Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hog Haven Report

I feel like a groundhog coming out of its hole in the Spring, only instead of being Punxsutawney Phil, I’m Cancertawney Cher, and instead of seeing my shadow, I see lots of caring bloggers, friends, and relatives…and I love you all.

So here, in straight form, is my diagnosis and progress report:

I have triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma stage IIb (which means the primary milk duct tumor is between two and five centimeters and that there is malignant lymph gland involvement) with some DCIS tumors (which means cancer has not spread beyond the original duct). All are grade 3 (aggressive).

Triple negative, or TN for short, means the cancer does not have hormone receptors to estrogen and progesterone, nor HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptors). That boils down to the fact that this cancer will not respond to maintenance therapies such as Tamoxifen, Femara, or Herceptin, but it should respond well to chemotherapy and radiation.

TN is an aggressive and prolific cancer, discovered about a decade ago and only studied as a breast cancer subtype in its own right in the last three or four years. Only 10-20% of all breast cancers fall into this category. Profiles show a high prevalence of TN among young, African descent women who are BRCA1 and BRCA2 positive. So much for statistics since I am older, Caucasian, and BRCA1 and BRCA2 negative!

My chemo doctor (not to be confused with the surgeon shown on an earlier post), who is (and I swear this is true) a beautiful sixteen and a half year old girl with a waist the size of my wrist and not any taller than my left cancerous boob, has put me on a chemo diet of Taxol every Friday for twelve weeks, then FAC (I won’t even bother telling you the long words behind those letters) every three weeks for three months.

After those seven months of chemo I’ll have one month of freedom before surgery to remove said boobs. Surgery will be followed up by weeks of radiation. Young, sexy doc feels she has to throw everything except the kitchen sink at this TN the first time around since it has a high metastasis rate and no after treatment as I already said. TN, though, is a hot bed in the research department and I feel five years will make a big difference in the treatment of this tricky breast cancer.

Stay tuned next week to see the chemo haircut my children plan on giving me this Sunday. Be afraid. Very afraid.


  1. You're letting your kids cut your hair? You're a brave woman! I'll be praying extra for you on Fridays. Maybe you can come to my 'Party in Pink' with your new hairdo on Oct. 7th. It's for my've got one of those coming up too, don't you?

    Keep peeking out of that hole every once in a while so we know you're ok!

  2. I can't wait to see your new haircut! I bet you are going to be cuter than that little rodent! It is good to hear from you and that smart-ass sense of humor! Thinking of you, Angie

  3. Cher, thanks so much for the update. I will continue to pray that all goes well with you. I'm also really looking forward to getting to see you at the Blog Party.

  4. My sister came to visit with me while I was doing chemo. One day I was lying in her bed got up went to the living room and she says it already looks like you lost more hair. A while goes by and she shreeks out my name, she says, I FOUND YOU HAIR, YOU LEFT IT ON MY PILLOW! After that I had her cut my hair off but not before I was leaving hair all over the place at work! oh, yes, fun times!

    Thinking of you, Bonnie

  5. She lives. She breathes. She types. Yee haw in true Texas style! I thank you for the lowdown and I, too, will step up the prayers for you on Fridays. Would you like us to bring all of our leftover wigs to the blog party? Or hats? Or scarfs? Or do you expect us to all shave our heads?

    I am really glad to hear that you have an aggressive physician. This seems like a good thing to me. Even if she -is- 16 and a half.

    Don't be a stranger! ~Mindy

  6. You are one hell of a woman, seriously! I like the young doc's, they always seem to be on top of the newest technology. You know there are a bunch of us out here thinking of you, saying prayers for you, and laughing and crying with you! That's what friends are for. Take care!

  7. So they are graduating doctors that young now huh? Well that explains a lot! ;)
    I'm happy to hear she has a set plan for more guessing now girl. Keep those cowgirl boots on walk straight through that stinky stuff so you can keep us smiling for YEARS AND YEARS to come!
    We're always here waiting for ya!!!!
    everything vintage

    ps....I see why you love your must keep him because he makes you laugh! If you ever get tired of him...send him over! ;)

  8. You know, you kinda look like that groundhog...around the eyes? I mean, it's a cute groundhog, right?

    Hang in, hang on. Those young docs are good and smart.

  9. TW...wish I could give you a hug right now. Please know that I HAVE been thinking and praying for you and your family. I am wishing away the cancer and hoping the chemical cocktail hours will work! ox

  10. that was from me, lulu! I know Lauri sends her best wishes as well....

  11. Cher, I have been "following" your blog via my mom's blog Goin' Round in Circle's for quite sometime, but never actually became a true follower till now. I have a good friend who just got diagnosed with testicular cancer that has metastasized to his lungs and he is going through agressive chemo. I want you to know that I read your blog and I am thinking about you and sending positive vibes your way. I am also a Texas woman even though I have transplanted to Colorado, and I know that we are strong women. You can beat this thing. You seem like one feisty gal and I'm pulling for you!

  12. Not sure if I've posted before, but I've certainly been watching for an update. From a fellow Texas, best wishes.

    Today, I was talking with my students about a point made in the book we're studying: "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens." I was telling them that, when we live our lives according to our values and goals, it's easier to keep our emotional banks full. If we live reacting simply on emotion, our banks can run empty.

    Then, I came here and was reminded of the strong, gracious, and brave women that we Texas Gals are! That means YOU.

    Be blessed, and keep us informed. We're pulling for you.

  13. Thanks for the detailed report. And thanks for pretending that we're smart enough to understand all that. :-)

    We're in your corner and praying for you.

  14. one year lurker coming out of the shadows to Wish you luck, love and health! I love your trooper Bob stories...I always pass them around to the girls in my office!

    Laura in Dallas

  15. Hey Cher, Gladys told me to stop by!

    Sorry about your diagnoses. I am a Cancer (Kidney) myself.

    Keep a positive attitude- that's 1/2 the battle!


  16. Hello, Cher! Nice to meet you. Gladys has sent you a whole new bunch of wacky friends over from Virtual Girls Nite Out. You can smack her later. heehee
    You hang in there. I can tell you are a strong woman and that you are going to beat this.
    I will keep you in my prayers.

  17. My Lord, did they give you notes or what? Don't you be telling me you memorized all that. I'm with David, thanks for pretending we're that smart! Thank God for smart 16 year old Doctors. She sounds like she's up on her game.
    Just read all the comments. Cher, I know it makes you feel good knowing that many really nice folks, (and more) care a whole bunch about you! We are all praying and sending you good positive thoughts/wishes. Let the blog party begin!

  18. Hi...I have a friend with breast cancer stage 4. She is strong and positive like you. My father passed 2 yrs ago from lung cancer..Stand strong..

    Austin transplant


  19. Hey, Cher,

    You are indeed a brave woman to let the children cut your hair! Brave and determined to face cancer and win. You inspire me.

    "...may God hold you in the palm of his hand."

  20. came by from PJ's blog....I admire your courage,strength and sense of humor!! I will pray for you and send positive karma toward you..every day. I will carry you close to my heart.


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