Today the fine people at the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation sent me a link to the “Weekend To End Women’s Cancers” orientation video, which I’m briefly in with my family. It’s a long video (and you should maybe get the kleenex ready) but our little part comes in around the six minute mark.
The video brings back a lot of memories of the 2-day 60 kilometer walk I participated in last September. It was such an emotional experience (I’m barely holding it together in the video… ditto for my mom) and such a rewarding one – I’ll never forget it.
I am already signed up for the Walk again in the fall and even though I can’t even make it up the stairs right now without losing my breath and coughing, I’m still holding out hope that I will walk it somehow. I’ve got about five months to get well enough to walk it. It’s like this: Cancer, you don’t say “No” to me, I say “No” to you.
Because you know what they say: when in hell, keep walking.
I did it! I walked every step of the 60K Weekend To End Breast Cancer Walk, with my BFFs/teammates/personal pep squad by my side. It was an amazing, emotional, blister-producing, leg-stiffening, beautiful, slightly insane experience. There were a lot of tears along the way (actually there were tears even before we took the first official steps…not naming any names… Mummy. Ahem.) and a lot of borderline-hysterical laughs, and even a little bit of dancing. Best of all, it felt like a gigantic kick to cancer’s hind parts.
Here’s what it looks like in 60 pictures:
It turns out I didn’t start my new chemo yesterday after all.
Basically the government won’t cover me for any more than the standard course of 17 Herceptin treatments. The 17 treatments I’ve received to date are worth about 60K USD (and are completely free in Canada) but to go beyond the standard course I would have to show that my disease has not progressed during that time. It has. However some lumps have stabilized and my doctor is contesting the CCO’s decision to cut off my Herceptin, but she isn’t hopeful she can get around it (at least not fast enough) so unless my husband’s drug plan covers it, it’s Sayonara Herceptin.
This is not as bad as it sounds. The new treatment is Lapatinib, which is a targeted therapy for HER-2 positive cancers. I am a big fan of targeted therapies. (Say it with me: Apoptosis!) The only reason my doctor didn’t put me on it first is because she didn’t want to have to take me off Herceptin, knowing it would be hard to get me approved for coverage to go back on it again once I stopped. So she wanted to start me on a chemo that I could have in conjunction with Herceptin, and not a treatment that would replace it.
I have heard really good things about Lapatinib, and I actually feel ok about this new development. Like maybe just for once the universe is intervening on my behalf to make sure I get the right treatment (instead of the universe just screwing with me, which is what it seems to have been doing for the past 18 months or so.) I am genuinely optimistic that this treatment will be the one that works.
On the downside, I’m going TWO full weeks without treatment because none of this will be sorted out until next week. On the up side I will be in much better shape for the Weekend To End Breast Cancer Walk this weekend, having skipped chemo yesterday. I’ve raised almost $9000.00!!!
Remember when you went for tests and it became clear the doctor thought your lump wasn’t just a “lump” but a “LUMP”? Remember how agonizing it was waiting for those results? Remember how much worse it was when they confirmed that you had breast cancer? And then, even more harrowing, the wait to find out what would be done, and when?
Total [insert expletive here] nightmare.
Well, yesterday it was announced that the Princess Margaret Hospital’s Breast Cancer Rapid Diagnosis program just received a big private donation to speed the whole testing, diagnostic and treatment planning process – to ONE DAY.
This is amazing news – as anyone who has lived through the nightmare of waiting, and then more waiting, knows.
The donaors are Allan Slaight (who was once my dad’s boss) and his partner Emannuelle Gattuso – a breast cancer survivor. The program has been in beta since 2006, with a fund that was originally seeded by the Weekend to End Breast Cancer.
A big thank-you Mr. Slaight and Ms. Gattuso, from all those of us who have endured the torture of waiting, and on behalf of all those who won’t have to.
I’ve just signed up for the 60k two-day Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk, September 12-13.
It comes almost exactly at the end of my treatment program, so it will be a kind of celebration for me and a way for me to give cancer a good kick in the pants after more than a year of it doing that to me.
If you haven’t heard about The Weekend to End Breast Cancer, check out this video. I dare you to watch it and not get either all teary-eyed or goosebumpy, or both.
Proceeds from the Toronto walk fund breast cancer research, treatment, and services at The Princess Margaret Hospital, but they do the walks in a number of cities, so check out www.endcancer.ca to see if there’s one in your area.
If anyone has ever done one of these before, please send me any tips or insights you might have to help me with my training!! Or if you want to help me reach my fundraising goal please check out my page on the Weekend to End Breast Cancer site and LET’S END BREAST CANCER!!!