And I’m Off and Running! (Chemo, the Day After)

2 02 2011

OK, maybe more like running, collapsing on the bed, sleeping, getting back up, running some more. Running just my natural state of being, so that’s actually good news. It’s my “normal.”

Yesterday’s round of chemo was, in keeping with the racing theme here, a trifecta. Gemzar and Carboplatin were first, followed by that magic elixir, the PARP Inhibitor BSI-201.

Tuesday is my longer day. It was about a 4 1/2 hour infusion. Friday I will get my second dose of the PARP Inhibitor, and that will take only about 1 1/2 hours. Chemo will continue on a Tuesday/Friday regimen, with labs drawn on Mondays, for two weeks. Then I’ll be off a week, repeat.

No one knows for how long I’ll be undergoing chemo. It’s different for everyone. Right now, it looks like it will be about four to six months. But, I will go through body scans at regular intervals to see how effective these medicines are. Hopefully, they will put me into remission very quickly.

I got the call about my lung biopsy results from my oncologist, Dr. Dana Zakalik, about 10:15 yesterday morning. I was scurrying about the house, trying to help my sister Julie get her luggage packed and grabbing my iPad and a blanket for chemo, when the phone rang.

My gut told me that the biopsy results would just confirm what we already suspected — that the breast cancer had spread to my lung. The results were positive; that IS indeed breast cancer in my lung. Looks right now like it’s just my right lung, and that it has affected two of the lobes. And yes, this takes me to a Stage 4.

My next step was to find my sister, who was in the shower, and tell her, “I need you now!”

She shut off the water, still covered in soap lather, wrapped herself in a towel, and threw her arms around me.

I couldn’t speak. My body was vibrating from the wracking sobs.

“Is it what we thought, baby?” she whispered as she rocked me back and forth.

I nodded. We moved to the edge of the bed in the guestroom and sat down. When I was able to compose myself well enough to speak, I said, “You can’t let people forget me when I’m gone. Pleeassseee don’t let people forget me. People always say they’ll never forget you, but then their lives get busy, and then…”

I told her my wish would be that she and our other sister Lisa, my nieces Natalie and Emily, all of our family and friends who wanted to, would find a way to use my name and my journey and battle to further the cause, to move ever closer to the day when this disease will be eradicated. When it would no longer be allowed to run about, pell-mell, wreaking havoc and wrecking lifes. I said, “Something like Susan G. Komen’s sister promised Susan — and then carried out.”

I never have been one to do anything in a small way. As my Dad always told me, “Shoot for the moon, Aim. And even if you don’t reach it, you’ll still be among the stars.”

Julie promised me. She promised me that they would work together to come up with the perfect idea — the one that would help the greatest number of people, in my name. So, I wouldn’t be forgotten, and I could contribute to this cause long after I’m gone.

But that is a conversation that can be tabled for a while. Months. Maybe even years. The PARP Inhibitor could not only melt away the cancer cells that are present, but would put and keep me in remission. And there’s a very good chance that this is exactly what’s going to happen. Maybe, in this best-case scenario, I’ll be around to lead this project, whatever it turns out to be, whenever it’s my turn to carry the torch for this cause.

So, how does yesterday’s news change things? It doesn’t. Not, at least, in terms of my treatment protocol. It did pull me down mentally for a little while, an hour, maybe two. But I picked myself back up and was off to my chemo treatment. Happy. Happy to have the chance to get the drugs that may save my life.

Does it change my prognosis? Probably not in any way that’s worth measuring. This new invader, afterall, announced its intentions from the get-go. Now, I’m voicing mine. I will live. For many, many, many years. I will be by my husband’s side to raise our five-year-old son into adulthood, and beyond. I will lobby for this cause from the depths of my very being, in every way that God asks me to, in every direction He leads me.

I made a new friend in the chemo chair next to me. Her name is Alicia, and like me, she is the mother of a young child. She’s brave and I know she’s going to make it. We’re now also on facebook together, and might I shamelessly add, she’s a new subscriber to my blog. PR for this cause, afterall, is a 24-7 job. Cancer never sleeps.

I feel OK today. A little nauseous, dizzy, fatigued. Not too bad for the day after chemo. I was just going to post a short update and here I am, 892 words later. I’m tired. Back to bed for me.

— Amy Rauch Neilson

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20 responses

2 02 2011
Maureen

You’re my girl!!! Good for you. Glad Julie was there for you and wish I was closer. Love you!

2 02 2011
Amy Rauch Neilson

I’ll bring myself there. You just gotta find a place for me to bunk.

4 02 2011
Maureen

Well, you’ll bunk w/me, natch’, on the sofa sleeper where we won’t disturb anyone because of course we’ll be so quiet! We’ll wear our ‘jammies.’

2 02 2011
Molly MacDonald

Amy,

As a writer, you should do some indepth research on the Promise Nancy Brinker made to her sister and the real advances Komen has made or not to finding a cure. . . . .

You have an opportunity here to do something remarkable and it just may be that your words, in a blog or in a book will be what will inspire dozens, no make that hundreds of women “in your boobs” to keep fighting.

I myself, believe the cure is in living each day to its fullest, finding joy, making a difference or as you wrote “BEING the difference.”

Sometimes just being may be all you can do, so do that.

Be there for yourself,
Be there for your son.
Be there for your husband.

The rest will follow.

2 02 2011
Sherri Novis

You are the difference Amy. I love you.

2 02 2011
Mark Inman

My prayers are with you

2 02 2011
Mary Goedert

Amy…..Good luck with your chemo, and may it be effective and easy on you….I’m a BI member, and got the email to subscribe your blog. My mother and my mother-in-law both had breast cancer, and I have two daughters in their mid-30s…so it is always on my mind. Will spread the word on my FB page….am amxious to read your next entry! Mary from Saginaw

2 02 2011
KRISTI

Tears………of joy, of sadness, of strength……tears……streaming down my face.

2 02 2011
Tracey

psst . . . Amy, we are ALL praying for you!!!

2 02 2011
Pam

Amy, you are such an inspiration to all of us! Keep that fighting spirit, and rest assured that we will all keep praying for you.

2 02 2011
Jennifer Wolf

Though I am not directly experiencing your battle, please know I am so committed to you and to doing whatever I can to make sure everybody I talk to knows who you are and what you are fighting for. I have no doubt, Amy, that your courage, determination and love of life will only strengthen and give more power to your voice. You are amazing.

2 02 2011
Jen M

Love you Honey! You are going to get through this-and we will be there for you. Lots of prayers coming your way. Love Jen

2 02 2011
Sandy Sherman-Sarlund

I amazed by your strength & commitment but most of all your attitude. You are always in my prayers.

2 02 2011
Bob Adams

Amy, you’ve already made a difference–a huge difference. You sent me the article in the Detroit Free Press and told of the encounter with your doctor shortly after it was published. She couldn’t believe the response from women who saw the picture associated with the article and also wanted their breasts rebuilt. Those women will never forget the article and you. You changed their lives. How many women would be strong enough to participate in that way? You, girl friend, you!

3 02 2011
Krys

That brought me to tears. Your hope and determination through this is so inspiring. You’re already making a difference.

3 02 2011
Marnie

Aim, the comments left by Molly MacDonald and Bob Adams speak volumes…focus on your core (yourself, your family, your blog, your memoir). Your rainbow archs beautifully and will always be seen and inspire others. Remember where it started and know that that the proverbial pot of gold lies in the life you have made with Don, Theo, and a thousand of your closest friends. (I hope you smile at that one!) Keep arching my friend! God will keep sending his rays to shine upon you even during the rain. Keep writing…I am sure I can speak for everyone that is reading your blog (whether they are close to you or are just meeting you for the first time) that your words are making a profound difference in how we all see life – where its truest value lies. I am so grateful that you are willing to share your intimately difficult times as well as the beautiful moments (where hope is found in the making of a new friend, etc.)

3 02 2011
Pam Zecca

Dear Amy: I live in Florida and am a friend of your sister Julie. I knew you were going to again face this battle. Your strength and determination is an inspiration. So many of us have a relative or friend who have faced this same battle and so many are surviving! Good luck with your treatment. Keep writing. God be with you.
Pam

3 02 2011
Jon Green

Amy,

Great Blog, Stay strong.

Jon

3 02 2011
Amy Rauch Neilson

You know I will, babe. And as for you — you better start training. Seems to me you have a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K to run for me, in my honor, this May — a repeat!

3 02 2011
Susan

You are the reason why all of us do what we do and keep going…….keep going Amy.

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