Now that we are all caught up with my activities over the last few weeks I can update you on my oncology assessment appointment (Wednesday) and my first Adriamycin chemo yesterday.
I had to go in early on Wednesday to get an ECG done to check heart function before the Oncologist signed off on me receiving Adriamycin – like Herceptin Adriamycin can affect the heart. With Hercptin the damage is reversible, with Adriamycin its permanent. I am pleased to say that I passed my ECG with flying colours. With being off any chemo for the past month my tumoour markers have jumped another 30 points so it does make me wonder how much bigger the tumors have grown in that time, although my liver function are still fairly normal (Note: blood tests were done before champagne tasting – liver results could have been possibly worse after LOL)
I have been having some pain in my back and although the the CT report did not show any tumors/lesions in my ribs they did take another look as I was getting very localised pain around one rib. What they have realised is that the tumour that is section 7 is actually extruding out of the surface of my liver and compressing the capsule around my liver that has nerves and blood supply up against my ribs in that area. Because the nerves are getting pinched between the tumour and my rib that is why I am getting so much localised pain there. I have also been having intermittent pain in my shoulder blade which I had put down to stress but they think that is also referred pain from the nerves around the liver as they share the same trunk nerve. This makes sense to me as I have not had anywhere near the same amount of neck tension pain you would expect if the shoulder blade was purely tension related.
I have been trying to get by with just standard pain medication, panadol and the like but have not been sleeping well as my back tends to hurt more when I am lying down so we have decided to start me on the opiod drugs – a slow release one just to help me sleep at night and some quick release ones for break through pain during the day.
I struggled on Wednesday night taking the first one, I had hoped to avoid going down this path – and part of me didn’t want to admit I was in enough pain to need them. I was also struggling with the fact that once I had my first Adriamycin on Thursday I was on the slippery track to losing my hair again.
While I am relatively OK with losing my hair – it isn’t anywhere near as bad the second time round, the fact is I have managed to get through the last two years although I’ve been on Vinorelbine and Xeloda neither of them have made me lose my hair so I haven’t obviously been a cancer patient.
The combination of the certainty that I am going to lose my hair again and the upgrading of my pain medication makes it harder for me to forget that that is what I am, and it also makes it more obvious to others.
I had an interesting discussion in the chemo room yesterday with the young woman in the lazyboy next to me – she has metastatic breast cancer (triple negative- both hormone and her2- negative ) to her bones, diagnosed just a few months ago while brest feeding her baby who is now 7 months old – she has a 2 year old as well. She is frustrated by peoples misconceptions that all breast cancer if detected early enough is curable. Her tumour in her breast was less that a couple of centimeters but it had already spread to her lymph nodes, after her surgery when they realised how many nodes were cancerous they did a bone scan and realised it had gone to her bones as well in the chest area. Now that the shock has worn off she is starting to realise that she needs more info so I am putting her in touch with some other people and sites that she might find useful. ‘practising my Social Work skills in the chemo lazyboy’
Just remember folks not all breast cancer is the same and while breast cancer screening catches a lot of early stage cancer – there is about 25% of us that fall outside either the usual age range or in my case have a cancer that cant be picked up on mammograms and those are the ones that are usually more aggressive. We doing everything we can to fight this thing but through no fault of our own we may not have a “pretty pink perky survivor” ending