Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My Sis, the "Other" TNBC and now Multiple Myeloma

In September 2007, our family got on the triple negative breast cancer train when my older sister, Pam, was first diagnosed with the disease.  She put up an incredible battle with it and rarely complained even though I knew she was in a lot of pain. I remember thinking back then, how awful it must be to have a breast removed. Who knew two years later, I would know what it was like to have both of them removed. 

Pam opted to do a single mastectomy and chemo even though I thought it wasn't enough.  I was always concerned for her welfare because of the aggressiveness of this disease to rear its head at a later date and the fact she did not do a bilateral but she was convinced she would be fine.  My gut instinct never sat well with it so I just prayed for her. But we both made it past the two and five year marks that is so critical for TNBCs.

Life went along seemingly well and that cancer train was in the rear view until recently.  Actually, I should go back to a year or so ago when she was having considerable pain because this should be KEY to any post-cancer patient.  Yes, the pain sucks but the idea it exists 24/7 means your body is trying to tell you something. I live with pain every single day myself and I hate when doubt creeps in.  My pain is from fibromyalgia and from a car crash....and well, now the ribs of course. 

Back on point, Pam's pains were in her hands and feet and she swelled in those areas.  What does that mean?  Honestly, I don't know but I tell you because should you recognize this, it might be worth checking into and seek medical advice.  Listen to your body, get it checked out.  

As it stands, my sister is now facing Multiple Myeloma. A rare type of cancer that develops in plasma cells (white bloods cells).  Cancer cells eventually overtake the healthy plasma cells in people with MM and depletes the body of much needed white blood cells to fight off infection.  As the cancer cells grow, so do the symptoms.  Pam's future will consist of biological therapy to try to turn her body into a cancer fighting tool.  She will be given drugs like lenalidomide (Revlimid), thalidomide (Thalomid), or pomalidomide (Pomalyst).  She will also endure protease inhibitors (to target and kill cancer cells), chemotherapy (for the rest of her life), corticosteroids, Stem cell transplants, and/or a combination of many of these treatments. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Multiple Myeloma and Stage 3 is advanced. When I read up on this disease, I wanted to cry.  It is hard not to look at prognosis and they all seem to be the same.  In her case, there is a 3-5 year life shelf and the treatment that comes with it is nothing short of quality of life reduction.  And it pisses me off because it also places her right in that 12-year window for TNBC's.  I am angry over that too... or maybe just scared.  Again.  Anyway, I digress.  This is about her, not me.  

So for this day, she will do the same thing she did with TNBC.  She will fight.  One day at a time, every single day.  Until she has no more fight left or until research has come up with promising therapy for individuals like my sister.  Today, I pray for Pam and for every person out there, who like my other friend, Michele Haro, who has been enduring this dreadful disease along with kidney failure for a year now and just received an additional diagnosis of skin cancer.  I pray for them because I know it is the best thing I can do and I ask you to do the same with me.  And pray for research, that they will find better treatment for those in need, not just with TNBC or Multiple Myeloma, but all cancers.

Thank you. I love you.

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