Fall 2009: Jake and Nancy learned that Nancy's breast cancer was stage four. Winter 2013: They are still fighting. This is a gathering place to follow their story, offer support, love and prayers... to be by their side.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving report from Nancy

After 8 weeks straight of chemo, I earned a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday. It has been nice to relax with family/friends this holiday and get a break from treatment. My brother is in town visiting and we've been having a great time hanging out, cooking, and playing games. I continue to do pretty well as long as I take it easy and don't try to do too much. When I get tired, my back pain flares up and reminds me I still have a long way to go on this chemo. The current plan is to keep me on the combination of weekly Abraxane, every-other-week Avastin, and monthly Zometa indefinitely, though I'll get breaks like this week from time to time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Seven weeks in... a Nancy post

We had a really nice weekend visit with Lainie (my best friend from high school) and her husband, who flew all the way from Arkansas to see us. I was not feeling great, so we had a very low-key visit, but it was wonderful to see them and spend time catching up. Lainie brought me a couple gifts from NW Arkansas including a handmade prayer shawl and quilt with written blessings/good-wishes attached from my high school friends. It was so encouraging to have uplifting thoughts from my old friends...just awesome.

Chemo went fine on Thursday and I walked over to Nate/Luanne's place after treatment to wait for Jake to finish up with work to drive me home. I might have said this before, but Nate and Luanne gave me keys to their beautiful city loft (only a few blocks from the treatment center) where I can hang out and relax after treatment. I can't believe how fortunate we are to have such great friends.

I had both Abraxane and Avastin this week and I'm definitely feeling the side effects lately. I have neuropathy in my hands and feet, pain in my knees/shoulders, and fatigue. I'm having a little trouble with headaches, which I think is from the Avastin. My blood counts were really low last week, but bounced back beautifully thanks to the neupogen shots Jake gave me. The downside is neupogen make my bones ache like crazy and I will need to keep taking them while I'm on this chemo, so likely for a long time to come. I keep reminding myself this is really powerful medicine and if we can knock the cancer way back, I'll be able to switch to a different treatment down the line that will be easier to tolerate.

Operation dinner continues to be the most incredible help to us. Everyone is so generous and brings us enough for multiple meals. I think I've cooked maybe twice in the past 2 months? Amazing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Doing Something

This past weekend, some of Jake and Nancy's family members (Jake's Dad, Beverly, Uncle Jack and Aunt Kathleen) attended a fundraiser in honor of Nancy. Young Survival Coalition is an organization which Nancy and Jake are very familiar with. It is an advocacy, action, and support group for young women with breast cancer.

For all of us who love you (Jake and Nancy) and are pained as you are in the thick of this battle, we find comfort in doing something-- giving, standing up for and supporting this cause, and most of all pouring out prayers. We hope you are encouraged and comforted by this support.

We all stand by your side.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Today (from Nancy)

This has been one of those good-news/bad-news days. The bad news is I feel lousy after starting a drug called Zometa yesterday, which causes aches/pains/flu-like symptoms in about 30% of patients (including me). The pain should only last a couple days and I'm getting some relief after taking ibuprofen. Zometa is given once a month, so I shouldn't have this problem every week, but the other bummer news is my blood counts have fallen to the point I need Jake to give me shots, which will make my bones even more achy.

The good news is the CTC test (circulating tumor cell) came back at zero, which tells us the chemo is working! Low scores on this test are associated with longer "disease free progression", which is the amount of time treatment is effective before the cancer outsmarts it and you need to switch to a different drug cocktail. We can assume the tumors are shrinking, which will be confirmed/quantified in a few weeks when I have another PET/CT.

Aside from treatment, I'm enjoying my new little office, which has a beautiful view of the Sound and mountains. The dogs are excellent company, especially Rose who likes to climb up in the comfy chair/ottoman and nap while I read.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Going on Six weeks

Tomorrow marks Nancy's sixth treatment. She sent the following...

Hi everyone,

I'm completely overwhelmed with gratitude for my co-workers who held the "Pink-Luck potluck" in my honor last week. Both Jake and I continue to be amazed at the outpouring of support we have received from everyone. It truly keeps us going and we are so grateful. I had a really nice visit with my sister-in-law, Molly last weekend, while Jake was back in Chicago with his dad and brother. It was great to hang out, watch chick-flicks and catch up on life with Molly and I know Jake and the guys had a really great time back in the mid-West.

I'm starting to feel the chemo effects these days. My chief complaints are numbness/tingling in my hands/feet, pain in my knees/shoulders, and fatigue. Since I'm not working these days, I can easily take naps when I need to, plus I can putter around the house in my sweats. I've been trying to exercise every day, but the pain in my joints is starting to make that a little more challenging. My back pain is improved compared to a month ago, but it isn't gone completely and I'm still spending a lot of time resting on the heating pad, which by far is the most comfortable thing for me. As with everything in life, all symptoms are worse when I'm tired, so I have slowed down to a nice easy pace of life and as a result I feel pretty good most of the time. My pain is very minor and I don't need to take pain medications. For those medically-minded folks (and I know there are a bunch of you), the chemo combo I'm taking is Abraxane/Avastin. At some point, my doctor will also add a drug to treat my bones, which I think is called Zometa. She braced me last week that she intends to keep me on this treatment for quite a long time (maybe a year or longer?) assuming it is effective and I can tolerate the side effects. We will have some insight into the effectiveness when I get the results from my latest CTC test, which we hope will serve as a tumor marker for me. My initial CTC was low, but she's hoping it will go even lower. Additionally, I'll have another PET/CT scan in a few weeks, which will hopefully show the cancer shrinking.
I had my first dose of Avastin last week and it went perfectly fine other than taking a long time. They administer the first dose over a long period of time and check your blood pressure to make sure you don't have a reaction. Subsequent doses will go a little quicker. Once again, my sweet friend, Wendy joined me for the hours and hours of treatment and kept me occupied with Trivial Pursuit and lunch for the afternoon before Jake picked me up after work.

I'm having a rather annoying side effect called anticipatory nausea, which means I am nauseated as soon as I walk in the door of my doctor's office before any chemo is given. This is due to my prior rounds of chemo in 2002 and 2007 and, frankly, it is all in my head, but still very real and problematic. The good news is it is treatable with a wonderful drug called lorazapam, which I take before I arrive. The bad news is I need a ride home after taking lorazapam because I can't drive. Lucky for me, our dear friends, Nate and Luanne, have given me keys to their place, which is a couple blocks away where I can comfortably hang out until Jake gets off work to drive me home.

Okay, I've rambled enough for now. Thanks again to everyone for your love, support and the amazing meals, which are a huge help. We appreciate it so much!