Friday, August 21, 2009

Finally! We have my Oncologist, a Plan, and a Schedule

I got to meet my Oncologist today!! From the moment that we (Mom and I) entered the facility I knew we were in great hands. Even that lady at the desk that greets you with the 2000 pages of forms to fill out was delightful and answered questions with pleasure. ( I only had 2...) After my hospital stay, I thought I might have entered The Twilight Zone. They didn't even have that rude little window to slam or the clipboard with stickers you sign! From there I met Gayle who will be taking my blood for the next year. She's a 17 year survivor who doesn't shake hands because she hugs you instead and had to come out to meet Mom as well. Then we got to meet the nurse. She's was not my doctor's usual nurse (who had the day off) but very nice all the same.

Side story: My "real" nurse, Sharon, who had the day off probably already thinks I'm crazy because when she told me on Tuesday that the next available appointment was Monday the 24th, I cracked in half on the phone and bawled my eyes out instantaneously complete with the single mom story. See, I'm trying very hard not to miss any more work than I already have to and Monday is my return to work date. Well, she worked some miracle for the basket case on the phone (that's me) because she called the next day with a miracle appointment for this afternoon. Yeah, Sharon! You deserved the day off! Can't wait to meet you! I'm sure you're not as excited...

So, back to the real story...We have a plan! I got to meet my wonderful doc who is exactly what I needed and had told Mom I was looking for in my Oncologist. He's definitely older than me, but NOT at all "old". He's is up on all the latest research and advancements. He's analytical to the point that I want to interrupt every sentence and that means he's thorough. He also seems to have the patience of a saint. That's a requirement to work with me in this situation. If you know me, you know why. If you don't, it's because I can ask more questions than anyone you've ever met and want to understand everything completely. That frustrates many...But, once I have my questions answered, I make BIG decisions quickly. So, after a 3 hour appointment, I made all decisions in 4 minutes.

So, here goes: I am going to have 6 rounds of "normal" breast cancer chemo every three weeks. That's two drugs called Carboplatin and Taxotere. These are the barf and bald cocktail to be completed January 8th. They're also proven effective. Now, since I have this HER2 quite aggressive type of cancer (overachieving at behaving badly once more), I also get Herceptin at the same time. This is a miracle drug. It just happens to treat this super aggressive stuff with such effectiveness that it cuts my recurrence rate in 1/2 from chemo and surgery alone! I get it for a year every three weeks and it doesn't have the bald/barf side effects. How cool is that?? So, my aggressive type is really a blessing, kind of like this cancer is in general.

But, I'm also qualified to participate in a clinical trial for a 4th drug with even less side effects!! It only has one that truly affects me. There's no data on how it works with Stage 1 or 2. That's what we trial folks are for... But, in Stage 4 people it cuts tumor size by 25-50%. It's called Avastin. So, in other words, it could make my great numbers even better! Only 50% of those accepted will get it, but the study is not blind. So, if you don't get it, you still get everything you were going to get anyway and you know you're not getting it. No placebo. The only downside to it is that it, like Herceptin, will be for one year. But, with this one my final reconstruction surgery can't be preformed until 1-2 months after the treatment is done. That's the only bad side effect. That delays my "final product" from the plastic surgeon by about 5 months....October 2010-ish. Mom had a hard time with this. She just wants her daughter whole again. Oddly enough, I'm really not missing the girls that much. I still get to blow up the tissue expanders in the mean time. So, I'll have my normal size before then anyway. Besides, some other women did the same thing for me just a few short years ago to test the Herceptin. So, I get to help others whether I get the drug or not.

Now, I'm putting it in God's hands. If it will help me and I'm supposed to get it, I'll get it. He will see to it. If not, I get recreated by the plastic surgeon in the spring as planned. How is that a bad deal? There's no downside. (Remind me to tell you all of the pros and cons of having an unbelieveably HOT plastic surgeon some other time...)

So, like all things I do, I'm diving in head first in the hopes of receiving 4 bad-to-the-bone drugs at once. If not, I still get three. Plus, supposedly they have drugs now that can keep even me from barfing all the time. That's hard to believe. (I got sick 2 weeks ago from taking my multivitamin on an empty stomach.) I do have a lot of "driving the porcelain bus time" from in my younger stupid days of much too much alcohol. But, don't think that's exactly the same as on the job chemo training....I'll let you know if it helps.

One, last thing...they even met all of my "demands" without me brandishing any weapons at all. So, I got to tell them when I had mapped out the chemo dates around my work obligations for the next 6 months and they agreed to every one! You should have seen their faces when I pulled out the every 3 week schedule that I had created before I left work for surgery. I do my homework! It's already on my calendar there, now it's on the doctor's as well. We kick things off on Friday, September 25th. Just got to get through a little complete body CT scan and bone scan until then. It's been a truly great day.

Thank you, Jesus for my many, many blessings that you reveal to me on a daily basis. You have given me everything I need to get through this, and I am so very grateful.


Frank said...

Can't wait to see you tomorrow. We've got lots to do.

kitykity said...

I kind of glaze when you "go medical" on me... lol... I'm definitely not the medic type... but I know how much it comforts you to know everything that's coming and have a hold of the reins. Rock on. :)

Anonymous said...


You sound so completely positive about your treatment. It is the best feeling to have a plan in place...especially if you're a planner by nature. So glad you found THE oncologist. He's your partner in saving your life, for the rest of your life. Love your blog!!

Love and prayers,
Annette (from LGFB)


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