I Hope I Won’t See You Again!

The shoulder xrays were okay. In fact, the family doctor said I have a very good shoulder compared to many my age. (I am 63). It feels better and is getting better all the time. So not cancer. Whew!

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Yesterday I had a one o’clock appointment with my oncologist. We were told to arrive 20 minutes early, because of the lack of parking. A new cancer center is being built on the land next to the existing building, in the place of the parking lot. We had to park a long way from the cancer center doors.

It is winter and the walk was a bit chilly. Arrived early, of course, and since we are moving next month, I decided to change my address with the center. That killed a few minutes, as it meant an elevator ride back up to the main reception area and then back down again.

We waited to about a half hour past the appointment time. The nurse called me at last. As always, she checked my weight and took my blood pressure and heart rate measurements. Then she left, with a cheery “The doctor will be with you shortly.”

Waited. Waited some more. At last, at two o’clock the same nurse popped her head in to say that the doctor had got involved in a serious discussion, and would be in soon. She apologized and closed the door. Ten minutes went by, then fifteen.

Finally, the oncologist came in. She said that my August mammogram was fine and that she would turn me over to my family doctor from now on. She asked if I had any questions. I did not. I couldn’t think of anything.

Then she shook my hand, and said, “I hope that I don’t see you again!” And she laughed. So did I.

That done, she left the room and I put on my hat and coat and gloves and we left the building.

What a nice Christmas present.

I will continue to receive my anastrozole (Armidex) from the cancer center pharmacy, at no charge. It will be my family doctor who prescribes it rather than the oncologist.

I will have annual mammograms, so the next one will be in August 2017.

I can concentrate on the holidays, and on getting moved to our new home in January.

I suppose I can say that my journey through breast cancer is done. It is over. A tiny voice whispers in my ear, “For a while. Don’t be too hopeful.” I will ignore that voice. It is time to celebrate love and life and laughter.  And good health.

I have read over my posts since the cancer was first discovered. I think that cancer has changed me, and that it changes everyone it touches. In my case, I believe that I have come to maturity, not just in years, but in my attitude toward life. It is important for me to do things rather than have feelings of fear or regret.

I have hobbies and interests that keep my mind active. I am lucky to have a supportive family. I wish that for all of my readers as well.

For those of you who have been diagnosed HER2, I say that there is hope. Don’t give in to the little voice that says, “You are going to die!”

Be strong and you can get through this.

 

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I Needed a Rest

I am back, after completing the fourth and final chemotherapy treatment and then the 16 doses of radiation.

Now it’s Herceptin infusions continuing, every three weeks, through May 2014. And a MUGAscan every three months, (the next in February 2014) followed by a check with the oncologist.

I could have posted here sooner. While the fourth dose of chemotherapy made me feel terrible, the radiation was simple, and I felt okay. I was just tired of the subject. You know, every time I turned around there was  someone talking about cancer. I got sick of it.

After the chemo was done,  my hair started to grow back and I was no longer bald after about 5 weeks. I can now go without a wig or hat and not feel too self-conscious. The hair is the same color it was before the chemotherapy, but it is wavier that before – I had some natural wave prior.

My worst symptom after chemo is this – breaking and soft fingernails. I could see the white lines on the nails, caused by each of the four chemos. Finally, after five months, my nails are nearly grown out and no longer show any white. I hope from here on they will grow and not break. I bought some nail strengthener and have used that with some success. And non-acetone nail enamel remover.

The radiation was okay. Here is how each day was:

I arrived at the cancer center and took the elevator to the radiation floor. I put my appointment sheet in the holder on the wall, effectively “checking in”. Then I went to the change room, put my clothes in the bag I brought in each day, and put on a nightgown and robe. Then I went to to the waiting area. I rarely had to wait more than a very few minutes before I would be called in. This made the whole experience must less stressful, since it was daily, Monday through Friday. I was taken to the room where a narrow cot was placed just under a large machine. The staff brought a warm blanket. I removed my robe, and lay down, removing the nightgown so the breast was exposed. The staff put the warmed blanket around my arms, which I had now put up above my head, grasping at two handles to stay steady on the little table/bed.

Then the staff left the room. The machine swung up and over and then emitted a little sound. After a moment, it moved up and around to the other side, and again made a sound. Then it resumed it’s normal position above my head, and the staff returned. I was all done!

Once every seven days, the staff had to take some readings, and this took a couple of minutes extra.

I had to lay down every day, for a total of one hour, with the breast exposed to air. And I had to use Glaxal Base often. The staff said 5 or 6 times per day. I slathered it on, and had only a tiny bit of redness on the skin.

It was not too bad at all. The staff helped a lot with their kindness. I was never self-conscious with any of them, either male or female, during the procedures.

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.

An Appointment Booked

I received a telephone call this afternoon, with an appointment booking for next Tuesday, March 19, in the morning. This is at the Women’s Health Centre.
The staff with whom I spoke told me that they will discuss everything with me at that time.
I am so very, very grateful to be able to get this appointment so quickly.

I did not sleep well this past Monday night [the night after my family doctor called to give me the test results]. I woke at 4 am and couldn’t get back to sleep again until about 6 am.
Last night was a little better. I did wake, but managed to *not think about* the cancer, to stop obsessing about it.

I have never known anyone who has had cancer, except my husband’s grandmother, and she lived through many surgeries and many years, living to age 83.

This is all new territory for me. I hope that my experiences will help my readers in their exploration of this topic too. Let’s learn together.