I promise

"I promise, Suzy... Even if it takes the rest of my life." - Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

What is Triple Negative Breast Cancer?


Just in recent years, Triple Negative Breast Cancer has sparked interest in the news where instead of calling the tumor as ER-negative, PR-negative, and HER2-negative; researchers began using the shorthand term, "Triple Negative," dubbed the "new type" type of cancer. Being Triple Negative, you don't have a targeted therapy and that your only treatment option is chemotherapy.

Triple Negative is seen in about 15% of all breast cancers. Triple Negative is a very aggressive cancer that tends to strike younger women, pre-menopause, especially among African-American women and women who have BRCA1 mutations. The tumor tends to be fast growing and is less likely to show up on an annual mammogram. TN is more likely to metastasis early on; has a high rate of recurrence in the first 2-3 years from diagnosis and has a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer due to lack of specific, targeted treatment for TNBC.

Carpe diem

Seize Each new Day with Renewed Strength,
Believe in Yourself, Go forward with
Courage and faith
to face whatever Tomorrow may bring.

Chicks For Charity motto:

Enjoy life. Laugh a lot.
Work hard. Play hard.
Be thankful for our blessings.
Share the wisdom. Give back

Friday, April 2, 2010

God Never Promised Us An Easy Journey In Life, Only Safe Arrival...

"I Won't Back Down""I won't back down"
In honor of Women in History Month: Suzanne Sommers, Sheryl Crowe, Melissa Etheridge, Olivia Newton-John, Christina Applegate, Jaclyn Smith, Carly Simon, Kate Jackson, Rue McClanahan, Cokie Roberts, Robin Roberts, Elizabeth Edwards, Hoda Kobt, Deanna Favre, Shirley Temple Black and personal friends Bonnie Sampson, Amy Thorpe, Robin Kraemer and Carol Stokes - I am proud to say that I will be right there with you on this list of Breast Cancer Survivors! August 2009, diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, Stage 2(pT2, PNO, mMX), Age 41. Lumpectomy, Chemo and tomorrow, March 30, 2010, I have my last radiation treatment, Woo Hoo!

August 4, 2009 at 9:52pm: Dear God, it's me Melissa - Thanks for honoring my friend, Shannon's request and for me please, I pray for negative results. Thank you and I did tell my husband today.

No, not kidding this time Patti - this is for real,   and my spirits are good... and Pat and Shannon thank you so much!

August 4, 2009 at 11:05pm: So not pregnant! I had a biopsy done on lump in left breast - right now it's going in my favor but 25% the other way. Being strong but alone - husband and son been out of town.

August 6, 2009 at 11:58am: Dear God, it's me Melissa again, didn't get the results I was craving for... Yes, I'm stunned and don't know what to say right now. My friends are all wonderful people and I thank them all for pulling for me and I need them and you more than ever to keep me strong and guide me through this storm. Amen

August 8 at 12:09am: TOTAL SHOCK for me, Last week I was diagnosed with breast cancer,
Stage IIC(pT2,PNO,mMX) found 1 in. lump under breast 
on Sunday.
Mammogram, ultrasound, needle biopsy, marker and mammogram again, all on Tuesday. Yesterday, I received the call from my doctor that my biopsy tested positive for breast cancer. As of now, their plan is to do a lumpectomy, look at the lymph nodes and run more tests and go from there.

Information and details are still very preliminary and will keep you all informed. I did send out a few posts prior to other friends who I did not talk to one on one on FaceBook to keep them in the loop too. I’m very public about this as like everything else that goes on in my life and would not exclude anyone that mean so much to me. I do see the breast care surgeon on August 17th and will discuss their plan of action. I have a lot of medical forms to fill out now and pick up mammogram and ultra sound images to take with to Dr. Butler. Dr. Butler is well know in Toledo and I have a few breast cancer survivor friends that are being treated and/or have been treated by her and have had excellent results and experiences with her.

You all know that I’m a strong woman, very hopeful and ready for this fight to beat this cancer – I have to for my 7 yr. old son who needs his mommy to be healthy and for my husband who is the best thing that ever happened to me. I know most of you all for a very long time and you are all very dear to me. I hate breaking this news but can’t hold it in me and need to remind you to please do your breast self exam every month, early detection is the key. Many of you know that my lump did not show up on the mammogram so please, please do your self exams, press firmly and be thorough. I know I’m surrounded by lots of great people, positive energy and laughter which will get me through this. For things are still sketchy for me, this is gonna be a long week till the 17th so keep the wise cracks on FaceBook coming to me! Peace, Love and Friendship, Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

August 11 at 3:06pm: Wow, what an overwhelming amount of support I'm receiving, what can I say... you're all the best, Thank you!
Thank you all for your thoughts, good humor, positive energy and many prayers sent my way and to my family.
Filled out all my medical forms and picked up my mammo/ultra sound images and took them directly to my surgeon's office today. Now that I got that out of the way, 6 more days of waiting!
Always Peace, Love and Friendship, Melissa

August 12, 2009 at 10:44pm: Is it normal for me to be this anxious? I wish I can just Chill! My husband wants me to get some sleep tonight.

August 17, 2009 at 3:31pm: On my way for consultation with the breast care surgeon, I will remain strong !!

August 18, 2009 at 12:24am: Thank you all so much! I have a long road ahead of me but gonna fight like hell! I'm gonna be OK thou. Still being strong but exhausted. fill you in on details later. Peace and love you all, Me

August 18, 2009 at 12:08am: Alright, long day today, calling it the night. Not great news from the doctor but not the worst either. Really tired, don't feel like talking much right now. Will send out a message soon and thanks for all your positive thoughts - it does help. I'm strong and gonna have to fight like hell! Peace

August 18, 2009 at 12:37am: Love you too Sis, I really want to bring Justin down to Florida to see you before he went back to school but looks like I' ll have to stay put here in Toledo for about 8 months - CANCER SUCKS!

August 19 at 1:57am: Quick update: 2 hour visit with Dr. Butler, my breast care surgeon on Monday. Right now I'm looking at Stage IIB aggressive breast cancer. Now had a biopsy done on lymph node clump, abnormality in size there - waiting for the test results.
Another ultrasound of the breast lump performed. Where the lump is located it would be hard to pick up on mammogram and may be difficult to detect during breast self exams.
2 doctors were surprised that I had found the lump myself. Therefore, on top of my annual mammogram I will also have a MRI performed in addition for life.

Right now I have a difficult choice to make: Lumpectomy with radiation or a Mastectomy with no radiation - both with the same end results. Then I'll have 4-8 months of Chemotherapy either way I go. Since the cancer is aggressive, I will be having an MRI performed On Wednesday, On Thursday- a bone scan, chest xray and blood work (Happy Birthday to me). Surgery next week with chemo to follow about a month later.
Now, if the MRI results shows anything MORE than this singular lump then the choice will already be made for me, they will have to take the whole breast.

Two things: I need to change my diet, cut out my 3 evils- Pepsi, chocolate and donuts, cut my carbs and sugars and need to eat 5 servings daily of fruits/vegetables.
My 9 month bout with MRSA staph infection that I finally kicked in April had knocked my immune system down contributing with cancer being aggressive. Will always be a carrier of MRSA and is very important I don't get it again during treatment.

I'm strong and am now realizing I have a long road ahead of me to recovery, but I promise I may be tired now but I'm gonna give it all I have and beat this cancer.
My husband is taking this very hard and now will have to sit down with my 7 yr. old son and some how explain to him... Did I mention I'm kinda scared but haven't been able to cry?
I really do appreciate all your support and prayers, Thanks! Peace, Love and Friendship, Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

August 19 at 11:11pm: MRI went well today, cancer contained to the one area only . Finally some good news, Wooo Hooo! Still an area of concern in the lymph nodes thou. I'm leaning towards the lumpectomy with radiation and chemo depending on how the rest of my tests go tomorrow. I say this was a good day for me! Thanks again for your support, Melissa

August 20, 2009 at 10:35pm: Received some gag gifts for my Birthday today, a bone scan, blood work and 2 chest x-rays! LOL!

"Celebration time, come on...!" Having a great Bithday today, my surgeon called me to say that all my test results are coming back good, Wooo Hooo! Take a hike CANCER, you're not crashing my celebration! Surgery next week... going forward! 3 days now w/o Pepsi!

6½ hours of tests at the hospital but well worth it! I am so happy right now, I'm loving this positive news!

Good day today, My surgeon called me today to tell me that all my tests are coming back normal, Wooo, Hooo! Surgery next week... going forward!

 "It was a great one - all my medical tests results today are coming back normal, great news for me!" 
"I did get my wish, all my tests results are coming back good!" 

August 21, 2009 at 9:26am: I had an awesome birthday, lots of great news from my surgeon - tests results coming back normal but over 6 hours of testings in the morning. hung out with friends and family at home, Phil baked a cake, delicious topped with blueberries!... a couple of nice jewelry pieces from my hubby and my mom.Best of all I was was surrounded all day with best wishes, prayers, good humor and positive energy!

August 24, 2009: Great news: First, I want to thank everyone for my Birthday wishes, had a real nice day. Surgeon called to tell me that my lymph node biopsy came back normal which is a major plus!
Busy week - Another Dr. visit with my gyn, Breast MRI performed - cancer isolated to the one area,
6½ hours of testing at the hospital: Had a Bone Scan done - tests came back normal, blood work came back normal and chest x-rays which are expected to come back good too.

Having some piece of mind now and I pray I'm making the right decision as I opt to having the lumpectomy done with 6 weeks of radiation, Monday through Friday along with Chemotherapy once every 3 weeks 4-8 months. Surgery on Wed. Aug. 26. I'm feeling pretty good about this, my spirits are good and am confident that I'm going to beat this breast cancer!!
Pre-admittance today at the Hospital - moving right along!
I told my son some of what is going on, medical tests and having surgery to remove a lump - will tell him more as it happens, didn't want to overwhelm him.
Always Peace, Love and Friendship, Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

August 5, 2009:  Had a nice N.Y. strip steak dinner at Texas Roadhouse with my husband and son night before my surgery

August 26, 2009 at 12:21am: Dear God, it's me Cancer, I'm about to get deported from Melissa's body. Please give her peace of mind knowing that she will be rid of me and have no plans of returning.

      August 26, 2009 at 7:27am: Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts and prayers, I'll do just fine. You're all the best, love you!

August 27, 2009: "Feeling Alright, I'm not feeling to good myself..." Im doing fine, but can not be on the computer, not suppose to be typing so I'll be lying low for a little bit. Huge THANKS to all my friends and family for all your prayers and positive thoughts, believe me it really helped. Surgery went really great, details at another time - gonna rest now and love you all!

August 31, 2009: Thank you all again for all your well wishes - you all pulled me through this "Nightmare on Elm Street" LOL. I just want to wake up from this nightmare. Really, I'm doing good. Jen, beer and steak when I get back to work at my 3 jobs and I'm still "perky" or is that swollen? :)

"THANK YOU, Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I just can't thank you all enough! Healing process is taking too long thou! Guess I should have been resting more."
 "...Surgery went very well, I'm still smiling!"

Thanks Betty for keeping me in your thoughts.
Surgery went great! Tiring easily. Love you Sis!

"Na na na, hey hey, goodbye..."
C'ya Cancer , you've been terminated!

 August 31 at 11:45pm: Hey, 2 hour surgery went great last week, i did go with the lumpectomy, removed 5 lymph nodes, no cancer in the nodes! Thank you all, your prayers have been heard. Thank you God, thank you.
Incision under breast, in armpit, and side where the draining tube comes out, ICK! I am fairly bruised and swollen on whole left side. Did spend the night in the hospital.
Spent most of the week resting, am experiencing a lot of bad dreams recently ???
Ordered to do nothing for a week including staying off the computer, LOL - been caught by a few of you... and I did make it to the McAuley Alumni Gathering which was really nice.

5 hours at the hospital prior to surgery for pre-op and another fun, fun procedure that no one warned me about, Grrr! - Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy, a NEEDLE injection of blue dye into my areola just below the nipple. OMG, that was the worst pain that I have ever felt, the stinging shot across my chest to my shoulder and down my arm. Thanks for the free piercing but I'd rather have passed!

Only 3 days of Percocet, drinking a lot of V8 and protein drinks, good food for the most part to build up my strength and immune system for the next phase, Chemotherapy. Looking to start chemo in about 5 weeks when healed pretty good.

Thank you all again for supporting me through this 1st Phase to my road to a successful recovery, take a bow! Couldn't have done this alone. Hugs and Kisses to all, Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

 November 25 at 7:47pm: Wow, it's been about 3 months post-op and I just now reached my halfway point with my chemo treatments with 4 more to go. Here's a run down on what's been going on since I last posted. I developed a touch of MRSA, cleared up easily with antibiotics. Had the post-op draining tube in me for 5½  weeks and when they finally removed it, I developed a temp. of 102, chills and pain to the area as a result of an infection in breast and side - more antibiotics, about 5 hours in the hospital hooked up to an antibiotic I-V drip and a couple more trips back to the doctors.

Back at the hospital 5 days later for surgery to have my port installed for the chemo. Two more incisions, one in the neck where they guide the port through my juggler vein and another incision in my chest by collarbone where the the port rests. Also had chest x-rays and a Muga (heart scan) done, all in preparation for chemo treatment.

I have Chemo treatments (2½ hour sessions) every other week for 16 weeks,with three visits to UTMC for blood work, Chemo, then I go back the following day to get a shot to bring my white blood cell back up. I just finished my first set of Chemo, Adriamycin and Cytoxan that was pretty potent but for the most part I did very well - some nausea controlled by meds, tingling and numbness in hands, some upset stomach, back pain, lost of appetite and food tasting bland from time to time, tingling in scalp before losing my hair, red blood cell count decreasing and now experiencing early menopause with my nightly hot flashes. I've have maintained my weight so far and it does takes me several days to bounce back after each treatment.

My hair loss started about 3 days after 2nd treatment from shedding to rapidly falling out in clumps just by running my fingers through my hair until most came out. I have very little thinned scalp hair left but as you can see from my photos I'm ok with it- no wig, just my bandanas and fleece hats keeping my head warm. My son was a little freaked out about it for a few days thou.

Next week, I'll being starting my 2nd set of 4 Chemo treatments that are suppose to be easier on me so that should be a blessing in itself. After Chemo's done, I'll get a 6 week break before I start radiation, 5 days a week for 6 weeks. Having triple negative breast cancer in that it's aggressive to where it has a tendency to want to recur  within 2-3 years. I am signing up for a clinical treatment as a "preventive" for bone cancer and other soft tissue. Right now, my prognosis looks very good with 85% survival rate and am doing everything I can to increase my chances of having a healthy life again. Happy Holidays! Peace, love and friendship, Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

 March 14 at 11:16pm: Sorry, I haven't posted an update in a long while. Just been focusing on my treatments and getting my thoughts together.
Finished my chemo treatments and Neulasta (white blood cell count boost) in mid January, Woo Hoo! The 2nd set of chemo,Taxol was a little easier on me - no nausea but the trade-off was that it made me extremely tired, I was down most of the time sleeping, my bones in my legs ached all the time and these chemo sessions were about 6 hours long! The hot flashes and night sweats continued waking me a lot from my sleep, Grrrr! I managed to keep my eyebrows and lashes until the last chemo treatment. I've lost most of my muscle tone, fingernails turned yellowish-orange, 4 toenails turn black and had clicking noises in my ears.

I started the bone study clinical trial in January, taking 2 pills 1600mg daily of Clodronate daily for the next 3 years as a preventive for bone cancer. That's going really good, no side effects, see the research coordinator and blood work monthly.

I got about a month break after chemo before I started phase 3 of my Journey. I started my radiation treatments in early February and am more than halfway through my treatments. I'll have 33 radiation treatments in all, 5 days a week for 6½ weeks. Had to get fitted for a mold of my upper body that I have to lay in during radiation treatments. The techs tattooed 5 dots (Woo Hoo, my first tattoo!) on my chest and breast area where the radiation will enter. So I lay in this thing with my arms pulled back behind my head while this machine closes in on my chest and zaps me 4 times with radiation, probably takes about 10 minutes if that for each treatment and so far I don't feel a thing nor does it hurt. You can't have any modesty with these radiation sessions, you dress and undress daily from the waist up in front of 3 radiation techs and while you laying there, they use a marker to draw lines on my chest and a cross on the nipple to line up where the radiation shoots, and to top it off I'm still laying with my arms behind head and bald (they make me take off my bandana) while one of the techs is taking pics of me with their digital camera for the "file" to make sure the measurements are lining up. Visit with the doctor weekly and more blood work.

After 3 weeks into the radiation, I have one tan boob! I have to keep the skin protected with Aloe Vera gel daily. I can expect some burning of the skin as the sessions go on. There's one thing I learned from my radiation oncologist that's kinda scary that I wish I was informed in the beginning is that the radiation can cause a 2nd cancer in the breast and since the radiation scans over my heart and lungs that I can develop complications like congested heart failure or emphysema that can take decades to show up.
I do have hair growing back now with a mix of gray that I didn't have as much before. Eyebrows and lashes are filling in. fingernails growing out pink again.
I feel pretty good, feeling the fatigue and only 11 more rad. treatments left - I'm starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Many thanks to all of you that have been so supportive and giving me the encouragement and strength to fight even harder. Peace, Love and Friendship - Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

April 4, 2010: Finished radiation treatments and am now considered cancer free, Woo Hoo! Now, just a lot of follow up visits and an outpatient surgery to get my port removed from my chest. Thank you friends for seeing me through my journey, very much appreciated – Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

 November 25, 2010: Today and every day, I am thankful for my loving husband and our handsome son, my wonderful family and friends. I am especially thankful that I am here and well celebrating another holiday season. 
Happy Thanksgiving my friends, embrace your blessings!

February 4, 2011: came across this photo yesterday of me day before I started chemotherapy of where I just had my port surgery... It's really weird to see myself with long hair and now looking at it, I really miss it! There's so many times where I thought about just buzzing it again because my hair is going through the in-between stage but I think I'll bear through it and hopefully I'll have nice head of hair for the summer.
 "You can't always get what you want,
 but if you try sometimes, you might find,
 you get what you need" - Rolling Stones

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