The ABC Cancer Diaries

A young, American-Born-Chinese woman living with metastatic breast cancer

The Good, The Bad, and The UGLY December 21, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — wenren @ 7:48 pm

The Good.

My cancer is still very treatable. Nothing has spread to major organs. I still do not feel pain from my cancer.

The Bad.

My trial medicine stopped working, a lymph node in my chest has gotten bigger. That is significant enough that that will take me off the trial. My options are chemo. I don’t know which chemo drug I will do yet. I may lose my hair (again), and feel sick and tired because of chemo and have to get poked by needles because all chemo options are intravenous.


The big ole nasty drug company (ASTRA ZENECA) is not interested in researching the PARP drug (my clinical trial drug) for people like me. (People like me means BRCA 1 or 2 positive) because we’re in the minority (only 5% of the population apparently. Gosh, I always knew I was special, but I’m extra special!). They want to maximize drug profits. Hey we’re in recession, right? So that means in financial terms it is much more profitable to focus their research on finding a drug that all breast cancer patients can use, not just people with genetic mutations. The bottom line, drug companies don’t always care about helping people. Enraging, isn’t it? Apparently the UK company that developed this drug (which is now owned by ASTRA ZENECA) was also furious about this company policy. So breast cancer is not just about fighting for your life, it’s about fighting the politics and nasty policies that come with it.

Right now, I go back and forth between feeling anger, frustration, hope, exhaustion, and apathy.

But, I’m still going to China for Christmas because there’s no reason not too. As I find out more about this drug company stuff, I let everyone know so at least I can have my voice heard.


CANCER SUCKS BIG TIME!!!! December 13, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — wenren @ 2:23 am




okay, I feel much better now having gotten that out of my system.

Since being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer I’ve met two women with the same staging as mine who have now passed away.(One more recently than another. While I wasn’t very close with these women, it’s still a harsh reminder to the realities of this disease.) A friend of mine who has metastatic breast cancer now has another breast cancer (yes that is possible.)

Life just isn’t very fair sometimes.


Sore armpit worries December 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — wenren @ 4:11 am

Having metastatic anything makes you worry constantly about if the cancer has spread. So last week after a nice Thanksgiving break, I noticed some pain in and around my armpit. It was so strange, I never had a sore armpit, and didn’t do anything unusual. I went to my usual swim class on Monday, and then felt some soreness. I felt for sure that something was up, because armpits don’t have muscle in them!

Or do they?

I didn’t know, so in a determined, but focused and controlled panic, I called my oncologist, and basically worried them so much that I got an appointment right away. Every time the nurse asked me if it was red, swollen, or tender, or anything else, I responded unsure and hesitantly: “Well, ugh, maybe, not sure could be, perhaps I guess so….” To be fair I had to take the call while I was walking around outside on the busy streets of midtown, so I couldn’t just stop and feel my armpit, or look at it in a mirror. Though I’m sure if I did do that, no one would blink an eye.

Well, in the end everything ended up being fine. By the time I got to the doctor’s last Friday, my soreness was starting to go away, and of course the doctor said it was nothing. So WHEW!

(Now, I can get back to my normal cancer-related worrying.)