Ten hours, 2 oncologists, 2 hospitals, 1 IV infusion of Zometa, one blood draw1, one knock-down drag-out fight with insurance, and first 4 chemo pills taken. That was today.
I don’t feel well enough to write out everything, but I do want to do a quick update because I know so many are wondering and I can’t address all of the messages individually.
My brain MRI came back clear. I found out when I was in my meeting at Sloan Kettering. Tears of relief.
After a two hour chat with my oncologist there I made some treatment options.
I will do monthly infusions of Zometa to strengthen my bones. Side effects have started already from this and are worst on the first dose. Flu-like symptoms including bone pain, fever, joint pain, etc. should sideline me for the weekend.
My chemo regimen will start with Xeloda. It’s an oral chemo, in which I take 4 pills in the morning and 4 at night. I do this for 7 days. Then I get a week off. Usually days #5-10 are the worst for side effects. Fatigue will be bad. I will not lose my hair.
I will do these two things and we will do bloodwork at one month to check my tumor markers (CA 15-3 and CA 27.29). They may not go down right away even if the chemo is working. It may take another month or two to see that. Also, there is a mechanism by which when you start attacking cancer it may temporarily make the tumor markers go up. So, you can’t put stock in the first month’s blood levels. I happen to be one of the 2/3 of patients who actually show elevated tumor markers during a metastasis. In 1/3 of cases, patients with metastatic breast cancer will not have elevated levels. So bloodwork will be one tool I can use to monitor this process.
My ribs can’t heal until the cancer is reduced. But the Zometa may help with the pain.
I will have a repeat PET scan in 8-12 weeks, probably 8. We’ll see if the cancer seems to be holding steady or even shrinking. Again, holding steady would be enough to continue on the regimen I’m on.
It’s mindblowing that the rest of my life will be spent on some form of chemo. I’m coming to terms with that. It still scares the crap out of me.
But, I have a plan and I’m going to do what I can to be strong.
I’m tired and dizzy and worn out. But I do appreciate all of your messages and love. It matters.
I hope this gives everyone an overview. I’ll try to address questions at a later time.
- during which the phlebotomist told me that “you’re only given what you can handle.” If I hadn’t had a needle in my hand I would have punched her… [↩]