Saturday, January 29, 2011

Watch out Octomom

The surgery today went really well for the egg retrieval.  After about three weeks of treatments they were able to harvest 25 total eggs.  When we left the hospital the embryologist thought there were 18 eggs that were of the quality they needed to freeze.  This evening they called and said that changed after we left and they were only able to freeze 14 of those.  But I am still thrilled with that.  Even if I never have to use those eggs, it is amazing piece of mind that they are there.  I am so glad I did it, it was a rough last week but completely worth it. 
I also have to thank the Livestrong organization for their support.  Lance Armstrong's ex-wife started a foundation called Fertile Hope or Sharing Hope that is a division of the Livestrong organization.  Sharing Hope is an initiative dedicated to providing reproductive information, support and hope to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.  Sharing Hope covered almost half of the costs of my medications, treatments, and surgery.  The staff of Sharing Hope and Texas Fertility Center were amazing during the entire process. 
Now I have a couple of days to recover before another surgery on Tuesday to insert the port.  Will update more after that.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shots and tears and tears and shots....

I was really hoping that I would be getting in bed early tonight so I would be ready for an early surgery tomorrow morning to retrieve these eggs, but that is not happening.  Those little suckers decided to slow down a little so the surgery got moved from tomorrow to Saturday.  One day doesn't seem like that big of deal, but right now changes to my schedule really throw me for a loop.  I have had a rough time the past few days.  This process has taken its toll.  I have to give to myself three shots a day, which I have gotten really good at, I have to say, but all of the hormones have made me an emotional wreck.  I cannot imagine how people with fertility problems go though this over and over again.  I usually think I am pretty strong but this has kicked my butt.
But thankfully on Saturday this process will be over and I can move on to the next stop on the cancer journey - chemotherapy!  Tuesday I will have another surgery to get the port inserted.  The port is a small medical appliance that is inserted in the upper chest, just below the collar bone.  The port is what they will administer the chemo through.  Should be a relatively easy surgery and then Friday will be the first round of chemo.  My friend Shashon is coming in town to be with me for this first round, it will be great to have her here.
I will update more after Saturday's surgery.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Back to Reality

Sorry it has taken me so long to update, there has not been a whole lot going on to write about but that's all about to change.  I had a great trip to Steamboat and thought that I would be depressed when I got back but I really felt just the opposite.  I think I am tired of talking about what is going to happen, I am just ready to get on with it. 
Since I got back home, I have been going through fertility treatments in preparation for the egg retrieval that will happen next week, probably next Friday or Saturday.  It has been a very emotional process, the hormones have made me a little bit of a basket case, along with the reality of it all.  I have mastered the art of giving myself shots, which I never imagined I could do.  The doctor says everything looks good so far, I have eight follicles kicking - woo hoo! I have another sonogram Sunday morning and at that time we will know which day the surgery will be.  After this egg retrieval is complete it looks like this will be a 6-7 month journey.
Chemo will start Friday, Feb 4th  and will continue every 3 weeks for 6 sessions.  After chemo is done I will recover and prepare for surgery which should be around 3 weeks later.  Hopefully the chemo will melt the tumor and make the surgery easier.  They will remove the lump or what is left of it and the lymph nodes that are affected.  At this point we know that there is one lymph node that will be removed but they may have to remove others when they actually get in there.
After surgery I will have radiation to "mop up" anything that may have been missed.  Radiation is everyday Mon-Friday for 6-7 weeks.  So hopefully I will be done and cancer-free by football season :)  I am always excited about football season but this year is a whole new story. 
So I should be updating more frequently now as we get this ball rolling.  Thanks for following my journey and I hope you all have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Looking forward to 2011? Hmmmm not so much

As the new year starts I cannot really say I am looking forward to 2011, I am however looking forward to 2012.  Never in my life have a I wanted a year to fly by like I want this year to.  I will not mind being a year older, I am encouraging Father Time to go ahead and push the fast forward button to New Year's 2012. 
I have had a wonderful holiday.  I spent Christmas with my family in Florida and am looking forward to leaving for Steamboat on Thursday.  This time with family and friends is exactly what I need to gear me up for the challenges ahead of me.
Last week I was able to make a number of decisions that put a tentative timeline into place.  I made my final decision on an oncologist, surgeon, and radiation oncologist.  I will be using Dr Hellerstedt, the same oncologist that my friend Beth used; Beth is now in remission :-).  I have also chosen Dr Jane Nelson as my surgeon.  Both Hellerstedt and Nelson focus specifically on breast cancer, and come highly recommended, so I feel like I am in the best hands possible.
I have also met with a fertility doctor to explore freezing my eggs.  Since my cancer is estrogen driven (supposedly the best kind of breast cancer to have) they will need to lower my estrogen levels and shut down my ovaries for 5 -10 years.  Freezing eggs is not 100% guaranteed but at this point it is serving as an insurance policy if I ever want to have little Natalies running around, Lord help us all :)  There is a distinct possibility that I could go into remission after a couple of years and come off the estrogen blocker for a year or so and have a baby the old fashioned way but since there are no guarantees I have decided to freeze some eggs just to be safe.
This decision has caused controversy with some of my family and friends.  Some feel we should not delay treatment (this really only causes about a 10 to 14 day delay) and others feel it is "playing God" and not morally right.  I have prayed and prayed about this and I am completely comfortable with my decision.  My oncologist is fine with the delay, she would not be as comfortable if it takes two to three months to harvest the eggs,  but the 10-14 day delay is not a concern to her.  I am only willing to give it one shot, if they are not able to harvest on the first try I will not try again.
In regards to "playing God" I feel like these harvested eggs will only become usable and turn into to a little baby or babies if it is God's Will.  If I am able to get pregnant the old fashioned way, in a couple of years, that too will be God's Will. 
So on to the treatment timeline.  Right now we should start chemo around the last week of January.  I am looking at six rounds of chemo administered once every two or three weeks.  After chemo I will recover for three weeks before surgery.  Hopefully the chemo will melt the tumor and make surgery much easier. After surgery I will recover for another three weeks before starting radiation.  Radiation will be everyday (Mon-Fri) for six to seven weeks.  So it looks like I should be done by mid-July if all goes according to planned.  So bring it on 2011 I am ready for you! 
Thanks again for all your support and prayers I am truly blessed to have each and everyone of you in my life.