Status quo & pain management

“We do not need to change treatment plans at this time.” Music from oncologist Dr. Andorsky’s mouth to my ears this morning! What does this mean? My CT scan showed no progression of cancer, things are stable.

So, we carry on!

The one thing that did show up on my CT scan was the hot mess that my L4 vertebrae is, including a new compression fracture. I’ve not been feeling well since my fall in April and my oncologist was a bit worried this might have been due to progression. It appears that the pain is all related to my fall.

This of course is fantastic news and quite a relief. Is a CT scan absolutely definitive? No, it is not. It is a bit of an art to monitor terminal cancer. This being said, we have as much data as possible and so I’m confident we are on the right path.

My oncologist was very happy with how things are going and I think he was a bit relieved to see me in better spirits.

The reason for my better spirits – besides a stable scan – is that I’ve been able to keep my pain under control and I feel like I’m getting stronger. I can walk unassisted (no cane). I can walk more confidently both up and down stairs. I have not resumed longer walks or walks outside. I’m staying on the treadmill and trying to increase my length and endurance.

We have a plan to hopefully eliminate the pain!

On Thursday, June 1, I am scheduled to undergo an outpatient procedure to fix the compression fracture on my L4 (a kyphoplasty). Basically, they will go in, guided by imaging, and place a little balloon where the fracture is, lift up the vertebrae and inject some cement so that the vertebrae is not compressed.

The pain I currently have is mostly nerve-related pain in my leg. It’s decreased with my medication, but is definitely still there. I am very optimistic that this procedure will help and I’ll be back walking on the trails by mid-June! Cross your fingers with me!

And also please celebrate with me. Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer is stressful and my family and I live in 3 month increments. This provides just a tiny bit of breathing room and will make for a fantastic summer.

I always have a plan for when I get my CT scan results. Today’s treat was a fancy iced coffee.

April Update

Hello there everyone. My cancer update for April is boring. Just continuing on with the current treatment. My bloodwork tumor markers dropped a little which is very good. Otherwise, we just stay the course until I have scans again in June or July. The scans are how they determine if the cancer is progressing. Of course if I feel like my health is taking a turn for the worse, we would move those up. I’m still on my second line of treatment (since June 2022):

  • Fulvestrant shots (monthly)
  • Lupron shot (monthly)
  • Ibrance capsule (daily)
  • Zometa IV infusions (quarterly)


Health/life-related update: The last month has been rough. I share this not in the spirit of complaining – I want to shine a light on the challenges of the way the for-profit American health care system is set up. As I advocate for myself it requires many phone calls, appointments, treatments and medications – all under the authority of the insurance company. The system puts absolutely all the responsibility for care on the patient, which works ok if you are not very ill. There is no central coordination. Every decision I make has to be considered with regard to insurance. The insurance company is dictating my care. Frankly we need a single-payer system which is not perfect but would address the vast majority of the challenges encountered. We are the ONLY country in the world with this kind of system. It is not the best, it’s not even passable any longer.

I know friends and family that are going to through similar challenges. I’m trying to figure out how to affect some change in the system.

I am grateful (and slightly annoyed) that my medical team finally connected me with a “stealth” nurse navigator (their word, not mine). During my appointment last Wednesday it was apparent that my mental health was in the toilet and I could not manage “all the things”.

Historically, I’ve had zero luck with nurse navigators. “Stacy,” however, is a nurse navigator they send patients to when everything has really fallen apart. Grateful because she was amazing, dealing with and resolving almost all the challenges within 24 hours. Annoyed because the best and most efficient staff should not be some secret that they don’t share with patients until their situation has become completely untenable.

The list of challenges I’ve been facing is too long to share. (No one other than your mother wants to hear all the detail – right mom?)

I’m trying to keep my sanity in check and one of the things I managed to make happen was to have Glen and the girls fly out to join me in Pasadena. I was on a work trip and it was spring break week for both girls.

I’m grateful for the few days we got to explore together. I also managed to squeeze in dinner with my bestie – which was too short but better than nothing at all.

In spite of the shit-show of cancer and all the related struggles, life is a gift. Make the most of it however you can.

No Different Information

Here we are again. Another month has passed and I’m posting. I thank you all for reading and for your interest. I hope you also learn a tad bit about this hideous disease and share with others.

But it seems like, yes, another month has passed and there is not much to update. In the grand scheme of life, not much has changed for me. (Side note, my recent scans were “fine” and I continue my current medications. Yay!)

Life is busy. There are things to do, places to go, people to see, and dreams to achieve. One day blends into the next with the punctuation of weekends when we can stand down a bit – unless you are retired. (My retired cousin says ‘everyday is Saturday.’)

Seriously, I feel odd sometimes writing these updates because to many of you, there is probably not a lot of new information.

When I first got this diagnosis it was terrifying to me, and also to my friends and family. Here I am 3 years and 8 months later – still alive, still working full-time, still traveling. Still living like many of you.

And yet. I live in 3 month increments. I have no idea if the table will turn and the next set of scans will be the ones that show the cancer has out smarted the medicine. Will this be the month I have to change my medication – and if I do, will it work? What kind of side effects will it have?

So far, I’ve only had to change medication once. That’s pretty f-ing amazing in almost 3.75 years. Hooray for science!

The internal anxiety I have is always present. I’m able to swallow it a lot because work is distracting. My friends allow me think of other things. Being with my family helps me live in the moment.

Today I met with my oncologist. There was a real possibility I would change meds. He said that with the data he has we should stay the course. So, no change in anything. Same meds.

We talked about what is next. I have two options for treatment (Xeloda or Taxol). When that stops working I’ll go to Enhertu. When that stops working I’ll go to whichever of the ones I didn’t chose (Xeloda or Taxol).

There is no cure for this, just treatment. The idea of changing treatment is terrifying – to be honest. Do I show that? No, because I don’t think about it a lot and there is not point in worrying about something out of my hands.

That doesn’t mean that everything is smooth sailing. It’s just not apparent. I have a lot to do, a lot of plans and a lot of new memories to make.

You have that as well. We just don’t often think about the time when we can’t do it, or when we run out of time.

We all run out of time, some of us just know we have less time that others. Very recently someone Glen and I know died from metastatic breast cancer. She and I communicated via email and she was really supportive when I was first diagnosed. She leaves behind a husband and 8 year old son. Her mortality is my mortality and the same for everyone else with this disease.

This being said, I have supreme confidence in science and am looking forward to annoying you all for many years to come with boring posts of non-information. 😃


Second line of treatment (since June 2022):

  • Fulvestrant (injection monthly)
  • Ibrance (oral daily)
  • Lupron (injection monthly)
  • Zometa (infusion quarterly)

Update – November 3, 2022

Winter has given us a sneak peak today. First measurable snow of the season.

I had monthly appointments this week. My CT and bone scans were the same as August. This means STABLE MABLE is back. 🙌

My enthusiasm is tempered a bit by a cranky hip.

My back pain is gone for now, and I’m having trouble walking due to hip pain. So much so that my oncologist ordered an MRI, which I had today. I’m hoping it gives me some answers.

The hip pain means my daily walks have ceased – for now.

Fingers crossed the MRI shine a light on the problem.



Current meds (2nd line of treatment): 
* Ibrance, 125 mg (oral meds)
* Fluvestrant (monthly shots)
* Lupron (monthly shot)
* Zometa (quarterly infustion)

April 30, 2021 Update

Dear Friends and Family,

Time marches on. I hope you all have gotten your COVID vaccine, or have a plan to get one. Even if you don’t think you are at risk, by getting the vaccine it will reduce the ability for variants to form, thereby protecting everyone.

I’ve had two regular visits to the cancer center since I last wrote. All status quo which is wonderful.

I don’t have much to share in the way of an update on my cancer situation so I’ll wish you all a happy spring.

March 4, 2021

It’s been a wild ride this past 51 weeks. I hope you are all doing as well as possible and are safe and healthy. It’s hard to believe COVID has been with us almost a year. 

I had scans 2 days ago. A bone scan and CT scan with contrast. There was no change in the scans meaning that the cancer is stable. No progression. Status Quo. As I’ve said before this is the best possible news we can have. This means that the medication I’m taking has stopped the cancer from replicating. 

The tension in our house understandably becomes high during this week of scans. When Evelyn heard I had scans scheduled her reaction was – again? Didn’t you just have them. Yes, yes, I did. But three months have passed and so here we are again. 

Normally I have the scans ~2 days before the appointment with my oncologist. This gives the radiologist time to read the scans and write the report, but not too much time for me to fret over the results. With electronic medical systems I can see the scan reports (after they are approved for my viewing). Normally both the bone and CT scan reports come through within a few hours of each other. When I go to open them my hands literally shake. In December I couldn’t even open them and read them I was so nervous. Glen had to do it. Anyway… this month the bone scan came in yesterday but no CT scan. I checked early evening, no CT report. My mind immediately went to places it shouldn’t – the report wasn’t shared because it showed progression (why can’t our minds go down a ‘good’ rabbit hole?).  I checked again this morning (after only ~4 hours sleep). No report. I checked right before I left for the cancer center. No report. All day I prepared myself for bad news. Then, Glen texted me when I was in the waiting room and said the report just came through my electronic file and it was stable. I could feel the tension drain from my body. 

One of the more interesting aspects of dealing with this uncertainty is that I otherwise go through the day just like anyone else would. I spent the early morning texting neighbors looking for sand for Evelyn’s engineering project. I went on a walk with Glen before 3 hours of Zoom meetings. I talked with colleagues around the state and across the country about all the work related things that have to get done. I’m grateful for all of that because it allows me to push the cancer to the back of my mind. …but it’s always there.   

COVID Vaccine!  As an additional bonus I managed to get a COVID vaccine today! A Johnson & Johnson shot so I don’t need a second shot. “One and Done.”

I usually see the same techs when I get my scans and so we chat a lot during the process. One of the techs shared with me how to be available for extra doses the vaccine clinic might have at the end of the day. I went Tuesday but no luck. I went again today and they were hedging. In talking to the clinic manager he said they might have a few – he asked how old I was. In Colorado we are moving tomorrow to the phase where 50+ yr old who have two conditions can get vaccinated. I only have one. I said  “51 , but I have stage 4 cancer.” I saw his face change expression. He asked me to have a seat in the waiting area and 10 minutes later he came by to get me. He checked me in himself and told me I was getting one of the Johnson & Johnson shots. Today was the first day they were distributing them. I got the shot and waited 15 minutes and was on my way. 

Fortunately, my body handles vaccines and all kinds of medications without issue. I’m grateful for that, very few side effects at all. 

Bonus vaccine on a good news scan result day!

Glen will get vaccinated at the end of the month and Evelyn will be eligible with the general Colorado population – hopefully by May. Maddy wil have to wait since she is 14. The vaccines are safe and effective – we will still be wearing masks in public and limiting our activities in the short term. Let’s all hope we can get wide scale transmission and mutations under control so we can figure out the new normal!