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Troublesome News | Now Thyroid Cancer



Thyroid Awareness RibbonSharing troublesome news today, Dawne now has Thyroid Cancer. Surgery is scheduled for the end of next week. Initial biopsies indicate she has Papillary Thyroid Cancer. If this holds true after final biopsy, this cancer growth is completely distinct from Dawne’s previous ‘HER2-positive Breast Cancer’. We are told Papillary Thyroid Cancer is infinitely easier to treat than Metastasized HER2 Cancer. Small break! We expect no new information, as concerns what stage of thyroid cancer, until after surgery.


We started several weeks ago to update you all on Dawne’s breast cancer journey; her preparations for the end of this year and the anniversary of her breast cancer diagnosis. We paused when her doctor spoke to us about possible Thyroid Cancer. It took us back quite a bit. It has been a difficult month as we went from precautionary examinations to final diagnosis. Dawne and I thought long and hard about writing and posting about these new hurdles. We didn’t want to upset folks causing them to think the worst; yet we have been nothing short of candid in our previous writings. Dawne believes in cancer awareness and with that comes a willingness to share personal matters, even nuances which are uncomfortable. So it is that Dawne asked me to write to you today.


Quite bluntly, Dawne’s recovery from breast cancer surgery and treatment is nowhere near complete and this added more layers of physical and emotional stress. You all have been a vital part of Dawne’s support team. I’m certain Dawne could use some additional encouragement right now. Breast cancer recovery is proving more difficult than anticipated. Those details we will save for later. Noteworthy today, is an important aspect of Dawne’s Cancer Story. She would not know she has thyroid cancer had it not been for the PET scans done to further the diagnosis and treatment of her breast cancer.


Interesting to me is that Dawne has suspected for some time that her thyroid has been causing her to experience marked weight gain and renewed dealings with menopausal hot flashes. Regular bio-chem lab tests have indicated no cause and effect, yet her physical experiences indicate otherwise. It may be that Dawne is more in-tune with her body signals than the lab tests. Is it possible that with this unexpected surgery and post-op treatment that she may experience a return to health with the help of closely monitored thyroid replacement drugs? We sure hope so!


Thank you for your support.



… written by William


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No Cancer | Final Pathology


Dawne and Luara

[ NEWS FLASH … dateline 2014, April 3 ]

NO CANCER !

PATHOLOGICAL COMPLETE RESPONSE ACHIEVED!

 
Tustin, CA – Dr. Nimmi Kapoor calling outside of regular business hours, as she has done repeatedly including Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve last year, gave Dawne the final word. The deep pathology reports are in. Cancer be gone !!!!!


… pictorial commentary provided by Dawne Lee and Laura Gregory.
 

Pausing to breath …


Dawne - Family of SistersIt has been a several weeks since we last updated here. Today is a landmark. Not monumental by any means, but yet feels like it. I am writing this piece on my own for the first time. William has been so good about putting my thoughts and words down while I dealt with the low energy that comes with chemotherapy.

The side effects of chemotherapy are easing up, although I am still struggling. Chemo has killed or seriously messed up my finger nails. There is a good chance that I will lose all of my nails. I am on round two of antibiotics taken to treat really painful infections under my nails. Hair growth is slow, but it is starting its comeback.

Oh, and about my hair — Prickly and driving me a little nuts!

Dawne & Mechthild on the WaterIt’s weird; I am weaker now than while taking the chemo drug. Don’t get me wrong I was pretty weak while doing chemo, so you can imagine just how scary and frustrating it is to be worse off now some 4 weeks after my last chemo treatment. I am working at eating well and getting stronger; I need to be ready for surgery.

Surgery is April 30th. It is an outpatient procedure. I’m in the door around 7:30 am for prep. Surgery is around 12 noon. They expect to let me go home around 5 or later. I will be laying low for at least a week; but I’m hoping to feel better soon thereafter. I’m really ready to get back to my old normal.

As the weeks progress since my diagnosis you would think I would have so many little projects accomplished. I feel lazy and lately with my fingers so painful the thank you notes I need to write are just piling up. Please know I appreciate all the gifts, cards and phone calls. Everyone has just been so wonderful.

There is a real landmark coming up.

Dawne & High School FriendsWe should know by May 6th the outcome of the pathology tests which will be done using tissue and lymph nodes taken during surgery. It goes without saying, we are hopeful. Truly great news is expected. Think Poker. In many ways this is the game-of-life with very real “odds”. I’m told that I have around and 80% chance of complete response to the two Antibody Drugs coupled with this one chemo drug.

The ultrasound scan a couple of weeks ago did not find any tumors present. I’m down from 4 tumors with a total mass of around 5 cm! Extended pathology tests will be looking for individual cancer cells. Somehow the needle in the haystack analogy seems proper. It’s hard not to be a little anxious waiting for these results; so much so, that my upcoming breast surgery feels almost routine to me. I’m more focused on the lab technician’s work more so than the cancer surgeon and the plastic surgeon.

Yes, I know that surgery is a big deal. Thinking recovery afterward is going to be tough too. I know this I’m more than ready for it to happen. It will bring me one step closer to December this year when I will have my last drug infusion appointment and I can close this crazy and unexpected chapter of my life. I am confident. I am grateful.

Until we meet again. Love you!


Dawne L. Lee

No foolin’


Alleluia! Tumors are undetectable via ultrasound. The Cancer Doctor had to re-read her notes and take a second look today – noted with emphasis. Good chance Dawne has attained “pathological complete response” to her combo chemo/antibody treatments. All four tumors appear to be gone. The final-final diagnosis waits for surrounding tissue removal along with 2 or 3 lymph nodes during “cancer surgery” which is targeted for end of April.  The surgery scheduler is to call in the next couple of days to set dates. No more chemotherapy, only antibody infusions through the end of this year and 5 to 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments which occur 4 – 5 weeks after surgery. Happy beyond explanation about today’s reports from the Cancer Doctor.  We will be even happier to hear Dawne say that her chemo-induced Peripheral Neuropathy is gone too, although based on our experiences with my own peripheral neuropathy and the cancer doctor’s independent diagnosis it will take a year or two before we know for sure. Wicked trade-off … but stop it … the tumors are freakin’ undetectable. Happy – happy – happy!!!!!!! Now to work the mojo and rebuild what chemo wrecked on its way to kicking cancers butt.


Approaching Cycle 5



William writes … It has been a while. Yesterday, Dawne’s treatment protocol changed. Her body is not tolerating the chemo drug – Taxotere. This is noteworthy. Sparing you the bloody details, the worst of it is Dawne’s chemically-induced Peripheral Neuropathy; and that’s hardly the entire story. Every person who undergoes chemotherapy knows the horrors and challenges. They also know the extremes beyond which continuing is not appropriate.

Dawne’s new doctor is a very good doctor. Thankfully he saw us yesterday, an unplanned visit. He prescribed an end to the Taxotere every 3 weeks and is moving Dawne to Taxol [Paclitaxel] every week. Taxol is a less potent drug. He called it the drug of choice for 80 year olds. It is given at lower doses, but more often. There is an upside to this beyond trying to rebuild Dawne’s peripheral nerves over the next few months. Dawne will stop taking those damnable steroid drugs and the white blood cell builder called Neulasta, both of which are having additional serious negative impacts on her daily life.

I am optimistic. Dawne’s spirit is tested, yet she is Dawne. Those who know me well know just how fortunate I am to be married to this lovely lady. She is a very strong woman who makes life easier for not just me, but a large number of other souls. Through all of this she finds moments to smile, to check in on friends, to worry about paying bills and well … you know the rest … you’re likely at the receiving end of her endless and unconditional love.

Yup, I buried the lead again. Leaving you with the best part of the story – Dawne’s FOUR tumors are now only TWO and those appear on scan to be ONE. Yippee! Even better that single remaining mass is measuring at 2cm or less, which is just less than half the original size. This is seriously good news considering her original chemo regime was substandard (that all changed with the new doctor). This is the beauty of the new neoadjuvant (pre-op) protocol. You get to know the damn drugs are working. Of course the final – final is not knowable until surgery and pathology are done, but we’ll take these little successes. Screw Cancer.

Keep thinking, Dawne will be OK!


Adjustments, Healing & Living …



 
I wrote last Friday about difficult times leaving my job behind for a while. Today began new days for me; an extended period of time where I focus singularly on my breast cancer. Work projects will go forward without me. I will miss working with our customers and helping our team with project deliverables and deadlines. I look forward to resuming my career with this company as early as possible, recognizing my health is first priority among many; and hopeful we can cut short what is now scheduled to be a one-year leave of absence.
 
Time to adjust! Time to heal! Time to live! I start the preparation of my resume in order to be considered for re-selection by my previous boss. I try not to worry about things out of my control. I help William, as he develops our financial workout plan. I look forward to finally receiving “standard of care”, as I go through pre-op (neoadjuvanrt) treatments. Yes, Perjeta is scheduled to be added. I’m thankful the new doctor said that he see’s no reason why Perjeta would be denied, going so far as to say that it has been a standard of treatment for many of his patients for quite some time. I’m waking up, I’m realizing that these are the times when we are best served by gathering around family and friends, and graciously finding openings in what was once a harried life. We look to discover hidden doorways into secret gardens. We look for precious moments which otherwise we would have missed.
 
Cycle 3 treatments are on-schedule for January 27th with a full 3-drug prescription. Bye-bye 2-drug regime and all the unnecessary drama foisted upon us by my previous medical provider. EDD Staff is working to straighten out my State Disability pay. My company’s HR Staff works over the coming days to knit together what are interestingly divergent medical leave programs, a subject all to itself, before the planned re-selection process muddies the water. Our home gets a little TLC this weekend so that April Guidetti, our amazing realtor and friend, can list it. All good things! Another good thing too, I hope! I have lost 25 pounds since February. Getting healthy all the way around!
 
I’ll have to write more later on the healthy eating subject. Strangely, William is experiencing the exact opposite. He gains weight, as he tries to track with me. We are watching both of our weight-curves closely. We had high hopes that my changes would be productive for both of us. Our regime is essentially organic, non-GMO, non-gluten, limited-processed (practically non-processed), non-antibiotic, non-hormone, nonalcoholic, non-soda-poppy, ultra-low-dairy, and measured-kosher-meats (read clean meats). And … yes … this means seriously revising and updating my cookbook.
 
See you Thursday Southern California, if all goes well. William will drive as I sleep and read and sleep and read. A small change in plans Sacramento family. Cousin Danene will be visited my her brother, Cousin Terry, so she will stay back.  William and I will take it slow. I expect you can find us in Agunaga as William packs up the house one more time, as he has done all too often over the last decade. This too has its opportunities; sorting and purging is advisable before hauling a lifetime of gathering to Carmichael.
 


 

Partnerships … Full Disclosures


Hello Friends,

You will read posts written by me and my husband, William. Our writing styles differ so in time you’ll figure it out. William built this website for me starting it around Christmas 2013. We wanted it to be a living journal that captured my experiences with from the day I was told I had Her2 Breast Cancer. This required reaching back into Facebook and pulling much of that content into wordpress.com

William continues to write for me. He hears me and he writes. There was a day when I wrote daily in my paper journals; and once I figure this new technology out, I hope to transfer these energies here. There also was a day once when chemotherapy drugs didn’t fog my brain. Meanwhile, I’m grateful to my hubby who married me just about 40 years ago and took those commonly spoken words to heart, “…and the two shall become one.”

Ha! I guess this makes me a celebrity. I have a shadow writer for a while. William writes long letters with long sentences with way too many commas. He knows it. Too old to change I think. He says going back to 6th grade might help because it makes more sense now. He also takes suggestions real well, so speak up. We are working on putting as much content on breast cancer, dietary needs and lifestyle changes as we can find. If our research saves you time, then great. For us, it is a nice place to save off material without creating boxes and boxes of magazines and newspaper clippings.

I hope our notes, letters, and posts are worth cluttering up your Facebook pages and email history. For sure, this new technology sure is a nice way to keep all of you up to date and build a very cool scrapbook at the same time. This year is a year I will want to remember for a long … long … long time.

Love you!
Dawne