Shock and awwwww….

February 20, 2012

I have been pressured now and again to go ahead and post updates to this site for those I don’t get to see or speak to regularly, even if those posts just say, “I’m still doing fine.”Unfortunately, this is not an “I’m still doing fine” post.Last Tuesday afternoon (yes, Valentine’s Day) after about a week of having a considerable difficulty typing and writing, I went in to have a brain MRI. It revealed that my breast cancer, before being spared no mercy and eradicated, sent “seeds” to my brain. There, they lay in wait before receiving whatever trigger they required to “bloom”. There are four lesions, tumors, globs of hell, call them what you will measuring as large as 27mm and as small as 2mm. (Fortunately, steroids have helped greatly with the typing and writing issues.)

Everyone has asked, “How? I thought they said you were cured?” (And remember my answer? “They tell me I am as cancer free as you believe you are.”)

As it turns out, the blood-brain barrier, designed to protect the brain from poisons, infection, and all other forms of nastiness also prevents chemotherapy treatment from crossing. My oncologist suspects that, because the breast cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes at the time of my mastectomy, my other organs were seeded as well. The chemotherapy was hopefully effective everywhere else – I will have a bone scan and a CT scan on Monday (results on Tuesday) to confirm this although from his physical check, he suspects I am okay. (As an aside, there have been great advances made in treating metastatic breast cancer for all other areas except the brain. In fact, the increasing longevity rates in others areas have drawn attention to this fact. Thus, if anyone would like to spearhead a campaign to have the Pentagon release everything it has learned in its research of biological warfare and how to, short of a self-imposed daily concussion, effectively cross the blood-brain barrier – because you KNOW they have – I am quite sure there would be more than a few oncologists willing to get the security clearance necessary for access to it!)

As for my treatment, this morning I began a series of 12 weekday daily whole head radiation sessions. I will also at some point, probably next week, have an infusion port put back in and begin Herceptin infusions every three weeks. I have been told that I will lose my hair again (been there, done that) and to expect the fatigue to be much more debilitating this time around. Short-term memory will likely be permanently affected. That and I could become truly brain damaged (or, as my radiation oncologist so perfectly summed it up, “ga-ga”) so hopefully this won’t be the last coherent journal entry I write. If I remember correctly, there will be a follow-up MRI four to six weeks following radiation to determine its efficacy and more planning – or not? – to be done after.

As for going back to work, as you can all imagine the temptation to say f^*% it all is at an all-time high however the ability to say it is at an all-time low. Because of paperwork rigmarole, the earliest would be Wednesday, but I’d like to go ahead and get that port placed this week if I can. At some point in the near future however I will be back to pulling at least some ½ to ¾ days.

As a side note, for those that know about the insane home/biplane hanger building project I have been laboring over for years now, after realizing I could not die in the apartment I live in now (not even close to enough space for the Kumbaya circle that I am sure will gather one day), the plan has been simplified (and costs have been radically cut) but will require a ton of Make-A-Wish-type help – so prepare yourself. Between my mother (Rosa Glenn-Reilly, her extraordinary boyfriend (Max Regan, and my own undauntable boyfriend (Larry Aycock – I’ll be moving soon.

Finally, my apologies for the delay in getting the news out en masse until now. There were a number of family members to notify and that didn’t wrap up until last night. As you all know, social media today is hard to keep under wraps. Please feel free to forward this email or news to anyone else at this point that you believe would want or need to know.

In closing, thank you in advance for your patience, understanding, and that nauseous feeling you have that lets me know you care.

~ Tina





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