Fall update – November 9, 2021

Most days, my living with stage 4 breast cancer is probably very similar to you. Wake up, enjoy coffee, scroll phone, think about what’s coming up. Lately that’s meant planning for Maddy’s 15th (golden! 15 on 11/15) birthday, helping Evelyn with college apps, planning meals, and sneaking in walks with Glen.

I’m grateful that my life with MBC as been so “normal”. It’s easy to get caught up in the normalcy of life – and then you have a day like today where I’m jolted back to reality.

Short version: My bone scan was stable compared to June (great). My CT scan shows 2 areas of “interest” (not great, but not necessarily bad). At this time they are not actionable so I’ll continue the same treatment regimen and we will repeat scans in early 2022.

Longer version: I had a bone scan in early October. This procedure images my entire skeleton to look for areas that are damaged by cancer or healing due to medication. It’s an inexact science with the radiologist looking to see how much uptake there was of the tiny amounts of radioactive materials (tracers) that are injected into me hours before. Areas of the body where cells and tissues are repairing themselves most actively take up the largest amounts of tracer. My scan from October looked the same as the one from June (where they thought there might be progression). The “no change” message is one we want to hear! The breast cancer cells in the bones can compromise the strength of the bone and cause other problems, largely it’s manageable.

I had a CT scan in late October. The CT scan goes from my neck to my lower abdomen. The purpose is to look for breast cancer cells that may have migrated to the soft tissue. Cancer in the soft tissue is more worrisome than in the bones.

I had to go to a different location to get my scan and I think a different radiologist read the imaging. My oncologist noted that this radiologist is very thorough and tends to be “conservative” in what is reported – meaning everything that shows up is documented.

My report listed 2 areas of note and things that we will monitor. No action at this point. We will compare the next scan in early 2022 to see if these 2 areas are problematic or not.

The first is a nodule on the upper lobe of my right lung. It’s small, 6mm in size. These nodules can pop up all the time. My oncologist said it’s too small to biopsy and wouldn’t show up on a PET scan. These type of nodules apparently are the most common incidental finding on scans. There is no way to tell yet if this is cancer-related. We will need to watch to see if others pop up or if this one gets bigger – or if it goes away.

The second is an enlarged lymph node on left side / arm. It’s enlarged but within the “normal” limit (8×12 mm). This type of thing waxes and wanes normally. Could be related to an infection, could be cancer, could be nothing. It’s something to watch.

What to make of all this? Well, it is a reminder that while everyday life seems normal for me, it’s really not a normal life. I hope that as you go about your day and encounter others, remember that you have no idea what might be happening in that person’s life. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Live each day to the fullest.

p.s. Glen and I are making the most of each day. Last week we splurged and saw one of our favorite artists (Sting) in concert. Fortunately, they required full vaccination and we made masks part of our stylish outfits! (And I’m guessing no one who saw us would have imagined what my health situation is!)

1 Comment

  1. ultimatesurvivorprime says:

    Thanks so much for the update…and you both look FABULOUS! So glad you got to enjoy a nice little bit of normalcy and entertainment.

    Much love,

    Mom S


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