Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mayo Clinic Cancer Symposium

2nd annual Mayo Clinic Symposium was held at the Marriott just a mile or so away from the Phoenix Campus of Mayo Clinic.  I attended again this year, it was good to see my team of doctors there and ready to present information.

Dr. Northfelt, my med/oncologist and myself
Some of the information I learned from the meetings were new to me, some I already knew but this is the reason I like to attend these symposiums so that I can learn all I can about my disease and what the new techniques or statistics are.

I learned that 200,000 new cases per year are reported of breast cancer, the side effects of radiation are some that I am dealing with still. 

Lymphedema ✓
Lung inflammation
Fatigue ✓
Depression and anxiety ✓
Chest wall and or breast tenderness ✓
Breast swelling ✓
Skin burning

I only have 5 out of those 7 side effects, so feel blessed to not have to deal with lung inflammation or burning skin anymore.

I learned that Radical Mastectomy's no longer are performed and have not been performed on breast cancer patients since the 1970's.  They no longer perform these because the surgical procedures have been incredibly advanced since then.  In a radical mastectomy they used to have to take everything including the bone surrounding the area, this left women with horrible battle scars.  I had a bi-lateral mastectomy, both breasts were taken with all surrounding tissue but not bone, leaving surgeons the ability to reconstruct in an easier way, with much better results.

When someone has a lumpectomy they only have a 1.9% of recurrence
single mastectomy 1.1% recurrence and only 0/3% of cancer patients who have a lump in one breast will get another one in the other breast--in the words of Dr. Kreymerman "they are sisters, not twins"
BRCA 1 or 2 mutation only has 30% 10 year recurrence in the other breast.
Only 25% of breast cancer diagnosis are women under the age of 80.

Some great things to come are:
Cancer Vaccines
the studying of tumor clones
DCIS vaccines
Her2 antibodies

One bit of information I thought was interesting, 15% of patients who go through the cancer process will get Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  It's as if you have been through a war, the fear and anxiety of the return of the cancer or having to continue to deal with the side effects of cancer treatments can literally put ones body into traumatic stress.

With recurrent patients, 45% of women have treatable anxiety and depression within the 1st 3 months of 2nd diagnosis.  This is not a mountain to climb over,  but more of a terrain to walk through.

Did you know

55% stress over financial problems during treatment
46% cut back on food to able to pay their bills
6% lose their homes and have to relocate
50% are not comfortable talking about any of these symptoms, even to their doctors
50% of patients do not share all of what they are feeling or their fears with caregivers or family
history of abuse, physical, mental or sexual will increase the levels of anxiety and will not be
shared with doctors
most women post treatment will have low sex desire, vaginal dryness and feel embarrassed about asking or talking about it with their doctor.

I was not surprised by the fact that most women do not want to share a lot of intimate details with their doctors, but was reassured knowing I am one of them and it is normal.

I am still waiting to here back from Mayo about my ultra sound, and low white cell count--no news to report.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Faith Hill & Tim Mcgraw

In August I bought tickets to give to Eric for Christmas.  Tim McGraw and Faith Hill 2nd row seats were incredible, worth every penny.  We flew to Las Vegas (not my favorite place in the world) stayed at a very nice hotel, smoke free, no casino and off the strip it was perfect.
Here are a few of the pictures from that night

Tim waiting for Faith to get on Stage--right before this he shook my hand
and tipped his hat to me--woot woot

2nd row

Favorite part--he gave this man his guitar, Tim said
"any man who wears a pink shirt to a country concert
deserves to have my guitar"

She is beautiful

Live like you were dying--brought tears to my eyes

Monday, January 14, 2013

I'm 50 today

OK I said it out loud, I'm 50!

Today I am spending the day at Mayo Clinic,  before starting this story I just want to explain something about Mayo Clinic, every patient has to give their full name and birth date every appointment they have, so if you have 5 appointments in one day you would say it 5 times, my 1st appointment is for labs, Latisha is drawing my blood today, she called me Montoya a few times even after me repeating my full name and birthday,  I didn't have the heart to correct her however, after her 5th poke and no vein was working I wanted to yell "my name is MONYA it's my birthday, don't make me cry, just find the freakin vein"  6 pokes later she found it, sucked  out as many viles as she needed  and I was on my way to appointment number 2.

Welcome Back
As I wait in the large area with coughing sick people, I decided to put on my mask.  I heard a lady checking in saying "today is my 90th birthday" boy I hope I live to be 90, she was so cute and proud of the brown scarf her daughter had gotten her.  Looking around the room I realize I am most definitely the youngest patient in the room-- hallelujah --  the grandpa sitting in front me has the largest ears I think I have ever seen-- is it true they keep growing with age? If it is, he looks 90,  I think if makes it to 100 his ears will far out grow his head-- I snap back to reality when they announce my name. You know you're a frequent flyer with Mayo when the person announcing your name remembers you from previous appointments,  he even pronounces my name correctly, then proceeds to say "happy birthday, oh your 50 today" he said it as though it's amazing, WOW image that, you made it to 50. Well what did I expect from a 20 something year old?  looking at all the people in the waiting area, staring at me I realize I'm young in comparison ha ha so it could be worse. Good to know!

"Undress from the waste up" easy enough I wish I had a nickel for every time I've been given that line over the past couple years. The cute girl doing my ultrasound today, is super quiet, I tried to crack a few of my silly jokes, but could not get a smile or even a grin out of her, man she is all business today.  Ultrasound done now waiting for the biopsy. As I am writing this post for my blog my cell phone rings (definitely a NO NO at Mayo) I scramble to answer as fast as I can, I can feel the breathing down my neck as other patients and staff members stare at me as if to say "turn off your phone please" it felt like I was sitting in the Chapel at church and my cell phone goes off during the sacrament--seriously, they take cell phone use in the waiting area a complete and utter lack of courtesy--by the time I could get the phone and read it was Mayo Clinic calling, I almost wanted to laugh out loud--this is ironic--they were calling to tell me my white blood cell counts were really low and the doctor was cancelling my biopsy for today--I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad, it's my birthday and I really did'nt want to have a biopsy today, but I know I am going to worry until they finally do call me back for the inevitable biopsy that is going to happen, I am told to keep a mask on in crowded places or where I feel vulnerable to bacteria--are you kidding me? that pretty much describes everywhere I go and every person I come in contact with.
Dinner with Eric & Family

Surprise visit from Mike

Love of my girl life Jenster

The Family & Friends I love so much !!
My favorite part of my day was spending it with my family and close friends.  When I turned 20 I thought anyone over 30 was old, if you were in your 40's I could not relate to you at all, 50's you were just plain senile, turns out in my 20's I knew nothing, 30 is a baby, and 40's well the 40's was a blurr as I raised my teens and was diagnosed with cancer. 50, well being 50 means I am day closer to my 60's, not young, not old just in the middle trying to survive.  I have dear friends who visited with me and a family who surprised me with a dinner at BJ's then a cake from Nothin bundt Cakes-thanks Kaitlyn for organizing it all, I loved every second of it.  I loved seeing Jenny and visiting with her about pat birthdays when we thought we knew so much--but my favorite gift was a book my family gave me, they all wrote in it 50 things they love about me--it brought me to tears and made me laugh, I will treasure that book for the rest of my life--I love it.