Nothing is immediate when it comes to cancer treatment. It’s all about the waiting and the tests and the waiting for the results of tests and waiting for someone to tell you something that is meaningful in some way. Now, the Kasonic’s aren’t exactly known for patience– we’re more of an instant gratification kind of crowd. So in some ways it was a relief to finally meet with my oncologist today and hear about what we’re going to do.
Dr. Julie Gralow is world-famous, super-smart, and also just a really nice person. She is generous with her time and I have absolutely no doubt that she’s going to make sure I get the best care possible. I think today she might have been a bit too optimistic; she very much wants to focus on hopefulness. I am a more practical person and while I’ll hold on to hope with the best of them, I also want to be realistic about how to best spend my time if I might not have as much left as I’d like. But it’s a process, and I think she doesn’t want to throw me in the deep end right away. Gotta ease into the reality like a cold pool on a hot day.
The cancer has spread throughout the bones in a fairly predictable pattern: sternum, arm, rib, lymphatic system, thorasic spine, and pelvis. There are 13 lesions on my liver, so we’re doing a contrast CT scan on Friday to see if we can get more information about those. While it’s not a prognosis I’m jumping up and down in excitement about, new treatments do give us every reason to believe that I can be one of the lucky ones that responds to treatment and lives several years. And every year buys me more time as they get closer to a cure for metastatic disease. So we certainly have a lot to be thankful for.
But we have a lot to be angry about, too. That this disease would even come back. That it would spread so far so fast. That it wasn’t happy with just bones and also wants to take over my liver. None of us are going to send stupid cancer a Christmas card this year.
So the starting point now is chemo. I’ll do three weeks on, one week off, of both Taxol and Herceptin for six months. After six months if my body has responded well, I will stay on Herceptin, getting infusions every three weeks forever. I’m getting a port placed in my chest next Wednesday, and then will get to have some time up at Whidbey before starting chemo at the beginning of December. Taxol is not as harsh as some regimens, typically causing pain and fatigue rather than nausea. I will lose all my hair, so some fabulous wigs need to be purchased.