Good bye Port

I finished the Herceptin infusions at the end of May, had a mammogram in May, plus an ultrasound. The staff said the mammogram looked good, as did the radiology center’s doctor.
Then I had an ultrasound a couple of weeks later. I was told the results would be sent to the oncology doctor within a week. Well, she phoned me just the other day to ask about the ultrasound that I was supposed to have! She had not received the results!

I haven’t heard back from Dr. S. so I hope that the results are indeed alright.

Also in May was one last MUGAscan as well as the port removal. I had no IV, and it was removed under local anesthetic. It took only about 15 minutes to remove and then I was sent to recovery for just over an hour, then came home. The stitches are dissolving, so no need to return to the doctor for that.

Here are photos of the port in place. I actually thought to take these photos so maybe my ‘chemo brain’ memory is getting better.

 

Port shown under skin.

Port shown under skin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am pleased that it served its purpose and is now out.

You can read more about ports at the Bard site (they made the port I had)

http://bardaccess.com/products.php

and at the Canadian Cancer Society’s site on this page

http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/diagnosis-and-treatment/tests-and-procedures/subcutaneous-port/?region=ab

I continue on the Tamoxifen with some night sweats and hot flashes, occasionally. The doctor said good, that shows the pills are working! She says the symptoms may lessen over time. She doesn’t want to prescribe anything to control it at this time. Some women apparently have 5 night sweats a night, so I am not doing that at least.

 

 

Update

I cannot believe a whole month has passed since I last posted! February was a very busy month, with a MugaScan, oncologist appointment and two infusions of Herceptin. I was at my preferred center for this MugaScan. The staff are nice and seem to be more self-assured than at the center where the vein collapsed.

The oncologist said that my heart is okay. In May, she will order another MugaScan – the last one! Then in May, the final Herceptin infusion.

I finally thought to ask her what stage was the breast cancer, when I was diagnosed. It was at Stage 1.

She gave me a prescription for Tamoxifen, and seemed rather surprised that I wasn’t *already on it*. Don’t know when I was supposed to be started on it. I am on 20 mg per day, and with a meal. She says some people get nauseous so food with the pill is recommended. I’ve had no side effects so far. Some of them can be quite scary. I will be taking it for five years.

She also said that 3 hours of exercise per week is best. Or more. She did not know why, at the information session, the leader had said to exercise 3 times per week, for 30 minutes, no more and no less. So I have the go ahead to use my treadmill and weight machine more often. I am glad, as I’ve been putting on some weight. The increased exercise should help with that.

I have just one Herceptin infusion in March, two in April and that last one in May. I also have a mammogram booked in May, the first since all this started last year.

It has been a long time, with so many appointments, and I will be looking forward to summer, and some free time.

 

All is Well

…at least as far as the port goes. I was starting to obsess about “Will the port work okay” and “Will I have to have the infusion done in my arm instead?” Turned out that the port is functioning just fine. This was the number 12, and 5 more to go. I keep a hand written calendar note and mark off each treatment with a bright hiliter color.

The next appointments are for very late in the day, so when I create menus for those weeks – I make a menu one week at a time always – I plan to have easy-to-fix meals on those days. This is one suggestion for anyone undergoing chemotherapy or Herceptin infusions. It is important to eat well, and by having fast and simple meals on  the treatment days, you can do that.

 

Head Shave! and Chemo Cycle 2

So last Wednesday, Day 16 since the first chemotherapy treatment I went to the salon that specializes in products and services for cancer patients.

I had a free head shave, which was a real relief for the scalp. The day before, when I shampooed my hair, it hurt down at the roots, so I am truly glad to have it gone right now.

The stylist then trimmed my new blond wig, and showed me how to put it on, as well as giving instructions on the care of the wig. I chose a synthetic wig and find it is just a real looking as a real hair wig. It was rather expensive, yes, but our health plan will cover some of the costs. And I can wear it when my own hair grows back.

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On Friday I had a blood test so that the doctor would know if my platelets were back up, so I could have chemotherapy again on Monday. They were. She gave me a new prescription for the numbness I had felt in both arms right after the first treatment, and said it should also help with the back pain. These are unusual symptoms, she said, but they can occur.

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This Monday, June 17th I had the second  chemotherapy IV, this time with Herceptin added. It took 5 hours total. The Herceptin was injected slowly, over 90 minutes, since it was the first time, and then there was a hour wait for any side effects or complications to occur. That was followed by the other two drugs, Docataxel and Cyclophosphamide.

I feel fine today. Must drink 3 liters of water per day, to help flush out the drugs. And of course, I am again taking the Decadron (dexamethasone), Zofran (mylan ondansetron) and Metoclopramide.

I am ready for days 3 to 5 when symptoms are the worst. I have learned that days 10 to 14 are when the platelets are lowest and that is when one must be careful of developing a fever (an emergency) and of exposure to germs etc.

That’s it for this time! Thanks for reading and thank you for the kind wishes from so many of you.

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The Next Two Weeks Are Booked….

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Now things begin to get hectic for a bit.

On Monday, I am booked for a MUGA scan (heart scan).  I’ve been told it will take about two hours. It will be repeated every 3 months, since Herceptin may cause heart problems.

On Wednesday they will be inserting the port. It will take 60 minutes, followed by 2 hours in Recovery.

On Friday, I need to have everyday prescriptions renewed so that means a visit to the family doctor. In the afternoon, I have an appointment at a shop and spa which specializes in cancer patients. I will be fitted for, and purchase a wig. Our health care plan covers part of the cost. The salon also sells eyebrow kits, which I think is a great idea. If I am going to lose my eyebrows, may as well have a solution to that too.

The following week is a chemotherapy information class, and another appointment with the medical oncologist. She told me, at the first appointment, that I will get medications prescribed for nausea (and pain as well, I think).

Then – May 27th is the “Big Day”. The first of the 4 chemotherapy treatments.

And guess what? In the past few days, I’ve been working on getting a desktop computer ready to take to my retired mother-in-law. She’s been using a laptop which is too old to run her favorite email software, so I refurbished my old, old desktop computer for her. So this means an hour long drive one way, to deliver it to her. It will be good, though, to get away, and just visit for a while, before ‘it’ all starts.

 

 

Treatment Plan

Met with the medical oncologist on Monday morning. She has outlined the treatment plan as follows:

4 doses of two chemotherapy drugs, Docataxel and Cyclophosphamide.  They will be given every 3 weeks. At the second dose, Herceptin will be added.  I will continue with Herceptin for a total of 17 treatments, every 3 weeks.After that, pills, for a few years.

The risk of recurrence is 10% after 10 years with the treatment.

There are many appointments and procedures to go through now, prior to beginning the chemotherapy on May 27th. There will be a heart test, which will be done every 3 months, lab work and placement of a port. There is a free chemotherapy information class to attend as well.