Oy, it’s Scanukkah!

A festival of lights both on and off the scan table!

As I was lying on the PET scan table on Monday, I thought about how much time I have spent in diagnostic machines since being diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in April 2008. Every three or four months, I spend 20 minutes on the table trying to  distract myself by living in the moment and trusting God that all is in divine order. Well, most of the time.

My propensity to mix up my calendar dates served as an advantage as I awaited this scan, however – a Hanukkah gift, if you will. I thought my scan was next week and by the time I figured it out, it was just a couple of days away. I decided I was going to anticipate good news instead of going down the dark road my mind typically takes me. I have been enjoying a long run with my current treatment, Afinitor — almost a year — and my last two scans showed shrinkage.

What I didn’t anticipate is the absolute fear and dread I felt during the short drive to pick up my scan results yesterday. My heart was beating fast and I had to take a few deep breaths and say some affirmations just to calm myself down. All the fear I had been avoiding came rushing in. What if cancer has spread to other parts of my body? What will I do if my treatment stops working? When in the hell are they going to come up with a new targeted drug for ER positive breast cancer?

Shaking, I opened the envelope. First, a feeling of relief. There were no new lesions and the tumor in my armpit, which seems to have been there since the beginning of time, was absolutely gone. Then I read on: the mass on my peritoneal area did not change in size, but there was an increase in standard uptake value (SUV). Although it sounds like the type of car driven by suburban soccer moms, SUV is actually another way of determining cancer activity. It’s not always accurate though, and can be influenced by things like exercising 48 hours prior to the scan (which I found out yesterday on the Internet, not from my scan place).

So Dr. Tami is stating that this is a stable scan. I will meet with my local oncologist on Monday and my consulting oncologist at Ohio State in a couple of weeks, but I think they will say to stay the course. I feel like a Death Row inmate waiting for a reprieve. Living with stage IV cancer is like that. You hang around until another new treatment comes along. Before Afinitor was approved the summer before last, my choices were reduced to hit-or-miss chemo regimens that aren’t targeted to my type of cancer. I am hopeful because I see a lot of great drugs in the pipeline. A good place to find trials, I’ve found is BCtrials.org. I am looking forward to hearing what comes from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium next week.

Until then, I will continue to count my blessings, enjoy the holidays with my wonderful family, and thank God for every day. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (for those of you who celebrate). Until next time!

Some cool news: Miracle Survivors has been chosen to be included in the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) online archive of Web content as part of its mission to collect, preserve, and make available to the public materials that provide information in medicine and public health, and document their histories. The library, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, will make the content available to researchers. Very exciting stuff!

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 5th, 2013 at 10:57 AM and is filed under Being proactive, Emotions, Exercise, Fear of death, Great sites and organizations, Treatment options, Updates on my health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. EAK13 says:

    I have been thinking about you hoping all turned out well on your scans. Definitely enjoy your holidays
    I had a couple of things looked after yesterday too. I am going to write it on my blog, I had a core biopsy on some stubborn nodes and a chest CT Scan…
    Take care……Alli X

    ... on December 5th, 2013
  2. caroline says:

    That sounds pretty damn good to me!!!

    ... on December 5th, 2013
  3. Nancy Jane Simpson says:

    We are both here, both stage four and both stable. I think it does not get better than that. Alive! Another holiday. And, another new year! Here’s to us! I love you. xooxox

    ... on December 5th, 2013
  4. Diana Ross says:

    Tami I so admire your tenacity to share your on-going story and with such honesty. My sister is also a Stage 4 breast cancer survivor and is facing it head on with changes to her lifestyle. She became a vegan (lost 60 lbs) and is making sure she laughs and loves more. I am so happy to hear from her that her tumor is shrinking and she is feeling so much better. I too wish you the same. blessings of love and light.

    ... on December 6th, 2013
  5. Vicki Tashman says:

    Congrats on a stable scan! Have a great holiday season and a happy 2014!

    ... on December 6th, 2013
  6. Sherry says:

    Keep staying positive, survivor sister!

    ... on December 8th, 2013
  7. tamilb says:

    thanks so much Diana and everyone else for your kind comments. I’ll know for sure what’s going on when I see my oncologists! I appreciate your support!

    ... on December 8th, 2013
  8. Barbra says:

    Many congratulations on your stable scan. We love to hear this. All good! Happy holidays and a very healthy and happy New Year to you Tami. Wishing you love and light and stay strong and positive always!

    ... on December 10th, 2013
  9. Sherri says:

    Sounds good – Happy Scanukkah :) !!

    ... on December 10th, 2013
  10. Rachel Pappas says:

    Hi Tami,

    I read this post late, so I now know you got GREAT scan results since writing it. So happy for you. Thanks for keeping us up, and for the practical info like BCtrials.org.

    Moving to your most recent article, are you going to try sprouting? Sounds like a good idea if you are so ambitious. I just do sprouted breads, and I juice.

    Take care and look forward to more posts.


    ... on December 15th, 2013

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