Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cancer is Cancer = Cancer to Cancer..... Mesothelioma (Ugh.)

    I was recently contacted by a gentleman, Cameron St James, who requested I take a moment on behalf of his wife, Heather, (family photo below) who is currently in remission by the way, to discuss another type of cancer:  Mesothelioma.  Of course I agreed to this because after all cancer is cancer!!  Once you are diagnosed, it doesn’t really matter what type you have, you are a cancer patient fighting for your life and your loved ones are right there praying and fighting alongside you that you beat the crap out of it.  So even though I do not know them, I KNOW them and their family, and their battles. Cameron and Heather, this is in honor of your fight and battle won! 
    Mesothelioma is the term used to describe a cancerous tumor which involves the mesothelial cells of an organ, usually the lungs, heart, or abdominal organs. Pleural mesothelioma or cancer of the lung lining is the most common form of mesothelioma cancer. Peritoneal mesothelioma is stomach lining cancer and is the next most common form of mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest and accounts for just 10% of annual diagnoses and originates in the heart.
    As I have read, the onset of mesothelioma asbestos lung cancer is slow and symptoms range from chest pain to pain in the lower back to difficulty breathing or coughing.  People may also experience weight loss and fever.  It is critical to seek treatment as soon as possible.  Mesothelioma asbestos lung cancer is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos.

Symptoms for Pleural Mesothelioma:  Chest pain and pain in the lower back, difficulty breathing, coughing, weight loss, fever, muscle weakness and sensory loss, swelling of the face and arms, hoarseness, coughing up blood

Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma: The abdomen may bloat (fluid accumulation) and there may be nausea and/or vomiting, swelling of the feet, fever or impaired bowel function.
Not so odd, I read words that resembled my breast cancer in that early “signs” of  mesothelioma are often” ignored or mistaken for other minor ailments” because they are not specific to the disease.  (What I have learned more than anything else in the last five years is this: listen to your body!! If something feels off, check it out!!)

    Did you know that this year, several thousand people will be diagnosed with Mesothelioma? L They will be given 10 months to love….. Yes, I said LOVE….. Because you never really live or love until someone tells you that you are going to die (in my opinion).  Help make a difference in living and loving in our cancer to cancer battle!!  Learn about this disease and the signs and symptoms!  I would also encourage you to jump over to Cameron and Heather’s page to read more about 
Mesothelioma and Heather’s amazing - and rare case of- remission at:
For all of us out there dealing with every kind of cancer…however long you are given to love – and live…take it…fight hard.  Pass along as much information and hope as you can to the next person!  Future generations are counting on every one of us to fight for them NOW! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

As Taken from the "Medical Press" which posted on 6/24/14

Virus kills triple negative breast cancer cells, tumor cells in mice 6/24/14

"A virus not known to cause disease kills triple-negative breast cancer cells and killed tumors grown from these cells in mice, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. Understanding how the virus kills cancer may lead to new treatments for breast cancer.
Adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) infects humans but is not known to cause sickness. In prior studies, the researchers tested the virus on a variety of breast cancers that represent degrees of aggressiveness and on human papillomavirus-positive cervical cancer cells. The virus initiated apoptosis—natural cell death—in cancer cells without affecting .
"Treatment of breast cancer remains difficult because there are multiple signaling pathways that promote tumor growth and develop resistance to treatment," said Craig Meyers, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Immunology.
Signaling pathways involve molecules in a cell that control cell functions—such as cell division—by cooperation. For example, the first molecule in the process receives a signal to begin. It then tells another molecule to work, and so on.
Treatment of breast cancer differs by patient due to differences in tumors. Some tumors contain protein receptors that are activated by the hormones estrogen or progesterone. Others respond to another protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, or HER2. Each of these is treated differently.
A does not have any of these protein receptors and is typically aggressive.
"There is an urgent and ongoing need for the development of novel therapies which efficiently target triple-negative breast cancers," Meyers said.
In the current study, the researchers tested AAV2 on a cell-line representative of triple-negative breast cancer. The researchers report their results in Cancer Biology & Therapy.
The AAV2 killed 100 percent of the cells in the laboratory by activating proteins called caspases, which are essential for the cell's natural death. In addition, consistent with past studies, AAV2-infected cancer cells produced more Ki-67, an immunity system activating protein and c-Myc, a protein that helps both to increase cell growth and induce apoptosis. The cancer cell growth slowed by day 17 and all cells were dead by day 21. AAV2 mediated cell killing of multiple breast cancer cell lines representing both low and high grades of cancer and targeted the independent of hormone or growth factor classification.
The researchers then injected AAV2 into human cell line-derived tumors in without functioning immune systems. Mice that received AAV2 outlived the untreated mice and did not show signs of being sick, unlike the untreated mice. Tumor sizes decreased in the treated mice, areas of cell death were visible and all AAV2 treated mice survived through the study, a direct contrast to the untreated mice.
"These results are significant, since tumor necrosis—or death—in response to therapy is also used as the measure of an effective chemotherapeutic," Meyers said.   Future studies should look at the use of AAV2 body-wide in mice, which would better model what happens in humans, according to Meyers."

Well, fellow TNBCers - this is promising news!  Let's continue to hang in there and keep the faith.  They are continuing to do the research in hopes of helping us and this is looking good!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Opinions on Bilaterals Changing as Heard on CBS This Morning

The Chief of Breast Surgery was on CBS This Morning with Gayle King and Charlie Rose discussing breast cancer and mastectomies.  I watched the interview and had to rewind it a bit just to be sure I caught the entire thing.  While I applaud her efforts at trying to get women to maintain their natural body parts, the medical community for years, has been telling women how bilaterals would decrease the return of breast cancer - and possibly reduce another cancer elsewhere in their body.

This doctor turned it on its heels taking a 180-position saying that 1-20 women choose to have "unnecessary" bi-laterals when the removal of one breast is justified. From 1997-2007, there has been a 10x increase and that women overestimate the return of cancer to the other breast.  She stated cancer normally doesn't go to the other breast, but if it returns, it goes somewhere else in the body.  Further, she said women don't get what they hope for such as lower risk of return of the cancer, OR "improved survival from the cancer they have" by having both breasts removed, BUT they do get other things such as the possibility of a more symmetrical appearance or, a reduction in the cancerous possibilities from BRCA 1/2 and future false positives and such.

Needless to say, I was hopeful for women in the future, but a little flabbergasted from everything that I have learned through my own journey.  So, here is my take, my words, my opinion for that Chief and all women.

Rest assured, MY life has already been "IMPROVED" by an entire FIVE YEARS.  That of which I likely would not have seen Christmas 2009 if I had not taken drastic measures as my cancer was very mean and aggressive.If I had not had both removed, it would have been bad for me because other small tumors were "hiding" in the other breast in a location at the chest wall and not seen on MRI and mammo.

I believe women today elect for bilateral surgery because they do their homework, or have help, or have been informed by the medical community that is is/was the safest, most hopeful long-term treatment (once the surgical aspect is complete).  Placing all breast cancers into one pile stating that a bilateral is not necessary is a dangerous path to tread.  IF the cancer had/has already hit the lymph nodes (your body's super highway), then it has already traveled elsewhere anyway (as she said) and a patient then waits for the ugly monster to rear its head.   Then, women tackle the beast that day, but not today.

My opinion was, and remains, that I would rather opt for a chance at long term survival - for which I AM living proof.  I appreciate her valuable opinion, but respectfully disagree with her. I am certain the 100 women diagnosed today in NY will listen to her and weigh her words and proceed to choose their path carefully. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

And Lovely Life Goes On

This year has already been filled with so much good and yet so many struggles for my family.  I have been so blessed with my health that at times it takes my breath away when I see how others health fails them and they continue to decline.

My brother, who had the brain injury on Christmas Eve, has made what can only be considered to be a miraculous recovery.  He went from having near zero odds for recovery, to a nursing home, to an assisted living home, to temporary living quarters with my sister.  At the beginning of May, he will begin the next part of his own journey in South Carolina with his son watching over him.  We worked with him everyday.  I will tell each of you who reads this, if there is a brain injury, work that brain and do not give up.   They are in there you just have to find them.  Bring them back to you, they are waiting.  He IS back and getting stronger everyday - even driving again!! Now THAT is a miracle.

My aunt was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor and underwent brain surgery.  They removed most of it, but she will now endure the dreaded chemo and radiation cocktail.  I love this woman insanely.  The youngest of seven girls in my mother's family, my brother's and sister's and I could always count on her when it was cold or we were hungry.  I know that she is in God's hands and has good medical care, but I ask that if anyone hears me, please pray for her.

My sister crashed her motorcycle and got banged up with a couple broken ribs. She, thankfully, is doing well. At 59, one would think she would have taken a harder hit, but she is one tough cookie.  She sold that bike the next day. Thank you Jesus!!!!

And I moved, locally.  I still have bone and muscle pain throughout my body so packing, lifting and moving have been ridiculously hard for me.  But I am not complaining.

Whew....we have been crazy busy, right??? I know.  But on a beautiful high note, my son got engaged to his soul mate.  I went with him to pick out the ring and in less than hour set up the dinner and everything as it was not pre-planned at all.  His dad picked up the $600 dinner tab (thank you!!).  It was amazing and Kyle ran and got her father - AND step-father's permission and at dinner, did the complete old-fashioned, down on one knee, will you marry me just like she always dreamed would happen.  As a mother, it was a moment I will cherish in my heart forever.  And sweet Ashley had no idea at all that it was coming.....none.  It was just fabulous.  She thought it was her birthday dinner.

Our 15-year old chocolate Labrador that I drove for hours to get Kyle for his 10th birthday is not well.  April has been so hard!!!!  He had seizures yesterday and of course, I cried.  It will be hard when Russ has to put him down.  Kyle found him on the internet.  Someone dumped "a box" of what turned out to be pups on the highway and they ended up at the shelter at 6 weeks old.  Well, I gave in to Kyle and called to see if they had that pup named "Tucker" and they did, so without telling him, drove to the Iowa border, and they said, "You can pick him up tomorrow, we have to neuter him".  I damn near fainted that day.  Drove all the way home thinking it's a fricking between laughing of course, because I knew my son was going to be over the moon!!

The next day, back I went to get him, only to find out on the way home, in my new SUV, that he was car sick..... Anyway, my post today is dedicated to the unconditional love of our Tucker, who I wish could live forever, but we all know that won't happen.  But, I am sure we will see him again.  He will be wagging his tail waiting for all of us.....