Sunday, September 18, 2011

Treatments Starting Again...

The phone rang on Friday as I was piled in a car with 6 other gals. We were on our way to our annual Ladies of Legacy retreat in Gatlinburg. It was supposed to be a glorious 4 days away with a total of 29 women in a massive cabin. We hadn't seen each other since last September, but back to the phone call...I answered with a very happy "hello" as we gals were having a great time chatting it up. And then everything in the background sort of went "away" and all I heard was "Dr. Mayer needs to see you Tuesday about the Tykerb that you took." If you don't remember, Tykerb was the trial drug I was on for the aggressive part of my breast cancer. It is FDA approved in stage 4 breast cancer and they were testing it to see if it was as effective in stage 3,2, and 1 breast cancers also. David and I were told that all of the research to date pointed to Tykerb actually being shown as effective if not better than the standard drug (Herceptin) that oncologists were currently using. I agreed to the trial knowing that it would benefit someone in the future...possibly even my own daughter. There were 4 different "arms" of the trial I could be chosen for and I happened to be chosen to recieve the Tykerb only arm. Unfortunately, research has now shown that Tykerb is NOT working as they originally had hoped it would and that more people who took that drug are getting recurrences and are dying of breast cancer than those who got the Herceptin.
So, what does this mean for me? It means that I will start a form of chemo on Tuesday...the Herceptin...the standard drug for aggressive cancer. I will more than likely have a small surgery in the next few weeks to get another porta-cath put in (permanent IV) to get my treatments through. This first treatment on Tuesday they will just try to find a good vein and give it through a regular IV. This treatment will be given every 3 weeks for 1 full year. As far as side effects go, they are the same as with any chemo except this one will not cause hair loss. Nausea, vomiting, fever, low blood counts, achiness, fatigue, etc...are to be expected and are normal.

How do I feel about all of this news? Shocked is the first word that comes to mind. And then as the shock has had time to settle, gratitude, excitement, nervousness, and sadness have seeped in at different times.
Gratitude that there is another medicine that I can take for this!!!! I am so thankful that it's not too late to do anything. Tykerb was supposed to cut my chances of recurrence by 50% or more and Herceptin will cut it by 50%. I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity to take a different drug!
Excitement that God has chosen me again to be His vessel. I really don't think this is about the cancer, but about WHO I will come into contact with during this upcoming year and how I can bring a ray of hope into their life. 
Nervousness because of the side effects, and infusion reactions that I may experience. Nervous of going through treatment again but not having Kate there. Anxious because every single time I go I still just get high anxiety if I am there too long...I know that's just a mental thing, but it's still very real to me. And...I will be there approximately 4-5 hours each time.
Sadness because I don't want to have those yucky chemo side effects again. I don't want my sweet babies to see mommy sick and start asking questions. I don't want any added stress to David. I'm most sad though because we have had the most amazing 9 months of health, happiness, and joy and now this is happening. I feel like a scratched up CD...the song is playing beautifully and then it gets stuck and just keeps spinning around while not going on to the next lyric. It's unexpected, it's disappointing, but there is hope. You can either clean the CD and try again, or put in a whole new CD and sing a new song. Either way can result in joy. I think it's all about perspective...

I hope to get more detail from my oncologist on Tuesday and I will update as we go along this new journey. 

4 comments:

  1. Praying for you Kelly. You're amazing and I am inspired by your love and faith. Thank you for sharing your journey on this blog. I'm going to follow it.

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  2. I go in the morning for my #11 Herceptin infusion. The reactions are NOT like chemo. Really!

    I did Taxotere and Carboplatin along with the Herceptin for 6 rounds. I finished that in June.

    Herceptin alone is easy. It only takes an hour. The first dose is a loading dose and will take longer...they watch for reactions and such. But the treatments after that are quick.

    I never had a port - even through chemo. But I have (had?) good veins.

    I feel a little puny - like I have the flu coming on - for a few days after Herceptin but nothing too bad. For the most part, I feel good. :)

    Prayers being said for you. You've already done the "hard stuff" - Herceptin is the easy part.

    Christy (Stage IIb with node involvement, ER+/PR+ HER2+)

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  3. Sally (Helen's sister)September 23, 2011 at 7:12 AM

    So sorry to hear this...but your attitude is fantastic! We will walk and pray with you through this again...just keep us posted with your progress. Wish we lived closer so I could help you with your precious babies...let friends help you as much as they can...don't turn down any help of any kind! They will be there for you once again, I am sure. Do only what is necessary and possible and let God take care of everything else!

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  4. I am so glad you found my blog, because it let me to YOU! Your strength and attitude is something to be admired, and I loved your scratched CD comparison. You will be in my thoughts and prayers {you and your entire family}, and I cannot wait to follow this journey with you. Happy October!

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