Friday, January 13, 2012

Today's Surgery

This morning, Felicitas had surgery to have her ovaries removed. The doctor said she did well and the surgery went smoothly. She will stay the night at the hospital under "23 hour observation". This way, she will be closely monitored and be able to rest. Felicitas is scheduled to go home sometime tomorrow. Again, thank you all for the encouraging words and prayers! Your love and support means everything. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Surgery Postponed

Felicitas' surgery to remove her ovaries has been postponed until January 13th. Her doctors decided she needs to complete radiation before having the surgery. Her last radiation is scheduled for December 27th. Felicitas will go back to work on January 10th, then have her surgery on the 13th. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


On Monday, November 6th, I had my first round of radiation. Up until then, I had been on a cancer vacation.  Whoop whoop! I didn’t go anywhere exotic (although, that would have been nice) I just had the opportunity to recuperate from my bilateral mastectomy and get my body ready for radiation. I also had my expanders (plastic pouches under the skin on my chest) filled with saline every few weeks. This process has to take place prior to radiation due to the fact that radiation will cause my skin to lose its elasticity and therefore make it difficult to expand my skin for reconstruction in the future.  Reconstruction will take place in the summer of 2012. You need to allow your body at least 6 months after radiation to get your body ready.

I was originally scheduled for 28 radiation treatments but my radiation oncologist recently added a “boost.” Which means I will receive an additional 5 treatments specifically to the inner mammary node. This was the only area that they were not able to access during surgery because the node lies behind my breastplate, sitting close to my heart. So, I will receive 5 extra treatments to that area for precautionary reasons.   I will have my last radiation treatment on December 29th.  Radiation has actually been somewhat of a breeze (compared to chemo). I do have redness and a little irritation at the site and I do feel unusually tired at the end of the day but is it the radiation or is it mi vida loca?  Most days I am at the Moore’s Cancer Center by 7am for the first appointment of the day. I am home in time to make some ponytails and braids and take the girls to school. Then, 2-3 days of the week I run with Graciela at running club and volunteer in her classroom.  I love being room mom and planning the Halloween Carnival and Thanksgiving Feast (I am working on their holiday party right now). Then the rest of my day is spent with Mateo (we are total BFF’s). I like to prep dinner while he naps and then I am off to pick up the kids.  This super mom thing is no joke. Seriously.  So, yes, I am a little tired but I am enjoying every minute of every day spent with my family.   Thank you to our new nanny, Rachel, who really has been a little gift (literally, she is a peanut) for our family. She watches Mateo a few days a week on her days off from her real job and she even watches him before she goes into work. Thanks, Rachies!   I also can’t say enough about the staff at the radiation office. Since I go in around the same time each day, I see these women every day. They are quite wonderful and make the radiation experience not so bad (I like to pretend that they are prepping me for a spa treatment).

Graciela dominating on the soccer field.
On December 16th, I will have surgery to remove my ovaries. I will have the day off from radiation that day to have the surgery. Due to my BRCA positive status, I have a high risk of ovarian cancer as well so my doctors and I decided that there was really no reason to wait any longer to have them removed. It will be nice to have this taken care of before I return to work in January. Yes, I said work. We can talk about that in a different blog post (insert mixed feelings face here).

It is hard to believe that it has been almost 1 year since my diagnosis.  It has been quite a journey. I hope that this is the most difficult event that my family and I will have to endure together. I feel proud of my family for making it through this time and coming out somewhat normal and I feel proud of myself for finding the strength that I never knew I had. No way would we have been able to complete (almost) this journey without the very special friends and family that we have. I will always be grateful for the generosity and kindness that you all showed us every day.  Now, it is time for me to pay it forward!

Maya in action.
I am thinking of and sending positive thoughts to my beautiful cousin, Tracy, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer while 5 months pregnant with her second child. She has had her first chemotherapy treatment so please keep her in your prayers.  Also, please continue to pray for my wonderful friends, Ni Cheng and Fanti, who are recent I-Spy 2 trial chemotherapy graduates. They are currently getting ready for surgery.  My friend, Clarissa who has her 15th treatment today. She only has 1 treatment left-Si se puede, amiga!   My friend, Mary, whom I have never met but we text talk like we have known each other forever.  We have that cancer bond, girl! Our dear friends Aaron Commerson and Papa Sid Porch who are also both battling cancer. I hope that my blog has allowed you all to find comfort on those days that you needed a little pick me up.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pathology Report Results

It's been a week since Felicitas' surgery and she's starting to feel a little better. She was having quite a bit of pain, mainly from a nerve that had been cut during surgery. Now that a week has passed, it is safe for her to take Ibuprofen, which has helped lessen this nerve pain. She is now able to walk and actually sit up on the couch instead of being confined to her recliner. Felicitas' comadre, Lisa Shimomura flew in last night for a week to help take care of the kids and Felicitas. I know Felicitas is thrilled to have Lisa there and have the much needed help!

Today, Dr. Parker called with the results from the Pathology report. She said that no cancer or cancerous cells could be detected! Felicitas and her family are understandably in shock, but ecstatic! This was the best outcome possible. She literally feels like this is a miracle. It was only 8 months ago that she was given the devastating news that she had stage 3 breast cancer and that her only hope for a cure was through the I-Spy 2 Trial. Now, here she sits today, with no evidence of cancer cells!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Home From the Hospital

Felicitas was discharged from the hospital this evening and is now at home. She's having a lot of discomfort, which is to be expected. Of course, even through the pain, she's staying positive and saying she's hoping each day will get a little easier.

An update from Felicitas' Nina, Janet:
"Felicitas is home now. Graciela, Maya and Mateo were soooo excited to see their mommy. Junior, Nina Monica, the kids and I prepared a welcome home banner to surprise her when she walked in the door. She is resting now and continuing to heal from surgery. Love that Pita!"

Friday, August 19, 2011


Felicitas had her bilateral mastectomy yesterday at 1:30 at UCSD's Thornton Hospital. The surgery lasted approximately 4 hours. Her surgeon, Dr. Wallace came out saying she was a star and did very well! Dr. Wallace removed 11 lymph nodes from underneath her left armpit. These were all tested for cancer and came back clear, which the doctor was very excited about! She said Felicitas responded extremely well to the chemotherapy. The doctor removed the breast tissue and cleaned the ducts. The doctor was able to spare her skin and put in expanders. They'll perform a pathology report to make sure all the cancer is gone, but Dr. Wallace said she didn't see any cancer during surgery. So, overall, I don't think the surgery could have gone any better. We still aren't sure if she'll be discharged today or tomorrow. I'll try to update the blog with any new information as quickly as possible. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sweet 16

On July 15th, I entered the Infusion Center at the Moore’s Cancer Center for my last chemotherapy treatment. I had waited five months for this day and I could hardly believe the day had arrived. Was this really it? Had I really finished? Yes, this was really it and yes, I had really finished! I mean, it was obviously my last chemo; the Infusion Center was filled with balloons, Dee Jay and fireworks (not really-but we will get to that later).

Last Chemo!!!!
My 16th chemo was pretty routine. I had great company, Samira and Colleen, good snacks and some very good drugs. The only difference was that I felt the need to announce, “Hey, I am here for my last chemo!” to anyone who made eye contact with me (Samira and Colleen are my witnesses). I have to admit that I expected the nurses to do a little cheer or to sing me a clever song about my last chemo. It didn’t happen. Slight disappointment. This got me thinking. Why isn’t anyone doing a cheer? Why isn’t there a banner? Then I thought to myself, “I am crafty, I can make some cool decorations. Lord knows I have enough supplies in my garage!” (Again, Samira and Colleen are my witnesses).  So, I went to Dr. Parker with an idea- Operation Celebration. I told her how great it would be for patients to be greeted with a banner and certificate on the last day of their chemo (how easy is that?) They could even have their picture taken and be on the “ I finished my Chemo” wall. Dr. Parker loved the idea and even improved it by suggesting that we have shirts made. Good one, Dr. P! So, Dr. Parker is going to the advisory board with my Operation Celebration idea. I hope she lets me work on organizing some of it.  
Jessica Daigneault, Clinical Research Coordinator
I honestly did not really need any operation celebration myself. I have so much to be thankful for and we had our own celebration planned.  Junior and I went to the Giants/Padres game the night before my last chemo. I could not remember the last time we had been out together without the kids. It was fun to watch any type of event uninterrupted and to not have to share my churro. Then, the night after my chemo many of our good friends joined us for yet another Giants/Padres game (hmmmmm, Junior obviously planned my celebration weekend). We let our kids come this time. So much fun! Once the game was over, we tucked the kids into bed and went out to a late dinner with friends.  I am so thankful to be surrounded by people who care for us. It was the busiest day after chemo to date. I paid for it the next day. I was actually unable to get out of bed until late afternoon. But it was soooooo worth it!
Go Giants!

The following Tuesday, July 19th, I went back to work. Yes, you read that correctly. I returned to room 802 and started off my school year (gotta love the year round calendar). It wasn’t something that I had to do and honestly, it was pretty darn exhausting. But, at the end of the week, I was glad that I made the decision to be there and meet my new group of students and their parents. All teachers know how important it is to establish routines and procedures and I wanted to make sure I was able to do that and bond with my great group of students. I am looking forward to seeing them once I finish radiation.

Forest fairies, Graciela & Maya
Somewhere in between all of these events, my little Maya Papaya turned 4 years old. This birthday was an especially big deal because we have been talking about her fourth birthday since I was diagnosed. We all knew that once Maya turned 4, I would be done taking the strong medicine and my hair would grow back.  She and her sister could not wait. They even tried to make her turn four back in May. Well, unfortunately, I had not quite explained the hair thing correctly. Maya seemed to think that on the day she turned 4, ALL of my hair would grow back. All of it. All at once. I had to explain that I meant that my hair would BEGIN to grow back on her fourth birthday but that it was going to grow a little at a time. Both she and Graciela decided that was going to take forever. Maya was the perfect Forest Fairy at her birthday party and all of our guests had a fairy good time!

July 28th was a fun day. The family and I met a photographer at Balboa Park to shoot for the cover of the inaugural Moore’s Cancer Center Magazine. The issue is due out next month and we will be sure to post some pictures or a link to the article once it comes out.

As part of the I SPY 2 clinical trial, I was due to have my final MRI on Friday, July 29th.   I was nervous to find out the results. I was hoping for the best but I also did not want to be disappointed. Late Monday night (August 1st) I received a call from Dr. Parker. She was calling from home (yes, I have the number programmed into my phone). She was calling to let me know that my MRI results indicated that both tumors were no longer visible. Wow. I was in complete shock. Even though this is exactly what I had hoped and prayed for, I still had a hard time grasping the idea. Well, 10 days have passed so I believe it now and I am still walking on cloud 9.  Dr. Parker has explained that we still need to wait for the pathology report after my bilateral mastectomy; it is very possible that there is still quite a bit of cancer. We will know for sure after surgery.  

I will be having my bilateral mastectomy on August 18th. I am checking in at 9 am and I am set to begin surgery around 11 am. Surgery should last about 4 hours and they expect that I will stay at the hospital that night.  I am obviously nervous but I know I have to remember how far I have come and this just brings me one step closer to my cure!

Happy 30th Vinicio!
Last weekend, the five of us made our way to northern California for the first time since Christmas. We had the opportunity to celebrate my little brother’s 30th birthday and visit with many of our friends and family. Unfortunately, we were not able to see everyone we would have liked to see, but we sure enjoyed the time we spent with those that we did see. Thank you to Lolo and Lola for always being such great hosts and feeding all of our visitors (and us).

Many people have called me an inspiration, they have told me that there is no way they could have handled the things that I have been through over the last 6 months. Many people have asked me how I have found the strength. Well, that’s easy. Look at my family. Look at my kids. I think about my family and I think about the fact that I cannot imagine them continuing their lives without me. I cannot imagine not being the one to make them their oatmeal or egg burritos in the morning. I cannot imagine not being the one to make them their tutus or festive wear for holidays and birthdays. I cannot imagine not being the one to pick them up from school, they scream with excitement when I arrive (I am not sure that it will always be this way, but let's pretend for now). We have so many outings that we enjoy together-The Zoo, Sea World, the beach, Seaport Village etc- I can’t imagine any of those weekend trips taking place without me. So, when you think that I am Wonder Woman, I know that I am not. I am just a mom. A mom who is madly in love.  I am madly in love with my husband.  I am madly in love with my kids and madly in love with our life. There is no way in H. E. double hockey sticks that any of them are getting out of seeing me each and every day.

So, that is one way I was able to get through the day-to-day struggles. But, it is no secret that I have more friends than Mark Zuckerberg- okay, not really, but I am quite positive that I have more quality friends than Mark Zuckerberg. My friends and family are amazing. They played such a huge role in helping me get through my treatments. Thank you. Every text that you sent brought a smile to my face. Every phone call you made and card that you sent with words of encouragement gave me strength. Every incredible and thoughtful gift let me know that you cared. When you took the time to help me with my kids or bring us a meal you made my day easier. For all of my chemo buddies, you don’t know what it meant to have your company as I went through my infusions. Thank you.  So, even though I was the one that physically went through the treatment, I know that I was not alone. My husband, my family and my friends, you were all there in every way you could be. It wasn’t just me that got through this. You also did it. We all did it.