One year ago I would have never imagined this would be my life. I was always healthy. Even as I watched my mother and father deal with medical issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and thyroid problems.
But that was never me. While I always battled weight issues, my health was always pretty good. I was never sick often and when I was, it was only minor things like a brief cold or fever or stomach bug. My health was always something I could count on.
Until September 25th.
That’s the day things changed. I went from healthy to feeling like my body is betraying me. First the tumor. Then the mets slowly eating my bones. It’s taken time, but slowly I was learning to live with that. I felt as though day by day I was reclaiming my life.
Then early Saturday happened. I chatted with a friend on the phone and the whole time I felt as though my stomach was jumping out of my body. I got off the phone and crawled up the stairs to bed. I took some pain and nausea medication then tried to sleep. Instead of improving, the pain became worse so I got into the shower and ran the hottest water over my stomach. It had helped in the past when I had gallbladder issues which was what I began to think was wrong with me.
When that didn’t work I climbed back into bed and cuddled up with my heating pad. After only a few more minutes the nausea hit and I couldn’t stop throwing up. I had to face the reality that whatever was going on wasn’t going to get better and I needed to go to the hospital.
I was in tears by the time I made it to the emergency room, barely able to speak enough to tell them my name or birthdate. Thank god for IV Morphine. At least I was able to find enough relief that I could tolerate tests. The verdict after labs and a CT scan of my abdomen?
Acute Pancreatitis. Where the hell did that even come from?
A two day hospital stay later and they couldn’t tell me why. I had none of the risk factors and my medications do not list acute pancreatitis as a side effect. My final diagnosis? Acute idiopathic pancreatitis. This only occurs in only 10-40% of patients. I am one of them.
Apparently I am becoming the queen of idiopathic. The obscure. The rare.
About 2–10% of normal healthy individuals do not develop an immunity from routine vaccines. I am considered a non-converter to not one, but two immunizations, both the MMR and HepB vaccines after having been given both series multiple times with no success. Only 2-10%. I am one of them.
Only about 1-2% of people who get immunized for the flu shot will develop a fever as a side effect. I develop full on flu symptoms and have been recommended to use an alternative formulation. Only 1-2%. I am one of them.
And only 6-10% of new breast cancer diagnoses are initially found once they have become stage IV, sometimes called ‘de novo’ metastatic breast cancer (from the beginning). Only 6-10%. And I am one of them.
Forty eight hours later I am out of the hospital, but I still don’t know what caused my pancreas to play tricks on me. This leads to another fear. If I don’t know what caused it, how can I keep it from happening again? Research shows that it is important to find the cause because if it’s not found there is a high chance of recurrence.
First the ticking bomb of metastatic breast cancer. Now pancreatitis. It’s almost more than I can handle. I’m beyond over the ‘new normal’ my life has become. I would give up everything I own just to go back to the ‘old normal.’ To have just a little more time with the me I used to be.
Is that asking too much? Probably so.
Dx 10/9/2018, invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), left breast, 1.5cm, Nottingham Grade 2, hormone receptor positive, ER+ (estrogen receptor)/PR+ (progesterone receptor), HER2- (human epidermal growth factor), BRACA- (genetic mutation), Stage IV, metastasized to bones
First CA 27.29 10/9/2018 83 (goal <38)
Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2018 Tamoxifen (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) pills
Targeted Therapy 10/12/2018 Xgeva (Denosumab) injection
Hormonal Therapy 10/19/2018 Lupron Depot (Leuprolide Acetate) injection
Surgery 11/29/2018 Vaginal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
First CA 27.29 post hysterectomy 12/10/2018 73 (goal <38)
Hormonal Therapy 12/11/2018 Femara (letrozole) pills
Targeted Therapy 12/23/2018 Ibrance (palbociclib) capsules
First CA 27.29 post medication change 1/10/2019 60 (goal <38)
CA 27.29 2/7/2019 55 (goal <38)