Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wrapping up Pinkapalooza (I mean, Breast Cancer Awareness Month)

Between being back at work full time, amping up my work outs in preparation for the Seattle Half Marathon that I may or may not run (do you have any idea how uncomfortable running with tissue expanders is? Probably not, but let me tell's somewhat comparable to having an elephant sitting on your chest. Not that I've ever actually had an elephant on my chest, but this is how I imagine it would feel. Ah, I digress...) and taking care of this huge house that my husband insisted we'd grow into, I haven't had much spare time at all to tend to my very neglected blog.

I also haven't much to say about breast cancer, which is a really good thing, right?

I was honestly kind of dreading the arrival of October. As a new breast cancer survivor, the pinkfest of Breast Cancer Awareness Month can be kind of overwhelming...the proverbial salt in a very fresh wound. However, October has been a pretty great month for me. My energy level continues to increase. I stayed really busy, which helps this time away from Brian go by quickly. My amazing support group, the Seattle Young Survival Coalition, hosted our second annual Drink Beyond the Pink cocktail party/silent auction, and we raised over $26,000 to support young women with breast cancer!!! It was a great party for an amazing cause. Brian and I also signed up to do the Komen 3 Day for the Cure walk next year.

Our team, the Valley Girls & Guys, from my hometown, was the number one fundraising team in the NATION last year!!! Because of this amazing achievement, they (we) were invited to be part of the Seahawks opening ceremony for their Breast Cancer Awareness day on October 24th. We got to be on the field for the pregame festivities, and it was so.much.FUN!!! It's an amazing team, and feel so honored to be a part of it. As I've met my teammates, a lot of them ask if I know a survivor. When I tell them it's me, they're surprised/saddened/impressed. I definitely don't fit the typical breast cancer survivor profile (I'm short by about 20-30 years!) but I think it's really good for them to see that breast cancer DOES happen to young, healthy women. I usually get lots of questions, and I'm happy to answer them. I tell my story because I'm living proof that the money they work so hard to raise (most of my teammates are repeat walkers) goes to important research. I tell my story because awareness is great, and necessary, but what we really need is a cure.

To close with some good news, I had my first post-treatment check-up this week. I was pretty nervous going into it, but everything looks great, and I am marching forward disease-free! I can still use your prayers and good thoughts...getting through the next two years (my highest window for recurrence) is going to be a HUGE milestone for me, and I'll take all the support I can get to help me get there.

Did you feel your (or your wife/girlfriend/partner's) boobies this month???

My YSC Sisters at the Seahawks practice facility

Friday, October 1, 2010

Yay for positive BRCA news!

Patricia Prijatel, medical journalist and author of the fantastic blog called "Positives About Negative" (great title, right?!) has just posted some positive news related to Triple Negative, BRCA-1 positive breast cancer. As Patricia points out in her post, there have been a lot of funds and research effort dedicated to triple negative cancer because its lack of receptors has made it a difficult cancer for which to target treatment.

I've posted before that triple negative cancer used to be known as "the really bad stuff." Higher rate of metastasizing, no targeted post-treatment therapies like Herceptin and Tamoxifen to reduce recurrence risk, etc. I've also posted about how the BRCA-1 mutation predisposes carriers (like me) to an upwards of 80% lifetime risk of breast cancer. One would assume that a combination of the two of these would be pretty bad news (lucky me!)

However, this study from MD Anderson concludes that those with triple negative breast cancer and a BRCA mutation have lower recurrence risk and better survival rate than women who are triple negative without the mutation! All but one of the 77 triple negative cases had the same adjuvant chemo treatment, but the 15 women who had the BRCA mutation actually fared better than those without.

Unfortunately, the study did not state what kind of surgery the women had. My guess would be that those who knew of their genetic mutation had more aggressive surgeries (bi-lateral mastectomy vs. lumpectomy) and that might account for the higher survival rate. At any rate, it's great news for a triple negative, BRCA positive gal like me! This diagnosis hasn't been filled with many statistics in my favor, so I'll take this one!