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Thursday, August 30, 2007

No Guilt

Guilt is a destructive emotion.

It diverts energy from doing positive things. It taps our energy, but leads us nowhere.

Guilt is feeling bad about things we cannot change, instead of focussing on the things we can change, and feeling good.

So, please, don't feel guilty on my account!

A few friends have told me that they feel guilty for not having written or called sooner....

No one should feel obligated to write or call.

I sent out the emails and set up the blog so that people would know what is happening. It's as simple as that. No response required.

If you want to call or write or whatever, that's fine. I'm always glad to hear from you.

But because you want to. Not because you are feeling guilty.

I don't want anyone wasting any energy feeling bad because of me.

You have better things to do with your time and energy.

So do I.


Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Time to Practice what I Preach: Kibud Av VaEm

This post printed with the approval of my mother.

My mom arrived this morning.

I am so happy that she is here! But it is so much easier to be respectful in theory!

A month ago, when my mom wanted to hop on the plane and come right away, I explained that I was not in a "good place" and did not have any emotional energy left over to take care of her (or anyone else). I suggested that it would be better for all of us if she waited a few weeks. My mother sincerely insisted that she does not make any demands. I laughed, and offered to consult my father and my siblings. I accepted that if even one of them agreed with her, I would reconsider my position. But they all laughed too.

Well, within 5 minutes of arriving, my mom started making suggestions about how to improve things.

I wasn't prepared (though I should have been). And I did not have the patience I needed.

Luckily, a few minutes later, my mom called my dad. I laid out the scenario for him, and he kindly explained to my mom some guidelines about how to help, and how to refrain from "helping."

After that, I took things a bit more in stride. I shared with my mom how important it is for me to treat her appropriately. I also reminded her that, though I look and sound good, I still have very limited energy and resources.

I want to make sure that my mother is comfortable and that her needs are cared for. But she will have to do most of the caring for herself, by herself.

That's just the way it is.

That said, I can still show her deference by talking to her properly and making certain that my children also show her deference, both in attitude and behavior. For example: at the dinner table, though we usually serve from the "bottom up" (from youngest to oldest), my kids are now old enough to wait until their grandmother is served first.

During the evening, my eldest daughter made several practical (and good) suggestions about how I could better respond to my mother. I graciously accepted her advice.

Later, I informed my daughter that she had just "raised the bar" regarding my expectation of her adherence to this particular mitzvah.

We both lovingly laughed at that.

May God give me the strength to accept my mother for who she is and help me to focus on all the wonderful aspects of her personality.

I really am very glad that she is here.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

11 Hours of Chemo: The Rest of the Day


Snippets from CDfH:

A good friend of mine was in Israel for about a week, and the best time for her to visit was Tuesday afternoon. Since I expected to leave the hospital "on time", I invited her to come visit me at home that afternoon. So when the doctor ordered an antihistamine to counteract the itchiness, I negotiated the dosage down to a half dose. I hoped that by the time I got home, the drowsiness wouldn't be so bad.

I didn't feel the effects at first, so Yael and I set up to play scrabble (no scoring, just coming up with clever words). It was fun, but after only a few rounds, I started feeling woozy. We packed up the game and I spent the next few hours in a haze. I dozed off a little, but not too much.

The half-dose turned out to be a blessing. Given the full dose, combined with my being a naturally deep sleeper, I doubt I would have woken up to inform the doctor of the pressure in my chest. And, once I knew how serious the pressure was, there was no way I was going to fall asleep.

Of course, I took the half-dose so that I could visit with my friend.... but that didn't happen, since I wasn't going home so fast and she couldn't bring her child with her to the hospital. (though we didn't have quite as long a visit, my friend did come to see me the next day)

Gam zu l'tovah (all's well that ends well)

The sleepiness wore off later in the day, around the time I was moved into the hallway of the oncology unit. Yael had cleared her calendar for the day, and I was very grateful for her constant company. We did not run out of things to talk about!

In the middle of one of our conversations, an older woman came over and asked if she could join us. The woman was very cute, but quite during most of the conversation, and she left after a while.

Later, however, after Yael left, the woman came back and we spoke for about an hour. She told me all about when she was young... and Israel was young... and I got a really nice "picture" of a simpler time.

A bit later, my sister came. And when she had to leave, my friend Sari came.

I was glad for the opportunity to spend time with both of them!

All in all, I spent a lot of time talking and listening and spending time with interesting women.

What could be bad about that?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

11 Hours of Chemo & Lots to Tell: The First Few Hours

So, besides all the technical difficulties of my chemo-day-from-hell (CDfH), the day started off pretty well.

("besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?")

Moshe brought me to the oncology day ward at around 10:00, and my "coffee and chemo" date arrived around 11:00, with another friend!

Yael brought along her sister, Esther. What a pleasant surprise! I know both from my women's tefillah group. And I am friends with their daughters as well (also from the tefillah group). And many years ago, in my Yavneh Olami days, I ran a program in which two of Yael's daughters participated. Small world!

Anyway, Yael even brought games! What a clever idea!! (we didn't play until later...)

We had an interesting conversation. During the course of our discussion, a woman sitting next to us joined in. It turned out that Esther and the woman knew each other from many years ago, from Be'er Sheva! Definitely a small world!

The woman doesn't come in every week, so it was a special coincidence that both were there on the same day! And it was a moving reunion for both.

Just one of the good things that comes out of bad situations....

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Monday, August 27, 2007

Vanilla Bean

I'm tired. (no surprise!)

Before I go to sleep, I thought I'd share with you my nicknames for one of the drugs I'm taking.

The brand name of the drug I get (2 out of every 3 weeks) is Navalbine. Which sounds to me like: Navel Bean! (as in your belly button!)

I think that's a much funner -- and funnier -- name!

But that name came after I renaimed the drug's generic name -- vinorelbine: Vanilla Bean!

Doesn't that sound a lot nicer!

Makes me think of ice cream!

Yummm.....

:-)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Simchas -- dance the night away!

Wow, from simcha to simcha!

Two weeks ago, our good friends J & A got married. Then, last week, we celebrated J's sister F's daughter's Bat Mitzvah. (did you follow that?) Then L & C got married on Friday morning! And next week, thank God, we will celebrate Y & S's wedding!

I love weddings!

I always dance a lot at weddings! I don't know where the energy comes from, but I dance and dance! And I bring shtik too! Anything "l'sameach" (to bring joy to) the chatan & kallah.

At J & A's wedding, I danced like I always do (perhaps even more so!). I was so happy! My shoes weren't good for dancing, so I took them off and danced barefoot on the Jerusalem stone floor. I could have danced all night! Especially when the band (Lenny Solomon) started playing Israeli dances!

It was only after I got home that I noticed two tiny glass splinters (removed without too much trouble) and the pain in my joints (that caused a little more concern).

During the wedding, Moshe had cautioned me to be careful. I thought he meant not to overextend myself. I had been very tired that day, from the chemo, and had a hard time waking up for the wedding. But my energy was up and I wasn't worried.

When we got home, I mentioned to Moshe that my joints hurt. He was so worried. That's what had concerned him at the wedding. I promised to be more careful next time.

I knew that I am not supposed to do anything "high-impact". But somehow I had not made the connection to dancing at weddings -- I had not comprehended that I could no longer dance at weddings the way I used to.

The realization made me sad....

A week later, when I got ready for L's wedding, I was glad that I still could do my "shtik" (funny antics). I brought my bag-of-tricks and was determined to dance as much as possible.... carefully! I even brought my comfy shoes (better to dance in funny shoes than not to dance at all).

At the hall, I got really excited when I noticed that the floor was carpeted! Imagine, getting so excited about a carpetted dance floor!

The carpetting and the comfy shoes made the dancing much easier on my bones! I bounced a little less, but I didn't dance any less!

I was even able to dance the Israeli dances at the end!

:-)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Can you spell.....? I can't!

Didn't post today, but hope to tomorrow.

I have a few thoughts that are not fully developed. (No comments from the peanut gallery!) I will either finish one of those or start a new one...

:-)

I also have not forgotten my committment to write about the good things that happened on my chemo-day-from-hell (previous post)

Meanwhile, since I'm writing already, I will admit that I got really nauseous last night. It's unusual, I don't usually feel nauseous. I still don't know if it's connected to chemo or a tummy bug. But it's the second time in five weeks, with nothing in between. We'll see. Time will tell if it's a pattern or just coincidence. I HATE feeling nauseous.

The only thing worse than being nauseous is trying to spell it!!

:-)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tired, but GREAT!

I am soooo tired! But I feel really good, B"H! :-)

I just taught swimming for four hours! It was great being out in the sun -- though I forgot to put on sunscreen! oops! :-} (don't tell Moshe)

I had great classes!! A few of "my" kids made real breakthroughs today! That is always so exciting!

Summer is winding down and I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do during the year.

On the one hand, I am always so tired after teaching on Thursdays. On the other hand, I always feel so good when I'm teaching!

I love teaching. And the thought of cutting out one of my days just makes me sad. But it's really tough. And sometimes I think it's not fair to my kids that I take time from my "good days" to teach, instead of spendingmy time with them.

That said, I feel that the more "normal" a life I can lead, the better it is for ALL of us. And I really LOVE teaching swimming.

Throughout the whole cancer thing, teaching swimming has symbolized my return to health. After all the surgeries, I awaited the moment that I could get back in the water and teach. Teaching meant getting my life back!

Anyway, it's all about ballance. I'm still trying to figure it all out and it might take me some time.

Meanwhile, I'm going to keep teaching.....

'cause it feels great!

:-)

Shabbat Shalom!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vacation! or "From the Mixed Up Files of RivkA with a Capital A"

I'm "off" next week!!

YAY!!!!!!!

But this magical moment almost slipped away....

Since my medications are on different cycles (2 are on 3 week cycles and one is on a 4 week cycle), I only get a week off when all the planets are aligned!

Yesterday, I checked to make sure that my calculations are correct, and that I do NOT need to come in next week (Aug 28).

When the nurse informed me that I DO need to come in, I felt like the floor had opened up and I was falling down the rabbit hole.

It doesn't take much to shake me up and this was enough. My generally cheery mood crashed.

I felt so sad and sorry for myself. I was really looking forward to having a break.

Next Tuesday is the last day of vacation for MD & A (Y starts school on Monday). I was really looking forward to spending that day with my kids, and maybe having a little more energy for the first week of school!

After that, the kids are in school anyway, so what do I care if I have to come in an extra week.

So, what's the issue? My Navalbine/Herceptin cycle is "out of cync".

The STANDARD 3 week cycle is:
week 1: Herceptin and Navalbine
week 2: Navalbine
week 3: off

MY 3 week cycle is:
week 1: Navalbine*
week 2: Herceptin and Navalbine
week 3: off

*I got Navalbine first because the Herceptin wasn't approved yet, and we were anxious to begin treatment.

My mixed up cycle is confusing.

So, the doctor wanted to "ignore" last week's treatment and establish yesterday's treatment (Aug 21) as the beginning of a "new cycle".

Instead of having "off" next week (Aug 28), I would come in for Navalbine, and be "off" the following week (Sept 4).

BUT, I have to come in anyway on Sept 4, for the bone medication.

REMEMBER, I only get a week off if the planets are properly aligned!

Are you confused yet??

The bottom line is that I convinced the doctor to leave me in my mixed up world for one more cycle.

On Sept 4th, I'll get the bone medication and the Navalbine. Then the following week, Sept 11th, I will begin the "new cycle" with Herceptin and Navalbine.

And, most importantly, I get my vacation next week!!

YAY!!

:-)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chemo Day from Hell

I arrived for chemo at 10:00 in the morning, to discover that I wasn't registered.

This is my fifth time getting chemo and I never registered before....

No explanation for that one!

So I sat around for an hour, waiting for them to get a prescription, get the drugs, etc.

Had everything else gone smoothly, this wouldn't have been so bad...

At around 11:00, they opened my port and hooked me up.

Before receiving the Herceptin, they gave me hydrocortisone in a drip, to prevent the allergic reactions I've been getting.

It didn't help.

They gave me the Herceptin and..... I itched.

So they gave me another dose of hydrocortisone and some other drug, an antihistamine that made me sleepy, and continued to up the pace of the drip.

When the drip was up to 80 drips per hour, the nurse came in to see how I was doing.

I told her:

1. the itchiness was tolerable (I didn't want to be knocked out by more antihistamine)
2. I was super hot (she said that was also from the Herceptin)
and
3. I felt a bit of pressure in my chest

Well, number 3 did it. Off went the drip!

After the pressure went away, they started the drip again on 20!

After a while, they upped the drip to 30 (I had some slight pressure, but I could breathe without difficulty, so they continued), and then to 40.

At 40, the pressure was still tolerable (though borderline). The oncologist and the nurses didn't want to risk raising the pace any more.

But 40 drips per hour is REALLY SLOW!!!

I was clearly not going to be finished by 4:00, when everyone else at the oncology day ward is done for the day.

So they plopped me down on a comfy chair, in the middle of the hallway, in the oncology ward...

Everyone was nice about it. They knew it wasn't the most "pleasant" location for coffee and chemo..... But there was really no choice.....

So there I was.... until 9:15 at night!!

The Herceptin dripped slowly but steadily until 8:30. Then I needed the Navalbine (vinorelbine), which was only a few minutes more (less than 15 minutes, start to finish), and then the fluids which they give at the end (less than 20 mintes).

Did I mention that I didn't leave the hospital until 9:15 at night!!

I am exhausted!!

I hope to write about the good stuff tomorrow. (clearly there was a lot of time/opportunity for good stuff; I just really need to go rest now)

G'night!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Monday, August 20, 2007

Who are you??

Dear friends,

I love your comments -- both on line and off!

It is totally fun to get comments on the blog!

Keep them coming!

If you are commenting on line, let me know who you are!

Unless you davka want to be anonymous (not that there's anything wrong with that)
:-)

But if not, either make up a name or sign your comments, so I know who you are!

Some of you made some cool comments and assume *I* am telepathic. But I failed the telepathy test too.....

:-)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Sunday, August 19, 2007

No Droopy Eyes Please

Okay, so here is the deal: I don't want people to look at me with sad, "droopy" eyes.


I don't want people to think of me and feel sad.

I don't want people to see me and feel sorry.

I don't want to be the cause of worry and concern.


I know that when you first hear the news, it's a bit of a shock. So it's okay to be sad in the beginning (I was too). But don't stay there!

You can ask me anything.

I'm totally open.

I don't mind talking about the cancer or what's going on.

Chemo certainly affects the day-to-day of my life, so there's no ignoring it.

But I really don't intend to hang out in some dark, depressing emotional pit.


So here's what I want:


When you think of me, be happy.


When you see me, smile.

I've always been an activist, and I don't plan on stopping.

Come visit -- outside our door are pamphlets and CDs you can take home.... maybe you'll join some of my causes yet!

Tell me what's going on with you. I'm interested. I care.


I can still hear about your trials and tribulations. They are not mine, so they don't add to my burden.


I don't think that other problems are "trivial compared to cancer." I don't think that way. And if I can help, that's great!

Recently, I told a friend: I'm going to live until 90!


The friend asked me: why only 90?


She was right: I'm going to live until 120!


And I have a lot to do in the next 80 years:


I want to make the world a better place.

And I want to spend a lot of time feeling happy and laughing.


So, if you have a funny book -- I'd like to read it.
If you have a funny movie -- I'd like to watch it.

Moshe and I are planning to go see the Simpson's movie -- if you'd like to come with us, let us know.

I thought it would be fun to go with a whole crowd, like we used to do in the "old days" (when we were young, single and going to live forever). We can laugh and be a bit rowdy (no talking during the movie!) and go out for Pizza afterwards.

I'll post when we are going, then you can all come too!

Bring popcorn! :-)


Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Making Changes

I have a new idea:

I had about 6 months when I thought I was "done" -- i.e. I thought I was "over" breast cancer and could "get on with my life."

(little did I know...)

Anyway, during that time, I decided to try and "fix" all sorts of things. I'm not sure if it was the cancer, or turning 40, or what, but I decided it was time to change things.

So, I determined to work on:

1. conquering the mess in my home (not a small feat)

2. improving my parenting (be more patient, parent the way I know I should, etc)

3. improving my relationship with my husband (accept the "Y" chromosome thing, and that he might never develop telepathy, so I actually have to tell him things!)

and, most importantly,

4. correct the way I treat my parents, particularly my mother.

Now, I must say that I have a wonderful relationship with my mother. When I was a teenager, my mother was my best friend. Today, in many ways, she still is.

I love my mom. Most of my good qualities come from my mom. I could write an entire blog about my mom. And most of it would be positive!

BUT, my mom pushes my buttons. So, instead of responding to her like a "mature, 41 year old, independent woman", I respond the same way I did when I was 14! (and not quite as mature as I liked to think!)

Well, for years my husband told me that if I want to teach my kids how to treat their parents, I must model the kind of behavior I demand. Talk is cheap. It doesn't matter what I tell them, it matters what I show them.

I didn't really "get it", until the day that one of my kids said to me (and I quote): "if we talked to you that way, we would be in really big trouble!"

Well, the kids knew it was true, and I did too.

And that was the catalyst. I finally internalized it. (it took me long enough!)

So, I've been working really hard on giving my mother the respect she deserves. To put her needs at the top of my list of priorities. To be patient, even when she's bugging me. To try and attend to her needs, even when I think they are silly. And to learn when not to argue, because (as my little sister pointed out to me) I am an adult now and I can make my own decisions (what a novel concept! I just have to be respectful; I don't necessarily need to do everything my mother says).

Anyway, I've been sharing my efforts with some friends. And a friend recently wrote:

"Thank you for the advice on parents and other things. I am trying very hard to put them into practice - and am dedicating that effort to your refuah shelama."

And I thought, this is the best gift that anyone could give to me!

So, if you are looking for some way to help me, this is it: Focus more on respecting your parents. And dedicate a part of that effort to my refuah shlayma.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Friday, August 10, 2007

Religious Response

I am still on speaking terms with God. :-)

That's not to say that I'm not having a bit of a crisis. But, so far, no major crisis of faith...

I don't understand why this is happening. But, as I always say, things could be worse. So I am grateful that the cancer was discovered when it was and that I live in a time when there are really good drugs that can keep me alive for a long time.

Still, I wanted to do something more.

I wanted to respond to my situation in a religious way. I already asked everyone I know to pray for me. And I am on a number of Tehillim lists (groups who recite all of Psalms in someone's merit).

But what should I do? What could I take on without it being too much for me at this time?

I didn't want to take on something that I couldn't keep up. So, I decided that I would focus on something that I do already, and try to do it "better". So, I am trying to say brachot (blessings) out loud and with more kavanah (focused intention).

Many years ago, when I was in college, I accompanied a friend to her family's home for Shabbat. After I said a bracha (blessing) quietly, her father asked why I had said the bracha quietly and denied him the ability to answer "amen", which would give him the merit of having participated in the bracha. I didn't have an answer then, and that question has stayed with me for years.

I still feel a little silly, saying the brachot out loud. But I am working on it. :-)

Emotional Update: August 2007

So, from phone calls and emails, I learned what I left out of the last email. I thought I covered everything, but apparently I didn't.

So, let's go back a few weeks…..

The toughest part was the first week, when I got the diagnosis. I cried a lot that week.
Then there were the two weeks of anxiety, while awaiting test results.

Once I got all the test results, I felt a lot calmer. And now that I'm know my treatment
program, I feel pretty good.

I go in once a week for treatments. The chemo day is basically a wash up. I spend anywhere from 1-6 hours at the hospital. Then I come home and need to rest. The day after chemo, I'm also pretty tired. After that, every day is better than the last. I'm still tired at night. I can't stay up 'till two in the morning these days. But going to sleep at 10:30, like the rest of the world, isn't so bad. I can live with that. :-}

My mood is pretty good most of the time.
I've started teaching swimming again. That, as you know, makes me feel great! It's good to be doing something that I am good at and that has tangible results. I always say that with parenting it will take at least 20 years to know if I did a decent job; with swimming the progress is quantifiable!

The chemo itself is not so bad. Moshe takes me in and keeps me company while everything gets set up. I have to check in, get the port opened up and get some blood tests. Then we wait around for about an hour, until we get the test results. Then I get the chemo, which can take anywhere from 1/2 an hour to 4 hours, depending on which drugs I am getting, Then I can go home.
Most of the time I'm there, I'm just sitting around. So each time a different friend has met me there. Then I send Moshe off to work and hang out with my friend for the rest of the time! No kids, no phones, no distractions…. Just hanging out! It's like going out for coffee… without the coffee (and the d├ęcor is a little lacking) ;-)

Still, it's not a bad morning.

The "bad stuff" doesn't start until later. Actually, the drugs are not so bad. I didn't realize how "not so bad" they are until this week, when I got the chemo for strengthening my bones. That drug made me feel really sick, like I had the flu. I had fever, and all my joints ached, and I couldn't sleep. Yuch! Thank God I only get that drug once a month!

So, I will admit that I do feel quite sorry for myself when I was feeling so sick. And it is certainly frustrating to me to be so tired. But most of the time I am really OK. I plan to live to 120 and have a good time getting there.

Meanwhile, I have to learn to find the balance between what I want to do and what I can do. I never like to miss anything. But I can't do everything. OK.

I can live with that.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Medical Update: August 2007

I promised to let you know when I know more….
So I hope that this will be an easier way of letting you all know what is going on with me....


The outpouring of love and support from all of you was absolutely amazing!

I finally got the results that I am HER2 positive. As soon as I got the results, I felt calmer and more in control. Now we could determine and start treatment!

I began treatments two weeks ago, Thursday July 26 (11 Av), with vinorelbine (Navalbine). It made me itchy! This reaction is noted in the research, but it is uncommon (lest anything about me be common!).

I couldn’t tell if the vinorelbine made me tired because they gave me this super duper antihistamine to counteract the allergic reaction (that caused the itching), and the antihistamine knocked me out!

Last week, on Wednesday, I got Herceptin for the first time and then the vinorelbine. The drugs are administered via IV, and the doctors always introduce one drug at a time, to see if it causes a reaction. At first, Herceptin is administered very slowly, to give the body a chance to adjust. Eventually, it will just take an hour and a half to get the Herceptin. But this time it took four hours! They had to go slower than usual because… it made me itchy! But when it went slower, it was okay. The vinorelbine made me itch again, but not as badly as the first time. So I didn't take the anti-histamine until the evening. This way, though I was tired, I wasn't completely knocked out.

This Wednesday, I'm getting a new drug, to prevent further deterioration of my bones. I'm actually in a clinical trial, so I am either getting Zomera or a new drug called Denosumab. Participating in the trial is a win-win for me. The Zomera is the next generation drug of its kind, and is not covered by the health funds. And the Denosumab is a new drug which is not even available on the market. So, either way, I'm getting a better drug than I would have gotten had I not been in the study.

So that's it for the medical summary. In a few months, I will get tested again to see how the cancer is responding to the treatments.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Background

Some background (for those who didn't get the letter I sent out about a month ago)

This is a rather dry, technical post, meant to provide information, rather than entertainment. You can skip it if you want!


Two years ago (July 2005) I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I had DCIS –which is cancer in the milk ducts. The cancer is contained and doesn't behave the same way as invasive cancer. Some even refer to this as "pre-cancer", since there is supposed to be no threat of metastesis.

In September 2005, I had my first surgery: a lumpectomy and a sentinel node biopsy (they inject the breast with a dye in order to identify the lymph nodes that the breast drains into first, then those lymph nodes are removed and biopsied.) Usually 1-3 lymph nodes are removed. I had 8 lymph nodes removed. All the lymph nodes were cancer free, but the DCIS was a bit more widespread. In December 2005, I went to the US for a "three in one": mastectomy & reconstruction and, as a bonus, they fixed my hernia at the same time! ;-)

The combination of the type of breast cancer (DCIS) & the clear lymph nodes, led the doctors to believe that I would not have to worry again about cancer on that side.

In June 2007, in my annual mammogram/ultrasound, the radiologist detected swollen lymph nodes. He was not overly concerned, because that can often happen, but he took a cell biopsy to check. The biopsy came back suspicious, so he did a core biopsy. While waiting for the results, I had my annual oncology visit. I asked my oncologist about the lymph nodes and he said that it was highly unlikely to be cancer.

I got the results on the first day of summer vacation: there is cancer in my axillary lymph nodes.

So I met with my surgeon and we made up the initial game plan: tests to make sure the cancer didn't spread. I did the usual array of tests: bone scans, CT, blood tests, etc.

To our surprise, and dismay, we discovered that the cancer has metastasized. I also have cancer in my bones, liver and lungs.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

Welcome!

Welcome!

Here it is, the world according to me!

I hope to cover lots of different topics, like parenting, politics, etc.

But, for now, I'll start with the nitty gritty of what's going on with me....

So, here it comes: everything you wanted to know about how RivkA is dealing with cancer......

With love and optimism,
RivkA