Thursday - June 9th, was my 5th year anniversary since  my first cancer related surgery.
I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer, meaning it spread from the original sight (breast) to my bones.  I originally went to the doctor because of pain in my neck, spine. and ribs.  
I’ve been doing some research since my anniversary came up and I found this:

3. MEDIAN SURVIVAL Median survival after a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis is three years.

I feel very blessed that I’ve passed the median survival rate!
I was planning to post an update on my cancer but instead I’ve decided to answer a question I get asked a lot.

Why do you think you’re doing so well? 

Number one answer - should be first thing I say when someone asks:

1.     My faith in God; my hope in God; my relationship with God.  I know some people who read this don’t believe in God but I have for all my life.  I know He is here and that He cares.  When I look back over my life I can see things that I never would have made it through without Him and I can see things He did for me even when I wasn’t paying attention to Him.  I know some people say, “Well if you believe so strongly then why do you have cancer in the first place or why hasn’t He healed you?” Believing in God does not give you a free pass from suffering or pain.  This isn’t heaven - this is earth.  Earth is in a fallen state because God has allowed man the freedom of choice.  I have not always chosen to do His will or follow Him, as I should have.  Here are some links as to why pain and suffering are allowed in this world:

2.     Because of my faith I believe God allowed things to fall into place for me to not go back to work and to go on disability.  I believe if I had gone back to work I would not be here-I believe my job would have killed me.  I was a school bus driver and I drove an un-air conditioned bus (ridiculous in the state of Florida).  My bus had black mold in it and also a leak in the oil pan that allowed fumes to go into my window.  I had to have the window open so I would not die of heat stroke.  I believe the environment I worked in, which included fumes, mold, heat and stress, caused a lot of my health issues.  I also believe some of my tumors were caused by my cell phone.  I carried my cell phone in a pocket over my left breast where the cancer started and I carried it in my left pants pocket where the worst tumor grew.  This last tumor caused me to have to have a rod and bolt put in my leg because it ate 75% of the top of the femur.  So in short, not returning to work has kept me alive.

3.     I had a great doctor.  My family practice doctor (also a great doctor) sent me to the doctor she said she would go to if she were in my position.  I learned always ask your doctor who would you go to? Or, who would you send your child to?  She sent me to Dr. Lukman.  Dr. Lukman always went above and beyond for me.  She was off one Friday when I had a problem.  I called her office to find out what I needed to do.  I was told she was off but then a few hours later, I can’t remember if she called me or her nurse did, but I was given an answer to what I needed to know or do.  I don’t remember exactly what it was all about because it was a few years ago.  I just know her nurse told me the doctor spent hours of her off time finding a solution for me.  She also kept track of when my insurance was paid up and would have all my tests scheduled so I wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket expenses.  And last but not least she researched options for me and found a treatment that she said would “make my bones the strongest in Florida”.  She found a plan where I would only have to pay 25$ per shot.  This “shot” would have cost 10’s of thousands of dollars if I had to pay it out of pocket.  The billing lady showed me it cost my insurance over $65,000 per shot – which is absolutely ridiculous and I was getting it once a month.
I meet my new oncologist this week I hope and pray he is as good a doctor as she is. 

4.     I’ve had a lot of support and love from my family.  I don’t know how people make it through something like this #1 without faith in God and #2 without support and love from family and friends.  My family has helped through prayers, driving me, getting me things I need, sending me on trips, feeding me and financially.   I wouldn’t have been able to get some of my medical, surgical, or pharmaceutical needs met otherwise.  I appreciate any and all help we’ve been given and can’t believe the generosity we have been shown.  I give God the credit for putting different needs on people’s hearts to help us when they have.

Those are the answers to the question, “Why are you doing so well?”

I will do a quick medical update. Since my initial diagnosis I’ve had fractures in my neck, ribs and my left leg - which are all healed- but my ribs never stopped hurting.  In November I had my 6 month scans and tests and they showed new cancer on my sternum, skull (where I put the cell phone up to my ear), shoulder, ribs and spine.  I was treated with radiation on my shoulder and low spine.  I was taken off the once a month bone strengthener shot (Xgeva) because, I was told, if there is new cancer it’s no longer working.    The radiation helped with some of the pain but I’m still having problems with my shoulder.  I had more tests last month which I haven’t talked to the doctor about but I read them and they show two more new spots, ribs and left femur at the top.  I don’t know what the plan will be for that.
Again, to everyone who has been praying for me or helped me in any way – thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

I can't post without photos.  Lasagne because I don't want
to cook for a couple of days. 

And, deer in the neighborhood.  They look like
they need more food.

1 comment:

Debra Burton said...

Vickie, thank you for sharing the reasons for your success. I am curious about the cell phone. Did your doctor say there was a direct relationship between the phone and the tumors? Just curious.