Moving Forward...Always Dragging My Cancer Baggage Behind Me

As we stood next to each other in church, she looked over at me and said, "Mom, your hair." 
I leaned towards her and whispered, "What about it?"
With a smile, she whispered back, "You look like you did before you got cancer."
     That was over 4 1/2 years ago when she was only 8 years old.  I have lost my hair twice...once when diagnosed Stage 2 in 2012 and once when diagnosed Stage 4 in 2014. I fought tears as it broke my heart thinking about all that she has been through at such a young age. When you have Stage 4 cancer, the journey continues...whether you want it to or not...and you just keep dragging the cancer baggage behind you...trying to never let it get ahead of you. I was reminded in that moment that I am not only one in my family dragging the baggage.  My husband and five children are too. 
     And so my path changed again this week.  I was on a phase 1 clinical trial for a new HER2+ targeted treatment. Unfortunately, after two treatments, my scans showed no improvement, only progression.  This was a devastating blow because being a part of a clinical trial involves a lot extras...keeping track of side effects, trips to Indy for bloodwork, ECHOS, EKGs, etc.  I had put a lot of time and hope into this drug that failed me.
     While this was quite a blow, we always need to remember to look for the blessings in disguise.  Technically, the drug should have worked because it targets HER2, and that was what my cancer had always been, HER2+.  Now we have found that something has changed and my oncologist is wasting no time to get to the bottom of it.
     This coming Wednesday, I am going to have a new biopsy of the progressed area behind my sternum...not easy tissue to get to!! This will give us the HER2 status we are wondering about.  In addition, I am now going to be a new patient in the IU Health Precision Genomics Program, and have cancer diagnostic genomic testing done of my new biopsy samples. What in the world is that, you ask. Genomic technology is new within the last several years, and is now cutting edge testing, allowing data from DNA to be sequenced.  By doing this, my genetic doctors can look for mutations and changes within my cancer cells allowing the cancer to be precisely targeted with FDA approved drugs as well as many clinical trials. The doctors will also be able to better predict the effectiveness of future treatments for me, as well as possible toxicity reactions to those drugs.
     The downside to this is that I am going to have to wait for the genetic sequencing to be done which could take up to six weeks...hopefully less!!! 
      As always...thanks to all of you who are here for me, you who follow me, and for all of you that keep me and my family in your prayers.  Our hopes and prayers are that the biopsy goes well, they are able to get good samples, and that my cancer takes chill on growing while we wait for results and a new targeted treatment.
     Have a Blessed Easter!