Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An article about me from Livestrong

I have been extremely blessed on #ReneeInCancerland journey.

From my doctors, to friends and family, to random contacts who eventually become friends - everywhere I look I see blessing from CancerLand.

Here is the link to an article about me on Livestrong blog.

A Survivor Story: Picking up the Pieces



Hi, my name is Renee Linke Sendelbach. I am 36 years old, married with a seven year-old son named Ian and I have stage four metastatic breast cancer. Usually, I try to get the messy details out of the way quickly, but it is the messy details that make up my story.

I was first diagnosed at age 30, when Ian was a mere 13 months old. Our world shattered, but we quickly found our footing and started down the road of treatment. Eight rounds of chemo, a lumpectomy and 36 radiation treatments later, I was deemed clean and clear of the C word.

Life slowly returned to how it was before cancer—until a normal day in March, 2011 when our world was once again shattered. This time, it was into such tiny pieces that every time I tried to pick one up, it would cut me. I had breast cancer in my lungs, bones and nodes.

So I did what I had to do, I looked up at cancer and told it to suck it.

I went back on chemo for three months, only to find out it wasn’t working—the cancer had grown. It was time to switch things up. I started a new chemo cocktail along with a trial drug – BSI 201. I was getting infusions two times a week and feeling more and more like poop as the weeks turned into months.

I had a scan and we were all floored: it showed no evidence of disease. Thinking it was too good to be true, my oncologist wanted to keep me on the current chemo cocktail as long as my body held out.

I held out for seven long months. In that time, I had to get two blood transfusions because my red blood count was almost non-existent. My coloring was ashy gray. I needed to be done for a while, so I backed off of chemo.
That was a great summer. We traveled, I hung out with Ian and life was just going on.

But things turned south again one day in August. Ian and were out running errands when my right leg stopped working. I couldn’t walk without thinking, “move your right leg.” I quickly called my husband, who called my doctor.

Not long after, we were sitting in the ER waiting for MRI results and our world was once again shattered. The breast cancer had moved to my brain. And not just a little spot in my brain, a spot about the size of an egg. I had brain surgery just a week later to remove the cancer.

As soon as I woke up, I knew something still wasn’t right. Everyone chalked it up to me just coming out of surgery and swelling of my brain. I didn’t. I knew the cancer was still in there growing. But several MRI scans later, they kept showing clean.

A few months later I was put back in the hospital because I was suffering from steroid psychosis. I was in a deep dark depression at the time. Before we left the hospital, my neurosurgeon wanted one more MRI. The cancer was back.

I didn’t know if I could make it through another brain surgery, but I did. I wasn’t able to feel my right leg, so I had to relearn to walk, drive and many other activities I never thought about—that is, until I couldn’t do them at all.

Life was back to a new normal until two days after my 35th birthday. I was driving home from an infusion and my leg felt heavy and weird—I knew that feeling all too well. I called my doctor and she once again told me to go to the ER.

Again, I was told the tumor was back, in the same spot, and I would once again be getting brain surgery.

When I woke up from the third brain surgery within a year, I knew something was different. I knew I was good to go, and I was! I had a couple of run-ins with narcosis (swelling of the surgery bed site) and I feared the cancer was back. But it wasn’t!
I am ecstatic to say I have been cancer free from head to toe for over a year now.

I just finished my book, “Renee in Cancerland,” which I am hoping will be published this December. I continue to blog about living life with stage four cancer at www.ReneeSendelbach.blogspot.com. And I have found a passion for creating inspirational art. You can find this at my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/EmbracingLifeLoveArt

My advice is to keep your heart in your fight and be grateful for the little things daily.
If you are faced with a cancer diagnosis, LIVESTRONG can provide emotional support, clinical trial matching, financial assistance and fertility preservation services completely free of charge. We are here for you and your family every step of the way. Please give us a call at 1.855.220.7777, fill out our online intake form or visit the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center at 2201 E. 6th St, Austin, TX 78702.
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