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Author:  susie g
E-mail:  not available
Date:  10/31/2004 5:07:25 PM
Subject:  Prayer Porchers
Message:  Several Months ago, I asked for your prayers for my good friend Sue Schwartz. She and I graduated from High school together. SHe was diagnoised with stage 4 breast cnacer. Here is a report from her.. and wanted to post it here. Ya'll, we've done it again it seems. I know this direct line we have to the Heavens is the best there is. Thank you for all you are and all your do.. Here is Sue's report.
Hello to all my friends and family --

First of all I apologize for the length of time between my messages. Even though I have announced my intention to retire, my company still seems to need me more than full time. So while I fight the side effects of the chemotherapy, I still am trying to help out with company work as much as possible, and those two endeavors seem to sap all my energy.

So on to the GREAT NEWS. Four weeks ago (after four rounds of Taxotere and Xelota chemotherapy and 12 weeks of extreme discomfort) I had another mammogram and ultrasound so that the doctors could assess my reaction to the chemo drugs. The technicians were unable to find any evidence of my four tumors, so they called in the head of radiology at MD Anderson. He confirmed that three of the four tumors had disappeared completely while the fourth one seemed to be only a "halo" (his choice of words, not mine...but I liked the divine intervention sound of it) around one of the metallic markers they had inserted into each tumor before starting the chemo treatments to mark the locations. He also spent a great deal of time looking at the lymph nodes under my arm and in the center of my chest. Again, he found no evidence of cancerous activity in any of the nodes. Needless to say, this 58-year-old just lay on the examining table and cried tears of joy.

So what does this mean? The good news is that it means I have had almost complete clinical response to the chemotherapy. My chance of recurrence has gone way down, my chance of the cancer spreading to other sites has gone way down, and my long term prognosis has gone way up. This is what we had all hoped and prayed for.

My short-term treatment plan has not changed, however. I still must finish all the chemo treatments (I had one the day after the mammogram and ultrasound tests, one on October 21 and I have two more to go...last one is Dec. 2). In late December or early January I will undergo an "exploratory biopsy surgery" where they will take out the four metal tumor markers and some tissue around each of these markers. They will biopsy this tissue looking for residual cancerous cells. Clean tissue is what we are hoping for. During this operation they also will shoot tracers into the breast tissue and watch as it travels to the "sentinel" lymph nodes. They will remove those nodes and biopsy them for cancerous cells. If the sentinel nodes are clear, then we will really celebrate. If not, the surgeon will continue to remove lymph nodes until they either reach clean nodes or they have removed them all. Further treatment (mastectomy, radiation, etc.) will depend on the results of this exploratory surgery, but all the doctors are much more upbeat as a result of my chemotherapy response.

On the down side, I continue to grow weaker with each chemo treatment, but that is to be expected. I try to walk on the treadmill on the days I have the strength and not too much nausea. I usually do "telecommuting" work for the company 4 - 6 hours per day. I have to take a nap most afternoons (which I enjoy immensely...what a luxury) and I still am enjoying the old movies. I am on a new chemo regime (FEC ... don't ask me what it stands for), but I only take it once every 3 weeks rather than every day for 2 weeks, then off a week. I thought this new regime would mean that I would have only 1 "bad" week and then 2 "good" weeks, but that hasn't been the case so far. Maybe it will get better as I get used to the side effects of the new drugs (nausea, extreme fatigue, tingling hands and feet, painful tongue, no tastebuds (everything has a metallic taste)). Before you think this might be a great diet plan, you should know that most women gain 20 pounds while undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer...there is no justice.

Even with all the unpleasant side effects, I remain very upbeat. I attribute that directly to all of you. Your emails, cards, calls, etc. have been so helpful to me. I don't try to get out much (I'm conserving all my energy to fight this dragon), and being at home by myself for 12+ hours per day can get really lonely for one so used to a full office environment. I look forward to every time I hear from each of you. Don't think your news may not be interesting or important enough to share. What is important to me is the sharing!!!

I will try to keep you posted as I progress down this path. Please keep the thoughts and prayers coming my way. With your help I plan to slay this dragon.

My love to you and your families,

 Prayer Porchers by susie g at 10/31/2004 5:07:25 PM
 Re: Prayer Porchers by Alaska Shirley at 10/31/2004 7:04:42 PM
 Re: Prayer Porchers by Judy C  at 10/31/2004 8:01:49 PM
 Re: Prayer Porchers by Mike C  at 11/1/2004 3:55:26 PM
 Re: Prayer Porchers by Bill Smith at 10/31/2004 9:53:25 PM
 Re: Prayer Porchers by Jackie at 11/1/2004 2:09:00 AM
 Re: Prayer Porchers by susie g at 11/2/2004 4:54:55 AM