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Old 01-20-2006, 08:49 PM   #1
Attilash's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rome, Italy
Posts: 7
A special case

I am 34, and writing from Rome,Italy. My story begins in year 2000, when at 28 I found out this strange lump in my left breast. It was the end of August, and on Oct. 31 I had a quad- and all the lympnodes on that side were removed, too. Then, a nice chemo with AC/CMF, which lasted from Nov. 24 to May 18, 2001, and following that, radio for some two months and a half. On August 13, 2001, with the last day of radiotherpay, my first (and at that time, I thought and hoped my only one) encounter with cancer ended. Throughout the cure, I was told that I was a special case, because I was so young, and there were good chances that I had a genetic failure of some sort, due to the fact that nobody else had ever had BC in my family. I was told that the usual rate for such an occurrence would be 1 over 600.000. WOW! In Italy we have lotto game (sort of betting on numbers), and I bet on 1 and 16 and 60, and WON... ;O)
Well, it was hard and sad and demanding. To lose my hair, to lose my (supposed) friends - people are afraid, here in Italy, so much afraid...- to lose my freedom, somehow to lose my youth in this terrible, disgusting way...
But I made it, and won. I managed to sleep, and to eat, and to go out, and find boyfriends, and make new friends, and lead a normal life, thinking that every year that passed would be one more towards the five that make the difference...
Then, this spring (four years and 6 months later), a sudden hurting in my chest, and a strange feeling and a few qustions, and suddenly I found myself back in the hospital, to have my sternum removed. Again I have been told that I am a spcial case: my onc said that in 30 years of practice, it was the second time he ever had seen such a rare occurrence - or rather, recurrence - bone met in the sternum alone...
Lucky me, isn't it?
Anyway, now I am a sort of bionic woman, with a goretex sternum which, who knows, might have special powers (keeping me warm while skiing...? ;O) ). Up to now, I have had 6 taxotere, and 8 herceptin, and I am supposed to continue with herceptin at least until July, possibly for another year, and maybe also to add navelbine, but the onc doesn't know yet. On Tuesday, Jan. 24, I will have a pet-scan to check what's going on inside...
I sincerely hope that whatever it's going on, it's just the usual stuff, and no surprises... :O/
In the meantime, I have lived: I found my second cat (cats sometimes happen, I discovered), I renovated my apartment - especially the sitting room, I bought a new bookshelf for the many books that I have to read yet, I quit an unuseful boyfriend (who, the day I got my bone scan confirming a black spot on the bone right there where the heart is, had the courage to affirm that I had not given him enough attention), and learned to dance salsa.
I also found this web site, where I have come many times to look for solace.
My hair is growing back, and I really do hope it will grow in locks, as it did the first time it grew back, so that I can charm a cute lawyer that I met at dance lessons... ;OD
In truth, I have plans for myself. Starting with trying to sleep and eat regularly (when I am upset, these two things seem to become really difficult to do), and then smiling, possibly every day, and being positive, and sewing me a nice frock for the summer, and learn to dance the most difficult figures in salsa... I need to fight a good fight - and I need to win my war.
And, of course, there is the cute lawyer.... ;O)
A huge kiss and hugs to all of you, to all of us.
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Old 01-20-2006, 09:55 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Posts: 198
What a great story...So sorry you have to deal with all of this. I was also young at diagnosis...30. Mets to liver at 33 and bone mets at 34. I have 4 young children which are my reason to fight this crappy disease.
You sound so positive. I have never heard of a sternum replacement wow. Your bionic powers may just attract that lawyer!!!!!
Come back to us often!! All the best to you and your soon to be locks!!!
Dx'd Dec'01 while 6mos preg. with #4. child (30yrsold)Mastectomy/AC chemo/radiation/ Recur:Mar'04 liver mets: 3 taxol/herceptin /liver resection/3 taxol/herceptin. Cured?
Recur: May'05 spine & Hip. New onc
treatment in Mexico Feb'06-Mar-06
back to Mexico June/July '06
Currently on herceptin/Zometa/Femara-recently added navelbine
Switched to arimidex Nov'06
ovaries removed June '07
ca15-3 in May'06 was 102
ca15-3 summer of '07 holding steady at 23!
ca15-3 slowly rising Dec & Jan 36, 38, 41 and Feb was 36
Feb '08 Liver, lung & Brain scan NED... bones are stable with even a couple spots gone. as compared with '06 scans
May '08 ca 15-3 is 55. Treatment is zometa, vinorelbine, herceptin and aromasin.
No signifcant changes.
Feb'09 Started Xeloda with herceptin..no more hormonals
Feb'09-June'09 tumor markers coming down again from 155 to 84
May'09 blood clots in lungs vena cava filter put in..Heparin shots daily for now.
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Old 01-21-2006, 07:47 AM   #3
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You are such an obvious survivor, indomitable and an inspiration. Men can be incredibly dense and selfish, but others make up for it - and I'm sure your dancing lawyer will find the incoming locks irresistible (for me too they were a welcome reward for the bald months).

Cats happen, thank goodness; cancer happens too, but you feed the first and starve the second - and with all the research and new discoveries and medicines emerging, I don#t think your cancer will have more than the two lives it's already had.

(Look at the main section of this site, at the healthy diet posting from yesterday or today; it is massively helpful and encouraging. This is one thing that we can all do daily to help our bodies fight back.)
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Old 01-21-2006, 12:34 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 1,516
Thumbs up Attilash...

I'm so sorry you have been through what you have, but you have what it takes to be a survivor...a GREAT attitude and NOW you have us Take care and God bless.

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Old 01-22-2006, 07:55 PM   #5
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 197
Wow..what a good case history you will make..smile.

Hi, we share A LOT in common...I was dx at 33, did a very aggressive chemo regimen not so different from yours..CAF then taxotere then rads, but it only bought me 5 months till the cancer had mets to the liver..(12 lesions..) as there was NO liver transplant BACK THEN...oh I feel ancient..in 1999..smile...and CERTAINLY no sternum transplant..YOU MUST BE VERY RARE...smile..., I had to get by on HERCEPTIN alone...

LONG story short..it has worked very well for me...but living with cancer is now just a part of my daily routine..having mets some 7 times since...including ONE very stubborn MET to my sternum...right in the manubrium...right over my heart...so, yes, I share your pain, AND your ENTHUSIASM to keep living.

I have been a single mom throughout and even though I am thrilled I will be turning 42 next month...just to have survived nearly 10 years..., but I am at the same time angry and sad that all my very BEST and MOST LOVELY womanly years have all been swallowed up fighting this illness...even though I am very grateful for an exceptional quality of life made possible by the Herceptin that lets me run my own company and even volunteer to help folks with her-2 and other cancers. I am especially grateful that at least I had one natural child before all this happened but am saddened for all the other children I wanted but did not get the opportunity to conceive...

I most of all am sad that having an illness such as this makes having a significant relationship even harder than it already is under the best of circumstances. You are very brave and very positive. I wish you the very best...I visited Rome several times when I lived in Europe back in the 80s..it is a beautiful city.

Good luck with that LAWYER...trust me..with this kind of illness...a good litigator is NEARLY as important as a great oncologist..smile..

Best of luck to you,
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Old 01-25-2006, 05:34 PM   #6
Pam Bellendir
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 5
What a courageous young woman (women). I am so glad you found this site. These women (and men) have been such a support for me (as you all truly know how I feel) and I have a great support system. I have the best husband, the best friends with all the good intentions who did come through for me, hundreds of believers in Christ praying for my healing and comfort during chemo-- daily since my dx in 03/2005 (and my chemo turned out to be a much easier ordeal than most I know of), and the use of Herceptin, and I still on occasion feel sorry for myself. Thank you so much for finding this site and reminding me how selfish I can be. What a true inspiration you are. I must ask for forgiveness. I don't have the pressure of dealing with this disease along with trying to live a normal youthful life or trying to make a living for myself and raise small children at the same time as so many other women do. Please, all of you need to know that you have reinvigorated (is that a word?) me to pull up my bootstraps and once again know that I have a great life and I need to quit taking it for granted. Thank you so much. I am not a religious (living by the law) believer in Jesus Christ, I am just a believer who knows Him and His grace. So I encourage a relationship with This Higher Power to help sustain you too. For the founder of this site, thank you again.
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