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A Letter to Family and Friends about My Journey – Part III

Pink EelephantLetter #3
November 26, 2010
An email to my friends and family

Every year, for as long as I can remember my family makes turkey soup the day after Thanksgiving. While Thanksgiving day itself is great, surrounded by friends and family, as a young girl I was secretly most excited about the turkey soup. As I write this to all of you, my own soup is simmering on the stove as the remnants of the delicious turkey Jeff cooked yesterday slowly turns into a heavenly concoction we’ll enjoy for days to come.

Isn’t that just the way life is sometimes? You spend hours, sometimes days, on a dinner and in the end, the bones and core of the turkey is the best part. I feel these days life is the same way. We spend so much time trying to make everything we do so perfect and precise, and in the end the core of our beings is what we all love so much about each other.

Thanksgiving, of course, is not ALL about food (though some might argue that point), it’s also about being thankful for what we have and those we love.

I’ll be honest, I REALLY had to push myself to find things to be thankful for after the year we’ve had. But once I let my mind process the things I’m unhappy with (like CANCER), I found I couldn’t stop listing things I am thankful for. It is funny how that works. Life can be so harsh, but it can also be sensational and incredible. I find I have to allow myself to accept both parts of life, so I can accept all the goodness and love that surrounds me.

So tonight, as my turkey soup simmers and fills our house with warmth, I wanted to write and let you all know I am so incredibly grateful for each and every one of you.

I know many of you are fighting your own battles this holiday season. Please know I think of you every day – and when I see a beautiful sunset, a family walking hand-in-hand, or even just a dog playing in the sunshine – I will think of you and send all that positive energy toward you.

I also have another bit of information to share that I, and my family, are very thankful for. My Pink Elephant and I have found an AMAZING oncologist. This is the doctor that will be by my side for the next five years as we work together to minimize the chances that my cancer will ever come back. She is an incredibly smart, forward-thinking woman ... and she has determined I do NOT need to go through chemotherapy.

No, I am not kidding.

(Visualize dancing Pink Elephant here)

Dr. Oratz, my new oncologist, insisted on conducting a test called an Oncotype DX Breast Cancer Assay. This test looked at a set of 21 genes from my actual cancer tumor and provided specific data on: (1) the likelihood of my specific type of breast cancer returning and (2) whether I’d be likely to benefit from chemo to lower my chances of it coming back. The test concluded that chemo would only have a minimal benefit and my particular cancer had a lower chance of returning. NO CHEMO FOR JEN!!!! Hooray!!!

But, (and there is always a "but" with cancer) … my specific cancer LOVES estrogen (hormones), so my treatment will involve the use of drugs that are specifically designed to cut off my cancer cells’ ability to connect to estrogen instead of trying to kill them with chemo.

My targeted hormonal therapy will begin on the Monday after Thanksgiving (three days from today). It will entail shutting down my ovaries to stop my body’s production of estrogen for two years (starve the cancer) with a drug called Zoladex, while also taking a drug called Tamoxifen for five years so cancer cells can’t feed off the estrogen in my body. After two years, I will stop Zoladex, but continue taking Tamoxifen for another three years to STARVE any potential cancer cells that might still be in my body, so they’ll die. Take that cancer! There is a big fat Pink Elephant kicking your butt!

(Jen calming down her Pink Elephant)

So, as Thanksgiving comes to an end, and we all begin looking toward Christmas (and ALL that comes with the holiday season) I hope each and every one of you has your own turkey soup filling your home tonight with hope and warmth. I hope you all know how thankful I am for you and all you’ve given me this fall.

Love always,
Jen & her Pink Elephant