Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Last night I took the plunge and had my hair shaved off. It was coming out in mass from the chemo, which was super annoying and gross, so I figured it was time.

I actually had a great time!

My friend Sarah's friend Denise (who is an awesome hair stylist) came over to my house and cut and shaved it for me. So sweet!

First she cut into a few different styles. It was fun to get a glimpse of my future hair!

Shoulder length
Short! I actually kind of liked this.
Miley Cyrus style. Ridic.

 Then she shaved it all off! Eeee!

Here's the "finished product" with Denise, my fabulous stylist.

Bald and pregnant!
And with my dear friend, Sarah.
Sarah's baby is due two months after mine. I can't wait for our kiddos to be friends!

So that's done! No more worrying about conditioner, blow drying, or flat irons for a while. I think bald is the ultimate "mom hair"!

I must admit, it's pretty surreal to not have hair. I feel like a "real" cancer patient now. But honestly, I'm not that sad about my hair. I know it's one more necessary step on the road to recovery. And hair grows back.

Oh, and I have some fabulous wigs I'll model and share here later next week. Get excited.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Half Way Done with AC Chemo

Yesterday was my second round of Adriamyacin & Cytoxan (AC) chemo. That means I'm half-way done with AC. I'll have more chemo after I have the baby, but it's a different kind, Taxol.

My white blood cell counts were good enough to do chemo yesterday, despite the cold I had and am  getting over (praise!). However, my platelet counts were borderline-low. They were still high enough to do chemo, but I just need them to not drop more or I can't do chemo in two weeks. They are likely low due to the chemo (it destroys blood cells that are made in your bones) and/or the pregnancy (pregnancy is known to lower platelets in some cases). In very rare cases it can be caused by metastasis (let's all pray that's not the case).

The best news from yesterday is that my oncologist says that my arm-pit lymph node has shrunk a lot (I thought it had) and my breast lump has shrunk some. He says that means my cancer is responding to the chemo -- even after just one round. Hurray!!! Keep praying that my lymph node and lump continue to shrink. I'm praying for what they call, "a pathological complete response" which means after chemo there are no cancer cells left which can definitely happen in some (but not all) cases.

The second round of AC was as easy as the first. Lots of reading magazines and talking with my Mom while the medicine dripped in. 
The bump does chemo.

Then after chemo my Mom and I went to True Food Kitchen for lunch. It's a seasonal, natural, healthy restaurant with lots of vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options. So good.

Kale-Aid and veggie lettuce wraps.

My chemo side effects were a little worse this time, I'm more tired and a bit more nauseated (I took a couple of Zofran and that helped). But overall I feel OK. I actually connected with a few more "pregnant with breast cancer" ladies and all them have had rather mild side effects from AC chemo. Somehow pregnant ladies do better on it. There's one bonus!

Oh, and as of two days ago my hair is starting to fall out, strand by strand, especially when I wash or brush it. I think I'm going to get it buzzed early next week so I don't walk around shedding like an animal all day. I have three cute wigs that I'm excited to wear, so I'm not too worried about it. And hair always grows back.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Good Baby News

Today we had our first of two placenta and growth ultrasounds, and everything looked great! Praise God for looking after this little one.

The first piece of good news is that my placenta has moved up and is no longer marginal placenta previa. Horray! This means no need to have a c-section for placenta issues (keep praying that I don't need a c-section for any other reason though).

The second piece of good news is that baby girl's growth is in the 73rd percentile. She's about 3.5 lbs already. The maternal-fetal medicine doctor who's worked with pregnant cancer patients before said that with baby girl being as big as she already is the chance of the chemo impacting her growth is very very low. We'll do another growth scan in 6 weeks but we expect that will be good.

In cancer news, I'm still feeling OK after round 1 of chemo. Still really tired and achy a lot. Oh and I managed to pick up a small cold. It's nothing terrible but annoying. They were not kidding about a lowered immune system, jeez. I should be well enough for chemo next Wednesday, but please pray that this cold doesn't turn into anything more serious.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Baby Updates and Blog Site Navigation

Today I had my first OB-GYN appointment post-cancer diagnosis. It's still just so surreal to both be pregnant and have cancer. I think my OB was really scared I was going to be suicidal, but she seemed pleasantly surprised at how "good" and "healthy" I look. That is one of the strangest things for me about this cancer is that I don't feel "sick" at all and I don't look sick either even after one round of chemo. I guess when my hair starts to fall out, I'll look a little sicker? 

Anyway, the best news from the OB appointment is that all was well with the baby. Her heart rate was good. Despite not gaining any weight at all in the last 3 weeks I measured "ahead" (by fundal height). All seems normal.

This Friday we have an ultrasound to make sure my marginal placenta previa has resolved and to measure the baby's growth. Please pray that baby girl measures on track and that my placenta is in the right place (if it's too low, I may be required to have a c-section). It's very important that I don't have a c-section because I need to go back on chemo soon after giving birth and having a c-section will delay that. 

Speaking of prayers, have you seen the prayer requests page on abumpandalump?

My Mom informed me that she didn't realize there were "pages" on the blog as well as posts (oh technology!). So in case anyone else missed that, if you look on top under the banner you can navigate to a few specific pages that I plan to keep updated. They are:
- The Diagnosis
- FAQs
- How to help
- Prayer Requests

On the prayer requests page, I also have "praises" for the prayers we've had answered so far. God answers prayers, and I plan to fill up that "praises" section with them!

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Even though the past two weeks have been enormously difficult, they've made me realize just how much I have to be thankful for.

I'm thankful for all the friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers who've sent flowers, cards, useful care packages, and notes. I sucks I had to get cancer to realize just how loved I am.

So much love in our dining room

I'm so thankful we live in San Diego where my family and "extended family" are. Of course my parents have been amazing -- coming to countless doctors appointments with us, buying us dinner, and just being there for us.

I'm thankful that I work for a great company that has good benefits for situations like mine and I'm thankful that the leadership I work with has been so supportive during my diagnosis.

I'm thankful that I'm still pregnant with this baby girl and I'm still feeling well enough to attend her baby shower next weekend.

27 weeks!

I'm thankful for the cancer survivors that I've met so far who have given me words of wisdom, support, inspiration, and guidance on everything from what products to use during chemo to what doctors to consult.

I'm so thankful for all the prayers from people I both know and don't know. I know there are individuals, families, bible studies, and other groups of people around the country praying for us which is just awesome. Keep 'em coming! God is faithful.

Finally, I'm eternally thankful for my amazing husband. We never could have guessed that the "in sickness" part of our  "in sickness and health" vows would come so soon, but I'm so blessed that he is the one who's by my side in all of this.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chemo #1 - Complete

Today I had my very first chemotherapy session.

I'm happy to report that it was super easy. The nurse was so nice and helpful. The IV was painless. I had my own private room for the treatment where my mom and I read magazines (it was a like a spa). And I was done in two hours. Afterwards, my mom and I got lunch at True Food Kitchen. Yum!

Thank you to everyone who was praying for us today -- I feel like I'm starting my journey to beat this cancer on the right foot. There is a long journey ahead, but I'm really optimistic about my prognosis. I have to believe that hope and faith is coming from God and your prayers.

The nurse says 1-4 days after chemo I will feel more side effects from it (nausea, exhaustion, etc.) but I'm working on minimizing those with some good (safe) drugs, lots of Kangen water, and a healthy diet. So hopefully I will feel OK tomorrow and beyond.

I can feel our baby girl kicking around my belly right now (she's so cute!), so I think she's doing fine as well. Like I said before, the chemo drugs should not impact her at all. I'm having a few painless braxton-hicks contractions here and there, which of course freak me out, but I know they are nothing to worry about (normal for 27 weeks).

Oh also, today my oncologist explained his updated treatment plan to me with regards to the drugs. If everything goes according to plan this is what I'll do:
  • Today they gave me the chemo drugs Adriamycin and Cytoxan (A/C) and they will give those drugs to me 3 more times over the next 8 weeks.
  • Then I'll take a break in May/June to deliver the baby
  • Then I'll a few more rounds of the chemo drug Taxol in June/July. Taxol has not been proven safe in pregnancy so he did not want to risk giving it to me before delivery. 

Keep praying that the chemo works it's magic and clears out all the cancer and keep praying that baby girl stays put in her temporary home until I finish the chemo.  Love to you all!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

What's the Plan?

The treatment plan that is.

My doctors and I decided that I will do chemotherapy first.

This is due to a variety of reasons:
1) The cancer has already spread to a lymph node so we know it's spreading quick and the spread must be stopped now.
2) This is the most aggressive (i.e. likely to spread) and it responds well to chemo usually. 
3) I cannot be doing chemo around the baby's delivery (due to white blood cell counts and risk of infection) and I cannot have chemo around when I do breast surgery (same reasons), so there is a unique window to do chemo now.
4) There are some types of chemo that are generally considered safe during pregnancy and surgery with anesthesia has it's risks.

I will start chemo on Wednesday (3/13) and will go every other week for 10 weeks (5 rounds). As long as my body tolerates that much chemo. Pray that it does.

Then I will take a break to delivery our baby girl.

After delivery I may or may not do more chemo. That will depend on my oncologist's recommendation at that point and how well the chemo has fought my cancer.

At some point after I'm done with chemo (maybe in July?) I'll have surgery to remove the lump and a few lymph nodes. TBD if I'll have a lumpectomy or mastectomy.

Then after that I'll do a few weeks of targeted radiation to make 100% sure all of the cancer is gone.

Then, if everything works, I will be cancer free by Fall 2013.

That's the plan right now. Let's do this. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

How it started

In September 2012, Jonathan and I were overjoyed to learn I was finally pregnant! Due date of June 8, 2013.

All fall long we worried that something would go wrong with the pregnancy or baby, but finally in early January we received a "clear" anatomy scan and learned we were having a healthy baby girl. Praise God!

Later in January, I noticed a strange hardness or lump on the side of breast but I figured it was pregnancy related -- a blocked milk duct or just general pregnancy breast changes.

At my next OB Appointment in late February I casually asked my OB about it (because 29-year-olds don't get breast cancer, do they?!) and she referred me to a radiologist to have it checked out.

On March 1, 2013 our lives forever changed when the radiologist found a medium-sized lump in my breast along with one swollen lymph node. She said they were "highly-likely" to be malignant (BI-RADS 5). We knew then it was bad. They did a biopsy on both the lump and the lymph node and we waited knowing the worst was probably coming.

Three days later we received the biopsy results:
- 2.5 cm breast tumor positive for cancer
- Cancer type - Invasive ductal carcinoma (the most common kind of breast cancer)
- Tumor grade - Grade 3 (the most different from a normal cell and the most aggressive type of tumor)
- ER/PR negative - Meaning it does not have estrogen or progesterone receptors (this is more common in younger women)
- HER2/neu status - Unknown (waiting on more biopsy results)
- Stage - Stage IIB (tumor with invasion into at least one nearby lymph node) but could be Stage IIIA if more lymph nodes are affected (but we won't know that until surgery).

It's surreal to think a week ago I happy, pregnant, and fine. Now I'm facing the biggest battle of my life, for my life.

You might be thinking, what about the baby?!

She is still doing fine as far as we know -- kicking around in there and growing.

Medical research has shown that some type of chemotherapy are safe for fetuses and the second or third trimester (I'm 27 weeks today). And surgery can be safe as well.

These are all things we're considering as we come up with our treatment plan. More on that next week.