My Breast Cancer Journey Part 24: My Twin Sister’s Second Infusion of T-DM1 / Kadcyla at Mayo Clinic

My Breast Cancer Journey Part 24: My Twin Sister’s Second Infusion of T-DM1 / Kadcyla at Mayo Clinic
Here is my sister all ready to go into her second infusion of TDM1 at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN!

This blog post is the 24th in a series about my (and my twin sister's) preventative breast cancer screening journey that began when we were 30 years old in July 2019. The 1st post is about my first mammogram ever; the 2nd post is about my consultation at Mayo Clinic's Breast Clinic; the 3rd post is about my stereotactic core biopsy at Mayo Clinic's Breast Clinic; the 4th post is about my diagnosis with "Stage 0" DCIS breast cancer; the 5th post is about my in-person DCIS diagnosis at Mayo Clinic, beginning thoughts on my surgery timeline, and discovering that my twin sister might have breast cancer, too; the 6th post is about my twin sister's invasive ductal carcinoma clinical stage 2A breast cancer diagnosis; the 7th post is about my breast MRI and two ultrasounds to investigate "suspicious" spots on my right breast and liver; the 8th post is about my second DCIS diagnosis following a week of MRIs, ultrasounds, and biopsies at Mayo Clinic; the 9th post is about preparing for my twin sister's chemotherapy appointments, including details about her egg banking procedure in the city; the 10th post is a summary of my sister's ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and visit to the emergency room; the 11th post is a summary of my double mastectomy surgery plan scheduled to occur on December 3rd, 2019 at Mayo Clinic's Methodist Campus Hospital in Rochesterthe 12th post is about my twin sister's first chemotherapy infusion at Mayo Clinic; the 13th post is about foobs, photo shoots and nipple tattoos (my plastic / reconstructive surgery plan); the 14th post is a recap of my successful double mastectomy and immediate direct-to-implant reconstruction operation; the 15th post is about my surgical recovery and day full of follow-up appointments at Mayo Clinic in Rochester; the 16th post is about my one-month-post-surgical-follow-up appointment and preventative baseline ovarian cancer screenings at Mayo Clinic; the 17th post is about a suspicious rash I developed a month after my surgery called "pigmented purpura," my consultation with a gynecological oncologist about ovarian cancer prevention, and my sister's fifth chemotherapy infusion; the 18th post is about the end of my twin sister's six neoadjuvant chemotherapy infusions (TCHP); the 19th post was about my twin sister's double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery plan (amid the global outbreak of COVID19); the 20th post was about my twin sister's double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction; the 21st post was about my twin sister's surgical recovery; the 22nd post was about my twin sister's first infusion of T-DM1 at Mayo Clinic; and the 23rd post was about my six-month survivorship clinic visit. To keep tabs on new posts, sign up for the "A Daily Miracle" email list at this link.

mayo-brothers-tdm1-day-2

Here is my sister and her husband with the Mayo Brothers statue outside of the Gonda Building!

My twin sister just completed her second infusion of TDM1/Kadcyla--also known as "chemotherapy lite"--at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, last Friday! She and her husband arrived for her blood test at 10am, which showed that her blood levels were all within healthy ranges, so she was good to go for her second infusion. At her first infusion of TDM1/Kadcyla, she had an echocardiogram to check on her heart health, because Herceptin--a regular part of her TCHP chemotherapy infusions before her surgery and a part of the TDM1 she's receiving now--can be hard on your heart. Her echocardiogram looked great, so she won't need to do another echocardiogram until her third infusion of TDM1 (approximately every 3 months!).

She didn't even need to visit with her oncologist or chemotherapy coordinator before her second infusion because things looked so good! So she and her husband were able to wander around the Mayo Clinic grounds and take lots of nice photographs in addition to playing some Pokémon GO. :)

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My sister's schedule for her second infusion of TDM1 at Mayo Clinic Rochester was nice and light!

When my sister and her husband arrived in the chemotherapy waiting room on Gonda 10, they talked with a 30-year-old woman who was also waiting for an infusion. It turns out she was also diagnosed with HER2+ Stage 2 breast cancer last year! She talked with my sister about how she had also been through surgery, the TCHP chemotherapy regimen, and now was on Herceptin. She had a cousin who beat Stage 3C breast cancer, as well, which was awesome for my sister to hear!!

Several people also stopped my sister and her husband to ask: "I love your shirt! Where can I buy one of those??" They had to tell them they were custom made :)

The second infusion of TDM1

After my sister's first infusion of TDM1, she didn't have any side effects besides being a bit tired. After her second round last Friday, she was pretty tired, so she laid low and took a nap the day after her infusion. But two days after her second infusion, she took a 6 mile "social distance" walk with a friend! Our prayers have been for her, and her entire family--including her husband who works at a high-volume warehouse!--to stay healthy; for her to have minimal/zero side effects following each infusion; and for joy and strength for her along the journey.

We are so grateful that God continues to answer those prayers! As you can tell, from her thumbs up in the photo below, the joy of the Lord is her strength :) Which is the most amazing thing ever to see!!!

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Thumbs up, all ready to go for her second infusion of TDM1/Kadcyla!

There was one speed bump in my sister's second infusion of TDM1 last Friday. The chemo infusion sped up from 90 minutes to 30 minutes this time around, and my sister was a little nervous about that.

As soon as they started the infusion, my sister's heart rate spiked suddenly--so the chemo nurses stopped the infusion. Luckily, she didn't experience any pain or discomfort--just an elevated heart rate for a short period of time. So, after the chemo nurses observed her for a few minutes and took a small break in the infusion, they started it again.

Then she was fine!

So, ultimately, it was all okay. And all of her doctors have told her that after the second infusion of TDM1, it's more or less smooth sailing for her remaining 12 infusions spaced 3 weeks apart! For every one of her remaining infusions, she will: 1) Get a COVID test to make sure she doesn't have COVID one week before her scheduled infusion 2) Show up the morning of her infusion for a blood test to make sure her levels look good 3) Potentially have a meeting with her oncologist or chemo coordinator to make sure things look good / she's feeling good the day of the infusion 4) She will have a half hour infusion! 5) She gets to go home to rest! (Also, she will have an echocardiogram approx. every 3 months to test her heart health.)

And, she and her husband got to enjoy this awesome view of the Gonda Building during the infusion!

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Here's the wonderful view of the Gonda Building my sister and her husband got to enjoy during my sister's second infusion of TDM1!

Ride for Roswell & God is good!

I was talking with my husband the other day and we both agreed it seemed like years since all of this started. While 2020 has been terrible all around, the end of 2019 wasn't awesome, either. The fact that I was diagnosed with and cured of cancer in a matter of 5 months at the age of 30 and my sister is being healed from her cancer for forever during a global pandemic is crazy to think about. We know she's in the hands of the best doctors and nurses in the world, and we know God is in control over all of that. That truth gives us a lot of peace!

One of the most amazing things we've heard recently is about Lori, one of our baby-sister's-best friend's-mother's-college-roommates who dedicated a bike ride to us as part of her participation in the annual "Ride for Roswell" to End Cancer in New York! She is riding 500 miles between June 1 and August 1, 2020, and dedicated a 14.1-mile leg of her ride to us this month!! According to her letter, it was a "lovely but cool morning" and she prayed for us the entire way. She prayed that "they may have the strength to get through the treatments, hope for better days and their eyes opened to see all of the wonderful people who are helping them on their journey." We are so grateful for encouraging stories and supporters like Lori :)

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One of our baby sister's best friend's mom's college roommates dedicated part of her 500-mile bike ride to us!!! :)) <3

Phil's Friends YAY!

Also, "Phil's Friends" is a nonprofit out of Chicago that provides free care packages for cancer patients. Someone signed up to provide both my sister and I with care packages for our journey, which we received toward the beginning of this journey after we'd both been diagnosed! We still receive thoughtful cards from them with prayers and jokes on the inside every several weeks. The jokes are hilarious ("How can you tell if a clock is hungry?" "It goes back 4 seconds!"), the packages we both got several months ago were amazing, there are handwritten and heartfelt notes and prayers from volunteers (like mine, below, from Yahmir!), and the whole initiative is so encouraging. If you know anyone going through cancer treatments, sign them up for a package from Phil's Friends!!!

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The card I received last month had this joke...

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HAHA!

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"I wish you joy. I hope this card makes you happy and you are amazing. -Yahmir, age 8" I almost cried reading this!!! Phil's Friends cards are so thoughtful :)

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Next steps

We are grateful for encouraging, "silver linings" along the way: little things like the gardens and beautiful buildings around the Mayo Clinic grounds in Rochester, pictured below; for God's faithfulness in removing all of my sister's cancer at her time of surgery; and for my sister even being able to have surgery at all, two days before Mayo Clinic shut down all elective surgical procedures in March due to COVID19.

mayo-clinic-alix-school-of-medicine

While wandering around Mayo's Rochester campus before her chemotherapy infusion, my sister and her husband took some photos and this is one of one of the Mayo Medical School buildings. Someday, maybe we will have children who go there and become doctors who save people's lives!! Maybe we'll even be able to start a scholarship in honor of our doctors and our journey someday :))

My sister's next infusion of TDM1 will be on Friday, July 3rd; she meets with her plastic surgeon for her three-month follow-up appointment on July 9th; and we all basically forgot she's taking a daily dose of Tamoxifen, a drug to keep estrogen levels low which lowers the risk of estrogen-positive cancer returning, every day for the next 3-5 years. She now has 12 infusions of TDM1 to go over the next 10 months!

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for 1) No reactions to these new chemo drugs 2) 100% effectiveness of the treatment so her cancer never ever comes back!! 3) Side effects to be minimal / nonexistent!! And, as I mentioned before, that the joy of the Lord would continue to be her strength. :) 

mayo-oasis-garden

Here is a nice "Oasis Garden" down the street from the Gonda Building at Mayo Clinic in Rochester!

This blog post is the 24th in a series about my (and my twin sister's) preventative breast cancer screening journey that began when we were 30 years old in July 2019. The 1st post is about my first mammogram ever; the 2nd post is about my consultation at Mayo Clinic's Breast Clinic; the 3rd post is about my stereotactic core biopsy at Mayo Clinic's Breast Clinic; the 4th post is about my diagnosis with "Stage 0" DCIS breast cancer; the 5th post is about my in-person DCIS diagnosis at Mayo Clinic, beginning thoughts on my surgery timeline, and discovering that my twin sister might have breast cancer, too; the 6th post is about my twin sister's invasive ductal carcinoma clinical stage 2A breast cancer diagnosis; the 7th post is about my breast MRI and two ultrasounds to investigate "suspicious" spots on my right breast and liver; the 8th post is about my second DCIS diagnosis following a week of MRIs, ultrasounds, and biopsies at Mayo Clinic; the 9th post is about preparing for my twin sister's chemotherapy appointments, including details about her egg banking procedure in the city; the 10th post is a summary of my sister's ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and visit to the emergency room; the 11th post is a summary of my double mastectomy surgery plan scheduled to occur on December 3rd, 2019 at Mayo Clinic's Methodist Campus Hospital in Rochesterthe 12th post is about my twin sister's first chemotherapy infusion at Mayo Clinic; the 13th post is about foobs, photo shoots and nipple tattoos (my plastic / reconstructive surgery plan); the 14th post is a recap of my successful double mastectomy and immediate direct-to-implant reconstruction operation; the 15th post is about my surgical recovery and day full of follow-up appointments at Mayo Clinic in Rochester; the 16th post is about my one-month-post-surgical-follow-up appointment and preventative baseline ovarian cancer screenings at Mayo Clinic; the 17th post is about a suspicious rash I developed a month after my surgery called "pigmented purpura," my consultation with a gynecological oncologist about ovarian cancer prevention, and my sister's fifth chemotherapy infusion; the 18th post is about the end of my twin sister's six neoadjuvant chemotherapy infusions (TCHP); the 19th post was about my twin sister's double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery plan (amid the global outbreak of COVID19); the 20th post was about my twin sister's double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction; the 21st post was about my twin sister's surgical recovery; the 22nd post was about my twin sister's first infusion of T-DM1 at Mayo Clinic; and the 23rd post was about my six-month survivorship clinic visit. To keep tabs on new posts, sign up for the "A Daily Miracle" email list at this link.

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