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  • Writer's pictureLisa Marzullo

Winter 2019

Diagnosis & Chemotherapy

January 29, 2019

Hi everyone! Welcome to Lisa’s Boob Blog. Rather than posting publicly, I created this space to share updates about this journey with those who are closest to me. Here’s an abbreviated overview and the latest update!

  • Diagnosed: December 24 (yes, on Xmas eve)

  • Type: Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (don’t Google it, I’m fine I promise)

  • Doctors: Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC

  • Dr. Andrew Seidman, oncology

  • Dr. Virgilio Sacchini, surgery

  • A Jew and an Italian!!! Couldn’t be better!

Stage: 2. All in right breast, I have a 1.8cm mass on top and two .6-.8cm spots on the bottom. Plus I have “suspicion of involvement” in my Axilla lymph nodes aka my armpit. The biopsy was technically inconclusive on the nodes, but they are treating it like it’s cancer because the chemo will kill it anyways. Yay!

Other tests: Everything was clear, no signs of metastasis in my CT scan or my bone scan. I DON’T have the BRCA or any other genetic mutation, so I wasn’t predisposed to get this, it was just bad luck... life!

Fertility: Preserved! That process happened in January and we’ll be genetically testing the embryos so we can ensure that we have super Marzullo babies after this is all done. Essentially, chemo will put me in a medically induced menopause, and while signs are good that with my young age and my general good health, I should have no problem coming back to a regular cycle and naturally conceiving in the future, we figured better to be safe than sorry. Treatment: Neoadjuvent chemotherapy aka pre-surgery chemo. The type of cancer I have is reliant on chemo first - they can’t use a hormone blocker because I had no hormones in my cancer to block (hence, triple negative). Once the chemo ends, I’ll do another mammogram and MRI and the surgeon will confirm a course of action. Originally, they said right mastectomy, but because I don’t have the gene mutation, I may be able to have only a double lumpectomy. Time will tell! So, I started yesterday! Chemo session #1 in the books. The cocktail is called ACT - the first two months are biweekly (4 total sessions) of AC which is Adriamycin and Cytoxan. They are distributed via IV, in addition to three anti-nausea medications and a steroid. About 80 minutes total in the chair. Before that, I do blood work to check my red and white blood cell counts, and do a physical exam with the oncologist or the RN. After, I take steroid pills for 3 days and anti-nausea pills only as needed. Expected side effects are nausea (so far, nothing) and constipation (I’ve pooped!) Knock on wood these side effects stay light. Additionally, I have a patch called Neulasta which distributes a white blood cell booster 27 hours after chemo. That went off around 4pm today. Side effects for that are extreme bone pain.... we’ll see. Hasn’t hit me yet. The next phase of chemo - T for taxol - is actually kind of tbd right now. Originally, the plan was to start the same 4 session biweekly regimen as the AC after that ended. But unfortunately, when I had my exam yesterday, I had some visible signs of additional node spreading in my chest/neck area - basically some of the nodes below my collar bone felt a bit enlarged when they didn’t a couple weeks ago. The time it took for the fertility preservation may be to blame, but it is what it is. Because of that, and the fact that I am otherwise healthy and he feels my body can take extra medicine and be ok with it, the oncologist may “throw the kitchen sink at me” and add in a 4th chemo drug, carboplatin. That would make the taxol/carboplatin cocktail a 12 week weekly course instead, ultimately adding one month (and 8 additional treatments) to my plan. BUT I won’t need the bone pain causing Neulasta with that if so. So, ultimately, we have to wait and see how I react to the AC before that decision can be made. This was something that was discussed as a potential with us in our first meeting so it didn’t come as a complete surprise. Ultimately, what’s one more month of chemo? Not much. Other news - I cut my hair. I have a pixie! I got a beautiful wig for free from the American Cancer Society, and they are also making me a “halo wig” with my hair... it’ll be like a yarmulke so no hair on top, meant to wear a hat over. We’ll see how that turns out! I’ve been rocking the pixie so far and getting lots of compliments, but ultimately my hair will officially fall out by my second chemo session on February 11. That’s about it! This is NOT a pity party. This is a place for me to keep everyone informed. In fact, I turned off commenting on this post, sorrrryyyyyyy! This is NOT a place to feel sad. I know that Dave and I are attacking this with a positive mental attitude and it is working. So much so that for the first time in a couple months, I actually slept with no pain last night. I need to trust the process. And we need to feel comfortable and confident with my doctors, which we do. We are in the best hands possible and this will be just a chapter in my book of life. I can’t thank you all enough for the positive vibes and support over the past couple months. Not only for me, but for my entire family.

Lisa Marzullo receiving her first chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center in New York City

February 4, 2019

February 12, 2019 (Post 1)

February 12, 2019 (Post 2)

February 15, 2019

February 25, 2019

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