Good things, good news . . .

11 Sep

What a roller coaster indeed. Highs, lows, but, wow have there been highs. And I don’t mean the drug induced kind (but, yes, there have been a few of those too . . . I really can not stand the drugs that I have had to be on post surgery . . . this time, I will not be on narcotics . . . new surgeon, new approach, very happy about all of that, but, I digress).

I am so happy today, so very happy. Stuff hurts, stuff is hard to do and even typing causes some annoying jabs up my arm. Playing the piano is out, doing dishes is literally a pain. But, I am feeling good, feeling good mentally. I just feel good.

I am so lucky to be surrounded by such good friends and amazing family . . . both near and far. You all get me through these days and literally, quite literally, make the pain go away.

What an amazing thing.

So, happy Saturday to all of you. Your messages mean so much, your prayers and positive vibes . . . I appreciate it all so much.

Last night I watched most of the Stand up to Cancer telethon. It was hard to watch for me. I taped it, so I will perhaps watch the rest of it later. But, it was really hard to see all the faces of people going through treatment, to see the “in memory” pictures and to hear of the lives lost in terms of numbers. My God, it is staggering how many die each year, each day, each hour. And, quite frankly I don’t need to hear about it, not one bit. So, I turned it off, despite my interest in the music. Of course, I am encouraged to see the new collaboration . . . a possible end to competition (sorry, I don’t really believe that is ever going to end, but) between researchers to be the one to discover x or y or z. But, it IS a good start. It is so, so important to bring these minds together, to share their knowledge and ideas so that a more complete picture can be had and hopefully, one day a cure.

There are so many different mechanisms involved in cancer and so much of it is not understood. I think the hardest thing to hear last night was that chemotherapy (what is known as “traditional therapy”) is like nuking a house in order to turn off a light switch . . . and that the key is to find the switches . . . to develop and use targeted therapies. I know this is true. The kind of cancer I had was once always, always deadly, no one survived this form of breast cancer. Not until Herceptin was developed. Still, even though Herceptin works, seems to work, the protocol is still to also do the traditional therapy, high dose chemotherapy. No one, as of yet, has treated Her2+ cancer with the targeted therapy alone. However, there is the thought that it could be done one day.

It was hard to hear about my body having been nuked 🙂 It was nuked, I still feel the repercussions of that and I wonder if there will ever be a day when I will not. But, I don’t  care. The race for a cure, it truly is now, I believe, a race. I think it is now, for the first time, a true race. Stand up to Cancer is such a great organization. They are changing the way cancer research is done.

There are no 20 plus year survivors for me to look to for the kind of breast cancer I had because the drug that now makes it possible to survive – to be cured – was only approved for use in early stage breast cancer in 2005. It is some times difficult thinking about that . . . that we don’t have any long term survivors. But, every indication is that there will be women who were Her2+ who are cured and living a normal life span. And, there is every indication that I will be one of them.

I found out some incredible, just wonderful news yesterday. A friend of mine is now 15 months NED . . . meaning “no evidence of disease”. She was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer just a few days after I was diagnosed. She is 35 years old, is married and has three beautiful, young boys. She is a biologist; a bright and beautiful woman. She never smoked and lived healthy. Suddenly one day she had a seizure . . . the seizure was caused by a brain tumor, the brain tumor was from lung cancer that had spread to her brain . . . so, stage IV, metastatic lung cancer.

When we met, she had little hope. Very little hope. But, she persevered and went from specialist to specialist and persisted and certainly used her biology degree. She was put on a targeted therapy (similar to the kind I was on) and she now appears to be cancer free – the technical term is: no evidence of disease: NED. That is as good as it gets. She has been on the drug for as long as I have known her and for 15 months she has been NED! How remarkable is that? I am so, so happy for her, for her family.

She continues to see specialists and to fight her cancer . . . that is her lot now. But, her doctors are talking about the advances there will be in ten years and how she will be able to take advantage of those advances . . . amazing. This is a diagnosis that just a few years ago would have been most certainly terminal, months to live kind of thing. Isn’t it amazing?

I know her life is, and will be forever, hijacked by this disease because that is how it is with stage IV or with a type of cancer that has never really been cured before. But, she is living and being a mother to her three boys and a wife to her husband and a cancer advocate for lung cancer patients (a type of cancer that does not get nearly the attention of other types of cancer in terms of research dollars). I am positive that she will be someone who helps save lives. How wonderful. Mostly, I am just so glad that my friend is doing so well. What a gift.

Love and peace,

Lisa

2 Responses to “Good things, good news . . .”

  1. Sandy September 12, 2010 at 7:04 PM #

    That’s wonderful news about your friend! Here’s praying that your news will be just as good!

    Love,
    Sandy

  2. cancerfree2b September 13, 2010 at 6:52 AM #

    Thank you Sandy. I am so happy for her. My situation, having been diagnosed as stage II, and not metastatic, is a cureable stage/diagnosis. And, the presumption is that I am cured. There is always the possibility of a recurrence, but, hopefully that will not happen. However, if it were to happen…I am encouraged to see that there are treatments available for recurrences that were not even available a short time ago.

    I hope to see you soon.

    Much love and thanks to you for your prayers.

    Lisa

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