I'm Kristen. I celebrated my 50th birthday in January in chemo and under quarantine -not the party I had envisioned. This is my second dance with breast cancer in less than three years. I had HER2- breast cancer, a bi-lateral mastectomy, and reconstruction in November 2018. I then had chemo and radiation the first half of 2019. At the end of 2020 I felt a small bump which everyone determined to be something leftover from my surgery. Based on my track record, I insisted on a biopsy. The bump I felt was indeed nothing, but on their way to do the biopsy, the needle found breast cancer hiding in a muscle near my armpit. It was HER2+ this time, so I'm an over-achiever/medical mystery. I ended up with a Stage 4 diagnosis, since the cancer had spread to my liver. I recently rang the bell on 24 weeks of chemo and recently was declared cancer free. I will continue to have antibody infusions indefinitely and scans every three months. The post below is from my Caring Bridge account that I use to keep friends, family and co-workers informed on my progress.
I recently met with the oncologist and received my new marching orders. Due to all my stellar blood work and how well my body is tolerating treatment, I earned what he says are "two cycles" more of chemo. The way I counted it is eight more weeks, instead of just two more weeks of chemo. For those playing at home, this will be a total of SIX MONTHS of Taxol!! We did several rounds of counting in our own ways and agreed to disagree -- his way just makes it sound like less -- probably so I didn't punch him in the throat.
Twenty-four weeks of chemo was always a possibility (which is why I haven't really been counting). Half of me is proud and feeling like a chemo-slayer, and the other half of me is annoyed and wants to be done. Ultimately it was my decision, but the overachiever in me did not hesitate to tell him I'd do the 24 weeks (Why do I have no control over that voice??). I have gotten to the point that when I catch myself in the mirror before I've drawn everything on, I'm startled and think for a second, Oh no!!! When was the fire??? And why didn't anyone get me out in time??!! I have a couple of narwhal-looking eyelashes still hanging on, but they may actually be crazier looking then if they just joined the other deserters.
During my recent infusion, there was an elderly gentleman two chairs over who was very hard of hearing and very grouchy. His infusions are slow and he only likes one nurse to do them (she was off yesterday). He doesn't like the choices of juice. The nurses were yelling into his face to be heard - he was a lot. At some point he puts on headphones and has music going so loud that I think it is someone's very loud ringtone going off. The song is...wait for it...Disco Inferno. The nurses asked if he needs help lowering the volume (he replies that he’s good), they asked if it is hurting his ears (nope, still good). The song plays again...and then again...this is clearly his jam.
We are all stifling giggles and can't make eye contact with each other. It is like a class of middle schoolers. It was insane - a grouchy old man blasting Disco Inferno on repeat??! The song finally changes to Whitney Houston's I'm Every Woman and THAT loops over and over. How can this man be so grouchy if these are his infusion day songs?? Unless he hates this music and his device is stuck on these songs (this was a theory that was floated after he left). We are all having silent fits! Luckily, his infusion is short and he leaves. One of the nurses absently breaks into song on a normal day, so the rest of the time I was there, she'd drop a line from one of those songs and everyone would just lose it laughing.
Who says that infusion day isn’t fun???