I’m an Exceptional Responder!

I know, it’s been a year since I’ve posted. My only excuse is that I’ve been tired. And I use Facebook more often to write quick updates, so it’s felt redundant to also post here. But I’m going to try to get back in the habit of updating this site!

This past year has had highs and lows, like any other. Last winter was rough with side effects from Taxotere. During the summer I got to take a break and do just Herceptin and Perjeta for a few months. It didn’t work, but I felt better and had a lot more energy. I even started the Couch to 5K program and was jogging! But then I broke a bone in my foot and when that healed I started Taxotere again, so now even walking is tiring. I get out of breath just walking up the stairs.

I’ve moved into a new rental house in the Bridle Trails neighborhood in Kirkland. I love the house and it’s got a great yard for the dogs and an amazing clawfoot bathtub I’m using every night. There is more space here than I need, but it’s nice to have room for guests. Finnegan and Piper are happy here and they are as adorable as ever.

I’m back on Taxotere every 3 weeks and I’ve made it through 5 rounds so far. It’s getting more and more difficult to tolerate. The weekend after each infusion I feel like I’ve been beaten up and I can hardly move. Some of the side effects are constant, such as neuropathy in my feet, fatigue, bloody noses, mouth sores, watering eyes, runny nose, etc. I’ve recently had thrush in my mouth and a fungal infection on my face. I smell like chemicals, especially right after chemo.

The plan for now is to do one more Taxotere infusion and then have  PET scan to see how well it’s working. Then I will have to decide if I can continue, take a break, or try a different treatment. I don’t feel like I have a very good quality of life at the moment, so I am hopeful that I will at least get to take a break. Over seven years of chemo has taken its toll. . . I’m not sure how much more my body can take. But the reason I have made it this long is because I am lucky enough to be what they are now calling an “exceptional responder.” It means that chemotherapy works for me and for a longer period of time than most other patients. My 7+ years is more than double the average life expectancy of metastatic breast cancer patients. So I’m very, very lucky. . . but there is a high cost as well. And not just with the physical side effects, but with the anxiety and stress. Unfortunately, there is no way to take a break from those.

3 thoughts on “I’m an Exceptional Responder!”

  1. Dear Karen,
    You are the bravest person I have ever met! Keep working and we will keep praying for you.
    Hope to see you when we return from our travelling,
    Barbara Purcell

  2. Karen…I am your mom’s friend from HS Minot. Your words always make me realize how much courage you have to survive. You are the most courage person I have ever known. Thank you for the update. I have been missing them. Thinking if you frequently and your mom and dad.

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