one word, two ways: crawl

borrowing from my friend lauren’s blog, sister disco, she has a regular segment called one word, two ways.  today, i bring you one word, two days: crawl. 

last week’s litcrawl was superb, exhilarating, heart-wrenching, poignant, and funny.  about 100 people showed up to our reading, maybe due to the catchy title involving nipples and highlighter who is a stripper. we had 7 readers over the hour, and i read a modified version of an old post on how to be a helper. the event continued on into the night with over 50 other readings scattered in bars, clubs, laundromats and restaurants throughout the mission. i’m thankful i got to be part of it.

it helped distract me from the bone marrow biopsy i had this week.  which left me wanting to crawl around the past few days.  i am part of a study at UCSF that’s testing whether or not the drug denosumab/xgeva helps prevent metastasis to the bones.  phase 1 of the study involves a bone marrow biopsy to determine the level of circulating breast cancer cells in my bones; if above 10, i qualify for phase 2 and receiving the drug. 

i wanted to participate in the study for a few reasons. it would be a data point to know if i had a lot of circulating breast cancer cells still left in my bone marrow.  i’d know what we were dealing with.  it could help me in the long-run to prevent metastasis if their hypothesis holds true, and it could help others who come after me. it’s an FDA-approved drug for osteoporosis; because i’m in chemically-induced menopause, i need to worry about bone density and osteoporosis anyway. so i would kill 2 birds with 1 stone.  my dad is on denosumab/xgeva for his stage IV kidney cancer that’s on his bones, so it would be a father-daughter bonding opportunity. that’s only slightly funny, as an aside.  and finally, my oncologist is the primary investigator, so i get some extra 1:1 time with her to answer my endless stream of questions about side effects, new drugs on the market, research, and anything under the breast cancer sun.
my friend kristin g. came with me to get the bone marrow biopsy. it’s hard to believe it’s now a quick outpatient procedure.  to give you the image: me, face down on a hospital bed, with my pants pulled halfway down so my butt was hanging out. after my oncologist pressed around on my butt for awhile and complimented my underwear as cute, she numbed the top of my hip near my sit bone. she kept the needle in and continued to numb til she got to the bone.  then she put a bigger needle into the bone and sucked the marrow out. it felt like my leg was being vacuumed from the inside out.  she removed all the needles and put a lot of pressure on the area to stop the bleeding. i got bandaged up, had some juice to i didn’t pass out, looked at the vials of my bone marrow, and yawned off the effects of the 1/2 dose of ativan i took to calm my nerves.  um…so…ouchy ouch.  all in all, the needle part took 5-10 minutes, and kristin held my hand the whole time.  but man that hurt. and the few days afterwards have hurt too, making it uncomfortable to sit or lie down.  apparently i use my butt pretty frequently.
i was prepared to receive my results. if above a 10, then ok, we’d know what we’re dealing with and i’d be getting the best drugs out there. if below a 10, then maybe i could rest a little easier knowing that there weren’t too many lingering breast cancer cells in my bones.

so, i got my score. and, it’s below a 10!  good news, i guess/think/want to believe!  i’ll still get monitored like normal for any signs of metastasis, but no drugs to help prevent it. not yet at least.  it was worth it to me, despite wanting to crawl around the house this week.

that’s all to report from cancer land.  

we’re headed to brian and lilllian’s wedding this week. i’m so (SO) excited for them. i’m also pumped to see friends and catch up on time that was lost this year. it won’t replace the other weddings i’ve had to miss or trips cancelled, but it’s a good start.

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