Looking for Balance

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I was at the oncologist this past week. Short version: stay the course for this month. Things look “ok”.

Every 3 months I have a CT scan (neck to pelvis) to check on the cancer and see what it might be doing. The results of my CT scan last Monday show nothing remarkable. This is excellent because it means the cancer has not spread. It’s still just hanging out in my bones.

The oncologist ordered a bone scan before my March appointment. The bone scan literally images the bones, toes to top of the skull.

We are a bit worried about the tumor marker from my blood work. The CA 27-29 tumor marker can give an indication if the cancer is active. My value has been slowly rising and then almost doubled last month. This month it dropped almost as much as it rose last month. What does this mean? Unclear. It’s unusual for me to see these big changes so it’s raised some concerns. Tumor markers are not necessarily sufficient on their own to give a picture of what’s going on. The oncologist won’t use this data alone to make decisions. So, we get a bone scan and re-evaluate next month.

I recently wrote about new treatment options for MBC. I was waiting for blood tests to come back to see if Orserdu might be an option. This newly approved medication only works if an ERS1 mutation as developed. I don’t have the mutation, so this drug will not be an option. If I do need to switch medication, the next option is chemotherapy.

These past few weeks have been difficult. In particular I’ve had chronic pain that is tough to deal with, as some of you know. It’s hard for the pain (and MBC) not to take over my life. So, I’ve been focusing on finding balance.

My guess is you are looking for balance too. So many of us are. Too much focus on any one thing in life is unhealthy and yet it’s easy to get swept up.

Thankfully, the past month I was able to enjoy a dance competition Maddy competed in, found a few new shows to watch while walking on the treadmill, met friends for coffee or lunch, and took a long weekend trip to Wisconsin to see some friends and family.

I keep looking carefully at how to spend my time – finding the right mix of fun, rest, and spending time with people who are important to me. I hope you can do the same.


Current treatment:
Ibrance, 125 mg (oral) + Fulvestrant (injection) – Prevents cancer cells from dividing + estrogen blocker
Lupron (injection) – induces menopause
Zometa (infusion) – bone strengthener

Research For The Win

I write today not with an update about me, but about treatments for metastatic (stage 4) breast cancer (MBC).

Within the past week the FDA approved two – yes two! – drugs to be used to treat MBC. This is amazing and gives such hope to so many people with this disease. A third drug had FDA revised approval in 2022 expanding its use with MBC patients.

As I’ve said before, MBC is not curable but it is treatable. This means there are drugs to try to keep the cancer from growing, but eventually they fail. Then you move on to the next drug. Once you run out of drugs you run out of treatment options and the cancer wins.

This is why research is so important! Only through research will we be able to have new drugs developed and hopefully one day find a cure.

The two drugs are Orserdu (Elacestrant) approved January 27, 2023 and Trodelvy (sacituzumab govitecan-hziy) approved February 3, 2023. A third drug has already been a game changer for people I know in treatment. In May 2022, the FDA expanded the uses of Enhertu (Trastuzumab deruxtecan) for use by more MBC patients.

These drugs take many years to get to approval. Most drugs don’t progress far enough through clinical trials to get approved, so this is a big deal to have 3 new options within 6 months!

MBC is not one disease and so not all drugs work with all subtypes of MBC.

Will these three drugs help me? Probably, maybe.

Already we are looking into Orserdu as my next treatment line option. This drug only works well if your cancer has developed a particular mutation (ESR1). The cancer mutates to outsmart the medication. I had blood drawn 2 days ago that is being tested for the mutation.

The other two drugs (Enhertu and Trodelvy) may be options for me a bit later. We shall see.

A HUGE thank you to everyone who shares information about MBC, tells people about my journey and is able to donate to support MBC research.

The national #LightUpMBC fundraising campaign I helped with last fall raised over $500,00 for research and funded 2 scientific research grants specifically focused on MBC. Unfortunately we have to do fund raisers (kind of like a big bake sale) to fund this research because most breast cancer research dollars go to earlier stage.

So again, thank you for being my cheerleaders and for helping me raise awareness of the need for more support for MBC. I appreciate you all.