Day By Day

It’s October and on the 18th I will be 60!!!

I am one of the few people wanting to celebrate this day. Screw my wrinkles and flabby arm wings ha!  I still dance like no one is watching and sing like I am Whitney Houston! (I’m not, just ask my husband).

I am stage IV cancer and thank God I am able to celebrate my 60th birthday.  I have my beautiful parents, husband, children and grandchildren and family far away and friends!!

Joyful, joyful, I am.  When I am alone after my husband goes to work, I sip my coffee and thank God for this life and how grateful I am.

October is also my 7 year anniversary of my mastectomy on my left breast.  During the “pinktober” month, I realize how forgotten Metavivors and ALL cancers are. Cancer sucks.

Ok, now that I got that out of my system, I want to continue about my jaw issues from my last blog in May.  As you know, I was suffering with mouth pain and unfortunately it did not get better.

If anyone has experienced pain in the mouth, you understand how I felt.

I was in PAIN.

When you have mouth pain, you cannot function or concentrate normally.  Talking, walking and even sleeping sucks!  If someone gave me a choice of breaking my leg with a baseball bat or mouth pain, swing away at my leg!

My Specialist, Dr. C. informed me of my ONJ issue and that he would need to grind down my jaw until live tissue could be found.  My only request was, please knock me out and they did.  Dr. C. ground down my jaw bone about ¼ inch on the left side and found life again in my jaw bone.

My face swelled up, and it hurt for a few days and is now still healing.  I lost my final 10 pounds and I do not recommend this kind of diet.  I can’t eat some foods anymore.  My jaw tires easily when chewing and it’s just too much work.  I am thankful I had Dr. C. and his staff, they were very compassionate and caring through all my procedures.

In September I went to see Dr. C and he was concerned with my jaw still and sent me off to Boston Medical to see another specialist .  Waiting at Boston Medical with my husband, I was imagining them removing my jaw, and all my teeth.  I was calm on the outside but freaking out in the inside!!

The first question Dr. R asked me is WHY would you take Xgeva?  Here we go again, every dentist has asked me the same question and I give them the same answer, to live longer and keep my holey bones healthy.

The description of Xgeva:

Xgeva (denosumab) is a monoclonal antibody. Monoclonal antibodies are made to target and destroy only certain cells in the body. This may help to protect healthy cells from damage.

Xgeva is used to prevent bone fractures and other skeletal conditions in people with tumors that have spread to the bone. It is not for use in people with multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer).

Dr. R explained to me about the Xgeva shot.  He said that YES, the Xgeva shot may seem like it strengthens the bone in the cancerous area. Drugs like Xgeva work by slowing down the action of osteoclast (a cell that nibbles at & breaks down bone).  These bone cells normally dissolve small bits of bones to help remodel them and keep the bone strong. Sometimes Xgeva can cause the cells to become overactive when cancer spreads to the bones and can cause other problems.

Isn’t  that typical?  We all know what helps you in one area, harms you in another.  My side effect from Xgeva caused dental issues.  Having a bad tooth was an open invitation for an infection to my jaw due to the overactive cells and the blood flow was unable to reach my jaw and caused it to die.

Luckily for me Dr. R. at Boston Medical was happy with my jaw and how it is healing.  I do have bone exposed in my upper left side of my jaw. At this time, he is leaving it alone and he is going to check it every two months.

Oh my gosh, was I happy!  It was such good news for me!  Phew! I left Boston and headed out to celebrate with my husband!

If I knew then, what I know now, would I do Xgeva? Probably, but I would definitely go see my dentist and get ALL dental work done before I started it.  Oncologists need to be more aware of this issue and demand they get dental work done first, BEFORE starting Xgeva and have the dentist sign off, (some oncologists do this now), that it’s OK to start.  Xgeva stays in your system for a very long time. Skipping one or two shots is not enough to protect your mouth.

Knowledge is power.

I have been taking Ibrance for 22 months now.  I felt it was time to have a reality talk with my Oncologist, Dr. D. I have a good relationship with her and as I told her from the beginning, no bullshit, give it to me straight.

We discussed the stats of Ibrance and what will be next for me. There are still treatments for me that can prolong my life significantly. I told Dr. D. quality of life is more important to me than quantity.

I’ll be honest, I question every ache or pain I feel.  My ribs hurt for a few days.  It didn’t help that I lifted heavy books in my vault at work.  I’m stubborn and suck it up.  It’s amazing how rib pain can affect your day to day life.  What sucks with rib pain?   Coughing, sneezing, breathing, twisting your body while you drive and walking too fast hurts your ribs.  My wonderful husband tried to comfort me with his bear hug and it hurt!  That sucked!  I love his hugs, so he rearranged his arms differently because I need his comfort.

Now that I have rested, my rib pain is manageable.  As Dr. D told me “your body will let you know if you do too much” I need to stop being stubborn and listen to my body.

I am 60, I need to remember I am no spring chicken and aches and pains are not just about cancer, but age too!

Please consider donating to one or more of these organizations.

American Cancer Society

Breast Cancer Research Foundation



One thought on “Day By Day”

  1. Judy, I’m so glad to hear your jaw is doing better. You are a wealth of knowledge. Not that you don’t already have enough to do; You should put together a guide for cancer patients of questions to ask about things they don’t know about and would not know to ask about. It makes so much sense, go see your dentist 1st. Why wouldn’t they have told you about that? Did they not know at that time?
    Keep fighting the fight. I Love you!


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