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  • All about Gertrude

    Gertrude is the name we decided to call my cancerous breast hence the title of this blog. Although I had to keep my breast through chemo and radiation due to the nature of IBC - once it 'blew up' it no longer looked like my breast and I couldn't wait to get rid of it. Calling it Gertrude was a way of seperating it from myself. This main page is where I write about the general goings on that relate to Gertrude, there is another page that are more a diary of treatments etc This blog is a public blog so although I am being very honest about my battle with Gertrude I have "changed names to protect the innocent" - because everyone can see it if you write comments on the blog pages please use the same abbreviations for other family member or friends that I do. Please feel free to ask questions if you want clarification because then other people who might have been wondering the same thing can read your question and our answers.
  • Abbreviations

    OH- Other Half (Hubby), OD- Oldest Daughter, MD- Middle Daugher, YD- Youngest Daughter, SB- soulja boi MD's fiance in the army (now ex fiance), OD's R OD's partner, BS- Breast surgeon whose initials just happen to be BS as well, BC- our GP (family doctor), Dr H- my medical oncologist, all other friends family etc will be referred to as initials etc
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    No Princess Alone button

Mixed results

At my oncologist assessment appointment on the 8th of May to get my latest scan results – I burst into tears.  Why – because of bad news? No, because there was no official scan report from the radiologists.  When you have psyched yourself up to deal with results, good or bad, getting no results is actually worse because you are left in a state of suspended anticipation, ‘ not knowing’ the ‘what ifs’ crowding your mind, which as I have said many times before, does my head in far more than knowing facts and figures even if the facts reveal bad news.

The Radiology department of Middlemore hospital  ( the local hospital where I have to have my CT scans vs Auckland Hospital where I receive my cancer treatment) has some major issues around scheduling and reporting.  While I can’t fault the technicians and nurses that actually facilitate the scans, I have always had issues getting the scans scheduled within the timeframes that my oncologist wants them and we have always had to wait longer than necessary for the official radiologist report.  I do not think this is good enough when you are talking about people’s health.

To make it worse, at my oncology appointment I saw a new registrar Dr KN who didn’t know me at all and so could only go on what she had quickly read in my notes.  It was a slightly weird consultation as we were discussing what options I had around continuing chemo without knowing what the scan results would ultimately show. She promised to ring me as soon as the scan report came through and let me know as well as posting a printout of the results out to me.

I got the phone call the next day.  My larger tumour in segment 7 of my liver has now grown to be 9.4 cm x 7.1 cm up from 6.7 x 5.2 in my February scan.

the outer pink ring is growth since February scan

Dr KN then went on to talk about the other tumour they had measured which now measured 1.1 cm.  I think I surprised her by asking her what segment it was in.  My second tumour, in segment 2, had been measuring 2.5 cm so I thought she was saying it had shrunk.  But no… this is a  third, new, tumour in segment 6.  She went on to say that they had not been able to get an accurate measurement of the segment 2 tumour.

I decided not to do a blog post about this until I got the written report so I knew exactly what they said, and I also wanted to get my head around what the results might mean, which is part of the reason this blog post hasn’t been written before now.

I got the printout a couple of days after that.  as well as the measurements I have reported above, it says that segment 2 is ‘difficult to define due to perfusional change in the left hepatic lobe’ ( meaning the way blood etc is flowing through that part of my liver is partially obscuring the definitive boundaries on that tumour) they also say ‘ there are other small foci which are indeterminate for liver metastases or focal fatty sparing’  – this means because I have got fatty infiltration of my liver that until tumours grow to be about 0.5- 1 cm it is hard to differentiate them from fatty globules.  What this means is at the moment we know that I have 3 definite tumours but possibly quite a few more. We wont know until they start growing a bit more.  We actually don’t know for certain where or how many ‘spawn of Gertrude’ there are

To put these measurements in perspective I investigated what an average liver’s dimensions were,  – me being my usual investigative ‘facts and figures self’.  I know my liver is slightly enlarged and that also my larger tumour is pushing out of my liver by a good couple of centimeters at the least so all of its dimension isn’t taking over within the liver itself but the average adult liver is 20-23 cm transversely and 15-17 vertically and 10-12 front to back. So especially the largest tumour is fairly significant in relation to the size of the liver as a whole.

That’s the bad news… the good news is that my tumour markers continue to fall, from 557 to 249  which reassures me there aren’t quite so many cancer cells circulating in my blood looking to ‘set up home’ elsewhere and my liver function tests remain stable.

What does this mean for carrying on treatment.  I will discuss more in a following blog post some other factors that have come into play but in the discussion on the 8th and subsequent phone discussion with Dr KN we decided to carry on for at least this cycle and hopefully another couple and then scan again. as we don’t know how much of that growth between the scans on the 1st February and 2nd May happened in the month I was off chemo in February and how much has grown while I’ve been on the Taxol.  At most the Taxol is keeping it stable, it isn’t shrinking it at all.


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  1. modmomblog

     /  May 19, 2012

    oh jaydub, may i call you jaydub? that’s aweful they delay your results + there are 3 now + can’t see them until they’re a certain size, and it’s wonderful your liver function is stable + blood markers lowered. taxol is so strong.
    did you see this article about vegetable extracts instead of chemo?
    ” In the future, apigenin injections could be a safe alternative or supplement to the highly toxic chemotherapy drugs now in use.
    Chemotherapy drugs cause hair-loss, extreme fatigue, and other side effects,” Hyder adds. “Apigenin has shown no toxic side-effects even at high dosages. People have eaten it since pre-history in fruits, vegetables, and curcumin, which is a common spice.” http://www.futurity.org/top-stories/breast-cancer-treated-with-celery-extract/

  2. Ruth Coates

     /  May 19, 2012

    Damn that gertrude, the nerve of this tumor getting bigger when your markers are down. What a confusing mess! hugs my friend, its a tangled web we navigate with this beast! Thank you for reading my blog…hope it didn’t tire you out! hugs! and love.


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