Done with Treatment

Monday was a big day although it felt quite surreal.  I had my last Herceptin treatment and what I hope to be my last experience in a chemo or infusion room.  I started Herceptin a year ago with my very first chemo treatment and have been doing it every 3 weeks since.  For those just joining, Herceptin is an antibody that has proven to help minimize recurrence in HER2 Nu (a protein) positive breast cancer patients – which I was or am.  So we hope the research is accurate and that it works!

Monday morning before my treatment, I met with my Oncologist to check-in and to talk about the “game plan” from here.  To start, I have an echo cardiogram on Monday.  They still want to watch my heart post-Herceptin.  I might have to do one more in 3 to 6 months.  I also have a CT scan scheduled for Thursday.  You may recall that they found a small nodule on my lung that we are watching.  So they are doing another CT scan (this will be my 3rd one in a year) and hopefully we learn nothing has changed.  After those couple of tests, assuming all is well, we move on to “follow-up care”.

I’m learning quickly that there is no concrete answer to “how do we manage or lower the risk of recurrence?”  We talked about some guidelines provided by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.  (1) To start, I will meet with the Oncologist every 3 months, than eventually every 6 months, and then at some point it will move to annually.  (2) Mammograms are another test we talked about, but since I have had a double mastectomy, annual mammograms are not necessary or effective.  I don’t have any breast tissue!  Side note, kind of weird I had my first and last mammogram all in one.  (3) I am on Tamoxifen for 5 years (at least).  Tamoxifen is a pill I take everyday and supposed to help hormone positive breast cancer patients (of which I am) to minimize breast cancer recurrence.

So, here’s the scary thing to me.  (4) The way we primarily manage recurrence is by symptoms.  Most breast cancer recurrences are discovered by patients between doctor’s visits.  My Oncologist listed the symptoms for me to be watching for.  Really!?  My comment to her was that is seems so reactive vs. proactive.  She agreed.  Unfortunately, it’s the harsh reality of the situation.  I keep thinking about the fact that I didn’t have symptoms in the first place.  I hate to wonder what stage cancer I would have if  I have a symptom.

In my case, after a double mastectomy, the chance of recurrence of breast cancer in my breast is minimal.  But did you know breast cancer can recur in your bones, lungs or liver?  That’s what is scary to me.

So while I am digesting my “follow-up plan” I am gearing up for surgery on Monday, April 23rd.  By the end of that day, I will be “put back together.”  And then I recover, work my “follow-up” plan, and move on.

Ladies – Are you up-to-date with your annual exams?  If not, make those appointments now!

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Great news! Miss you!

    Andrea

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