"For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made

in the secret place, when I was woven together

in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my

unformed body; all the days ordained for me

were written in your book

before one of them came to be."

Psalm 139: 13-16

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Survival Advantage

   The countdown to chemo is on. Yesterday I met with the oncologist who gave us the green light for treatment beginning a week from today. We have been in information gathering mode to establish a final plan, and we are nearly done. The final pathology from the lymph nodes they removed returned with just one positive node. Last week I had scans of my bones, chest and abdomen for final staging and thank you God, they were all clear, leaving me at Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. The purpose of chemo now is to wipe out any cancer cells that may have spread via my lymphatic system. For my chemo regimen I will be on a clinical trial in which at the end of standard chemotherapy I may be randomized to receive a drug which has been used for a long time in HER-2 (a specific receptor on the cell) positive patients. Sparing you the super technical explanation (although my nerd cells are salivating- this would totally be fascinating if it weren't actually happening to me), my tumor cells were "HER-2 negative" by standard testing and by another test they are actually weakly positive. The purpose of the study is to see if there is a survival advantage to giving this drug routinely to patients with any HER-2 receptors on their tumor cells. I should know later this week if I am randomized to get the drug or not. Regardless, 6 cycles of standard chemo- one treatment every 3 weeks starts next week. Later today I get a "port" which is surgically implanted IV access into a central vein in my chest. For the rest of my life, my left arm is out of commission for any blood pressures, lab draws or IV's (due to the mastectomy and amount of lymph nodes the surgeon removed), so by using the port for the chemo process we can protect my right arm, and always have IV access.
   Things are still crazy around here. After the surgery I developed axillary web syndrome which limits range of motion in my left arm due to "cording" or hardening of the lymphatic vessels which were damaged during the surgery. The cord acts like a tether, and at about 70 degrees of outward motion laughs at me when I try and reach for anything. This limits my ability to drive safely (and blow dry my hair- good thing I won't have to worry about that soon, right??), so with all the testing I have been going through we have been very grateful for all the help driving the girls and I around!
  So life goes on. Addie finished preschool this week (sniff!) and is gearing up for her first dance recital. Meg is practicing her pulling-to-stand skills, and has been learning some sight words thanks to a very dedicated Grammie. Joe is taking care of nearly everything I can't, and does it all without complaining. (Honey, you deserve an award. I love you.) The lines between disbelief and reality are developing some clarity, and anxiety and fear can come easily if I let myself "go there". However, I am waking up each day choosing to focus on the hope I have in Christ. Your world may rock, the earth may shake under your feet, but your feet will land on the rock of ages when you fix your eyes on the everlasting. Study drugs or not, I have the ultimate survival advantage. Hope.

As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength

    and keeps my way secure.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;

    he causes me to stand on the heights.

He trains my hands for battle
Psalm 18: 31-34

Impossible not to smile back.
Getting a workout in!
Officially a kindergartner.

If anyone is interested in Arbonne Products, during the month of May, a friend of mine is graciously donating her commission to our family. Visit her page at http://www.facebook.com/arbonneCynthiaPadavick for more information or to place an order!


  1. A friend of mine referred me to your blog…ironically I live nearby and had my bilateral mastectomy the same day as you…I read your posts and have so many similar symptoms. I am HER 2 + and also begin my chemo and have a countdown…May 28th…So unclear what to expect and how to proceed on the journey and thought I'd reach out to you…if you have a Facebook page I could instant message, please post for me, I'd love to connect.

  2. Sarah, I'm so happy to know you received the small gift:) I've read your recent posts and it seems the doctors listened to my request to pick a young mother that was ready to fight! Praying and following your fight. I'm taking a break from fb, but if you have any questions I can help with, feel free to email me lstrongl@yahoo.com. Sounds like our cancer likes the same things...er and pr positive, her2- here too. XOXO, Laura