Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Breast Cancer - Part 3 (Round 1)

My wife, Tracey, has been fighting breast cancer since she discovered a lump on her right breast in May 2004. She underwent very aggressive chemotherapy and radiation to prevent a reoccurrence. The treatment started with a bilateral mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiation, and then a hysterectomy. We though we had things under control as far as the cancer-causing hormones. The side effects of the treatment were very serious. Tracey ended up with neuropathy affecting her hands, arms, legs and feet. Quality of life has been greatly diminished for Tracey. Some medications have made her gain weight, putting even more stress on her joints and increasing the pain level she experiences.

In April 2005 Tracey's back pain increased substantially. Medical imagery revealed that her T5 vertebrae had collapsed due to a reoccurrence of cancer. Radiation seemed to take care of the cancer part, but the collapsed vertebrae and associated pain lingered on.

This month Tracey began having dizzy spills that mimic panic attacks -- something she began experiencing around the time of her chemo therapy in 2004-2005. This past week her blood pressure began to climb -- something that was also part of anxiety in the past. She also began experiencing headaches that would not go away -- they would subside when she was laying down and after taking pain medications. However, on Thursday, December 21, the headache would simply not go away. The BP rose to very dangerous levels. Tracey and I went to her Oncologist and they ordered urgent CT scans of her head, neck, and chest. The tests showed that there were two significant masses (0.6" and 1.1") in her brain. She was admitted to the hospital to begin steroid therapy to control brain swelling. Friday morning (December 22) (approx. 4 AM) she suffered a seizure and was transferred to ICU. She gave us a scare Friday and Saturday; her vitals went from stable to unstable. Her breathing was very labored and she developed pneumonia. She was, literally, fighting for her life.

Being the fighter and strong person that she is, and with the help and support of so many of you, she has won the first round of this fight. She is now back in a normal room at Lexington Medical Center and in much better shape. Her breathing has improved greatly, and she is a lot more aware of previous events. Her blood pressure is still high and the headaches are still there (all under control with medications). We firmly believe that radiation therapy will give her more permanent relief and get her on the way to remission again; this will start on Tuesday and run for ten days.

At one point we had hoped that she would be released to be at home for Christmas dinner -- but that was not to be. She told me this morning that she will be in the hospital at least two more days.

The kids are doing well -- they visited Tracey once in ICU (which was very scary to them) and once in her regular room (which was reassuring but still worrisome to them). The older girls, Tracey's mom, my mom, and I have been staying with Tracey as much as possible. Friends have been dropping by to be with her. Tracey definitely feels everyone's loves, thoughts and prayers! We all thank you for your support in these tough moments!

I will continue updating everyone as much as possible. If you have not received the updates and want to be added to the mailing list, please send me an email and I will add your address. If you want to send a message to Tracey please email me and I will share them with her. Please use my Gmail account (vgascon at gmail) for your correspondence.

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