My Breast Cancer Journey Part 25: My Twin Sister’s 3rd Infusion of T-DM1 & 3 Month Plastic Surgery Follow Up

My Breast Cancer Journey Part 25: My Twin Sister’s 3rd Infusion of T-DM1 & 3 Month Plastic Surgery Follow Up
Here is my twin sister and her husband at Mayo Clinic in Rochester all ready for her three-month plastic surgery follow-up, three days after her third infusion of T-DM1!

This blog post is the 25th in a series about my (and twin sister’s) preventative breast cancer screening journey that began when we were 30 years old in July 2019. Here is a list of all of the posts written about our journey at Mayo Clinic’s Breast Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to date.  To keep tabs on new posts, sign up for the “A Daily Miracle” email list at this link. To order a tshirt raising awareness for breast cancer, fill out this form by Friday, July 24th–shirts are $20 and $8 goes directly to support Mayo Clinic’s Breast Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota!

Here is my twin sister's schedule for her third infusion of TDM1 from July 15!

Here is my twin sister’s schedule for her third infusion of TDM1 from July 6!

On Monday, July 6th, my twin sister had her third infusion of T-DM1 at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. This is the “chemotherapy-light” regimen she started in May 2020 that will take place every 3 weeks for 14 infusions total (approximately 10 months). She does this in addition to a daily dose of Tamoxifen, a drug to keep estrogen levels low, which lowers the risk of estrogen-positive cancer returning. All of this follows six infusions of TCHP, a chemotherapy regimen she completed before her double mastectomy with reconstruction that removed all of her cancer in March 2020 (WOOHOO!!!).

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for 1) No reactions to her new chemo drugs 2) Her complete healing and 100% effectiveness of the treatment so her cancer never ever comes back!! 3) Side effects to be minimal / nonexistent!!

So far, everything is looking fairly good with a few exceptions: First, her eyesight took a turn for the worse last week–she all of a sudden realized that she can’t see things far away very well like street signs while driving. She has an eye doctor appointment scheduled this Monday morning, so stay tuned for results of that! It’s our hope that she simply needs an updated contact lens prescription and there’s nothing serious going on, but there is a possibility her vision got worse as a result of her chemo and Tamoxifen regimen. Side effects of Tamoxifen can include cataracts, so we are hoping it’s nothing like that or something more serious. Your prayers for her eyes and eye doctor appointment are appreciated!! 🙂

Also, her platelets and neutrophils are on the low end, so we are definitely asking for prayers that her levels recover before her next infusion coming up this Friday, July 24th. In addition to praying fervently, my twin sister is going to eat lots of healthy foods rich in Vitamins A, K, and B12 in addition to lots of folate-rich foods and iron to help with that! According to her oncology team and the director of Mayo Clinic’s integrative health clinic that we went to see at the beginning of my sister’s chemo journey in October 2019, she is not allowed to take mineral supplements at this time because there is not enough research to support how supplements interact with and potentially change the effectiveness of her chemo treatments. We went to see the director of Mayo Clinic’s integrative health clinic in Rochester in October 2019 and he said that eating healthy right now along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle emotionally and mentally is the best thing my twin sister can do during her chemo treatments.

With regard to healthy foods, here is a page out of the book Beating Cancer With Nutrition that we’ve all been going through and trying our best to follow together, in addition to a page from Eat to Beat Disease that one of my best friends shared with me this week:

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Here is a page from the book Beating Cancer With Nutrition with healthy foods to eat!

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A page from Eat to Beat Disease from one of my best friends with healthy foods to eat to beat cancer!

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Here is my twin sister knocking our her third infusion of T-DM1 at Mayo Rochester, with a smile on her face!!! 🙂

My sister’s third infusion of T-DM1 at Mayo Clinic Rochester

My twin sister and her husband headed in on July 6th for her blood test at 1130am and headed to a meeting with her NP about blood levels after that. It turns out that my twin sister’s platelets and neutrophils are on the low end, so we are definitely asking for prayers that her levels recover before her next infusion coming up this Friday, July 24th!

After her checkin with her NP, she and her husband went upstairs to Gonda Building Level 10–where Mayo Rochester does all chemo infusions–and had her half hour chemotherapy infusion! This third infusion went well!, and my sister even got to chat with one of her favorite chemo nurses for a half hour while she waited for her chemo drug order to be placed! It’s all about the little things and silver linings on this journey and we are so grateful for some of the nicest most wonderful doctors, nurses, and technicians we’ve ever met that work at Mayo Clinic in Rochester 🙂 We are convinced some of them are angels in disguise 🙂

After her third infusion, she headed home with her husband and was feeling pretty tired. She told us she prefers having her chemo infusions on Fridays instead of Mondays because that way she has the weekend to rest and recover. This time around her infusion was on a Monday, so on Tuesday she went back to work (from home) and was tired and a bit nauseous in the sense nothing really sounded good to eat. Even in the midst of these adverse physical circumstances, she’s maintaining a positive attitude and giving glory to God in the process.

One example of her faith that never ceases: We are going through the book of Colossians as a Bible study, and my twin sister recently shared that a major lesson she’s learned during her cancer journey is about how God is supreme over her health and her cancer diagnosis, and that no matter what cancer diagnosis she gets, God is good and knew it was coming. God knew every single chemo infusion was coming, and He is still good!

Her faith in the Lord and the providence of God is an inspiration!!!!!!! We love her soooo much!!!

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Here go my twin sister and her husband into her third infusion of T-DM1 at Mayo in Rochester! We love the Mayo brothers!!

My twin sister’s three-month plastic surgery follow up appointment

My twin sister went to see her plastic surgeon on Thursday, July 9th, for her three-month follow-up at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

At her three-month follow-up appointment, rather than seeing our plastic surgeon, she saw one of her residents, who was “very knowledgeable.” Because Mayo is a teaching hospital, residents and fellows often pop in and out of procedures for training. For example, an anesthesiology resident started my IV before my double mastectomy with reconstruction operation, and radiology residents/fellows conducted my stereotactic core biopsy and MRI biopsy respectively while overseeing physicians oversaw both procedures.

At her three-month follow-up appointment, she got all good news! She also found out several things:

  • First, the average life of our implants is 7.8 years, so we get to go in and have MRIs to check on the viability of our implants around that time and have them replaced accordingly.
  • Second, at my twin sister’s one-month follow up appointment, she had a stitch sticking out of one of her incisions, but that has cleared up now and she is looking and feeling good!
  • Third, she had some pain on her left side and a very small bump on the bottom left side of her implant, which she was slightly concerned about. But the doctor let her know that it’s nothing to be concerned about because it’s simply the edge of her implant that she can feel under the alloderm hammock that holds it in place. Because it isn’t causing a huge issue or discomfort, it is totally fine. As plastic surgeons, they can’t guarantee 100% smooth edges, BUT they offered my sister the opportunity to have a fat graft anytime to smooth out that one edge. However, the resident said everything looks symmetrical and the risks of doing that would likely outweigh the benefit, plus, he mentioned that my twin sister has no fat to graft. What a great problem to have! Ha!
  • Finally: Her scars are looking good and she has no physical restrictions!

Like many other hospitals worldwide, because of delays due to COVID19, the plastic surgery department is backlogged like crazy. For example, TRAM-flap reconstruction surgeries are booking 18 months out! When we asked why she didn’t get to see our actual plastic surgeon at the appointment (because it’s always nice to see the actual doctor!!), my twin sister said the resident told them that our plastic surgeon is in surgery/the operating room four days per week making up for all of the surgeries that were postponed in March and April due to COVID19. My sister said: “She is very busy and everyone says there are no areas of concern!” Praise the Lord!

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Here go my twin sister and her husband into her three-month plastic surgery follow-up appointment at Mayo in Rochester!

Superfan tshirts!!

If you are reading this blog you probably noticed the matching pink tshirts we wear to a lot of our appointments! They are “superfan” shirts that I made before my double mastectomy with reconstruction operation back in December 2019, in honor of our amazing team of doctors. The tshirt text reads: “When life gives you breast cancer, join up with Team Mayo Clinic: Rochester, MN!” with a list of our doctor names in cursive at the bottom. I made them for our whole family and our doctor team and had the whole family wear them as I headed into my surgery on Tuesday, December 3rd!! We also packed shirts for our doctors in gift bags and brought them along to the hospital. Our doctors loved them when they opened them!!! We wore the matching tshirts to my twin sister’s surgery, too 🙂 and whenever we go to the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic on Gonda 2, the checkin staff recognize us and ask how we are doing!!

We got a few requests from friends who wanted tshirts after we made our initial order, so we are ordering another batch of them!! T-shirts are $20 each, and $8 each goes directly to support Mayo Clinic’s Breast Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota! If you want to join us in raising breast cancer awareness and funds for Mayo Clinic, fill out this form by Friday, July 24th

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Here are our “Team Mayo Clinic” tshirts you can order at the link above!!

Next steps

My twin sister has her eye doctor appointment to figure out why her vision is blurry this Monday, July 20th; and has her fourth infusion of T-DM1 this Friday, July 24th! To be honest, I’m not sure how my twin sister has done it. I’m still kind of fatigued six months after my surgery and all I had was a double mastectomy with reconstruction surgery.

My twin sister had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction operation, PLUS six infusions of TCHP, PLUS she’s on Tamoxifen for five years, PLUS she’s going through T-DM1 now, AND she had to go through Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome as a result of fertility treatments that allowed she and her husband to harvest 28 eggs that they will have children with after her treatments are all over 🙂 In addition all this, she has been working full time as a lawyer basically this entire time (she LOVES her job, which is amazing to see :)).

I just have to sit and wonder at the awesomeness of God being her joy and strength through all of this. My sister is a living example of God’s promises and purposes for us laid out in 2 Corinthians 4:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Thank you all for your continued prayers!!!2-corinthians-4-17

This blog post is the 25th in a series about my (and twin sister’s) preventative breast cancer screening journey that began when we were 30 years old in July 2019. Here is a list of all of the posts written about our journey at Mayo Clinic’s Breast Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to date.  To keep tabs on new posts, sign up for the “A Daily Miracle” email list at this link. To order a tshirt raising awareness for breast cancer, fill out this form by Friday, July 24th–shirts are $20 and $8 goes directly to support Mayo Clinic’s Breast Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota!

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