The Plot Sickens

Apologies about that mysterious reference to “developments in development” – I was waiting to speak to my doctor, and now that I know what is going on and have shared it with family, I can finally blog about it.  Basically, the nodules in my lungs have turned out to be metastasized breast cancer.  

This means that somehow, in spite of the lymph nodes shrinking and stabilizing, the spots in my lungs managed to multiply and grow larger.  Those very same spots I saw on the CT scan in the solar system of my lungs – those tiny little flecks indistinguishable from all the other tiny little “normal” flecks – are in fact gigantically evil.

We were devastated and enraged when we heard the news, especially after having felt so buoyed by the stabilization and shrinkage of my lymph nodes.  I did a lot of crying, and a lot of raging this past weekend; a lot of fantasizing about smashing things (windows, pieces of furniture, cancer cells…) and a lot of asking the universe if it couldn’t have just cut me a little slack for once?  Really, how much hope-bashing is allowed?  How many bounce-backs do I have to make? 

But, after having to gone to some very dark and scary places, I was surprised to find that I could come back from them again.  I resurfaced.  Once again, the will to live my life and beat this thing has prevailed over the fear that it will beat me and take my life. Or prevailed for now; it’s a bumpy ride, I’m bound to fall off the hope wagon from time to time.

What helped enormously was having a long talk with my oncologist yesterday.  Apparently it is unusual that some areas would respond to treatment while others do not (of course I have to be special.)  However, it is not at all unusual that the cancer would affect multiple organs.  It is also not unusual for people live years and years and years just firing at the moving target of metastasis.  Years and years and years.  So, looks like I should continue to look both ways when I cross the street and keep wearing my bike helmet.

My oncologist’s recommendation is that we change course of treatment immediately to something that might be more effective in hitting ALL areas of activity, because she is especially concerned that I don’t become too symptomatic in the lungs, since it’s not fun to be gasping for breath and this cough is already super-annoying.

So my new treatment is a combination of drugs called gemcitabine and cisplatin, administered through IV in the chemo clinic, starting tomorrow. Off the pills and back into the veins! Actually, I’m kind of ready to abandon my current side effects and try out some new ones.  I’ve been told to expect nausea and tingling hands, but with any luck my bad dream about losing my hair won’t come true — my oncologist says there could be “some mild hair thinning or loss.” Sounds a bit patchy to me, but we’ll see.

In the mean time, onward. On Friday my friend Chris wrote me an e-mail and in it he said “The universe loves you.”  I really need to believe he’s right.  I just wish it wasn’t such tough love.



Filed under Living with Breast Cancer

13 responses to “The Plot Sickens

  1. Lulubelle

    I will be smashing cancer cell right along with you and if you want I am happy to provide some dishes to smash aswell! I’m sure it could be very theraputic in an anger management sort of way. And for the record you always have been very special, it just sucks to be special in these circumatances! You are amazing never doubt that!
    Good vibes always!

  2. Gwen

    I second the comments above, especially Sandra’s. May the new chemo work well with a minimum of side effects. I shall be thinking of you tomorrow, Leanne.

  3. Sleepless in San Francisco

    I’ve never known ANYONE who could take the hits you do and still come back with such guts, panache and humor. You are the role model of how to deal with crap and come back fighting. You’re awesome!

  4. Jodi

    Stay on the hope wagon and ride it all the way out of this sh*t storm sister. I know you will.

  5. Linda

    Keep on fighting! It seems to me you get stronger at it every time! You are fantastically strong & brave!!!

  6. BH in Jackson Hole

    And so the fight continues….You have a never-empty quiver of arrows, Leanne the Lioness-Hearted. When one arrow doesn’t work, keep pulling out another and another and you will strike sharp, savage blows upon this Beast. I know you will stand, and the Beast WILL fall….

  7. momof3

    Dear Leanne,

    – what they said!

    Don’t ever feel you are fighting this on your own. Know you have hundreds of people hoping, praying, and cheering for you in this fight against the beast.

  8. angela

    Leanne: I am so sorry you have to go through all this, I am sending you all my support. We are all right there with you today as you start your new treatment. We can do this, hugs from angela

  9. Pam

    Leanne, I was diagnosed with occult breast cancer – presenting in axillary nodes and spread to all lymph system – October 28 2009. I just had my first surgery – node dissection on December 9 and am at home recovering. My chemo will begin in January. I found your blog in November, and have read back as far as I can – admiring your positive and strong will, laughing at your humour, and crying at your pain. You are truly inspirational to me and I hope that I can manage through this disease as well as you have been. I am so sorry that things have taken a turn for the worse again for you and will be sending all the good energy I can.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences – good and bad.


  10. leanne coppen

    Um, “thank-you” is not even going to come close. I’m looking for my words… I’m lifted and humbled with gratitude to all of you for letting me know you’re there.
    I’m kind of post-chemo exhausted and you’ve all rendered me a little speechless, but I will be hopped up on steroids starting tomorrow and maybe they will help me find my words again. For now, THANK-YOU.

  11. Katie

    Never forget how many people are behind you in this battle – you’ve got an army fighting with you all the way.

  12. Jane

    In our own little world, you and I are quite similar… we are “one of a kind” and “unique”. The molds were broken after we were made. While my breast cancer has been “cured” and I’ve been back to work since July, feeling and apparently looking great… I have been keeping a secret. I haven’t even told my family of this. If IT comes back… ANYWHERE in my body, I will beat it again and again, over and over because now, I think of myself as an experienced fighter. I kicked it’s ass once and I know I could do it again because I’M JUST TOO TOUGH TO TAKE DOWN THAT EASILY!!! You, Leanne, keeping fighting the fight as well, hence the similarities (well, I think so). We are pig-headed and far too stubborn to take down that easily. When cancer took me on, it didn’t know what a fighter I was. Yes, I had moments that I was wrung out, hurting and exhausted… BUT I WON!!! My family thinks that this was just a one-time thing… that THEY’LL never have to go through it again but I am facing reality and sleeping with one eye open. I will be ready to fight the fight again if necessary.

    Keep kicking ass girl… remember, YOU’RE TOO TOUGH TO TAKE DOWN THAT EASILY!!!

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