Renee in Cancerland

How did I end up here I often wonder?

Let me start from the start and make this as quick and easy as possible. I am going to use what me and my other Lifer friends call “cancer talk.”

Age 30: Stage 1, Triple Negative breast cancer.

I did what I was told: chemo (A/C x 4 and Taxol x 4); lumpectomy; 36 radiation treatments.

After surgery, I was informed that I had had a complete pathological response to the chemo treatment. Pretty much that I had NO cancer left for them to remover during surgery.

GREAT I thought. I did kick cancer’s a*s.

Almost 16 months later, I was approved for my yearly CT scan to make sure all was still well. I honestly thought nothing of this appointment because I thought me having a complete pathological response meant I was good to go.

I thought wrong.

Really wrong.

I was told the breast cancer had spread to my bones and lungs. I honestly had NO idea this was possible. I mean, I thought breast cancer meant in my breast. I was quickly educated on how little I actually knew about Breast Cancer.

I started with abraxane which didn’t work. My tumor grew while on it, which was VERY traumatic to me. I thought it was going to be like when I did chemo for Stage 1…one chemo and done.

I moved on to carboplatin and gemzar plus a trial of BSI-201. After 6 weeks, we scanned and it showed I was NED. No one wanted to believe it, so I kept on this combo for 6 months until my body could not rebound. The decision was made for me to stay on just the trial BSI-201.

All was great for 8 months until I was walking down some stairs when my right side went numb. I called my oncologist, and she said to go straight to the ER. After an MRI, I was told I had a mass in my brain about the size of a tennis ball.

After brain surgery, I thought I was all clean again. That didn’t last long. In November my leg went numb again, so back to the MRI machine. Another mass was there…in the exact same place. Surgery again. 6 months went by with me recovering again, and the same symptoms appeared and I just knew that the cancer was back. It was. 3rd brain surgery in 9 months. Recovered once again and all was well for some time.

This May I had to get a bone biopsy because all my counts had been continually falling. The biopsy showed that I have MDS (pre-leukemia). From then to September I was able to get chemo while the search for a bone marrow donor was on.

As of now, two 100% matches have been found for my bone marrow transplant! I should have an answer from one on Monday! I can’t even start to explain the excitement, fear and so much more that is going on in me.

So for now, that is my story. I pray to add that after the bone marrow transplant, I stay clear of any kind of cancer!

-Renee Sendelbach