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2012 in review

December 31, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


5th annual Victory Center fashion show – Breaking News, Weather and Sports

April 1, 2012

5th annual Victory Center fashion show – Breaking News, Weather and Sports.

The Victory Center presentation, February 3, 2012

April 1, 2012


Back in January, Michelle from the Victory Center called and asked me if I would deliver a short presentation at the “Pretty in Pink” Fundraiser/Fashion Show for The Victory Center.  Such an easy thing to say “Yes!” to!  The following is my presentation:


So, there it is.  I always thought attention to health and wellness, and my very good karma would deliver me through this life problem free until the day, three years ago my doctor said, “Hmmnnn……this doesn’t look good kiddo. You have a sizable mass that concerns me with irregular margins.”   

And it literally, was Friday the 13th,  when I first heard the words:
Invasive Mammary Carcinoma, estrogen and progesterone positive.

This was the beginning of my new life as the cancer-girl.  Wow, how quickly things can change.  Suddenly, my life had a new vocabulary:

Blood tests.  MRI.  Bone Scans.  Reddicat and CT Scans.  Mastectomy, BILATERAL Mastectomy. Breast Expanders. Chemotherapy, ATC, TC, chemopain, CHEMOBRAIN, second opinions, Radiation, 25 treatments, 5 weeks, Gummi Bear Implants, Blood clots, Lovenox, Coumadin, Arimidex, and SLEEPLESS sleepless nights.

Telling others I had cancer was an interesting, yet  hellish experience.  I never had bad news before.  I needed to learn how to even say the words, “I have breast cancer”,  and I discovered I hated expressions of sympathy, because…..because they made me wilt into an emotional mess that I didn’t want to admit to even myself .

I was scared.  Sometimes, I still am…..

My new friends included  Breast Health Educators, Lab Technicians, Nutritionists, Counselors, Prosthesis Fitters, Medical Oncologists, Radiation Oncologists, Plastic Surgeons, many many nurses and technicians, and an amazing and interesting array of “women who have been there” who are nice enough to just talk to me.         

And lucky lucky me, a good friend told me to go to this place called:
The Victory Center.

My heavens, the people I met at The Victory Center.

Starting with Penny.  and  Lynn.  You have an ability to express care that truly sets you apart from any other staff at any other organization.  Kelly and Laura and Dianne.  You know, we all know, those of us who have been through your doors, we know that you care.  

You know how to care in a way that isn’t tinged with sympathy, but with a knowing that speaks to our resilience of the spirit…that even if we look a little rough, or feel down, or have a hard time even walking, we are hopeful, knowing that we will at least feel better when we leave.

The Victory Center offers a positive to a most negative experience…..  

Massage, Healing Touch, Reflexology, Reiki and Sound Therapy.  

All wonderful new words for for those of us who receive these services..

The vocabulary of feelings for the participants of The Victory Center…..  quiet.  soothing.  balance.  love.  comfort.  cool.  calm.  care.  relaxation.  


When you go through an experience as scary as cancer, to be able to find the place that brings a peaceful vocabulary into your dissonant mind,

That is Victory.



January 3, 2012

my parking spot today

So, another three months has passed by, I’m still alive, and got to go to Hickman Cancer Center today for my transfusion of good drugs.   Zometa…or as I kinda like to think of it now, as “Zippity-do-dah Zometa”.

Two years and 10 months out from BC diagnosis, and I’m doing pretty damn good.   Lucky me….discovered icky cancer, had good insurance, lots of accumulated sick leave (well…not anymore…) and signed up for the most aggressive treatment options possible, including the Zometa clinical trial.  At the time, I had absolutely no reservations about signing on for the trial.  And no, it wasn’t about being nice (ha!  fooled you!) or advancing research (nice idea, just not why I signed on) but if I’m completely honest about it, I was mostly interested in staying closely connected to an oncologist.  I didn’t care what the excuse is/was , as long as I got to sign up for an onco appointment every three months, I was happy.

Oh sure, I read everything and talked to everyone about Zometa, and mostly all the medical people nodded in agreement, “probably worth a try”.  And honestly, I was, and still am, willing to do anything to prevent recurrence.  And lucky, lucky me…..turns out Zometa maybe really is one of the good cancer fighting drugs.

Last month (12/2011) researchers published results that indicated Zometa was not only helpful in strengthening bones from the damage that cancer treatment inflicts, but also seems to protect against recurrence, as well.

“The benefit persists” long after treatment ends, said Dr. Michael Gnant of Austria’s Medical University of Vienna, who presented his research last week at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Gnant’s study showed women who received the bone drug Zometa were 37 percent less likely to die than women who didn’t. That means that 4 to 5 more women with breast cancer out of every 100 were alive seven years later because of the treatment.

Some cancer specialists are now calling for Zometa to be offered to all patients like those in this study – younger women forced into early menopause by hormone-blocking cancer treatments.

“It’s a new standard of care,” said Dr. James Ingle, a Mayo Clinic breast specialist.

I don’t quite feel like I have my old life back yet, still get tired more easily than I think I should, still have physical therapy issues as well as the compromised immune system and taste buds.

But, I am very cautiously optimistic about the ending of this chapter of my story.

Hazy Brain

January 28, 2011

Yesterday was my last surgery.  The anesthesiologist really did her job, I have absolutely no recollection of even the trip into the surgical suite.  None.  Yesterday afternoon and evening I was in a complete fog.  I managed to watch a little TV (about 10 minutes at a time) until I dozed off.  Tried to read, but only got a page or two further in my book until the book literally fell out of my hand.  I guess it was the residual anesthesia combined with the pain meds.

I came home with a super-duper pain ball…wear it like a fanny pack and I guess it delivers the meds directly into blood stream?   I dunno how it works exactly, but I also have two different oral pain meds, too.  And this time I am not shy about using them.  Every small physical move brings on an ouchouchouch…..

And still fuzzy in the brain.  I am actually having a difficult time tapping out this little post.

But I hear Dr. B and Suzi did a great job on the reconstruction.  Don’t know about that either, as I’m not supposed to peek under the dressings until I go to their office on Monday.  Seems like a long time away to me now.

More later when I have a bit more cognitive functioning.

an update-final surgery within sight

January 24, 2011

Wow.  It’s been 23 months since this thing began, and now I am staring right in the face of my last planned surgery in my quest  to find my way out of cancerland.

The last three weeks have been busy with work, husband, kids, food, Doctors appointments, EKG, compiling extensive family health history for genetic study and preparation for the big day, January 27th.  The actual name of the procedures is almost laughable:

Excision of Mass of left TRAM flap (well, excising a MASS isn’t really so funny), Removal Right Tissue Expander, Capsulotomy & Thoracoepigastric Flap, Augment with Cohesive Silicone Implants, Bilateral.

That’s the long way around saying, if the lump on the left is something to remove, it will be removed and biopsied.  The remaining left side will be augmented with a small implant under the TRAM flap (my own tissue that was moved “up there” last June).  The temporary implant that has been in the right side since May 2009 (and now feels about as comfortable as a softball under my chest skin)  is about to be removed and replaced with what has promised to be a fabulous breast.

While I’ve been told that it is a “piece of cake” surgery compared to what I’ve already been through, it is still  3+ hours in surgery, anesthesia, post op pain and swelling.  I am most disappointed with the idea of coming home with drain tubes though.  I don’t know why it hadn’t dawned on me before, but I didn’t realize that I’d have the drain tubes until the appt. with the PS about a week ago.  Sigh.  This is…not gonna be fun.

Jackson-Pratt Surgical Drain

I promise I’ll update here after surgery (probably in a Percocet haze).


Wish me good luck.

2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads “Fresher than ever”.


Crunchy numbers

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,800 times in 2010. That’s about 14 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 59 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 189 posts. There were 18 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 41mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was March 15th with 94 views. The most popular post that day was three for thursday.

from Kay-Lynne:  I won’t bore you with the rest of this report…but wanted to say Thank you for logging on and reading my blog.  For my friends, it is the easy way to stay up to date with my messy medical status, I appreciate you more than you know for your interest, love and psychic energy.  For everyone else, I hope something I’ve written has helped in your quest for information, entertainment, or inspiration.  Please pass my blog site on to anyone you feel might benefit as well.

Good luck, good health to all in 2011!

Holiday Cheer, after Cancer

December 31, 2010

My Christmas present

The day before Christmas I had a ProMedica envelope in the mail….and I thought, the news can’t be too bad.  Dr. E wouldn’t mail really bad news, and in fact it wasn’t.  On November 27th I had a big battery of blood tests, and almost a month later have finally received the results.  The news was all basically good, but the one I’d been waiting for was:

“No sign of hypercoaguability inherent in your blood chemistry.  OK to stay off the blood thinners”

Whew….this is good.  At least I think I’m not going to keel over under the Christmas tree of a blood clot this year, and maybe not ever if I stay away from long surgeries and long periods of inactivity.  That threat of blood clots though…it is a sneaky insidious thing. You can be nice and relaxed one moment and then the next, you freak out, “Have I been moving enough? Am I moving too much?  Are my ankles swollen? ”  And then when my left ankle, the site of the last blood clot does get swollen, I wonder….is that it?  Is there a clot down there right now blocking flow? Can this kill me?  What should I do?   And because I can’t keep calling a doc  with every little thing, I just run for the bottle of baby aspirin and chew up a little tart orange blood thinning agent (having no idea if I am doing the right thing or not.)

Lump-Bump update

So.  For those of you who really care, here is a brief history of  my big hard lump/bump on my left breast, site of first cancer, and the resolution (for now).

10/6/2010  Felt a hard round lump (imagine a medium sized marble under your skin) about the same spot as the original tumor…..but how? why?  Ostensibly, there is no breast tissue there, and no fat positioned there from the tram-flap surgery. The only person I could see quickly was Nurse S (from B2) who thought it was my rib.  Hmmnnn.  I tried to believe her, but just couldn’t.  Too round, too “sticking out” from the long curved shape of my rib…I think…… began a ten week trip into medical test land.

10/19/2010  Dr. S – concerned, ordered the first ultrasound, results inconclusive, but probably not a tumor

10/27/2010  Dr. B2 – not sure, ordered CT scan

11/5/2010     Nurse S (from B2) – good news, CT result: mass consistent with “fat necrosis”, probably not a tumor

Meanwhile, lump/bump changes in size, flattens out, covers more real estate on my chest.

11/11/2010  Dr. E – felt results of CT not definitive.  Could be fat necrosis, but not willing to gamble on that.  Suggested PET scan or biopsy.  Picked the PET scan card.  (On the positive side, he recommends coming off  the blood thinner, Coumadin!)

11/16/2010  Met the nice folks at the POSITRON EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY department at Flower Hospital, where they inject a radioactive cocktail into your vein (ewww) then you have to sit real still.  Easy test, but gives rise to creepy thoughts.

11/21/2010 Dr. R – felt it was ‘stupid” to get a PET scan.  Too expensive and results inconclusive.  No idea if tumor or fat necrosis.   Recommend a trip to Dr. B1 and biopsy.

12/1/2010  Dr B2 – felt no biopsy needed.  Only fat necrosis.  Plan the second reconstruction surgery in late January and then we’ll cut it out, whatever it is and send for testing.

12/6/2010  Dr. B1 – long time with ultrasound wand in hand, positive the growing lump is a “rib”. Recommends not having it “cut out”.  Brings up new concern re/ blood clots, thinks going off Coumadin is risky, and recommends I see Hematologist-Onco ASAP.

12/16/2010  Dr. S – Not concerned about discontinuing blood thinners…felt four months followed standard protocol, and clot was the result of surgery, and probably not inherent in my chemistry.  On the lump, probably a good idea to move ahead with the second reconstruction surgery, and Dr. B2 will clearly know what to do regardless of what the lump is.  Still thinks it is probably not a tumor, and probably not a rib.


So there.  I’ve asked every doc along the way, “am I overreacting??” and they have this standard line about  “Well, once you’ve had cancer, you have a hyper sensitivity to anything out of the ordinary in your body and your anxiety level…….blah, blah, blah………”


So there it is.  I have had to force myself to stop feeling the lump/bump a hundred times a day.  So much mental wrangling, this dealing with the aftermath of cancer….it is exhausting.   I’m cautiously accepting that it is probably not a tumor.  It is real hard for me to accept optimism, and that make me sad.  I used to live life completely, unabashedly optimistic, believing the universe held only great things for me, and I want to find that girl again, but she is being elusive.  I don’t have to look far to see how lucky I am to be alive, as stronger women than I…. have not made it through this trip.


In the meanwhile, I’m planning for the next step, the removal of the expander implant and placement of the “permanent” implant.  January 27, 2010.  More on that later.


Hoping for a happier 2011.




November 4, 2010

tomorrow morning I have an appointment to go to a new PT group, as Dr. Schott had admonished me a few weeks ago to get in with someone well experienced with mastectomy patients.  Fun….at 7:00 a.m.

Then at 10:00 I have my CT scan.  I purposely have not thought about it, because…….um, I am quite frankly very worried about it.  This lump seems to feel bigger every time I probe around it.

Wish me luck.


September 13, 2010

9 is a very good number when it comes to the CA125 test.  Anything below 30 is considered low risk for ovarian cancer.  So 9 sounds good to me.  However, the most recent research I can find indicates that this specific test will show  elevated levels in only 50% of early tumors. So………. apparently this week I will be on another rollercoaster ride until my docs receive the ultrasound reports and interpret them for me.  Maybe tomorrow.


In the meantime, maybe someone reading this might like to support me, or make a donation for the Komen Race for the Cure in a couple weeks.  Maybe you even wanna join my TEAM!  That would be Team JBN.  Maybe you just want to donate a few dollars.  Or maybe a bunch of dollars ( I still need more than $100.00 to meet my fundraising goal of $400.00)

Heres where you go: ( I know this is ridiculous, I don’t know how to make the links easy and cool looking…)

Look for Team JBN if you want to join in (or even join the “Sleep for the Cure” team for heavens sake!).

Look for my name:  Kay-Lynne Schaller if you would like to make a donation.

And, thanks for your support.  I can not express just how much your interest/care/concern has helped me.