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False Alarm

We’ve all heard the stories. Or seen it played out on countless sitcoms. Pregnant mom and dad head to the hobreast-cancer-awareness-day-ly4leeclspital, convinced that baby’s arrival is imminent. They invite everyone they know – family, friends, co-workers, high school nemesis, Uber driver, et al. – to come join them at the hospital to wait for the blessed event, only to sheepishly come out of Labor & Delivery a few hours later, still pregnant, and apologizing for the false alarm.

The baby is definitely coming, but not tonight, folks.

I got my biopsy results yesterday. It is exactly as my doctor thought – this is a recurrence of the original breast cancer I fought off two and a half years ago. One little cell apparently thought it was too good to be killed by the surgery, chemo and radiation, and decided my liver would make a nice home. So here we are.

There is no good news here. There is, perhaps, fair-to-middlin’ news which is that since this is the same tumor, we know it’s pathology and how to fight it. Essentially, my tumors are estrogen and progesterone receptor positive, meaning that hormones are the food for my tumors. My oncologist, in consultation with other oncologists at Yale-New Haven, has decided that my best path right now is not chemo, but instead hormonal treatments.

Since I am asymptomatic, the goal now is to put me into menopause (I’d ask for prayers to help Anthony deal with the inevitable mood swings, but he’s well aware he married a bitch, so I think he’ll handle that part just fine). I will take shots of Zoladex, which will put me into menopause and then take Aromasin, which is a drug they give post-menopausal breast cancer patients. I will also take a new drug called Ibrance, which is neither a hormone drug nor a chemo drug, but has shown great promise in putting those with metastatic breast cancer into remission.

I will have monthly blood work and a PET scan every three months. As long as the treatment is working, I will continue with it. Once it starts to fail, then it’s on to chemo.

The chemo is definitely coming, but not tonight, folks.

The likely chemo drug of choice will be Adriamycin, known in chemo circles as Red Death – sounds pleasant, doesn’t it? And I will continue that treatment until it starts to fail.

My cancer is by definition Stage 4, and unless I get hit by a bus, this is what is likely going to end my life. But I will do the hormonal treatment and I will suffer the Red Death and I will enroll in every clinical trial that will have me. I am exploring alternative therapies like acupuncture and and will do everything in my power to ensure that I stay not only asymptomatic, but as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

I have years left, but whether it is 2 years or 5 or 10 or 20, the only thing that is certain is that it will never be enough. There are dozens of items on the family bucket list – natural wonders to visit, conversations to have, experiences to share. I may not live to see my children as adults, but I will make damn sure that their memories of me are varied and powerful and full of the overwhelming love I have for them.

I remain humbled by all of the offers of support and love from family and friends – whether we see each other every day or haven’t spoken in years, I appreciate your kind notes, positive thouts and prayers more than you know.

Love to you all – MLV

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2 replies

  1. Meredith~ I pray the years are countless and the memories are rich and full of so very much love and joy…You and your family are in my prayers daily!!!!

  2. You are in my thoughts and prayers. By the time you go round 1 with Zoladex and Aromasin, they may have a cure! I send love to you and your family. Love and laughter is always the best medicine. Xo Robin