I have a quick health update, and then I want to share something very important with you all.
Until a few days ago, I was utterly miserable for the previous two weeks. You don’t hear me say that too often, but I have not tolerated the oral meds very well.
Oh my goodness, even with the reduced dosage, round three came on strong with extreme fatigue, neuropathy, and major hand-foot syndrome. The skin between my thumb and finger and the palms of my hands cracked and peeled, despite loads of skin moisturizer. I also completely lost the top layer of skin on the bottom of both feet. Although my feet looked worse, my hands were more painful. (I’ll spare the photos. You’re welcome.) 🙂
I’m so grateful for my sweet neighbor and friend, Carolyn Lewis, who has taken these meds in the past. She gave me a fabulous tip; Aquaphor ointment with gloves and socks. She even gifted me some of this miracle-in-a-tub and a pair of gloves to wear after I applied it. It helped tremendously. Although I still have tender feet and hands, they are SO much better!
After talking with the nurse last week, my oncologist decided to give me an extra week off of the Xeloda (God bless him!) to rid me of further toxicity. I have an appointment with him this Thursday. We’ll decide then if we will get creative and find a way for me to continue with my fourth round, or start working toward Plan B.
Either way, I have peace and completely trust God with this outcome. I don’t have the answers for all the whys, but I am reminded in Isaiah 55:8-9 that I’m not God, so I don’t have to have all the answers. He knows what He’s doing and as I’ve said many times on this blog, I trust Him, even when I don’t understand.
Thank you for your continued prayers, support, love, and encouragement. You will never know how much Patrick, Maddie, Creed, and I appreciate each one of you. Every day we are amazed at how well you all love us. We are so blessed by our God and by the people He has so graciously placed in our lives.
Now for some good news, today, I’m great! The bad days make the good days even better, and am thankful for every feeling-good moment I have.
And what perfect timing to have a little energy. In the last few days I was able to see Creed play in his first ever Conway Christian basketball game.
And I have to tell you my favorite part… When he finished up the second quarter he looked over at us, and with a proud smile on his face he said, “Did you see me make that awesome foul?” 🙂
Yep, we saw it. And we gave him a thumbs up to let him know how proud we were. Because seriously, it was a pretty awesome foul. 🙂 Gotta love that happy kid!
I was also able to watch Maddie and the Conway High School dance team at State Dance Competition in Jonesboro on Saturday. They were amazing! So proud of all of them! I love seeing my girl dance. It was a great day.
As the week progresses and the toxicity lessens, the better I’ll feel, and again, what great timing!
It’s Dazzle Daze week!
For all of my local friends, I want to share why this is such an important event for our community and the reason it is so very special to me this year.
I have attended this event many times with friends and family and it is a delightful way to start off the holiday season. I love the merriment and cheer that is always present at Dazzle Daze.
While I’ve enjoyed Dazzle Daze for several years, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve seldom thought about what the proceeds were going for that year or that my support of this event helped provide much needed resources for our community and Conway Regional Health System.
According to Dot Welch, Associate Director at Conway Regional Health Foundation and Conway Regional Women’s Council, Dazzle Daze has raised over $580,000 since 2002.
Dot shared with me some of the many benefits our community now has access to as a result of this event.
I think I now know why it is called Dazzle Daze. You too, will be dazzled and dazed when you see this list of just a few things funded by Dazzle Daze proceeds over the years:
- Babies (infant security system, bilirubin lights, new bassinets)
- Moms (breastfeeding support group, Lactation room makeover, new rockers, OB expansion)
- Seniors (lifeline program)
- Students (teacher’s grant for K-12 students, scholarships for higher education students)
- Emergency room patients (stroke/trauma education, stretchers, endoscope)
- Breast cancer patients (Fabulous You Boutique, imaging services for uninsured or underinsured women)
- Imaging (bone density scanner)
And the list goes on and on.
While it takes a huge team to organize this event, Marla Hambuchen, Special Event Coordinator at Conway Regional Health Foundation, is the key coordinator of Dazzle Daze.
Marla says one of the things she loves about this event is the opportunity to support the health of so many people in our community through Conway Regional.
When I asked Marla what her favorite thing about Dazzle Daze was she said, “If I had to pick a favorite, I would have to say as a mom of four, the gifts made to the Women’s Center and Labor & Delivery are pretty near and dear to my heart. This year, I am so proud that the Council has stepped up to help fund the TOMO. We have all been impacted in some way by breast cancer and if we can help just one woman through this technology, all the work to put together this event will be worth it.”
This is why Dazzle Daze is very personal to me this year.
A portion of the proceeds raised from Dazzle Daze 2016 will help improve the detection of breast cancer by providing digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography) or TOMO, for the first time in Faulkner County, in the Conway Regional Mammography Department.
TOMO can increase the detection of invasive breast cancer by 41 percent and is particularly effective in detection of breast cancer in women with dense breasts.
It is estimated that 40 to 50 percent of women receiving mammograms at Conway Regional will benefit from 3D mammograms.
This is what 3D mammography could have meant for me; I had three mammograms in three months before I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. With each subsequent mammogram and ultrasound, what turned out to be a highly aggressive and rare form of breast cancer, continued to appear as just increased density in my left breast.
I was referred for a biopsy only after other physical symptoms presented. Three months after my first mammogram, I was diagnosed with stage 3C Inflammatory breast cancer.
3D mammography could have made a difference in earlier detection of MY breast cancer because with this new technology, (FDA approved in 2011) fine details are more visible and less likely to be hidden by overlapping tissue.
Inflammatory breast cancer does not present with a lump, instead, it forms in sheets. With 2D mammography and ultrasound, those sheets did not look like anything other than increased breast density.
If 3D mammography would have been available at the time of my first mammogram, it is highly probable that I would have been diagnosed at that time. Earlier detection would have allowed me to receive treatment three months sooner, before this aggressive cancer spread to my lymphatic system (which greatly affected my prognosis).
Using 3D mammography allows radiologists to examine the tissue one thin layer at a time so those fine details are more visible and not hidden by breast density or any other tissue.
During the 3D part of the exam, an x-ray arm sweeps over the breast, taking multiple images in seconds. Images are displayed as a series of thin slices that can be viewed as individual images or in a dynamic interactive animation.
Studies have demonstrated a 10%-30% increase in overall breast cancer detection (over 2D imaging alone).
Two of the top benefits of TOMO:
- Improving the early detection of breast cancer (which would have been a game changer for me).
- Providing peace of mind due to greater clarity and accuracy. The increased accuracy reduces the number of call-backs (by as much as 30%), sparing women the anxiety, inconvenience, and expense of coming back for further imaging.
Last weekend I spoke with two women who recently received a call-back after their yearly mammogram. If you’ve ever been called back in for further testing after a mammogram, you know the worry and anxiety that causes. Increased accuracy that reduces call-backs will positively affect many of you in Faulkner County who are reading this right now.
If you are wondering how to know if the TOMO is right for you at your next mammogram, Dot explains, “When you check in for your mammogram, your technologist will discuss the TOMO system and, based on your personal history, will determine whether the diagnostic mammogram is appropriate.”
According to the data, for 40 to 50 percent of you, TOMO will be recommended.
Many of us that live in or near Faulkner County have benefitted or know someone that has been positively affected in some way from at least one of the items or services provided by Dazzle Daze proceeds.
You do not have to have a medical degree to save a life.
All of the volunteers, everyone who purchases a raffle ticket, each of you who attend Dazzle Daze this year; you are doing your part to make this technology, and many other items and services, available right here in Faulkner County.
Do you know what that means?
It means the next Tina who goes in for her yearly mammogram may not have to wait three months to find out that what looked like density, was actually disease.
The next Tina may not be fighting a recurrence a year later because TOMO is available and she will benefit from earlier detection.
The next Tina might be you.
Your sister, mother, aunt, cousin, or friend may be the life that is saved by the new 3D mammography (which will be up and running at Conway Regional Mammography Department within a few months).
Or, the life you save may be your own.
I’ll see YOU this weekend at Dazzle Daze!