McAuley Alumnae Blog

McAuley High School, Toledo, Ohio

Class of 1986 – Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

Posted by mcauleyhighschool on August 11, 2009

I received this e-mail from Melissa and she gave me the OK to post it here… (Please include her in your prayers)

Subject: ToTAL SHOCK for me,  Last week I was diagnosed …..with breast cancer. found 1 in. lump under breast on Sunday.

Mammogram, ultrasound, needle biopsy, marker and mammogram again, all on Tuesday. Thursday , I received the call from my doctor that my biopsy tested positive for breast cancer. As of now, their plan is to do a lumpectomy, look at the lymph nodes and run more tests and see where they need to go from there.

Information and details are still very preliminary and will keep you all informed. I did send out a few posts prior to other friends who I did not talk to one on one on FaceBook to keep them in the loop too. I’m very public about this as like everything else that goes on in my life and would not exclude anyone that mean so much to me.  I do see the breast care surgeon on August 17th and will discuss their plan of action. I have a lot of medical forms to fill out now and pick up mammogram and ultra sound images to take with to Dr. Butler. Dr. Butler is well know in Toledo and I have a few breast cancer survivor friends that are being treated and/or have been treated by her and have had excellent results and experiences with her.

You all know that I’m a strong woman, very hopeful, and ready for this fight to beat this cancer – I have to for my 7 yr. old son who needs his mommy to be healthy and for my husband who is the best thing that ever happened to me.  I know most of you all for a very long time and you are all very dear to me. I hate breaking this news but can’t hold it in me and need to remind you to please do your breast self exam every month, early detection is the key.  Many of you know that my lump did not show up on the mammogram so please, please do your self exams, press firmly and be thorough. I know I’m surrounded by lots of great people, positive energy and laughter which will get me through this. For things are still sketchy for me, this is gonna be a long week till the 17th so keep the wise cracks on FaceBook coming to me! 🙂 Peace, Love and Friendship, Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

11 Responses to “Class of 1986 – Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan”

  1. Sherry (Daley) Schermbeck said

    Melissa, we don’t know one another, but I am your sister in Christ and from the second graduating class (’63)at McAuley. I am a chaplain at St. Charles Mercy Hospital. I believe God works through His people and I will be praying for the doctors and all caregivers in charge of your care. I ask God to give them wisdom, and to give you and your family that peace that can only come from Him. You are His. He holds you in the palm of His hand. Fear not.

  2. mcauleyhighschool said

    This Update from Melissa:

    Quick update: 2 hour visit with Dr. Butler, my breast care surgeon on Monday.
    Right now I’m looking at Stage IIB aggressive breast cancer. Now had a biopsy done on lymph node clump, abnormality in size there – waiting for the test results.
    Another ultrasound of the breast lump performed. Where the lump is located it would be hard to pick up on mammogram and may be difficult to detect during breast self exams.
    2 doctors were surprised that I had found the lump myself. Therefore, on top of my annual mammogram I will also have a MRI performed in addition for life.

    Right now I have a difficult choice to make: Lumpectomy with radiation or a Mastectomy with no radiation – both with the same end results. Then I’ll have 4-8 months of Chemotherapy either way I go. Since the cancer is aggressive, I will be having an MRI performed On Wednesday, On Thursday- a bone scan, chest xray, and blood work (Happy Birthday to me) surgery next week with chemo to follow about a month later.
    Now, if the MRI results shows anything MORE than this singular lump then the choice will already be made for me, they will have to take the whole breast.

    Two things: I need to change my diet, cut out my 3 evils- Pepsi, chocolate and donuts, cut my carbs and sugars and need to eat 5 servings daily of fruits/vegetables.
    My 9 month bout with MRSA staph infection that I finally kicked in April had knocked my immune system down contributing with cancer being aggressive. Will always be a carrier of MRSA and is very important I don’t get it again during treatment.

    I’m strong and am now realizing I have a long road a head of me to recovery ,but I promise I may be tired now but I’m gonna give it all I have and beat this cancer.
    My husband is taking this very hard and now will have to sit down with my 7 yr. old son and some how explain to him….. Did I mention I’m kinda scared but haven’t been able to cry?
    I really appreciate everyone’s support, thank you!

    Peace, Love and Friendship, Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

  3. mcauleyhighschool said

    another update from Melissa:

    “MRI went well today, cancer contained to the one area only . Finally some good news, Wooo Hooo! Still an area of concern in the lymph nodes thou. I’m leaning towards the lumpectomy with radiation and chemo depending on how the rest of my tests go tomorrow. I say this was a good day for me! Thanks again for your support, Melissa”

  4. Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan said

    Great news: First, I want to thank everyone for my Birthday wishes, had a real nice day, Surgeon called to tell me that my lymph node biopsy came back normal which is a major plus!
    Busy week – Another dr. visit with my gyn, Breast MRI performed – cancer isolated to the one area,
    6 1/2 hours of testing at the hospital: Had a Bone Scan done – tests came back normal, blood work came back normal and chest x-rays which are expected to come back good too.

    Having some piece of mind now and I pray I’m making the right decision as I opt to having the lumpectomy done with 6 weeks of radiation, Monday through Friday along with Chemotherapy once every 3 weeks 4-8 months. Surgery on Wed. Aug. 26. I’m feeling pretty good about this, my spirits are good and am confident that I’m going to beat this breast cancer!!
    Pre-admittance today at the Hospital – moving right along!

    I told my son some of what is going on, medical tests and having surgery to remove a lump – will tell him more as it happens, didn’t want to overwhelm him.

    Always Peace, Love and Friendship, Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

    “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need” – Rolling Stones

  5. Sherry (Daley) Schermbeck said

    Prayers and God’s peace and presence are with you. You can’t be in a better place.

    • Melissa Paskvan said

      Sherry, Thank you for your prayers and support, it helped me get through this. – Melissa

      • Sherry Daley Schermbeck said

        Melissa, the prayers continue for you and your family. The Great Physician, who’s triumph we celebrate on Sunday, has you in the palm of His hand.

      • Melissa Paskvan said

        Thank you again Sherry, My McAuley family and the good Lord has been with me through out my journey.

  6. mcauleyhighschool said

    Update from Melissa,

    Hey, 2 hour sugery went great last week, i did go with the lumpectomy, removed 5 lymph nodes, no cancer in the nodes! Thank you all, your prayers have been heard. Thank you God, thank you.
    Incision under breast, in armpit, and side where the draining tube comes out, ICK! I am fairly bruised and swollen on whole left side. Did spend the night in the hospital.
    Spent most of the week resting, am experiencing a lot of bad dreams recently ???
    Ordered to do nothing for a week including staying off the computer, LOL – been caught by a few of you and I did make it to the McAuley Alumni Gathering which was really nice.

    5 hours at the hospital prior to surgery for pre-op and another fun, fun procedure that no one warned me about, Grrr! – Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy, a NEEDLE injection of blue dye into my areola just below the nipple. OMG, that was the worst pain that I have ever felt, the stinging shot across my chest to my shoulder and down my arm. Thanks for the free piercing but I’d rather have passed!

    Only 3 days of Percocet, drinking a lot of V8 and protein drinks, good food for the most part to build up my strength and immune system for the next phase,Chemotherapy. Looking to start chemo in about 5 weeks when healed pretty good.

  7. Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan said

    Wow, it’s been about 3 months post-op and I just now reached my halfway point with my chemo treatments with 4 more to go. Here’s a run down on what’s been going on since I last posted. I developed a touch of MRSA, cleared up easily with antibiotics. Had the post-op draining tube in me for 5 1/2 weeks and when they finally removed it I developed a temp. of 102, chills and pain to the area as a result of an infection in breast and side – more antibiotics,about 5 hours in the hospital hooked up to an antibiotic I-V drip and a couple more trips back to the doctors.

    Back at the hospital 5 days later for surgery to have my port installed for the chemo. Two more incisions, one in the neck where they guide the port through my juggler vein and another incision in my chest by collarbone where the the port rests. Also had chest x-rays and a Muga (heart scan) done all in preparation for chemo treatment.

    I have Chemo treatments every other week for 16 weeks,with three visits to MCO for blood work, Chemo, then I go back the following day to get a shot to bring my white blood cell back up. I just finished my first set of Chemo Adriamycin and Cytoxan that was pretty potent but for the most part I did very well – some nausea controlled by meds, tingling and numbness in hands, some upset stomach, back pain, lost of appetite and food tasting bland from time to time, tingling in scalp before losing my hair, red blood cell count decreasing and now experiencing early menopause with my nightly hot flashes. I’ve have maintained my weight so far and it does takes me several days to bounce back after each treatment.

    My hair loss started about 3 days after 2nd treatment from shedding to rapidly falling out in clumps just by running my fingers through my hair until most came out. I have very little thinned scalp hair left but as you can see from my photos I’m ok with it- no wig, just my bandanas and fleece hats keeping my head warm. My son was a little freaked out about it for a few days thou.

    Next week, I’ll being starting my 2nd set of 4 Chemo treatments that are suppose to be easier on me so that should be a blessing in itself. After Chemo’s done, I’ll get a 6 week break before I start radiation, 5 days a week for 6 weeks. Having triple negative breast cancer in that it’s aggressive to where it has a tendency to want to reoccur within 2-3 years, I am signing up for a clinical treatment as a “preventive” to bone cancer and other soft tissue. Right now, my prognosis looks very good with 85% survival rate and am doing everything I can to increase my chances of having a healthy life again. Happy Holidays! Peace, love and friendship, Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

  8. Melissa Paskvan said

    3/25/10- Sorry, I haven’t posted an update in a long while. Just been focusing on my treatments and getting my thoughts together.
    Finished my chemo treatments and Neulasta (white blood cell count boost) in mid January, Woo Hoo! The 2nd set of chemo,Taxol was a little easier on me – no nausea but the tradeoff was that it made me extremely tired, I was down most of the time sleeping, my bones in my legs ached all the time and these chemo sessions were about 6 hours long! The hot flashes and night sweats continued waking me a lot from my sleep, Grrrr! I managed to keep my eyebrows and lashes until the last chemo treatment. I’ve lost most of my muscle tone, fingernails turned yellowish-orange, 4 toenails turn black and had clicking noises in my ears.

    I started the bone study clinical trial in January, taking 2 pills 1600mg daily of Clodronate daily for the next 3 years as a preventive for bone cancer. That’s going really good, no side effects, see the research coordinator and blood work monthly.

    I got about a month break after chemo before I started phase 3 of my Journey. I started my radiation treatments in early February and am more than halfway through my treatments. I’ll have 33 radiation treatments in all, 5 days a week for 6 1/2 weeks. Had to get fitted for a mold of my upper body that I have to lay in during radiation treatments. The techs tattooed 5 dots (Woo Hoo, my first tattoo!) on my chest and breast area where the radiation will enter. So I lay in this thing with my arms pulled back behind my head while while this machine closes in on my chest and zaps me 4 times with radiation, probably takes about 10 minutes if that for each treatment and so far I don’t feel a thing nor does it hurt. You can’t have any modesty with these radiation sessions, you dress and undress daily from the waist up in front of 3 radiation techs and while you laying there, they use a marker to draw lines on my chest and a cross on the nipple to line up where the radiation shoots, and to top it off I’m still laying with my arms behind head and bald (they make me take off my bandana) while one of the techs is taking pics of me with their digital camera for the “file” to make sure the measurements are lining up. Visit with the doctor weekly and more blood work.

    After 3 weeks into the radiation, I have one tan boob! I have to keep the skin protected with Aloe Vera gel daily. I can expect some burning of the skin as the sessions go on. There’s one thing I learned from my radiation oncologist that’s kinda scary that I wish I was informed in the beginning is that the radiation can cause a 2nd cancer in the breast and since the radiation scans over my heart and lungs that I can develop complications like congested heart failure or emphysema that can take decades to show up.
    I do have hair growing back now with a mix of gray that I didn’t have as much before. Eyebrows and lashes are filling in. fingernails growing out pink again.
    I feel pretty good, feeling the fatigue and only 11 more rad. treatments left – I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Many thanks to all of you that have been so supportive and giving me the encouragement and strength to fight even harder. Peace, Love and Friendship – Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

    4/2/2010- Finished radiation treatments and am now considered cancer free, Woo Hoo! Now, just a lot of follow up visits and an outpatient surgery to get my port removed from my chest. Thank you friends for seeing me through my journey, very much appreciated – Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan 86′

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