Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm Heather

Hi, all! My name is Heather, and I'm the mother of four gorgeous girls, ages 10, 8, 6 and almost 4. I'm married to my first husband, Clark, who has been a tremendous rock through this unthinkable trauma, in spite of his own ongoing grief and sorrow. He, too, has had to deal with the loss of hope for the future.

I was diagnosed in May of 2008 with stage IV breast cancer, mets to the bones. It was ER+/PR+, Her-2 +. I began a regimen of carboplatin, taxotere, herceptin and zometa, once weekly for three weeks, off one week, for about five months. I responded very well to treatment, and have been NED since my third PET/CT in October of 2008. I had a double mastectomy and oopherectomy in November 2008, opted against breast reconstruction, then did a full treatment of radiation therapy. In March of 2009, I was done with the "huge" treatments and continued the maintence of the AI, Femara, that I had started in January of 2009.

I am now approaching my 2nd anniversary of diagnosis, and just had a PET/CT on February 23rd, which confirmed my continued NED status.

I publish and edit a literary magazine for mothers that I cofounded in 2006 called get born: the uncensored voice of motherhood. I started the magazine because I struggled so much with loneliness, disillusionment and guilt as a mother that I didn't ever want another woman to go through similar circumstances alone.

I live in the gorgeous state of Colorado, in the United States, but traveled a lot as a young girl; my parents were conservative missionaries in Ecuador, South America when I was in high school, and I treasure that experience and the expansion of my world view with which it provided me.

I look forward to sharing on this forum; may our collaboration be a beacon of hope for too many of us who are learning to live in the tenuous space between life and death. Shalom.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Meet Jennie

My cancerific journey began in fall of 2003 when I was diagnosed with Stage II, grade 3 (or grade 8 on the nine point scale), Invasive Ductal Carcinoma -- breast cancer.  I was 32.  My only child, Olivia was 2. After multiple surgeries, several rounds of the red-devil and cytoxan, I was given tamoxifen pills and pronounced NED (No Evidence of Disease). 

Less than two years later, I discovered another hard lump and joined the advanced cancer club, stage III recurrent IDC. So LOTS more rounds of chemo-freakin-therapy, surgery, weeks of radiation treatments and a couple of hot-zone free PET scans; I was again declared NED. 

Half a year later I called my doctor with back pain. Oh yes friends, the cancer was back with a vengeance. Scans revealed multiple tumors in my rib, femur, liver, lung, and in every vertebrae (as well as a collapsed T-12). Two days later I resumed both chemo-freakin-therapy and simultaneous radiation to my spine. Then surgery to put some glue/cement into my T-12.  I've been on one flavor of chemo or another since then and will continue for the rest of my life.

My daughter is now 8 and in second grade.  I have been raising her alone since her father left when I was five months pregnant.  No fight, no discussion, nothing; we had seen the baby on the ultrasound the week before and I came home from work - all of his things were gone.  There was some cash on the counter with the note, "for the phone bill." 

I live in beautiful Colorado.  I have four siblings.  My daughter and I have moved in with my parents.  Almost as much as my daughter and family; I love my work/all things learning, great food, red wines, European chocolates, reading, movies, traveling, and fancy shoes.