In the last update, Alison was starting new hormone therapy and chemo for the cancer that had returned to her bones. Those treatments held the cancer back for a while, but never worked quite as well as the treatments in 2014.
Now, in cancer’s despicable style, it has spread once again. Alison was told last week that her cancer has returned throughout her bones, and has now also invaded her liver and lungs. This is bad news, but not insurmountable, since this cancer is still treatable. Alison and her family, though understandably weary, stand ready to face these new metastases head on. She started a new round of chemotherapy on Tuesday of this week. So far, she is feeling okay, despite fatigue and continued pain from her bone involvement. The plan right now is three weeks of chemo and one week off for as long as it works, with no set end date at this point. She will also receive radiation treatments sometime in the coming weeks.
What does this mean for us, her loving Herd? Well, for Alison and her family, it means regular trips to Rochester for treatments and checkups. It means stress and worry for Ben, their two young kiddos, and the rest of the Alison’s family. It means time off of work for Ben, medical bills, gas money, childcare assistance, and the list goes on and on. THIS is where we, her Herd, come in. It’s time to rally once again around Alison and her family to reinforce their own strength during this tough time. We are once again asking for donations on their behalf. Help us ease the financial burden this disease has caused so that they can focus on Alison’s recovery. Every single dollar is a blessing, so please give what you can—no amount is too small! And whether or not you are able to give anything right now, prayers and positive thoughts are ALWAYS appreciated! Thank you for checking in and for your continued support! We love Alison’s Herd!
It's been a long time since an update, right? Well, that's because Alison has been disease-free for almost a year! She made the most of it, too, in true Alison style. She has been volunteering in a few local organizations, including an initiative to get a farmers' market started in their town. Additionally, she and her family took a few trips to visit friends and family. And of course, because her health is always a concern, Alison has been doing yoga and keeping track of her steps during the day to keep her body as healthy and strong as possible.
Unfortunately, that disease-free year is over. Her cancer has returned. But the bad news comes with some good news--they caught it early! Of course, that means a better prognosis for treatment and more treatment options from which to choose. Here is Alison's most recent status update on Facebook.
Like many cancer survivors, I have a favorite "chemo hat." Wigs are fussy, scarves can be fussy and hot, the sun will scorch my bare head, but my hat has treated me well
through my initial chemo in 2012, four months of chemo last winter/spring 2014, and all the time it took my hair to grow back, both times.
It's looking forward with hope that I pull my trusty chemo hat out and dust it off again for Chemo 3.0: Spring 2015 edition. When the breast cancer metastasized to my
bones last year, I knew I was starting a new chapter in my life. This life would be a whole new life, really. In this new life, I was going to have to learn to live with a chronic,
incurable disease (some might say "terminal," but I try to avoid that word), and I was taking my family along with me for the ride.
The good things: (1) I got 11 (ELEVEN!!) months with no evidence of disease. When I stopped chemo last May, my goal was to make it through the summer. I blew that
out of the water. I was even well enough to continue the reconstruction process with small surgeries in October and March. (2) I listened to my body and the early aches,
pains, and fever. I caught it early this time. Last year's scan looked so grim. My entire skeleton lit up and was full of lesions. This time, I have three to five lesions confined to
my lower spine and the right side of my pelvis. Hopefully, just a little chemo will knock them out. (3) Because I caught it earlier, I have a lot of treatment options. I don't
*have* to jump right to chemo. I am jumping right to chemo because it worked so well last time and I want another clean scan. The longer I can hold it off, the more
treatment options I will have. Since starting hormonal therapy last May, they have approved two new HT drugs that I can try when I'm done with chemo this time. Cancer
becomes resistant to hormonal therapy (like it just did for me), so having more options can help me live longer. I have had no radiation to my lesions in my past treatments
so that is always an option I can add to my treatment to treat pain and tumors. (4) It's spring. I'm so hopeful I can take advantage of the good weather to keep my spirits
and strength up during treatment.
The bad things: (1) I'm starting chemo. Nausea, exhaustion, irritability, chemo brain (chemo brain!!), anemia, blood transfusions, hair loss. Here we go again!
Compare the two lists and you can see why I am hopeful.
Isn't she amazing? She exudes strength, hope, and determination. She's got this, we know it. But as always, prayers, positive thoughts, and maybe a few extra dollars if you can spare them are always appreciated and go along way toward making her load a little lighter. She is scheduled to start chemo again tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28th, in case you want to send some extra prayers or positivity her way. Let's show her the power she has in her corner. Thank you again for joining her herd! Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks.
We have such wonderful news to share! Read Alison's most recent update below.
"Yesterday I went in for a PET scan to restage with the hope that if the disease showed improvement or, at the very least, no progression, I would be able to take a break from chemo. My bone marrow has been hit hard by the chemo and hasn't been keeping up (thus the transfusions), and it has really been taking its toll.
"When I went in for the results today, I was blown away by the news that there was absolutely no evidence of cancer on the scan! While chemo has been using my bone marrow, tummy, and hair as a punching bag, it has apparently also been busy kicking the cancer.
"This means while there is likely still cancer floating around in my body (it takes a tumor of one billion cells to show up on a scan), hopefully the remaining cancer is the slow-growing kind that can be treated with hormonal therapy for at least a little while. I'm trading in chemo for one aromatase inhibitor (anti-estrogen pill) a day and hopefully a summer full of fun. I'm thrilled to have some time off, and am very hopeful that it can be a good long time before I need chemo again."
Our prayers were answered and the healing energy is working! Please keep your support pouring in, no matter what form it takes. Alison's fight is not over, but at least she has been given the gift of energy and a chance at a wonderful summer spent with her family.
The Reburns hope to take a vacation to see some old friends and to make some awesome memories. So please keep them in mind if you have a few extra dollars in your pocket. They are so very grateful for everything Alison's Herd has done to support her thus far. We are many, and we are mighty! Thank you for being a part of her healing process and such a blessing in her life. We love you!
Alison's most recent update is below! Thank you for checking in on her. We hope you had a wonderful Easter and that beautiful spring weather has found you!
"My day of appointments yesterday was uneventful and smooth. I love those days!
I met with my doctor and let her know that I was having a bit of cancer-like pain a couple of weeks ago and was skeptical about going off of chemo after this cycle. We are both hoping that the brief pain was related to my hormones being messed up from having my ovaries out and are planning on scanning before my next cycle (in three weeks) as planned. My tumor markers from two weeks ago are very encouraging. They are finally down in the double digits (77--normal person is under 38) from over 300! I asked to have them tested next week to make sure the pain I was feeling a couple weeks ago hasn't pushed them back up in the meantime. I'm very hopeful!
My white blood count was low, so I just got a half dose of Gemzar again, but it was actually a bit higher than last time, so I know that week off is helping. If it's lower next week, I'll come back in for a shot of Nulasta (helps white counts) the next day just to be safe. My hemoglobin is on its way back down so I may be looking at more blood soon, which I will gladly take this time knowing how much it helped before!
I got more good news in a call from the geneticist yesterday morning. Two years ago my testing was negative for BRCA genes, and now they have a bunch more genes they can test in one big panel test. Mine were all negative for known abnormalities that can cause breast cancer and other cancers. This is good news for me and for everyone in my family. It's still recommended that my daughter starts screening 5-10 years before the age of my diagnosis which was at 28, just because breast cancer in younger women is so unusual (though less so than most would think), and all genetic variables have not been discovered or even explored yet. But it does mean that my older female relatives probably have no reason for concern and that my children probably don't, either.
I think that's it for this time. Short and sweet!"
Alison is winning! She shared her PET scans with us this week. We were all so amazed at the incredible difference between her scan in January (white with bone metastasis) and the one taken this month (black where it should be, almost entirely). It’s amazing to be able to physically SEE how well the treatments have been working. She accepted a blood transfusion on Friday and will likely have her ovaries out this week, as you will read in her update below.
"I've been pretty quiet lately, and the reason is that anemia has been kicking my butt. A couple weeks ago, I was offered a blood transfusion. I declined, thinking I'd work on my iron myself, test again in a week and see where I was. A week later, my hemoglobin was even lower, so a full iron work-up was ordered. It turns out that my iron is actually very high, probably in response to the disease leaving my body so quickly, but my hemoglobin had dropped yet again. By this point I was having trouble lifting myself out of bed, getting dressed, and climbing stairs. I practically begged for a blood transfusion yesterday, but there was some concern about adding more iron to my blood. I had a consult with a specialist, and because my iron levels had been normal not that long ago, he thought that iron overload was not a concern at this point and that I needed the blood more than anything. He called my doctor, and between the two of them and some wonderful scheduling people, I was booked for an hour later! I actually got in 40 minutes early, because really, who wants a four hour transfusion on Friday evening (besides this girl!)? Halfway through the first unit my toes were wigging. By the end of the first unit, I felt more awake. By the end of the second, I was ready for a fun-filled weekend with friends and a visit from my momma! In other news, I'll take a short break from chemo to have my pesky ovaries out. This will be the first step in hormonal therapy, and important if I get to take a break from chemo at some point in the future, or if chemotherapy becomes ineffective and I have to transition to hormonal therapy as my primary treatment."
Isn’t that fantastic? She also told us that her pain is pretty much gone now, so she is predicting that her next scan will be even better. We are so grateful for all of your love and support—in whatever form—throughout Alison’s battle. Because of you, she can focus on healing without added worry of financial strain on her family. We hope that the blessings you have given to Alison and her family will find their way back to you tenfold. Her battle continues, though, so please keep the prayers and support pouring in. They are working! We have seen it with our own eyes!
Alison and her family said goodbye to her hair today, and they took pictures to share the experience. You can read Alison’s note about the “Hair Festival” below, and be sure to check out the new pictures. Hair or none, she is absolutely gorgeous!
“Today was my last day with hair! The kids called it our Hair Festival. They got to color it with hair chalk, and then they each took a turn shaving their own sides. They lost interest quickly, though, so I had a Mohawk for a few minutes. Then the razor died with just a tuft left at the front of my head. That was funny! I was wondering how long I’d have to have it there while the razor recharged, but Ben’s beard trimmer came to the rescue. I feel so much better now that it’s gone. I was holding on as long as I could, but having to change the pillowcase every day and waking up with hair caked to my face, mouth, and eyes was miserable. Shaving it all off was liberating. The only downside is how chilly I am now!”
Thanks for checking in on our fighter! Please keep the prayers, shares, and love pouring in!
Alison went back to Mayo early today for some tests and more chemo treatment. It was a very long and stressful day, as they piled more tests on her to rule out possibilities stemming from some abnormal results. Before Alison left, her doctor remained positive, but also realistic, telling her that the abnormal results might indicate that another type of chemo would be necessary. But in the end, she got wonderful news! Read Alison’s words below:
“I was remaining positive as my mom and I left the clinic and drove to the yarn shop to get the yarn I need for a hat I want to complete before my hair falls out. As we pulled out, I got a phone call from my doctor. She immediately, and very solemnly, asked me if I was sitting down. I said yes, I'm in the car, fortifying myself for really bad news given her intro. She followed up with a bunch of technical jargon, saying that the tumors have shown incredible reduction, blah, blah, blah. I immediately started crying--I mean sobbing even more than when I got the bad cancer news. Meanwhile, I scared the living daylights out of Mom--I'm sure she thought I had less than a week to live given my uncontrolled, emotional response! So I'm trying to give her the thumbs up while I'm sobbing so she knows it's good news! Before hanging up, my doctor helped solidify in my mind that this is really good news. And in the end, IT'S REALLY GOOD NEWS!! TREATMENT IS WORKING!!! I was emotional, so I don't remember a lot of what my doctor said, but I do remember that she said she was so happy, congratulated me, and said the difference in the scans from the beginning of January to today is ‘...black and white. Literally black and white.’ I do have a bunch of random appointments for peripheral issues (pain, etc) in the next few weeks, but the bottom line is treatment is working and that is all that really matters right now!!”
Alison is eternally grateful for the financial assistance and hope you have selflessly given to her and her family! And in case you missed it, our dear Alison was featured on her local news this past week! You can watch the video here: http://www.kttc.com/category/131445/video?clipId=9894044&topVideoCatNo=123681&autoStart=trueNeedless to say, a huge “Thank you” goes out to Rochester’s KTTC for their coverage and public support of Alison’s fight.
Alison is fighting a tough battle, but she was absolutely right a few weeks ago when she said she felt like she had turned a corner for the better. She's on the winning end now, and she plans to stay there! Please continue to pray, share, and give when you can! Alison’s herd is growing by the day thanks to your efforts!
We are so humbled, and Alison is so inspired to see so much love and support pouring in from all over the world! And we have good news to report! Alison just received her second dose of the new chemo cocktail this week, and so far her symptoms have improved and her spirits are high! She says she can feel this stuff working and believes she has turned a corner for the better. She also had some reassuring test results today, which we believe indicate that she has found her rhythm and is full-on battle mode. Please keep sharing and giving when you are able--our dear friend has the fight of her life ahead of her. Thanks to you, Alison can focus on healing, and her family has been able to spend quality time with her instead of worrying as much about finances. And the financial need is still there--just this week, the family has had to visit Mayo Clinic 3 times--and it's only Wednesday!
We love you for joining her herd! Let's continue our stampede against Alison's cancer and lift her up into health! Many blessings to you all!
Alison recently had some tests done to evaluate the effectiveness of the chemo she has been taking. Unfortunately, it seems that her cancer isn't responding to it. Please read her update below:
My MRI came back looking fine--nothing compressing my spine causing weakness or pain--but my tumor markers have tripled since last check. This means that the cancer is more aggressive than expected and that the Xeloda isn't working. My doctors are recommending I start on a new class of chemo that my cancer hasn't seen yet. I will be scheduled for the next available appointment and I should start chemo the same day. They will try to follow disease progress with hip x-rays since that seems to be where my pain is concentrated. Not good news, but there are still more treatment options to go through.
Please join us in praying that the next chemotherapy drugs are effective in fighting her cancer, and that she is strong and comfortable throughout her fight! This chemo regimen will involve more frequent trips to the hospital for administration and check-ups, so please keep sharing this fundraiser. Every dollar is appreciated, and every donation is a demonstration of love and support for her and her family. Thank you so much for being a member of her herd!
Alison met with her doctors today. Her cancer is agressive enough that they want to start her on chemotherapy as soon as possible. She will start in the next day or so. Please keep the prayers, shares, and donations--however great or small--pouring in! If you'd like to leave Alison and her family a note of well-wishes or blessings, please feel free to do so on this site under "Comments". Words of encouragement and hope are priceless as her battle begins again. Blessings, love, and gratitude to you from all of the members of her loving herd!