Tracie Cone has always been a trailblazer. This award-winning journalist is the former California Newspaper Executive of the Year. She shares a Pulitzer Prize with fellow staff members at the Miami Herald for coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and has twice been nominated individually. She has focused her writing on helping the underdog and empowering those without a strong voice of their own. Now she takes us on the fight of her life.
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Back from Stanford, test results in hand

OK, first the good news. The tests results revealed what Dr. Carlson’s palpitations had detected: the tumors are much smaller. Much smaller.

Blah blah blah “markedly decreased in size compared to prior” mammogram says one report. “Significant measured size decrease in” two dimensions in what had been the largest tumor in my breast, according to the MRI report. It’s still long, but it’s flat, like a deflated balloon. The report also seemed to indicate it had lost a lot of its vigor, and when it was first imaged it was a very aggressive cancer-making machine.

This is extremely good news. Not every tumor shrinks with chemo, oddly enough, and some even grow. What this indicates, says Katie Pose the PA, is that the two types of chemo I had been on are most likely tracking down any other cells that might have escaped to elsewhere in my body.

The other good news is that the MRI also stated “image of the breast reveal no abnormally enlarged lymph nodes,” so maybe maybe maybe the cancer was contained in the sentinel lymph on the right side of my breast. Who knows?

My heart function also was strong, the echocardiogram revealed. There is a slight chance of heart damage on these drugs, so that was good news.

So that’s what I know for now. We talked about many things today, including how I can help to prevent a recurrence. I have to make lifestyle changes, have a healthy living environment and, most importantly, find a way to significantly reduce stress and how I react to it. That’s a biggie, and most important. My type of cancer is stress aggravated. People who know me know I have lived a high-stress life the past dozen or so years. Learning to live in the present has I face this challenge has helped. I have to keep it up.

I started Taxatere today and it went pretty smoothly. I was closely watched for allergic reactions as I switched to a new chemo while still holding on to significant amounts of the last two in my system. So far, so good. Tomorrow I start the Lapatinib pills that allow the chemo to enter my brain. I take 5 pills every morning on an empty stomach (they cost roughly $500 each, but this is a trial drug supplied by GlaxoSmithKlein). These come with another set of potential side effects, including bone pain, for which I have to be alert.

But I’m supposed to be less nauseous. And already I don’t have that “just been hit by a truck” feeling I would come home with on the other two chemos. I will be tired, but I can deal with tired. I’ll let you know.

They put me in a hospital bed in case complications arose.

A shout out to Carol, who gave up a day to schlep me over to Stanford, a 12-hour ordeal. We left the house at 6 a.m. and pulled into the driveway at 6:10 p.m. My buddy Kim, who missed her flight from Florida in Vegas last night (and spent the night playing Texas Hold ‘Em at the Bellagio), was here, already making us laugh. My mom says she’ll spend her last few days here training Kim to take over her household duties.

So all in all, today was a great day filled with good news. I’m hopeful as I begin the final 12 weeks of chemo, and I’m happy that my infusions will be once every 3 weeks instead of every 2.

BC (before chemo, before cancer) it took a lot more than that to make me happy.

7 Responses to “Back from Stanford, test results in hand”

  • Judith calson:

    Thank you Tracie for taking the time to keep us up to date. And thank god for this good news. Xo

  • Sue:

    Awesome news, Tracie!! Pat’s here and all three of us are reading this entry in different parts of the house! We send a cheer to you!! Xoxoxox

  • LB:

    So glad to hear all the good news and that you are on to the next phase of treatment. I send lots of love and light and wishes for your comfort and ease as this journey continues.

  • maria:

    whoop whoop! Yahooooo!!! the tumors have shrunked :)I’m so happy to hear the good news. I believe all those positive vibes from all your friends and family have helped!

    You are indeed a fighter and one courageous woman! I bow to you!

  • sara:

    That is fabulous news! You’ve done a great job marshaling your strength and energy – and on you go!

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  • Thank you for saying “hello.”. I often wonder who stumbles across my blog. From where are you writing?

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