Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stage 3

After a very long day down at UT Southwestern on Friday, I'm very pleased to share that my scans came back negative for cancer spread to any other organs. It is a huge answer to prayer and another miracle in this journey! Thank you to everyone that prayed and fasted last week- your prayers were answered yet again.

To show you just how busy my day was Friday, here is a run-down of the schedule and procedures:

7AM – Arrived at UT Southwestern - Zale Lipshy Hospital to drink my barium sulfate. I had to drink two of these delicious milkshakes. My choices were banana, berry, or mochaccino. I chose berry first and I chose wrong. For my second I went to the mochaccino per the receptionist’s suggestion. It was better but I think it was because I was holding my nose while sipping the cool liquid chalk- yum.

8AM – They have to put “contrast” into your bloodstream while the CT scan is going so I got to have my port (the thing I had surgery for last week to implant that gives folks direct access to a vein) accessed for the first time. The needle they use is pretty scary looking so I was freaking out a little. I didn’t have the numbing cream for the port yet but the access line didn’t hurt too badly to insert. Yay!

8:30AM - CT scan of my abdomen and chest. When they put the contrast in the IV, it makes you feel like you are peeing in your pants. Sure glad the lady warned me. I would have been super embarrassed thinking I had just peed all over the CT machine!

10:00AM – Drove to another building on the campus and arrived 30 minutes before my next appointment. Who should I see sitting in the waiting room but a minister from our church - the same minister who called the day I was diagnosed asking if there was anything she could pray for, just happened to be there taking a family member to an appointment! She's also the same minister who visited us in the hospital when David was born.  I’ve honestly stopped being surprised when “coincidences” like this occur. It was wonderful getting to chat with her and having her pray for me in the waiting room. God is so good!

10:30AM – Was injected with radioactive something-or-other in preparation for my bone scan. They keep it in a lead container. Looks scary, right?

11:00AM – Drove to yet another building on campus for my genetics appointment. It is wild what they can find out and tell you about gene mutations in your DNA! I’m having 25 genes evaluated for mutations; two of them are BRCA1&2. These will tell me whether I’m likely to have ovarian or a second breast cancer. If this comes back positive I will most likely have the other breast and my ovaries removed. Other genes would say whether I’m likely to have any number of other types of cancer. This lets me know if I should have increased screenings down the road.

I thought this appointment was going to be scary but it turned out to just be ridiculously interesting. I love science! They have models that spit out the likelihood of being BRCA1or2 positive. Because I don’t have any family history of cancer, it gave me only a 7% chance. If my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50, it would be a 33% chance (I asked her to go re-run the model with different parameters, just because I thought it was cool.) J

12:30PM – Took a shuttle this time to get back to the first building for the bone scan. The bone scan took a pretty long time. I had to lay absolutely still, in silence, for 45 minutes with a big piece of metal a centimeter from my face. I just ended up praying the whole time and making a mental list of all the things I want to do after I beat cancer…I see a future blog post forming…

2:00PM – Walked back to the final building for my lab work. It is so easy to draw blood with a port. I’m liking this port more and more!

3:00PM – The moment of truth! I had the same feeling of anticipation I used to get before semester grades came out or when you are about to find out whether or not you got into a school. And, as crazy as it sounds, I really like that feeling. I had such a peace the entire day. I was honestly just really excited about finding out for sure that I didn’t have metastatic cancer. I was so confident that that would be the result. In fact, I was so confident that I offered to go to the results appointment by myself. Brad insisted on coming so he was with me when we met with the oncologist.

My doctor told me that the test results looked good. But then she said they had found a 1-2 mm spot on my lungs and I started crying. She quickly reassured me that everyone has spots like that on their organs and that it isn’t cancer. She said they would never try and biopsy a spot like that and that we would just make sure it wasn’t growing next time we do a scan. I also had a “very tiny nonspecific spot that would not be considered metastatic” on my liver. Again, this is just that everyone has stuff on their organs.

It was evident how well my doctor already knows me, since she walked me through each imaging report line-by-line.  After each line, she would turn and look directly at me, saying some variant of "that's totally normal", or "that is not cancer", or "don't freak out".  I think she suspected (and Brad can confirm) that without that level of explanation I would have read the reports later and phrases like "very tiny nonspecific spot" would get translated by my brain to read: "very cancer nonspecific CANCER".  Thankfully my doctor cares enough to spend the time with me to pre-empt those doubts - I'm very thankful for that.

So officially the scans did not find metastatic cancer in my body. I’m stage 3! I debate on whether I’m 3B or 3C because the lymph node above my collar bone is no longer there (which would be 3B) but I know it was there to begin with (3C) except that we don’t know for sure whether or not it was cancerous (it was never biopsied). I don’t think it makes a big difference either way on B or C though.

I asked the oncologist what percent prognosis I had but she didn’t want to give me numbers saying that those are interesting when you are giving a talk on your research, but that she doesn’t do percent survival rates for individual patients. She said for me they are going to fight this and get it out of me and that we will beat it. Period.

I have seen research from MD Anderson on a more recent 30-year study that says the 5-year survival rate is about 50% for non-metastatic inflammatory breast cancer. That rate goes up to 73% if you have a complete response. Which in my mind I’m wondering what happens to the 27% of patients that have all the cancer completely out of their body after just chemo, that then they die of cancer before the 5 years are up? I guess it comes back and they aren’t able to keep it at bay?

So flip a coin and that is the probability of me being here in 5 years. Honestly, I’ll take it at this point.  Compared with some of the other stats I’ve seen along the way, 50% sounds like a dream- a very doable dream.

Guns up- let’s do this!


  1. Guns up! Beat it! Thanks for letting us read all the details

  2. Hi Ashleigh and Brad and the boys!! It's Rebecca from David's delivery. I have been following your posts and praying so hard for you guys. Ashleigh - that Thursday that I was honored to share in your birth experience is #1 on my list now. You and Brad have a special place in my heart. I will continue to follow along with you on your journey. Guns up Ashleigh - you've got this!! Love yall!!!

  3. I want you to know that I am praying for you all and that you are such an inspiration! A positive attitude can make a world's difference and believe that you are on the right path. You have so much courage, even just to tell your story. I hope that you and Brad are able to enjoy your newborn and your newly expanded family. You are awesome and you beat this!!

  4. Wow! Hallelujah! So glad to hear this awesome news :) Leah and I are praying for y'all.
    -Clint and Leah Watson (friends of Jordan and Margie)

  5. So glad to hear this! Praying for you as you take on this journey- you are a warrior girl!!

  6. Tears of joy when I read this post.

  7. Love your post...AMEN is all I can say. We keep praying, and loving you from So. Florida!

    The Adamsons

  8. Ashleigh, this news is truly an answer to prayer and a sign that God is at work in your life! I believe in miracles because I have had so many in my own life. Have a GREAT day!

  9. WHOOOO HOOOO!!!! Praise the Lord!!! Lets do this and kick this thing in the face!

  10. WOW!!!! So many answers that have obviously come from the lord! continuing to pray and continuing to have nothing but faith!!!!

  11. Hi Ashleigh - it was great to read that if you had to be something, you were stage 3. Phew! I could totally relate to your CT scan description - I had to have one too a while ago and remember that funny almost-peeing sensation :-)


  12. افضل شركة تنظيف خزانات ومنازل وشقق بالمدينة المنورة شركة غسيل خزانات ومكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة ونقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة مؤسسة صفوة المدينة
    شركة غسيل خزانات بالمدينة المنورة

  13. الشرق الاوسط من اهم شركات نقل العفش بالدمام متحصصه فى نقل عفش واثاث بالدمام ونقل العفش بالخبر كما انها توفر شركة نقل عفش بالجبيل والخبر وشركة نقل عفش بالقطيف والاحساء وجميع خدمات نقل العفش والاثاث بالمنطقة الشرقية بارخص اسعار نقل عفش بالدمام وتقدم ايضا شركة تخزين عفش بالدمام والخبر
    شركة الشرق الاوسط
    شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالخبر
    شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
    شركة نقل عفش بالخبر
    شركة نقل عفش بالقطيف
    شركة نقل اثاث بالاحساء
    شركة نقل عفش الجبيل
    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
    شركة نقل عفش بالخبر
    شركات النقل البري بالدمام
    شركات نقل العفش بالدمام
    ارقام شركات نقل العفش بالدمام
    ارخص شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
    شركة تخزين عفش بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالخبر


  14. شحن اثاث بالدمام

    نحن شركة المنزل نقدم اقوس العروض و الخدمات بالدمام
    نقدم جميع خدمات النقل
    فنحن شركة شحن عفش بالدمام , نقل اثاث بالدمام
    مع اكبر اسطول من السيارات المجهزة و افضل السائقين
    ذو الخبرة الكبيرة في جميع الطرق الدولية و المحلية
    فاذا اردت شركة شحن متخصصة بالدمام
    شركة المنزل شركة شحن اثاث بالدمام الحل الامثل لك

    شركة شحن عفش بالدمام

  15. Cured of TNBC!
    I want to take this time out as a cancer survivor to encourage women out there still suffering from this with my story on how i got a cure. The sad news about it is that i was diagnosed on my 36th birthday in 2008 and with stage 3 TNBC which after i made research was a very aggressive form of cancer at that point i decided and told myself i was going to die and that the end has finally come. All my life i never thought of having breast cancer because i was very active and i worked out at the gym several times every week and my diet was okay. In my search for a cure after 6 years of diagnosis and even after chemo which i did twice spending thousands of dollars but to no avail, until a church member told me all about Dr Aleta a herbal doctor that specializes in treating TNBC, who could help me with a permanent cure, i doubted this at first but i later gave it a try following her methods and instructions. It took 3 months and after it all i felt normal but still went for diagnosis and i was clean today i am proud to say i am a cancer survivor no nodes and i am totally free the new diagnosis confirmed it. Do not die in silence or ignorance because of breast cancer just simply reach her on and also for any related cancer illness don't be shy just speak to her today.


  16. شركة نقل اثاث بالطائف

    شركة المنزل هى شركة نقل عفش بالطائف لدينا العمالة المدربة على نقل العفش باستخدام احدث انواع الروافع الكهربية واليدوية كما ان لدينا السيارات المجهزة لنقل العفش بأرخص الاسعار فى جميع انحاء الطائف

    شركة تخزين عفش بالطائف


  17. شركة نقل عفش بالطائف

    شركة المنزل هى شركة نقل عفش بالطائف لدينا السيارات المجهزة والعمالة المدربة على نقل العفش فى جميع انحاء الطائف كما ان لدينا احدث الاوناش والروافع التى تساعد على نقل العفش فى اى وقت والى اى مكان بالطائف كما ان لدينا عمالة ممتازة مدربة على جميع خدمات نقل العفش بالطائف وعمالتنا تقوم بتفكيك الفعش واعادة تركيبه مرة اخرى حتى يتم تجنب تعرضه للخدش او الكسر اثناء مراحل النقل كما اننا نقدم جميع خدماتنا بأرخص الاسعار .

    شركة نقل اثاث بالطائف


  18. شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
    شركة المنزل هى شركة نقل عفش بالطائف لدينا العمالة المدربة التى تقوم بخدمات نقل العفش بأستخدام اجود السيارات الحديثة والاوناش والروافع التى تستخدم فى مجال نقل عفش الطائف ونحن لدينا العمالة المدربة على تفكيك العفش بالطائف واعادة تركيب العفش ونحن لدينا خدمات تخزين اثاث الطائف وذلك بأستخدام افضل المستودعات المجهزة والخالية من الحشرات والقوارض ونحن نقدم جميع خدماتنا بأسعار رخيصة فى متناول الجميع .
    تخزين اثاث بالطائف


  19. شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
    شركة المنزل هى شركة نقل عفش بالطائف لدينا العمالة المدربة التى تقوم بخدمات نقل العفش بأستخدام اجود السيارات الحديثة والاوناش والروافع التى تستخدم فى مجال نقل عفش الطائف ونحن لدينا العمالة المدربة على تفكيك العفش بالطائف واعادة تركيب العفش ونحن لدينا خدمات تخزين اثاث الطائف وذلك بأستخدام افضل المستودعات المجهزة والخالية من الحشرات والقوارض ونحن نقدم جميع خدماتنا بأسعار رخيصة فى متناول الجميع .
    تخزين اثاث بالطائف