Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day 2: Stage IV cancer - education:

Educate us on something you know a lot about.
Stage 4 cancer
Not a fun topic, but a topic I know WAY too much about.
What is Stage IV cancer?
Cancer that has taken up residence in OTHER places of the body than it began. 
Me for example: my cancer started in my breast and I was clean and clear.
2 years later THE SAME CANCER (still breast cancer) had spread to my lungs, lymph nodes and bones.
About a 18 months after that, the same breast cancer spread to my brain.
Stages of breast cancer range from stage 0 – stage 4
How did they know it was the same cancer?
Some smart people know how to compare samples of the tumors – I guess – really, I don’t know how they compare cancer.
So, isn’t that called lung cancer, bone cancer or brain cancer?
No it isn’t. It is called breast cancer that metastases to the brain, lungs, bones, etc.
It is still made up of breast cancer cells
Are you terminal?
The way I look at it is, we are all “terminal”…I mean we are all going to die at some point.
But no, I haven’t been told I have X amount of years to live.
How do they know where cancer is?
PET Scans
What is a PET scan?
It is a “Positron Emission Tomography”…and no, I didn’t know that…I looked it up!
Here is how I understand it to work…they inject me with biologically active sugar water and if there are cancer cells, they drink it up the sugar water. Then when they run me through the scanner, if any cells are lite up, the scanner sees them – which are cancer cells.
In medical terms:
The system detects pairs of gamma rays emitted indirectly by a positron-emitting radionuclide (tracer), which is introduced into the body on a biologically active molecule. Three-dimensional images of tracer concentration within the body are then constructed by computer analysis. In modern scanners, three dimensional imaging is often accomplished with the aid of a CT X-ray scan performed on the patient during the same session, in the same machine.

If the biologically active molecule chosen for PET is FDG, an analogue of glucose, the concentrations of tracer imaged then give tissue metabolic activity, in terms of regional glucose uptake.
Do they hurt?
No. The needle they use to inject the “magic” stuff is very small.
How often do you get them?
I get a PET scan once every 9 – 12 weeks.
I now get brain MRIs once every 4-8 weeks.
How do you get chemo?
Through my port a cath. It was surgically implanted when I first started this.  They poke me in the chest and hook me up to an IV.
How often do you get chemo?
The drug I am on right now, I go Mondays and Thursdays – 2 weeks on and 1 week off
My current treatment lasts about 2 hours, except every 6 weeks when I have to get Zometa also (bone strengthener) and then I am there about 4 hours
Different treatments call for different frequencies.
What does your treatment make you feel like?
The chemo I am on now feels like I am pregnant – that under laying tired feeling and if I don’t eat often I will feel queasy.
Some past chemo meds made me feel like complete crap, so this is a walk in the park compared to those.
Is going twice a week hard?
It is a pain – just like going to work would be a pain. We look at me going to treatment as my job, it is something I have to do and it is what it is.
I would SO much rather be NED, be on this drug and go 2 times a week.
What do people say to piss you off?
I could go forever but the one that gets me the most is they assume I had something to do with this due to my diet (because I eat meat or dairy or cheese or fill in the blank).
Pretty much I have had it said to me that since someone is a vegan, they don’t worry about getting cancer….that one stings a bit.
NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE – the BEST thing you can ever read written on a test report!
If you have other questions about cancer, please feel free to ask. 
I will tell you the honest truth about whatever.

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