Yellow is NOT my best color…

Yellow was never my color–not even back in 1973. Here I am on the steps of the Parthenon in Nashville with my parents.

Let me just reiterate that statement…I do NOT look good in yellow. Right now I’m being compelled to “wear it” thanks to an explosion in my bilirubin counts that has left me jaundiced. It’s not a hot fashion look I assure you.

But things were going so well, weren’t they? Yes! Just a few short months ago a PET scan revealed encouraging changes and reduction in activity in my bone and liver mets. My tumor markers were going down, down, down, and all was looking super encouraging thanks to Abraxane.

One thing about metastatic breast cancer is that you never can count on one day being the same, or better, or even worse than the previous one. Cancer cells are smart, and they can learn to outwit the drugs that we throw at them. In fact, I remember telling my oncologist that Abraxane was either going to make a big difference, or it was going to make the cancer really mad. The latter is clearly the response.

About three weeks ago I started having trouble breathing again. Going up stairs required a major effort, and I was increasingly fatigued. The end result was a trip to the emergency room that resulted in a hospital stay, a pleural tap that removed 1.6 liters of fluid from my pleura complete with cancerous cells floating around in it. I did not improve significantly after a few days of rest at home, so I knew something was up (and it was probably going to be the tumor markers).

Sure enough, things took a 180 degree turn with my liver numbers and tumor markers. Why? Who knows? There’s so much we still don’t know about cancer. So what does this mean for me?

Image: Gemzar’s chemical makeup. Wikipedia

My oncologist at M.D. Anderson-Cooper is starting me on a new chemotherapy drug tomorrow in hopes that it will get those numbers headed in a better direction. So it’s bye-bye Abraxane, and hello Gemzar, aka Gemcitabine Hcl. It works somewhat differently from Abraxane and is classed as an antineoplastic, antimetabolite.

As I understand it (sure wish I’d been more attentive in chemistry), this drug is similar enough to a natural chemical to participate in a normal biochemical reaction in cells but different enough to interfere with the normal division and functions of cells. Evidently it’s pretty good at inserting itself into the work of quickly dividing cells, such as cancer cells, inhibiting their greedy metabolic process. I hope this little chemical trickster will do the trick for me.

It’s an old drug, patented in 1983 and approved by the FDA for medical use in 1995, that’s used in the treatment of many cancers, including metastatic breast cancer. Gemzar is also used off-label to treat certain cancers in the liver, so I’m hopeful that it will act accordingly for me. It does come with a slew of side effects, some of them quite serious, so I’ll have to watch and be watched closely. That said, I have come to appreciate the rather glib saying “Better living through chemistry,” so I’m willing to give it a 110% shot.

Additionally, next Wednesday I’ll have a PleurX catheter inserted to help drain the nasty fluid that’s preventing me from breathing well. It’s an outpatient surgery done under general anesthesia similar to that used for everyone’s favorite but completely necessary colonoscopy. I’m a little nervous about that, but it’s the best way to treat this problem. If I’m lucky it may even irritate my pleura enough to fuse it to my lung if my lung will completely reinflate with the negative pressure of the regular drainings.

Image: Pinterest, Creative Commons License

I remain optimistic about this cha-cha dance of life. Even when I take two steps back, there’s always the potential to step forward. And, hey, every day is gift. We all need to make the most of the days allotted us.

Please send all the prayers and positive energy you can spare my way. I truly believe that prayer is powerful medicine–better than any chemo without the nasty side effects. Life is beautiful, friends. Don’t take it for granted! Thank you so much for walking this journey with me. I hope and pray that we have many more miles to go.

28 thoughts on “Yellow is NOT my best color…

  1. Oh Sharron – I wish you had better news and felt better too, but am very grateful to know that you have another option that sounds hopeful and promising. Danny and I are both holding you in prayer and sending much love! Maria

  2. Sharron, so sorry for these horrendous challenges! I pray for you every morning & will continue to lift you up. May God give you extra doses of peace, healing graces & hope to cope with the new treatments. Much love to you! πŸ’βœ¨πŸ™βœ¨πŸ’

    1. Virginia, thank you so much, my dear blogger friend. I am grateful for your prayers and your inspirational writing and photos. Wishing you a blessed Holy Week and Easter.

  3. Hey there, Cousin. What a wonderful piece. Informative, frank and oh-so-brave. Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us. With you and holding you in heart space.
    Love,
    Laurel

  4. So sorry Sharon we are praying for you. Love you bothπŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™β€οΈβ€οΈ

  5. Praying for awesome results with the new treatment. So very sorry you and your loved ones have to be on this journey. You are a blessing to us allπŸ’—

  6. Praying for you and with you every step of the way Sharron. We’ll always be friends and we’re still teammates so I’m here to help not only to win this race but to destroy the opposition. Much love Sharron ❀. Now let’s do this!

    1. Praying for many more miles filled with joy, gratitude and love. Thank you for your faithful and truth-telling writing.

  7. Pastor Sharon, I am so so sorry to hear that you are going through this. You are, as always, in our thoughts and prayers. We’ll be praying for great results with this new (old) treatment… wishing you and your girls well!! Have a blessed Easter ❀
    Alyson

  8. I thought the abraxane was really helping you, what a turn of events. We’re praying the Gemzar is a better solution. The pleural catheter treatment doesn’t sound like fun at all. Sharon our prayers are always with you. And as have said all along in this journey, your strength and determination is inspirational to us all. Hang in there, we love you.πŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ»β€οΈ
    Bob

  9. You are always in my prayers. Prayers continue for God to healing through this medicine and to you and Rob, strength, comfort and peace.

  10. I’m sorry to hear this & I can’t imagine the struggle & disappointment this news creates. I hate this dance you are having to do & I hate cancer. It breaks my heart πŸ’” that you have to live in the perpetual state of unknowing & you do everything thing right & it still seems it isn’t enough. I envy your faith & dedication that keeps you going & I am so glad you found your love & that he supports you & can be there for you & you are not alone. I miss you & your positive spirit & I will continue to keep you in my prayers along with your army of medical personell. πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ
    SENDING VIRTUAL HUGS,
    STAY SAFE & STAY STRONG
    GLYASDI

    1. Thank you, Linda, so much for your prayers and friendship. I wish we could share a table at Trinity’s worship again. It is well with my soul because I know God is with me however this all pans out. Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter!

  11. You have been, and will continue to be, at the top of our prayer list. Peace from Kathy and Bruce

    1. Thank you, Bruce and Kathy! Thank you for the beautiful handcrafted card and prayer square. They arrived on a day when a boost was sorely needed. Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter!

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