Monday, November 2, 2020

Hola Xeloda

Cancer camp, at home chemo

Chemo poison lookin cheerful cause that's how I roll.

Magical Unicorn glitter is part of my arsenal.

In cancer camp, a puppy and a Bible are essential.

Hello Dear Reader. Thank you for coming! First off I'd like to start with a little more education about metastatic breast cancer.  For any of you who might be new to my blog, here's a quick recap about my journey in cancer camp.

I was originally diagnosed in April 2010 with invasive lobular carcinoma (aka ILC), which is breast cancer found in the lobules of the breast.  It's not as common as another form of breast cancer, called ductal.  Although I had mammograms, my breast cancer went undetected until I noticed an unusual dimpling in my breast. I talked to my primary care doctor, and she ordered my annual mammogram early, along with an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed what appeared to be a tumor, but lobular is tricky, it often appears more like a web than a solid tumor.  Long story short I was diagnosed with Stage 3 ILC, meaning the cancer was found in the left breast and a few lymph nodes on that side.  I went through a year of cancer camp which included five months of chemo, a bilateral or double mastectomy, 7 weeks of radiation, and eventually reconstruction.  My new fake boobies, or 'foobies' as we call them in the bizness, were made with my own tummy fat and skin.  It's called a DIEP procedure.  I do not have implants.  Just Flopsy and Mopsy (what I named my boobies) THE SEQUEL.

Almost eight years later, that bitch came back, or should I say, was now able to be seen on a scan.  It had spread to several spots in my bones.  That's the tricky thing about lobular, it can be present and yet microscopic, it can return or be visible years later, and it doesn't always light up a scan.  So now I am considered Stage 4.  There are lots of misconceptions about Stage 4 or metastatic breast cancer, so let's clear a few of them up.

Metastatic breast cancer aka MBC is considered advanced and is regarded as terminal. There is no cure for it, and treatment is all about prolonging your life and slowing progression of the disease. The median survival after an MBC diagnosis is about three years, but obviously there are outliers who have been living with MBC for far longer! I plan on being one of those! One of the things you have to wrap your head around with this type of diagnosis is to completely change your thinking about what your future looks like. You have to roll with the punches because you likely will face several lines of treatment to slow down progression of the disease.  A treatment regimen may work for a period of time, and then without explanation, stops working.  I’m not a pessimistic person, but there is a sad reality to having what is considered a terminal illness.  So as the saying goes you ‘hope for the best, and prepare for the worst!’

Very recent scans showed I was stable with bone mets, but a colonoscopy and endoscopy revealed another story. Biopsies from my esophagus into my stomach and also within my colon revealed the breast cancer is also present there.  That’s the tricky thing about my specific type of breast cancer, invasive lobular carcinoma. She’s a tricky ass bitch, often recurring decades after original diagnosis, and doesn’t always light up on a scan.  It was extremely disappointing to believe my treatment was working, scans were affirming it, only to find out my breast cancer had progressed again.

So after almost two years considered 'stable' with bone metastasis or bone mets (breast cancer spots on my bones) I’ve had progression.  Again.  Buckle up Buttercup, it’s on to the next line of treatment. I was on an aromatase inhibitor (estrogen blocker) called Exemestane, and a CDK-4 inhibitor (cancer cell cycle interrupter) called Ibrance. Thank you drugs for giving me time without progression, and I forgive you that you stopped working, although my medical debt will continue long after! Financial hardship and overwhelming medical debt during and after cancer treatment is a whole 'nother' blog post!

The next line of treatment for me is a drug called Xeloda (Capecitabine). It’s been around for years, and helps slow progression of both metastatic breast cancer and is also used for colon cancer.  I’m grateful I can take this chemo drug at home, and don’t have to go to the Cancer Center for infusions, which would include getting a port placed back in my chest and the good 'ol chemo chair. The side effects associated with Xeloda are varied and nasty; of course it’s different for each patient. These are the common ones, courtesy of

Xeloda is in an inactive form when you take it. Your liver, and then enzymes in the cancer cells, convert it to its active cancer-fighting form, 5-fluorouracil. (Cancer cells contain high levels of an enzyme that converts Xeloda to its active state.) This two-step activation process means that a higher concentration of the medicine ends up in the cancer tissue, rather than in healthy tissue.'

Side effects:

In addition to the Xeloda I've been prescribed an anti nausea medicine called Zofran, and it was recommended I pick up some over the counter diarrhea medicine as well.  So I'm ready to roll!  Lets do this! Gulp.  Xeloda is taken on a cycle of 14 days on, 4 pills, twice a day, and then 7 days off.  I just started my first cycle, and will let you know how it goes.  My oncologist has started me off on the recommended dose which is rather high, 2,000mg morning and night, but adjustments can be made after we see how I tolerate it.  Some of my Stage 4 peeps are on a lower dose, and some are even on a 7 days on 7 days off cycle.

Oh just one more very important thing... According to Metavivor, even though metastatic breast cancer is the only breast cancer that kills, it only receives about 5% of the funding raised by all the popular breast cancer funding organizations.  Not to mention all the marketing campaigns during October for breast cancer awareness month, or as I call it 'Pinktober.' According to Metavivor "the primary focus for the majority of breast cancer organizations is on prevention, which does nothing to help those already diagnosed, and early detection, which does not impact those living with this terminal diagnosis."

So as you can imagine, it's very important who you give your charitable dollars to in the fight against breast cancer.  Metavivor is the only organization that solely funds for metastatic breast cancer.  Early detection just isn't enough, especially when 30% of those diagnosed at an early stage of breast cancer still go on to MBC, the only breast cancer that kills.  We be dyin out here!  Pink ribbons don't cure cancer, neither does merchandise.  We need dollars donated specifically to researching MBC.  If you'd like to read more about it and even make a donation, here's a link. Donate here for Metavivor.

In the meantime, thank you for listening, and all the support, love and prayers I continue to receive. It makes all the difference.  Keep those prayers and good juju for me coming, and for my family too.  It is very challenging to love someone who is going through this!

Love and peace and health,

Writergirldreams. That’s me.

"Laugh louder than the crying!"

My family.
I made Hubby move over, he was
blocking Baby DoughDa.
One House Bakery


desertpirate said...

So sorry to hear about the progression. You are and always will be my cancer warrior hero. I know you are probably not as "together" as you come off to be. My prayers are with you, girlfriend. I love your candor and the way you educate us all. Your blog has helped so many. Love you.

Unknown said...

Cancer sucks for sure !! Prayers and hugs to you girl. You are braver than most !!💕

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