I consulted with Dr. Moulder, another breast cancer oncologist at MD Anderson who is working on the "Clearinghouse" research study. This, as I mentioned earlier, is a database of patients' tumor tissues/cells that are tested for genetic mutations or irregularities (totally different than BRCA gene testing.) The findings help determine which drugs or kind of drugs the cancer cells would be most sensitive to, and will be available in my medical record for all time, much like tumor characteristics such as hormone sensitivity (ER/PR positive/negative) and Her2Neu status. It's very personalized medicine -- the future of cancer research. And the future is NOW at MD Anderson Cancer Center. So happy to get my tumors in the study! Also glad that all it takes for me, now, is another blood draw and signing papers authorizing them to use the tumor tissue they already have from my previous biopsies and mastectomy. Easy peasy, but such valuable information! Amazing what they are doing nowadays in cancer research.
Thankfully, the direction of my CURRENT treatment does NOT depend on the results of this genetic testing. According to my latest CT scans and bone scan, overall my cancer is STABLE! Yayyyy! The bone metastases has all been stable (not growing yet not going away) for some time now. This is where the majority of my metastases are --fairly widespread in the spine, ribs, femurs, etc. They are closely monitoring metastases in my lungs and liver, and they see very slight growth on those small tumors. I am told that the minimal growth noted on the scans could be related to the way the tumors were "sliced" during the imaging process. I trust that this is all it is, and not some really slow-growing tumors that are difficult to treat. Regardless, even if it IS ever-so-slight tumor growth in the lungs and liver, the changes are not significant enough to warrant changing my treatment plan. And, none of the metastatic lesions are affecting my level of health (from the medical personnel's point of view, that is. I can feel that my lungs are not operating at 100%.) My move to Abraxane over a year ago was prompted by slight tumor growth AND a pleural effusion. I have no pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs) at present.
Soooo, great news, right? Even BETTER is that Dr. Coscio is allowing me to have a "chemo holiday" over the holidays! The plan is that I will finish out the 4-week cycle that I'm on now (last infusion on 11/20,) and then instead of taking only a week off and starting up again, I will have 6 WEEKS OFF! Honestly I don't really know anymore how it feels to not be on chemo. Surely I will feel better! I think I have adjusted to this "new normal," so I am hoping to feel different/improved not having poison infused into my body on a weekly basis. The holiday season is usually packed with family activities, and this year we are planning to squeeze in a visit to our family in Louisiana as well. Should be FUN!!!!!