her team gave me the info for Albie Aware, a non-profit organization created specifically for screening women who are underinsured or have no insurance. I thought it was too good to be true, but sure enough they asked me some basic questions and I received a free of charge MRI from Capitol Imaging. As soon as I am finished with school, I plan on becoming very involved with these people and spreading their cause- this is the real kind of pink ribbon organization we should be walking, running and selling cookies for- without them, I would still be sitting around wondering if my boobs were ticking time bombs.

Unfortunately, MRI's are so great that they suck. They found "a 5 mm enhancing nodule in the central portion of the left breast" (my "good" boob). Since this has been pretty itchy for a while, my Dr. wanted a biopsy. Well, Albie paid for the scanning, but I had no choice but agree to the biopsy through Sutter- so I'll be waiting for the bill from that one. I had it done yesterday and it was just as fun as the stereo biopsy I had last time. They put me in and out of an MRI machine and used what sounded like a power drill for quite a while on my poor innocent boob. They even found a second suspicious spot so I guess I got a BOGO biopsy.

So after many nights of tossing and turning since the original scan- I'm happy to report I have a meaningless case of Interlobular Fibrosis AKA chronic inflammation. Another milestone achieved towards my 5 year goal of no detection.

In other news: I'll be done with school at the end of May, and my brother is getting married sometime after that! My little one just turned 4 which means Kindergarten research is starting soon. Big and happy moments to remind us what life is all about, and what we fight for.

If you have the means or know anyone looking for a cause to support, please think of Albie Aware, I am forever grateful for their charity.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Senate Health Committee - Jun 26th, 2013

Senate Health Committee - Jun 26th, 2013

About 20 minutes in a breast cancer survivor provides testimony of her support for affordable health care coverage. And then my friend Liz, also makes her compelling remarks.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

2 Years

A young woman went online to research her disease and discovered my blog a few months after I started it. She friended me online and we shared our experiences with breast cancer. She was working, married and 29 at the time with a 2 year old, so we had a lot in common. She finished treatment and made blog posts of her own regarding her struggles with self-image, energy, returning to work and of course the anxiety of recurrence. 

A year went by and I noticed I hadn't seen her FB posts, and discovered I must have made her edit list for some reason. After visiting her blog, I learned that her cancer had returned and decided to settle in her brain. Obviously we didn't have so much in common anymore. Her “whole” brain radiation caused seizures and blinding pain and her family was hurting. It was hard to read those posts. I just checked in on it again today and learned she passed away in April.

Her story is a painful reminder of why I went through what I did. Research today suggests that breast cancer may be over-treated, and those opinions scare me. If I hadn’t performed a self-exam 2 years ago, or decided to wait and see, I don’t want to think of what my prognosis might be. When my oncologist gave me my statistics during our first consultation, I read her print-out that treatment only improved my odds of survival from cancer by something like 7% based on my age, sub-type and other statistics. I remember thinking what most people would: why would anyone endure additional pain and suffering from chemo and radiation for an extra 7%? 2 years later, I can see now that is 7% more people who got to stick around longer to be alive, be happy, accomplish goals, create memories, love more, and do more. People have conflicting opinions of Angelina Jolie, but I understand her decision to do everything she could to reduce her risk. Everyone should have access to genetic testing as well as the access to preventative treatment. It should not be a privilege to be alive and healthy just because you can afford it. But that’s for another blog… 

So as of June 8th I am 2 years NED (no evidence of disease). But that does not mean cured, it only means I’m being watched, and so far… so good. My mom also celebrates another 10 years so far, and so far… so good. But it will always be a threat, and something to take seriously. So while I complain about my job, my bills, potty training, politics or the weather, it’s always a nice reminder that at least I get to be around to complain about life. 

Rest in peace Elisha.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Love Songs

Life update:

2 years ago, my results were in from my biopsy and I was officially in the IDC (invasive ductal carcinoma) club. But now I'm past that. I have an exciting new job as a contract analyst with a growing company and a 7 minute commute. My husband also started a great career as an account man in November and has weekends off! I have a year left of school, and I'll be done on my 35th birthday if I stick with it . I can also pull off a pretty sad excuse for a pony tail. As long as I get to be with Olivia, I really can't ask for more. I heard this song today and I realized that when I was a teenager, I related sappy songs and movies to my latest crush. Now all I do is think of my daughter and how much I love and miss her when we're apart. Unlike highschool, I'll love her like this forever. I am very blessed to be able to think about the future, and be with her when she has her first love, her first job, her first anything.

Amazing friends, a home, a family and halfway to my career goals. I'm happy, and my heart is full :) Very happy to have gotten this far!! Thank you for your support, love and encouragement.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Decoding Annie Parker

Coming soon is a movie based on the true story of a family's struggle with breast cancer and the discovery of the BCRA mutation. I did not test positive for the gene, but since my Mother did have pre-menopausal breast cancer, the Doctors still suspect a genetic link. There are thousands of genes yet to be discovered as a link to hereditary cancer. I hope Olivia never has to think about it.