April 08, 2010

head bumps

saw the dermatologist yesterday and he suspects the bumps on my head may indeed be scalp mets. evidently skin mets are not unusual in breast cancer, although the only person i know with scalp mets has a completely different kind of cancer.

i managed to negotiate successfully NOT have a biopsy that moment but to wait for dr a and dr g to talk about next steps. my plate is overflowing with medical stuff right now and the last thing i wanted was the pain of lidocaine while he numbs my head, two punch biopsies, stitches in my scalp, a headache and maybe bleeding afterwards. dr a is a good doc; he listened carefully and since this isn't life-threatening, agreed to talk with dr g the oncologist.

the most likely scenario i can predict is that dr g will start me on chemo immediately upon his return. of course we will see what my latest tumor markers indicate, but chances are good that they have continued to climb, indicating that the current drug isn't working either. maybe i can negotiate a short reprieve while i recover from the dislocated elbow but that would be it.

you know i don't look forward to chemo (now that's an understatement) but my cancer has basically not been effectively treated for almost a year. it's been relatively quiet, but scalp mets void the bargain i made with my cancer 7+ years ago. if it was quiet i would give it room in my body. but if it gets out of hand, then we pull out the big guns.

chemo, here we come.


  1. praying each decision is blessed!

  2. Hi Jill,
    I had skin mets that appeared a few months after my bilateral mastectomy. It was also in my bone marrow (but not my bones - those haven't grown since I went on Tykerb/Xeloda). It wasn't in my scalp, though, it was right on the mastectomy site. I won't give you the gory details . . . it was at the mastectomy site - and because that area had been radiated, it was hard to get the drugs to them. So, it was radiated again.

    Anyway, have you or your doctor looks at the UW Tumor Vaccine Group? They are enrolling patients into a clinical trial having to do with skin mets. It involves using a special ointment - and Abraxane. It's called, "A Phase II Study of Topical Imiquimod and Weekly Abraxane for the Treatment of Breast Cancer Cutaneous Metastases". The link is: http://depts.washington.edu/tumorvac/trials.php

  3. I am impressed with how freely you can speak with your doctors. I wish that I could speak as freely with mine.

  4. i've never been shy about speaking up for myself. and even in medicine, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. and they tell me feisty patients live longer.

  5. Hi Jill,
    Oops, sorry about that - I guess I didn't read the fine print, only that it was a clinical trial for skin mets. Too bad it's just the chest wall! However, maybe you're eligible for one of the immunotherapy ones - that use a vaccine (are you Her-2 positive?) and then re-infuse your t-cells . . .

    I'll be in Seattle this Sunday/Monday, but will be with a friend and I expect we'll be doing some shopping. But I think I'm coming up by myself next week (April 18-19) and would be happy to meet you then! I might also meet a colleague from the Burke Museum sometime, too. Otherwise, I'll be up May 9-10 with my sis - and could be happy to meet you then as well. I hope it works out!

  6. Sorry to hear about that...cancer is a painful illness and needs a lot of brave spirit more than any medication to fight it out.