Monday, July 6, 2009

Herceptin Day: T Minus 9 and Counting

So today we continued the happy trend of counting down treatment days, which is way much more fun than counting up to some big number staring you down. There is a wake of chemo cocktails behind, anticipation of being done with cancer ahead, and the momentum is finally on my side. I could say it's like a snowball effect, but I don't really enjoy the cold, so I won't. And I feel too lazy to come up with a better metaphor.

Speaking of cold, my oncologist did a blood test to check on my thyroid because my thermostat is having some issues. It's probably just a side effect of the chemo, but previously my dial only read cold, goosebumps, teeth chattering, and somewhere in between defrost and thaw. Chemo has added melt to the mix. An especially weird sensation when the signals are mixed and my face is hot, I have goosebumps on my arms and can't get warm, and my hands are hot and sweaty while my feet are cold and clammy.

I have a Muga scan scheduled for Monday, just to keep tabs on my heart and make sure it is taking the Herceptin ok. It's just normal procedure to get one every three months while on Herceptin. If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you also know that I will be radioactive with a chance of superpowers for a few days next week. That means I will have to struggle with the temptation of purposefully setting off metal detectors in airports and courtrooms, just so I can whip out my card that says I am radioactive. With a chance of superpowers. Just one of the perks.

In case you were wondering what we do the whole time I am hooked up to my cocktail. Well, it's pretty exciting, really. Today Dave calculated how many drops of the Herceptin I get in the 90-minute drip. If I can read his math right in my little notebook, it says 4,320 drops. I generally watch the Food Network if nobody minds me changing the channel off of the soaps or news. Generally nobody minds.

It's a big room with a bunch of recliners, each with their own personal IV rack. Sometimes there are other patients who are talkative, which is fun. Like today, there were these two elder sisters (one is a patient and one is not) who are sometimes on my schedule, there again today. They are quite talkative and they totally crack me up. They don't mind watching the Food Network with me and they even provide hilarious commentary. Today they were having a little sidebar about me liking to cook, and the one sister (with the IV) said that you really can't trust a skinny cook. I almost broke my face again trying to keep a straight face, telling her that, in my defense, I totally use butter and whole milk; and she did give me props, but still seemed suspicious. Then she was ranting about her tv reception at home. The other sister (sans IV) told me that her sister recently got two new digital tvs, but is so mad because she can only get two or three channels but too stubborn to ante up for cable to get what she paid for. She said her sister got super frustrated trying to set them up when she got a message that said something about place the cursor here, and she called her sister and said, "What the hell is the cursor? Oh, I guess I am!" I like it when they are there.

A lot of the time the other patients are reading (I can't really read with a bunch of people and a tv around) or sleeping. A few times there have been very sick patients, and it sort of breaks my heart. I know, we are sitting there hooked up to chemo cocktails, but part of me sometimes forgets or something, until the quiet man next to me asks for some ice chips because he can't eat because he has a feeding tube. Or last time one woman's port wouldn't work. Or during the winter the woman next to me had to be taken straight to the hospital for pneumonia. It's always a reality check. And something that reminds me not to let myself go home and waste the next three weeks because they are a gift. Just like the health and fitness that I am building up as I count down these cocktails.

Eighteen down. Thank you, God. Keep me steady as we go. Amen.


debbie p said...

You can come to the airport to see becca and I off. I'd love to see the airport in a muddle over your radioactiveness. I'm so glad you're getting to smaller numbers. You've done GREAT!

Anonymous said...

I love catching up with you on your blog, especially since we haven't been able to cross paths. I will be praying for your Muga next week and containment of your "megapowers" following. You are such a trooper and an amazing testimony to God's goodness and grace!

Love and miss you, my friend!

Leah said...

You're my inspiration and I wish we could spend more time hanging out. Working 40 hours a week puts a serious dent in my social life. P.S. Don't tell Dave, though. If I have to work, 3dB is the best place 2B.

Daria said...

I too like to people watch in the chemo rooms ... what breaks my heart are the young ... twenty somethings that are getting chemo. That is just not right.

Andrea said...

You are a seriously strong woman to be still on chemo and the assundry meds for the side effects and still be kicking my butt at tennis! You are a big-time inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie,
I can really envision all of the cancer patients on their recliners with the IV's hooked up to their arms now that I have watched the movie "Living Proof" about Dr. Slaybok who invented the Herceptin. It must be like its own little community...and you each are bonded to each other in a special way. May God bless your Herceptin time! and your little heart!
Becky E.

Anonymous said...

I was diagnosed with Stage IV Breast cancer with liver mets, and given 18 months max to live. Told to get my affairs in order, and they would treat me with meds to keep me comfortable. I then met with Dr. Robert Nagourney, of Rational Therapeutics in Long Beach California. He preformed an individual assay on my tumor, and came up with the correct chemo combination to "kill" my cancer. Each treatment included an infusion of Herceptin. That began in January, 2003. ....over 6 years ago. I am still here today, still receiving Herceptin every 3 weeks. I have had over 70 Herceptin treatments, and will continue them as long as works. There has been no "visible sign" of active cancer for over 5 years. It is not a death sentence has given me and other women a fight chance....God Bless