Thursday, July 29, 2010

Susan G. Komen, Race for the Cure


I wanted to post something on the blog that asks all of our close friends and family to donate to the Komen Race this year, or to join our team (currently named, Together 4 Heather). The link is here: http://race.komenoregon.org/site/TR/Race/PortlandRacefortheCure?px=1981453&pg=personal&fr_id=1130 If you decide to join, we would love to have you. Of course, we understand if you are unable to join at this time or unable to donate.

On our main page for the Komen Race (linked above) we wrote a couple things from the heart, but mostly used the great verbage that was provided by the Komen foundation. I wanted to say a couple more things about this race and why its so important. I've done the Komen race every year since 2007. Its been a great opportunity to get together with friends and do something for "those people" affected by breast cancer. I remember complaining that all of the money goes to breast cancer research and feeling bad that the research was not more evenly spread among the cancers.
I had a reality check when the oncologist at Salem Hospital explained to me about the medicine, herceptin, that I will be taking for a year. She explained that herceptin is a relatively new drug, but is a "miracle drug" for cancer like mine. Then she explained that research for breast cancer is so far ahead of other cancers largely because of the Susan G. Komen foundation and the fundraising that is done. Some of this fundraising is done by people who have never been affected by breast cancer, haven't had family with the disease, or haven't lost a friend. For some reason, people really reach out for this cause, and I'm SO GLAD they do. Because of this race, I will be receiving a relatively new drug that is designed directly for my type of cancer (her2+). Because of people who take a Saturday or Sunday and walk with thousands of others, or take a moment to donate a couple of dollars, I will be directly affected.
If you believe that your efforts, for the Komen walk, or even donations for animal rights agencies, MS, or other community needs aren't making a change: you're so wrong! According to this oncologist, the Susan G Komen walk has changed the world of breast cancer research and sped things up exponentially. Lets keep this walk going and funds being raised so that we can cure this damn cancer!!!!
Much Love,
Heather & Shane

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

You asked, we responded




We have had a few people ask about bringing meals and helping around the house after surgery. Honestly, we have been terrible about planning this, but our amazing friend LouAnn has volunteered to coordinate this aspect of recovery. If you are interested in signing up for a meal for a day, please contact her at louann.vickers@gmail.com. We currently have 9 days (a meal every other day) open if you are interested! :-)

Thank you again for your support and love during all of this! We look forward to posting good news after surgery!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Chopped off all my hair on Friday in preparation for chemo. My hair stylist did such a great job! I'm still in a little bit of shock, and probably will be for a couple of days. This is a cut i've been too chicken to go through with until now. Not excited that its going to all fall out, but this will be a much easier transition.
Love to all - Heather

Thursday, July 22, 2010

07/22/2010

Surgery is finally scheduled! It looks like the date is set for August 10th. Heather will have an all-day pre-operation appointment on the 9th of August and then go into surgery on the 10th. Heather's mom, Ann Marie, is planning to come down after surgery to help around the house and take care of Heather. There's nothing better than having your mommy around when you are recovering!

Of course, there is a great deal of unknown and fear involved with the removal of Heather's breasts, but the good thing is that the cancer is getting removed with them! This will be the first of two surgeries, as the plastic surgeon will place tissue expanders this time around and then the silicon implants during the next surgery. Too much information? Probably!

The next two weeks we will continue to work and keep things as "normal" as possible before the surgery. Work helps a great deal to keep our minds off of things. We have also continued to spend a great deal of time with friends who have been spectacular about making sure we don't have too much down time to get "low". We love you guys! Thanks for making this journey barable.

Love,
Shane & Heather

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

07/21/2010

The final results of the lymph node biopsy are back. They are negative!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

07/20/2010 Follow up

Just received a call from Dr. Tiffany's office. The genetic tests came back NEGATIVE!!! YAY!!!!! This means that Heather won't have to have her ovaries out and her risk for re-occurrence is not inflated!!! We could not be happier. Thank you everyone for your good thoughts and prayers!! We are still waiting on the results of the lymph nodes. If this comes back negative, Heather is in good shape (as good as you can be with cancer, that is).

07/20/2010

Yesterday we had a phone consultation with the naturopath in Eugene. The naturopath, Dr. Kaczor was amazing. She specializes in oncology and natural medicine and did her residency with the American Cancer Society. She gave us some recommendations for supplements that Heather can take to help improve her surgery recovery time, as well as some stretches that may be helpful pre-surgery.

Later in the afternoon we met with a nutritionist that talked about some positive nutrition changes Heather can make to aid her immune system throughout this process. Lots of leafy greens were recommended.

Heather also called to get the surgery scheduling started and will hopefully know in the next couple of days when the surgery will happen.

Lots of waiting and yet, we are finally getting things in order and feeling more prepared for what's to come.

Lots of Love,
Shane and Heather

Friday, July 16, 2010

07/15/2010

We had our Thursday appointment at OHSU and everything went splendidly. We found out in the second appointment that the cancer has not metastisized, which was the news that we were most concerned about recieving. We are elated to know that the cancer is staying put and we are going to make sure that it doesn't go anywhere. Also, preliminary results show that the lymph nodes are cancer-free. We will not know more until the final results are back. We learned all of this in the surgical appointment.

We also had a genetics appointment, where the doctors comprehensively explained the genetics testing Heather had undergone and quickly found out what was happening with the tests that had been sent in (??) by Salem Hospital. We have two-weeks until we know what the results will be. Please keep prayers going and fingers crossed that these results will be negative.

The third appointment was with the medical oncologist, who was Wonderful. He was extremely knowledgable, friendly, and most of all supportive and compassionate. Chemotherapy will start after the surgery. As of now, we do not know when surgery is scheduled, but we do know that it will be a double mastectomy.

Next, we met with the fertility doctor to discuss IVF. We both felt like we were in a movie. The process is very futuristic and the thought of being able to freeze embryos is exciting and bizarre all at the same time. At this time, we are unsure of our direction on fertility but would welcome opinions and experience on this issue. OHSU offers the cryo embryo proceedure at a discounted rate for cancer patients. I guess, nowadays, that includes us!

Finally, we met with the plastic surgeon. This appointment was gut-wrenching, foretelling, and still hopeful. Its hard to imagine the proceedures that were discussed (such as the diep breast reconstruction), but we are excited that these proceedures are so extremely foreward thinking and advanced. The plastic surgeon was wonderful and inspiring about the outcome of whatever proceedure Heather decides on.

At this point, the prospect of making such a heafty decision is overshadowed by the tiredness from yesterday's meetings. We are planning to spend some time discussing our options and hopefully come to a decision by next week about many of our obstacles ahead. Thank you for those who have weighed-in on the reconstruction proceedures as well as the fertility question. We appreciate you opinions and life examples.

In the end, we haven't really ever heard anyone speak badly about the care at OHSU, and we will gladly add ourselves to the list of those who were and are currently being given the best possible care at the University on the hill. We are so glad and blessed to be in the position to have amazing insurance and amazing healthcare so close to us. Most of all, we are blessed to have such amazing friends and family to hold us up during this time.

Much love,

Heather & Shane

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

07/14/2010

We are headed to OHSU this morning for a full-body PET scan and another biopsy of the lymph nodes, since the last biopsy did not get the actual node. We will hopefully have the results of these tests by tomorrow, as OHSU does the analysis in-house.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

07/13/2010

Tomorrow is supposed to be Heather's surgery, but at the last minute we decided to postpone the surgery and go get a second opinion at OHSU. I think we were in denial that this is the route that we wanted to go all along, but the input from friends and family (and strangers, actually) helped us make the decision to call off the surgery and start from scratch at OHSU on Thursday. After an hour this morning, OHSU already had all of our records, had appointments scheduled, and were ready to go! We are happy to know that they are on the ball and ready to get to work. Heather will be the subject of the Thursday morning meeting of "OHSU Brains" to discuss the tumor and the direction that should be taken.
This Thursday afternoon we have an appointment to see an interdisciplinary team including: a medical oncologist, surgical oncologist, geneticist, breast nurse, radiological oncologist, and a fertility specialist. We think this was a good decision and regardless, we can always change our minds and go with the first opinion.

While our first doctors seemed great, they didn't seem to be working together very well. We were getting some conflicting information about the lymph node biopsy, some conflicting information about the genetic testing (which was apparently not sent off correctly and results will not be available for another 2 weeks), as well as surgery issues that were not explained very well. We felt a little blind going into the process and a surgery as important as a mastectomy ( possibly double ) should involve more than a split second decision. Most importantly, we wanted all of our doctors to be on the same page and that didn't seem to be the case.

Regardless, we should have more updates on Thursday regarding the direction this process is headed at OHSU.

Lots of Love,
Heather & Shane

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

07/06 Update

Today's appointment went well. The radiologist explained all aspects of what is to come and some of the possibilities. This meeting answered a number of questions we had and opened up doors to new questions. Overall, we came away from the appointment feeling well cared for and ready to take the next steps.
We are preparing ourselves for all possibilities, but keeping faith that no matter what comes around the corner we will beat this together.
We should have test results for the genetic component on Monday or so. We will update
Everyone when we know more!

Much love,
Shane and Heather

07/06/2010

Had a great time in Wallowa. It was nice to see everyone and feel back to "normal" for a couple of days. Thursday we leave for LasVegas to celebrate our 3rd Anniversary. We can't wait to get off the plane and feel the heat! Unfortunately, Surgery is scheduled for the actual day of our Anniversary.

Anyway, We have a meeting with the radiologist today at noon to discuss whether we are going to be able to do a lumpectomy or if the tumor is going to be too large to remove without a mastectomy. Heather's co-worker apparently had her tumor reduced with radiation so that it could be removed via a lumpectomy. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we get some positive news today regarding our options. Regardless, whatever comes our way, we are ready to work through.

Friday, July 2, 2010

07/02/2010

Recieved a call from the surgeon. Unfortunately, the biopsy did not get enough tissue to determine if the nodes are cancerous, so the surgeon will be conducting a sentinol node byopsy on the 14th of July when she performs the surgery.
In good news, there is only one lump, as determined by the MRI. Not so good is that the single lump is larger than they had originally anticipated and so a lumpectomy may not be a possibility. Still waiting on the results from the genetic testing to determine if the trump card will be a double mastectomy.

Its been a hard day today. Hoping for good news with the genetic tests. Please keep the prayers and good thoughts circling.