I had my consultation with my radiation oncologist yesterday which went well. Dr. Tsuji spent well over an hour with me taking my history and explaining the process and side effects of radiation therapy. It’s always extra comforting when a physician comes in having already reviewed your chart and having an individualized plan in mind.

Although I had an excellent response to chemo and the post-surgical pathology shows that there was no residual cancer in the tumor bed or the lymph nodes, radiation is important with breast-conserving surgeries to get rid of any cancer cells that may remain in other areas of the breast that weren’t removed (as they would have been in a mastectomy). So, Dr. Tsuji recommends 4 weeks of whole-breast radiation (no axillary radiation since nodes were clear) with a boost to the tumor bed. After everything’s been set up, I’ll go for radiation 5 days per week, likely starting the 2nd or 3rd week of January.

Birthday stay-cation! Thankful to have many options to “get away” in Honolulu!

The side effects of radiation therapy are fatigue, which generally increases as the treatment progresses, and skin irritation which is basically like a bad sun burn. With radiation to the breast, the radiation oncologist takes as much precaution as possible to minimize radiation to the lungs and the heart. One way to protect them is to perform a breath hold during the treatment to raise the breast tissue away from the organs as the lungs expand and so we may see how that goes when I do my simulation in a few weeks.

I also need to be sure my left arm range of motion improves before I can start radiation since I’ll likely be positioned lying on my back with my hands behind my head. I can get there now, but it’s not at all comfortable due to the cording. My PT did work on it last week and it got significantly better after just one treatment, but it’s not quite there yet so I have some goals in the next few weeks!

I’ll see my oncologist on Thursday for a post-surgical follow up and planning and will see my surgeon after that to have my bandages removed from my port surgery. Thankfully, all is going well and everything is healing up nicely. Overall, I’m feeling well but definitely looking forward to being able to be more active again. I’m thankful to be on the last stretch of treatment and starting the new year cancer free!

Aloha ❤

Birthday Week

Birthday Week

Yesterday was my 31st birthday, and I’ve been feeling so grateful to have made it to this day. I can remember the night before my 30th birthday last year so vividly, and I just knew that this year would be big in so many ways. It has been one of the most challenging years for me personally, as well as physically, but I have learned so much about myself and Justin and I have grown deeply in our relationship. With that said, all the learning was great, but I’m ready to leave 30 in the dust. This year, I’ll celebrate my birthday, looking forward to the year ahead (cancer free!) and I’ll celebrate all that I’ve accomplished this year with the help of everyone I love.

We had a great time celebrating my birthday yesterday (my mom always knows how to make birthdays very special), but this morning, Justin & I dropped her off at the airport even though I tried really hard to convince her to move here (or at least stay through Christmas). It was so nice to have her here and we were able to have plenty of good dinner chats, walks, coffee dates and couch parties binging Schitt’s Creek. I’m looking forward to getting back to Montana next year sometime to see her and the rest of the fam again.

Mama ❤

I went to take my 3rd COVID test today. I needed to do a rapid test because – surprise! I am having my port removed tomorrow! I had really been hoping this would have been removed with my lumpectomy, but it was left just in case there was any residual cancer or other IV treatment required. So tomorrow that little guy is coming out, and I don’t think I’ll miss it!

I’ll have a consultation with my radiation oncologist on Monday next week and will decide on a plan for radiation. I will likely need several weeks of radiation to eliminate any rogue cancer cells (should they exist) in the breast tissue that was not removed during surgery. I’ll update as I know more.

Otherwise, I’m still recovering from surgery (today I’m 2 weeks post-op). Swelling has been less in my arm, but I am developing a “cord” which I can feel from my armpit to my wrist. Cording, also known as axillary web syndrome, is common after a lymph node removal procedure and is a sign of scarring along a lymphatic vessel. It is thankfully treatable, but right now it’s painful and limits my range of motion in my left arm. I’ve been working on some lymphatic drainage techniques including lymphatic massage and exercise, and I think that as my shoulder mobility improves and I can get in to see my PT, the cording should resolve.

Delicious birthday din at Istanbul!

With Christmas only a few weeks away, Justin & I are busy putting gifts together (I am always a last minute gift buyer) and preparing for the end of the year. I am hoping to be able to transition back to some light duty work until I can treat patients again so we’ll see what happens with that. I may update a little bit on the blog over the holidays, but will likely be a bit quiet, so I hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday season with your families!

Aloha ❤



Today is December 1. The first day of the last month of the absolute craziest year of our lives AND the start of birthday month! Thought I’d give you a little update on surgery and the excellent news I received today.


Last Friday, I had a lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy. I checked in at 5:30 am, had wires inserted into my tumor and into the lymph node that was “suspicious” at the time of my original diagnosis. My radiologist placed these wires guided by ultrasound imaging. Once the wires were securely in place, I was sent to nuclear medicine for lymphoscintigraphy. A radioactive tracer dye is injected near the site of my tumor and imaging is used to identify the first lymph node to which the tumor drains so it can be removed during surgery.

During surgery, the nodes are removed first and sent for preliminary pathology while the surgeon removes the tumor and a small margin of tissue. After surgery, the nodes and tumor are examined in more detail by the pathologist for any remaining cancer cells.

My preliminary pathology on the lymph nodes was negative and today (post-op day 4) my formal path report came back and indicated what’s called a pathologic complete response (PCR). PCR means that no residual cancer cells were found in the tumor bed or in the lymph nodes at all – CANCER FREE! PCR occurs in about 30% of people who have triple negative breast cancer (according to my surgeon), and this is absolutely the best possible outcome I could have asked for! I hope you’ll all celebrate with me this week.

5 1/2 weeks post-chemo hair growth!

As far as recovery from surgery, everything is going pretty well. Pain and swelling are both mild. I was instructed to leave my bandages on until my follow up with my surgeon on Thursday this week. I’ve been doing some really basic range of motion exercises for my neck, shoulder blades, elbow and wrist to help move the lymph and prevent any significant stiffness. My PT & lovely coworker suggested I don’t lift my left arm above shoulder height for the first several weeks to allow the lymphatics in my armpit to heal and try to prevent axillary cording (which I’m at higher risk for) and lymphedema (which I’m at lower risk for).

Just want to say another quick THANK YOU to all of you who’ve supported me and prayed for me. God is good, and I am so relieved by the pathology results. Next step is radiation, and I should find out more this week about what that may entail.

**Quick reminder: December 1 means it’s time to check your chest – do your self-exams and schedule your preventative screenings!


Sending alllll the aloha to you all today ❤