The calm and then the storm
Yesterday was one of those calm then stormy days. It began with a breakfast meeting with a new friend, whom I met through the social network myBCTeam.com. It turns out that we have a lot in common, and I think we would find ourselves as friend regardless of the cancer connection. She has a wealth of knowledge around breast cancer and resources available, which I’m sure will prove to be very helpful. I never thought that having breast cancer would be the thing that made it easier for us to meet people in California.
I had not heard anything from Stanford until the afternoon. Then I got a call from interventional radiology. These are the folks that place the port. I now have that booked for Thursday. They use twilight sedation, similar to what they do with cataract surgery. They use a small incision (exactly what small means is definitely relative) to place a port directly into the vein. The port lives under the skin, so once the incision is healed I can swim and shower/bath without worry.
Shortly thereafter I had a call from my oncologist (MO). He suggested that I could start chemo as early as Thursday – right after the port is placed. His call had woken me up from a pretty sound nap, so I was not even sure how to answer. I had to first answer the question of ‘which chemo’. I decided on AC-T. I had a gut feel about that one from the beginning. The MO said it was the one that about 80% of women who need chemo for hormone positive breast cancer get (this means they understand the side effects and how to treat them). Also, shortly after making that decision, my second oncologist confirmed that is the one she would recommend. So, I’ve heard from multiple sources that it is the right choice – and it feels like the right choice. So, both quantitative me and qualitative me agree on this one.
I decided that I will not start chemo on Thursday even if it is an option (it still needs to clear insurance). It is all too fast, and I need to be mentally and physically prepared. Mostly, I need to ensure I’m well hydrated for a couple of days before and the placing of the port with twilight sedation means fasting prior to – so pretty the opposite of what my body needs.
So, if I start on Monday it will go something like this (assuming there are no issues that cause breaks):
June 30 – AC
July 14 – AC (on this regime, hair typically falls out after second treatment, grows back during T)
July 28 – AC
Aug 11 – AC
Aug 25 – T weekly for 12 weeks (until November 10)
Some people are completely tired/fatigued during chemo. Others continue to work throughout. Apparently getting regular exercise helps to reduce the side effects, so I shall be trying to get out for walks and regular bike rides although perhaps not climbing too many mountains. Fortunately the paths near here are pretty flat. If my balance goes, we’ll look into renting or buying a used trike … we’ll make this happen!
After that, there is a break for recovery before surgery. We are thinking a week or two on the big island in Hawaii! Last time we went to the Big Island (in 2006) we wanted to rent a VW camper van, but couldn’t because our Canadian car insurance would only cover continental US and we couldn’t find anyplace to buy insurance. Now that we have US car insurance, we’ll look into that option again.