When my surgeon said, the surgery was the easy part, he wasn’t kidding! I feel like I am always going to the doctors.
So I see the radiation oncologist first. Nice interview, lots of information, brought a friend for that second pair of ears. We had discussions on the length of time in treatment– everyday! One of my questions included what if I need to miss a day. They will add it on at the end. They want to do the bulk of treatments back to back to get the desired effect. They did a physical exam of my breast. Doctor said it is still swollen but that won’t make a difference yet. They will ‘map’ me as I get closer to the time of treatment. The ‘mapping’ process will include CT of breast/chest, original tumor location, so they know density and relationship to rib cage. He did say I would get to update him once I visited the medical oncologist, as it looked like, in addition to estrogen/progesterone positive, I was Hers2 but that was simply injections every three weeks of Herceptin. Ok, well that no big deal! Let me go do more research on that Hers2 receptor site!!
Medical Oncologist visit. Well, now here is the surprise. We discussed factors used to determine the Hers2 and I am 3+ Oh my gosh! So this not only means Herceptin – IV, not a ‘shot’ as I was originally told, but six chemo blasts to improve the outcome and decrease chances of more cancer someplace else in my body. I need to have a ‘port’ surgically implanted. This will prevent all my veins being blown with all the IV chemo, pre-meds and such. Plus, I need an echo-cardiogram, (every three months) as the Herceptin has a chance of causing heart failure. Really ??? I guess I am buying quite the ‘insurance’ plan to make sure I come away as clean as my surgery had been. I know I am not looking forward to this.
The port is placed two weeks later. Pretty easy in and out surgery. Sets along top of ribcage. Lots of swelling and some redness. My fear, infection. But there was nothing present. However, first chemo, nurses couldn’t access port. Too swollen. SO, burned through three veins that day. Plus, I was there over six hours. Thank goodness I don’t have to return for 3 week. In between, I go to see the oncologist, to make sure I am doing okay.
Next chemo/Herceptin boost, the port is accessed. This makes life so much easier! Everyone should do this if you are getting more than a couple treatments. The Herceptin will continue until end of next February. Here I have really not been sick in my life, now doctors, nurses, infusions, blood draws, something all the time.
First two days post chemo, due to steroids I am in great form. Lots of energy, getting many of things done. However, day three, not only do I crash down in energy but the bone pain in all my joints is excruciating! The post op lumpectomy pain didn’t hurt like this. Plus, I have numbness and tingling and burning in my feet and some of my fingers. When I call on Monday, they said, oh, gee, this is a little early for that kind of reaction. That usually happens at the end. Well, isn’t that special.
Next oncologist visit, he changes some of pre-meds (steroids) to also be post chemo too to help with bone pain. The we will ‘watch’ the numbness in hand and feet. What has happened. Surgery was so simple. And this will take me through June. I will be traveling around my infusion schedule, for board meetings and speaking engagements. I will do all best efforts to stay healthy!
Next, the ongoing saga of how things change with each chemo blast.
Question, thoughts, conversation, call Linda at 310-831-4400