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    Drug or Chemo Therapy (Chemotherapy): Since the Stage 4 diagnosis in Sept 2011, I've been on numerous forms of chemotherapy, essentially non-stop. I was initially put on Xeloda, an oral chemo. As well as monthly infusions of Hercpetin. After many months on the Xeloda, my tumor marker climbed rather dramatically. So I was taken off that and put on weekly infusions of Taxol, supplemented with the kinase-inhibitor Lapatinib (Tykerb), which I took orally every day. The side effects from the Lapatinib were too much for me - seriously messing with my quality of life. So we dropped that. My current protocol, which seems to have succeeded in reducing the lesions in my liver, includes just the weekly infusions of taxol (3 weeks on, one off), and bi-weekly infusions of Herceptin. So far, so good. It's been a year since I learned my cancer had spread to my liver. My liver functions are fine. And my tumor marker seems reasonably steady at present.

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    Oh No (Cancer has spread/Metastasized): August 2011: A six-month-post-radiation (i.e. routine) PET scan revealed numerous lesions in my liver. An MRI followed, then a liver biopsy. My cancer had metastasized to my liver. I was devastated. I felt fine. How could this happen? Tests revealed that my cancer had changed from HER2 negative to HER2 positive, and from ER+ to ER-. This may partially explain why the adjuvant therapy had failed. I decided to go ahead with recommended chemotherapy, but made clear to my oncologist that quality of life is far more important than length of life.

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    Celebration (Finished treatment): November 2007: Finished radiation. An MRI showed that the tumor was gone - obliterated by the radiation. Woohoo!! A follow-up PET scan in February (once I'd healed sufficiently from radiation) showed I was "cancer free" (i.e. no sign of cancer anywhere). Great news! On with life.

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    Celebration (Finished treatment): Early 2007: After a painful and frustrating six-month journey through surgeries, painful recoveries, numerous scans, chemotherapy, and loads of unanticipated side-effects, I was finally done! Because my cancer was (initially) ER+, I moved on to adjuvant hormonal treatment and infrequent rechecks with my oncologist. All was well.

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    Oh No (Cancer is back/Recurred ): Late summer 2010: after 3-1/2 years of numerous adjuvant therapies and no sign of cancer, I began having severe nerve pain in my right arm. Scans revealed a tumor in a lymph node smack in the middle of my brachial plexus. A subsequent (very painful) biopsy confirmed that it was a regional recurrence of my breast cancer. Focused radiation was recommended.

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    Oh No (Diagnosed): Pathology results indicated 3 lymph nodes were involved. New diagnosis: Stage II (rather than 0). Chemotherapy was recommended to prevent recurrence. Scheduled 4th surgery (in one month) for port placement.