Some better news
After much waiting during the day, my oncologist finally called. He said that next time I should go about my day normally, and if I miss his call he will call back – he makes sure he gets everyone who is scheduled for a phone consult. That is good to know.
We talked about next steps, but there isn’t really much to report. My heart scan was good, so I will have my next Herceptin (trastuzumab) infusion today. This will be number five. Before the nine one, I’ll have another heart scan and then will talk again with my oncologist. At that point we will start talking about hormone therapy, since my cancer was also hormone positive (just not as highly positive as before).
That timing allows me to heal from radiation before doing anything else. Since I’m on trastuzumab for a year, he is encouraging us to take this one step at a time. There is no rush – so I can heal from one thing before adding another. The first time I went through this, I jumped onto hormone therapy too early – I had not yet healed from surgery – such that I could not tell the cause of my various symptoms. So this time, it will be one step at a time.
I’m not feeling worried about it. I’m just happy to be feeling as well as I do now, and plan to take advantage of three weeks in Halifax for radiation to explore the city and different parts of our province. We even bought tickets for a concert – a tribute to Gordon Lightfoot with JP Cormier and the Nova Scotia Symphony. We will need to stay an extra night in Halifax to see it – as it is a Friday night concert – but well worth it. It will be a late birthday present for me.
After cycle 9 of trastuzumab we will begin trying an AI called Letrozole. I didn’t try that one last time, so hopefully this one will be nicer to me. I’ve also been in menopause for a while now, so it should be easier on my system than the last time I tried an AI – where I needed an ovarian blocker first. I do hope that it works out better this time.
After we figure out the AI, then we will talk more about Zometa – which is a bone builder. It has some pretty harsh side effects but it also protects against bone metastasis.
At the end of the call, I asked him for a prognosis. His words were interesting – starting by staying, it depends on whether the cancer comes back (well ya, no kidding). But his best guess number was around a 15-20% chance of it coming back. That is much nicer number than 50%. In part, his attributes this number to the chemo, trastuzumab, radiation, and hormone therapy. That is, we are doing a lot to help bring that number down from 50% to the 15-20%.
For now, it is one step at a time. I’ll be in treatment until next fall – when I finish the one year of trastuzumab. Hopefully by then I’ll be stable on some kind of hormone therapy. That will be at least five years – but there is no point in looking that far forward at this time. As I’ve learned, a lot can happen after active treatment to change the longer term trajectory.
I’m still sticking to my plan to make this a good summer – after five years of working on Treehouse, at times more than full time, we are both ready for a break. We had talked about taking time over the summer after I finished my PhD – but then cancer happened, so that break never happened. We need it now more than ever.