In the last post, I stated I would provide a brief overview of Jasmin’s cancer and what we are dealing with. I would like to share with everyone a brief overview of what we have learned about breast cancer over the past two weeks.
The first thing we have learned is there are no two cancers exactly the same. Every person and every cancer is different from one another. How the body reacts to the cancer, the treatment, the biology of the cancer cells themselves, the age, race, family history, etcetera, etcetera. I think you get the picture.
While every breast cancer varies, there are many traits that are able to be specifically identified, studied and eventually treated. There are entire books and careers based upon this study, so I won’t get into too much detail. The characteristics of Jasmin’s specific type of breast cancer is what I will address more specifically.
In the case of breast cancer, there are three known “receptors”. A receptor is basically a sensitivity within the cancer cell to specific substances. Most types of breast cancer cells have hormone receptors of some type, specifically progesterone (PR) and/or estrogen (ER). Additionally, a third receptor referred to as HER2 is known to react to specific types of treatment. In each of the three instances above, the receptors are either positive (receptive) or negative (not receptive). In the instance the cancer cells are not receptive to any of the three receptors, the term used to define this diagnosis is triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).
Among white women diagnosed with breast cancer, the percentage of TNBC is roughly 10%. Jasmin’s cancer is TNBC. As in all things in life, there are positive and negatives to this diagnosis. The long and short of it is that there are fewer drugs to treat TNBC; however, the effectiveness of the drugs that are able to be used have been proven to be significantly more effective for a pathologic complete response (pCR). A pCR is basically when there is no evidence of cancer after chemotherapy treatment.
The interesting thing we have learned about TNBC is the demographics. TNBC is more likely in African-American and Latino women, women who have not given birth, mothers who did not breast feed when they did have a child(ren), and/or women who are overweight with excessive amounts of belly fat. Of course, Jasmin does not fit any of these descriptions. But then again, God’s hand is not limited by science, studies, or statistics. When He calls your number from the bullpen to take the mound, you better hustle to start your warm-up pitches.
On October 17th, God walked out to the mound and called for the lefty. One thing I know for sure, we are going to let him call the pitches and Jasmin is going to “put on a clinic” (pun intended).
She faced her first batter on October 29th. This past Monday, she received her first dose of chemotherapy. We arrived at the facility at 10:30. When I say we, I mean a team of Owen’s sisters and myself.
The nurses had her port hooked up right away. There were several iv bags and shots pushed through her port. Some to address the cancer, some to address nausea, some just to simply flush the line and prep for the next drug. For dessert, Jasmin got a flu shot in her arm for good measure. Jasmin finished up around 4:30 and we headed up I-35 to get back home.
While most of Jasmin’s chemo treatment was dine-in, there was a to-go order that was placed as well. Jasmin received a pump that would push her third drug for 72 hours. This meant she would have a needle in her port until Thursday. The bright side is that Jasmin had an awesome fanny-pack containing her treatment and the pump. She was allowed to sport the fanny-pack for three days. While she said it was not painful, it was very limiting. . . the actual line in her chest, not the style of the fanny pack. The fanny-pack was black so it matched with everything except brown shoes.
Before I move along, I would be remiss in not thanking God for the wonderful woman Jasmin and I met during the chemo treatment on Monday. Her name is Karen and she has been battling this awful disease with a flair for life and fervency for God. There will certainly be more about this experience in a future post. We love you Karen!
Later on, Jasmin told me the thing that hurt the most was the flu shot. We appreciate the bravery everyone around Jasmin has shown in their willingness to get a flu shot too. Thank you.
We are also very grateful for all of the prayers Jasmin is receiving. I will tell you that your prayers are having a PROFOUND affect on Jasmin and myself too. She is feeling relatively well. She has not had any significant nausea and zero vomiting. I pray that she continues with her amazing upbeat attitude and focus on God.
While Jasmin has not been vomiting, I can’t say the same for Jack. I would like to share a story that happened just this morning. Jack is sick with strep. This is only the third time in his life he has been sick. . . mysterious ways. Anyhow, he is being quarantined over at his Nana’s house (Jasmin’s Mom). Last night, I swung by Beth’s to tell Jack good-night and deliver a little surprise treat of a box of strawberry popsicles. He happily accepted and began licking on one while regaining his focus on the television.
This morning, while talking with Jack, he stated that he really liked his popsicle he ate last night. However, he said “Dad, I did not find any strawberries in that popsicle”. Of course this made me smile and laugh a little out loud. I responded by telling him that the strawberries are in there even though you might not be able to see them.
It made me think about all the “strawberries” God has given us in our life. How many times have we enjoyed God’s strawberry blessings without even knowing it.
How did I know the strawberries were in the popsicle? In this case, I actually read the box to make sure there were no artificial sweeteners and I noticed that actual strawberries were in the ingredients. How do we know about God and His promises? In that case, we just have to look in His Word.
In Isaiah 41, God promises the following in verse 10:
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
God is always with us. He is constantly reaching out His strawberry blessings. Sometimes we reject those blessings, sometimes we eat them without even knowing it at the time. I pray Jasmin see’s the strawberries. . . because they are in there.
Please be in prayer for Jasmin for the following:
- The chemotherapy is 100% effective against her cancer
- She has NO side effects from the chemo treatments
- Our baby is kept safe in the womb
- Comfort for Jasmin both physically AND emotionally
- Peace for Jack and Annie
- Consistency, patience and strength for Jeff
- Eyes for people to be pointed to God through this trial
Thank you friends for all of your prayers and support!