Navigating the Side Effects of Trastuzumab: Finding Balance and Embracing Summer

I’m more than half way through my Trastuzumab (Herceptin) treatments – I’ve actually lost count. I think I might be 10 out of 18. Anyways, I realize that I’m have side effects from it. It is causing fatigue and making my joints ache. The side effects last just shy of a week and then I’m generally fine until the next time.

I was told that there would likely be “no side effects”. I think this is said because the side effects are minor compared to the chemotherapy. If you don’t lose your hair, have nausea, or mouth sores, then the side effects don’t seem to matter – except that they do.

I got tired of the side effects every three weeks. I asked my doctor to change the schedule to every four weeks – at least for the summer. I am hoping the longer time between infusions reduces the side effects as my body has more time to heal. It also makes my travel plans work out a lot better. It gives me a week at home after each treatment, so I can enjoy my travels without the fatigue and joint pain.

After my last infusion – on a Wednesday at 2pm – I ended up sleeping most of the following day. I got up and had half a cup of coffee and realized I was too tired to do anything, so I went back to bed. I didn’t wake up until 12:30 when my phone was ringing. I went through ‘bouts of energy followed by hits of fatigue. It is frustrating.

I am not out of shape, which is good. When I’m feeling well I can swim 1km and I biked 17km on my recumbent the other day.

With the heat, the summer has started here. For me, I think summer will officially start on Monday evening when we fly to Iceland.

Some things I’m hoping to do this summer:

  • Ride my recumbent to Mahone Bay and back (around 50km). I’ve done it on my eBike, but that is very different and a lot less work!
  • Stand up paddle board at least 10 times.
  • Swim in the Ocean (really swim, not just wade).
  • Boogie board – I’ll need to borrow one.
  • Do a 15km or longer hike (this is a stretch goal).

Things that I already have planned:

  • Drive around and explore Iceland.
  • Visit Cape Breton (hike and visit friends).
  • StanFest
  • Folk Harbour Fest

Oh ya, and I need to prepare my courses for the fall, as I’ll be teaching again – but in a new Learning Management System and AI has definitely affected on of my courses!

What special things do you have planned for the summer? What is on your bucket list?

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