C h e c k l i s t

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          ☑ Chemotherapy
          ☑ Surgery
          ☑ Radiation
          Maintenance Therapy
                     ☑  Herceptin
                     ☐  Anti-Hormonal Treatment

January 22, 2015

Menopause schmenopause

I will be entering a drug induced menopause by taking Lupron shots in my butt every month for the next 5 1/2 years! This will suppress my ovaries. I will be adding an oral drug (Femara) which is in the class of an aromatase inhibitor!

This may seem okay and not as bad as having a recurrence, right? But this is going to screw up my life big time--- there is a reason why we need those hormones in our body. They help with our mental and physical health as well as our metabolism.

Just today I dropped off Sahil at a day camp. The lady there said he was gorgeous and I need to have more kids to populate this world with beautiful children. Long before this new turn in treatment, we decided that our family was complete. We were thinking of adopting or gestational carrier briefly.
So this statement by a harmless stranger didn't get me, but the irony of it struck me!

Not excited but going to do it. This all because of one study called SOFT Trial (http://www.ascopost.com/ViewNews.aspx?nid=20664). See the results below. A few percentage point of "potential" progression free survival makes me think it may be worth it after all. I will do anything for this gorgeous boy of mine. With pursed lips I squeak meekly "bring it on"!!!


"Significant Reduction in Risk
However, in the cohort that remained premenopausal after chemotherapy (average age, 40 years), ovarian suppression added to tamoxifen achieved a 22% reduction risk of recurrence vs tamoxifen alone. The combination of exemestane plus ovarian function suppression was even better, with a 35% risk reduction for recurrence vs tamoxifen alone. The 5-year event-free survival was 78% for tamoxifen alone, 82.5% for tamoxifen plus ovarian function suppression, and 85.7% for exemestane plus ovarian function suppression.
“In women under age 35, one in three women on tamoxifen alone—the standard of care—had further recurrence within 5 years compared with one in six for exemestane plus ovarian function suppression,” Dr. Francis stated.
Looking at the cohort of women who did not receive chemotherapy (average age, 46 years), they did well in all three study arms. Five-year event-free survival was 95.8% with tamoxifen alone, 95.1% with tamoxifen plus ovarian suppression, and 97.1% with exemestane plus ovarian suppression.
“In this older group of women who did not have chemotherapy, there is no reason to add ovarian suppression. The average age is 46 years, and some of these women will go into menopause soon,” Dr. Francis said.
The SOFT trial was supported by Pfizer, the IBCSG, and the National Cancer Institute, among others. Dr. Francis reported no potential conflicts of interest."

January 13, 2015

Five Years…


Five years since my diagnosis. Life has changed forever. I love this quote which sums up these 5 years: “Some days life is all about your dreams, hopes, and visions about future. But there are some days where life is just about putting one foot in front of the other. And that’s okay!”---By someone unknown who knows it.
I have also learnt that life does not have to be as planned or perfect to be wonderful or meaningful. You make it so by living each day.
I definitely went from feeling hopeless to hopeful in these 5 years. However, every time a friend gets diagnosed, or her disease progresses or she dies I just get numbed all over again. In my world this happens often. I had a friend who gave me so much hope when I was down, she told me there was a light at the end of the tunnel and sometimes it flickers but then there are times when it shines brightly. Today she shines brightly in the night sky. Why?
So all I want to say is I am humbled that I am at this 5 year mark with no evidence of disease (NED) --- so far progression free. I definitely would like to celebrate my life on this day and surround myself with my loves, but also I feel very fearful of this milestone as I know my time in this world is definite and I am not sure if I can make it to the next milestone in life. I love the quote “Be where your feet are” and I wish I could just be where my feet are today and not let my mind race ahead of my feet as it always does.
My mortality has been in my face since my diagnosis and I always think if I had to die this year then…
I think it would really really be hard for my boys and my mother and my brother and my sister and my nieces…But I will die knowing that I am loved and I leave behind a legacy and happy memories. I call that accomplishment in life. I will die knowing the life I created for myself in the 30 some years on earth and the mark I leave behind. I will die with the hope that I don’t fade away from my child’s memory completely and traces of me stay back in him just like traces of my father have stayed with me. I will die knowing that my eulogy will include words like kind and love and that is what is most important. I will die knowing Dinar will sometimes laugh and smile when he will think of all the crazy antics that I did to a somewhat square guy!
But today is not just about life or death. Today is about letting you all know that as of today “I am okay”. Thanks for caring so much and continuing to do so. It is about appreciating the amazing group of friends we have and that we feel surrounded by love. It is also about forgetting the gory details from treatment and surgeries and forgetting everything else that was worth forgetting.
It is about the field of medicine. The progress we have made and the questions that still remain unanswered. It is to all my doctors and nurses and caregivers. It is to the development of Herceptin (trastuzumab) the miracle drug for HER-2+ aggressive tumors.  It is to having health insurance.
It is about the family and friends that slipped away. We were never meant to be and that is okay.
It is about leading a day with purpose, love, and joy. For “Each morning we are born again. What we do today matters the most”—Gautam Buddha…
Lots of Love

Bela

October 22, 2014

10 years married 17 years together...


May 8, 2013

Being a Mother. Not a question of choice anymore.

I came back from my annual "lady" doctor appointment. My gynaec is also a breast cancer survivor and has had kids after her diagnosis, difference being she harvested her eggs before they got fried forever! I for many reasons did not at that point. Am I kicking myself for that today? Yes a bit. I still feel cheated robbed mugged! It is a loss so deep yet I have no words to verbalize or talk about it to anyone in person. It is just a very deep deep felt emptiness.

My gynaec and I talk about a lot of stuff ... We talk about breast cancer, our boys, our boys absolutely loving their mamas with all their heart and soul, about the fact that breast cancer has made us so much more aware about our lives, brought about some equanimity in our lives. And for that I feel blessed. I feel blessed that I am doing yoga, playing tennis, have energy to work full time and lead a good life.

But there are days that I still feel robbed. I see people go about their lives fearlessly and beautifully like a bird  gliding in the sky! And then I feel my one wing has been clipped and cannot soar as high as these beautiful birds. I know there is a story behind every pair of eyes and I don't know what these peoples' stories are. As for me I am perched on the branch enjoying the view of the river flowing below rather than the sky high up!

That brings me to my little treasure, Sahil. Sahil has grown into such a fearless at the same time sensitive child. There is a lot that we need to reign him in for but I see past all the energy and see a sweet beautiful and creative child in him. He surprises me every day with his ever growing vocabulary, his ability to say the most profound things, his innate knowledge on his world and the life around him, and his ability to say "its okay mom" to me when I need it the most.

There are days like today when I mourn the loss of my fertility, but at the same time cherish what I have in my little boy. My little boy who some times looks at me with those big eyes as if he knows it all, as if he has gone through my pain with me. And there are days when he will bump his head intentionally on my cheekbone to get that "aaaah that hurts" "just you wait" reaction from me and I know he knows nothing more than a 4 year old should know anyways!!

Love and Peace to all moms I know.

Happy Mother's Day!

B



December 31, 2012

The little blue engine that could...

Thank You 2012 for being a quiet year for me personally. It was peaceful, healthful, and filled with good times. Here are the top 12 moments of 2012 in no particular order:
  1. I started work back full-time, and only took a week off for a minor surgery! Yay! Work has had its ups and downs and getting used to the changes that took place while I was out on medical leave. But I feel it to be a personal accomplishment to go back to work with all my vigor and with the confidence to tackle the real world again. 
  2. Sahil turned 3 years old and was a lot of fun all through 2012. Some of the things he says are just simply out of this world. I love his curiosity and want for knowledge. It is such a pleasure to see him discover the world and for us to be a part of his growing world. 
  3. Our new home. We love it, it is perfect and we are looking forward to many happy times and great memories here with our wonderful friends and family.
  4. A brand new niece. A brand new life. Simply beautiful.
  5. Dinar started a new job that he loves and is so well deserved.
  6. Yoga. Om state of mind. 
  7. Zumba. Energy and fun and hope that nobody is watching me :)
  8. The weighing scale moved a bit! Yay!! I hope it keeps moving to the left (well it is a digital scale :))
  9. Sukhu and Amogh moving closer. Love these guys! 
  10. Foobs. Love it hate it, love it. Cant complain it is what it is. My body is unique and is beautiful, I have accepted it.
  11. I saw my oncologist only 3 times this year :)
  12. The feeling that I am moving on, my hair is long, my body a bit more shapely, my mind clearer, and my drive for life back. I feel I will live, yes I will. And this is a great feeling.
Cheers to one and all! Happy New Year! Be kind to one another, be true to yourself. I hope 2013 turns out a super year for us all.

Best

Bela

December 20, 2012

Sometimes you need to just pause and ....


August 17, 2012

Will I have another 35 years to live?


I have not posted for a long time. Since my last post I have wanted to say a few things but not to the point of writing a blog post. Sometimes I think it is a good sign that I am not writing my cancer blog anymore and should perhaps start a “style” blog. But then I am superstitious and don’t want to retire this blog as I always will be afraid of the other shoe falling off some day. Unfortunately that fear will never fade away.
Since the last blog I have a new set of foobies. They look good (clothed) and feel good. I do have some minor aches and pains but nothing worthy of a third thought. Since the last blog, we have bought a new home (or rather are in the process of buying) and all I can say that I am eternally grateful that I have this opportunity to realize another dream. Dinar and I say that this is our final home and we will see Sahil go to college from this home. I believe that. I see lots of good memories being made in this home, lots of happy times, lots of entertaining. 
I turn 35 years old this Sunday. I feel grateful to be alive and grow another year older. I am taking stock of the last 35 years and I feel that it has been a great ride so far.  Even a 70 year old would not have faced some of the challenges I have faced in these 35 years and that in some ways makes these 35 years more eventful.  I still think about how life would be if I didn’t have breast cancer, if my father would have been alive, if I had one more child, or two more, and I realize those are impossible situations.
But then I look at my sweet boy and I feel like this is my biggest accomplishment in life. Nothing else matters. He needs me now and I am there for him now.  I was away from him for 4 days visiting family on the west coast last week and when I got back he was super happy and we spent the whole day together. At night the happiness wore off and he realized that I was actually gone for several days and he started bumping his head on my chin and chest and told me “I am mad at you mommy! You are a naughty gurl! I don’t like you”. This went on all evening. In the morning he wakes up and kisses me and tells me “I miss you mommy. Don’t go to the airport again”. At that moment I thought I can’t die any time soon, my little boy needs me.
The mind games that this disease plays with you are beyond words. You look over your shoulder every time you are happy, celebrating, or content.  This disease is ruthless and has taken lives of several people I know; many of them have their own young ones. One thing I am learning is to live my life in a fulfilling way, to not stick to the troughs and to not doubt the peaks in my life.  If good things happen to us, embrace them without the sense of fear or guilt. Some things are beyond my control and I don’t attempt to control them, like this disease, it’s occurrence, and it’s recurrence, or lack of.
I hate this disease and I feel that we have yet to make any breakthrough progress on reining this disease in. We always thought that HIV/AIDS was going to be the big threat of our times, but turns out that cancer remains the biggest threat.  Some things click and work in cancer treatment, some therapies to treat cancer cause other cancers (go figure), and some therapies don’t work at all. There is plenty of work being done. 90% of my work is oncology related, my husband works in a cancer drug manufacturing plant, but then you still think “is this enough?”  Is enough being done to find a cure? Is there any such thing as a cure?  Is it more profitable to treat a cancer patient than cure a cancer patient? Is there a lucrative economic case here? Have we as human beings stooped down to that level? This is when I take a step back and silence the cynic inside me. Hush time to sip some wine and think about more simple things like “what do we eat for dinner tonight?”