Tuesday, April 19

Quote of the Day:  We acquire the strength we have overcome.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Exercise Log:  Walked w/ Melissa, Jillie, Sue B. and Kathy E.  We went 3.27 miles.  (-2.20)   It was wet outside but felt and smelled of Spring.  I am grateful for the green showing up on the trees and the chirping birds that seem to increase in number every day.

BIG DAY FOR ME:  Chemo # 3.  In marathon terms, I will be at about mile 9 when the effects of chemo wear off!  3/8 that’s a start!  I loved having the port in.  It’s still very tender, had to sleep on my back but the nurse was great inserting needle into port and I loved that my arm was left free!  I did feel that the medicine got into my system sooner.  I first started to notice how tired my eyes are.  They are red and sore and want to be closed.  I really fight laying down though because once you lay down, it’s hard to get back up.

I wanted to put in a comment from my Dad regarding my blog about my grandparents:

“Everything you said about Jim, Thilda, Lynn, Owen and Vernessa was true. Living through the great depression was very difficult. You and I should not condem them until we have had to survive a situation that difficult.” love, Dad. I love my Dad’s perspective.  One lesson I have tried to learn from him is not to judge others, and I really appreciate that.  I take what he says to heart and really know that we don’t always understand the sorrow or suffering of another.  Thanks for that reminder, Dad.

Serida Foss was my Chemo-buddy today and I had a strong sense when I got my news that she was suppose to be there with me.  Serida is a nurse, very loving and compassionate and can see things that I cannot see.  When I got to the front desk to check in at the Cancer Center, I was given my results of the BRAC 1 & 2 tests.  Yes, just right there in the waiting room.  So I started searching the results and saw a part that said “no mutation detected” and I remembered that Lynne’s test had also said that and she tested negative for the gene.  Then as Serida and I looked further, there was a part bolded that said “Deleterious”.  (Definition of deleterious:  causing harm or damage.)  Then above in bold letters POSITIVE FOR A DELETERIOUS MUTATION.  I am positive for the BRCA1 sequencing IVS5-11T≥G.  In the report it says:  “…has been defined as deleterious in linkage studies of high-risk families.  The exact risk of breast and ovarian cancer conferred by this specific mutation has not been determined, but studies in high-risk families indicate that deleterious mutations in BRCA1 may confer as much as an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 44% risk of ovarian cancer by age 70 in women. …Each first degree relative of this individual has a one-in-two chance of having this mutation.”

Further reading shows that with this mutation, at age 50, I had a 33-50% chance of having breast cancer (general population 2%) so the odds were good for me getting breast cancer.  Since my sister, Lynne, tested negative for the gene, the surgeon and oncologist thought I would most likely be negative.  You can image my disappointment in not having had these tests done before surgery- I would have certainly had a mastectomy.  Surgeries in my future:  mastectomy and hysterectomy.  Life has a funny way of circling back around us.  I remember years ago watching a show on TV about a family that has this gene.  They interviewed one of the young girls who tested positive for this gene and she was going to have all the surgery that I will have.  I remember thinking that I am so glad that I don’t have to make that decision.   My genetic profile is a bit odd when it comes to breast cancer- I am more at risk because my sister, Lynne, has it but there is no breast cancer in my mom and her sisters.  My Dad most likely carries the gene and also his father.  It didn’t show up in them because they are male and their risk of getting breast cancer by the time they are 70 is 6%.

One last ironic piece:  I am so grateful that I had all boys.  There risk is low for breast cancer but they, of course, could be carriers of the gene.  They will all be tested.  I pray that if we are passing this gene on, that research will progress and a cure to stop it will be found!  I always wanted a daughter and I really prayed that I could have a daughter, and now, as has happened so many times in my life, I see the wisdom!

Oh, wait- even one last ironic piece:  on the bottom of the test results page it states:  “It is strongly recommended that these results be communicated to the patient in a setting that includes appropriate counseling”.  Ha, ha!

Thanks, Serida for the wonderful lotion!

Serida Foss – My chemo-buddy!


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

, , ,

3 Responses to Tuesday, April 19

  1. Shelley Ebersole April 19, 2011 at 10:00 pm #


    I’m not stalking you, just like to read your blog!
    I’m going to be like a bossy big sister, listen if you want & ignore if you wish….when you are tired, listen to your body and lay down. I too fought off the fatigue and tried to keep on going….the fatigue will catch up to you…lay down and take a nap & when you are re-energized, your body will let you know.

    So interesting about the test results..makes me really wonder what the heck is going on. So sorry that you were given the results in the waiting room…sometimes people just don’t think about what they are doing. Reminds me of after I had my surgery….early in the morning, the doctor that was on duty came in and told me that I had positive spread in my lymph nodes…I wasn’t even awake and was alone….very hard. Some of these people need to take lessons in empathy.

    Just spoke to Lynne…love her so very much….



  2. Christine Young Nelson April 20, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Hi Joanie,

    Thanks! Your blogs are inspiring and a chance to “catch up” on my conversation last week with Boyd and Linda. I am your dad’s half sister, first daughter of Jim and Helyne. Jami Elfring is my little sister (13 years younger than me) and dad’s last child. Jami was one year old when dad passed. You may already be in contact with Jami and is why I mention her. Assuming you have spoken with her I won’t give the details of her cancer but I want you to know the history Boyd is looking for is something I am also researching. More importantly however, reading about your life and seeing the pics is a real delight, I cannot tell you how many times I have wondered about Boyd’s daughters and how you all are. I remember meeting you when I was very young and hearing that your mom and dad divorced always hurt me. That was so long ago but as a child I prayed for all of you, there was something about five little girls not having their daddy home every night that always stuck with me, and then my dad died and everything changed.. we were kindred spirits of sorts even then!

    Anyway…. you are a beautiful person inside and out and I am praying for you and yours, I would love to see you in person and catch up… keep writing, it is a gift!

  3. Jami Elfring April 20, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Joanie, I’m sorry I had to cut our conversation short this morning. Can’t wait to talk to you tonight. I’m so glad you got a port, that is one thing I wish I would have done. I’m glad you had your chemo buddy there with you when you got the BRCA news; although not the appropratie genetic counselor, an angle just the same! I remember when I got my news, over the phone! It’s been great reading your blog and with your positive attitude and faith you will come through this a much stronger and wiser person.

Leave a Reply