WOOT! No More Taxol! – July 14, 2015

I met with Dr. Priya today, and I got the news I wanted:  NO MORE TAXOL!  She agreed with Dr. Colocci that 8 weeks of Taxol, in combination with the Taxotere I’d already received, is enough.  This means that I can move onto the next stage of my treatment, which is surgery.

As I also suspected, though, Dr. Priya does want me to receive one more round of Perjeta, so that I’ll have received 4 treatments.  So I’ll have that in a couple of weeks, along with Herceptin.  I’ll continue to receive Herceptin every 3 weeks from now until March/April, except for a few weeks off around my surgery.  All this means that the timing just might work out for my already booked vacation at the end of September, even if I need 2 surgeries to get clear margins.

I called Jennifer, the nurse educator, to give her the good news, and to get the process started for my surgery.  There are a lot of things to get lined up now.  And I suppose there might be decisions to make.  Originally I was opting for a “lump and lift” – a lumpectomy along with a breast lift of both breasts.  Now that there’s no tumor to remove, I’m not sure that a lump and lift is still a viable option.  I suppose I’ll have a whole new round of appointments soon with Dr. Ching and Dr. White, the plastic surgeon.  Regardless, I’m happy that I won’t need any more general chemo.

Last Friday, which as it turns out was my last general chemo infusion, I got the whole cocktail – Taxol, Perjeta, Herceptin, and my friend magnesium.  That made for another 7 hours at the infusion center.  I’m going to miss my long sessions at the center – I’ve gotten to know the nurses pretty well, and certainly the routine.  I’ll continue to visit the center, but my sessions should now be much, much, shorter.

As has been true for the past 3-4 weeks, I’ve been able to handle the side effects of the chemo much better.  I still have diarrhea, but it’s mostly under control.  Most importantly, I’ve managed to avoid nausea.  I really am convinced that drinking 30 oz of water first thing in the morning – before doing anything – has helped with the nausea.  They are quite serious when they said to drink 90 oz of fluids a day!  My advice to anyone getting chemo – drink that 90 oz!  For me, drinking 30 oz first thing in the morning jump started my intake for the day – I probably routinely drink 60 oz during the day, and the additional 30 just ensured that I was getting enough fluids.

On Saturday I went with 3 friends on a “yarn crawl” – think pub crawl only one visits various yarn stores rather than pubs.  I spent far too much on yarn that I don’t “need” but had a ton of fun!  I can’t wait to go on another one!  And the organizer is thinking of organizing a weekend retreat on the coast, complete with private classes.  I’m all over that!

This is a very big week at work for me…we go live tomorrow with a new database system.  A 2 year project, I could not have done it without the fantastic people with whom I work.  Truly, I am blessed, both professionally and personally –  today is my anniversary!  Happy 30th anniversary, sweetie!

The End in Sight? – July 6, 2015

Last Tuesday I had an appointment with Dr. Ching, my breast surgeon.  She gave me a big hug and said that she knew I’d been through a lot.  We discussed the events still coming up for me:  the database conversion on July 15; the Institute I’m chairing the first week of August in Boston; and my vacation at the end of September.  We discussed all the various options and permutations of what can happen.  She reminded me that there’s a possibility that I will need 2 surgeries:  during the first surgery she will remove what the tumor area and hope to get clear margins, as well as look at my lymph nodes.  If the pathology shows that we don’t have clear margins, then a second surgery will be done – as quickly as 2 weeks after the first surgery.  I’d forgotten about the possibility of the second surgery; that complicates the timing even more.  Nothing can really be decided about when my surgery will be, though, until we know when my chemotherapy will end.  I told Dr. Ching that I’m a bit confused about all that:  Dr. Priya had told me she was considering 10 weeks of Taxol, but we hadn’t had a chance to discuss that recently.  She’s out of the office until July 13, and while I had an appointment with an oncologist the next day, Dr. Ching correctly surmised that Dr. Colocci would not want to make a final decision about how many more treatments I’ll have with Dr. Priya’s imminent return.

I have an appointment with an oncologist every three weeks, and met with Dr. Colocci this time.   We went over all the usual things, mainly how I’ve been feeling.  She reduced the amount of Taxol because of the neuropathy in my fingers and toes.  I then told her that I was unsure how many more treatments I am to receive.  She said that because my tumor is gone, and because I had 2 rounds of Taxotere, that she believed that 8 weeks of Taxol is enough, but that Dr. Priya had to make the final decision.  This Friday will be my 8th treatment of Taxol, and so Dr. Colocci said that I was to insist upon getting an appointment with Dr. Priya Monday or Tuesday, so that if need be, we can cancel my infusion appointment for the 17th.

It’s a bit mind boggling to think that after all this time – five months – that I could be done with chemo aside from Herceptin.  I have no idea how Perjeta plays into this (i.e., how many treatments of Perjeta will Dr. Priya like me to have?). but I am going to push like hell to be done with chemo as of this Friday.  Dr. Priya did not know the results of my 2nd breast MRI, so I’m really hoping that because the tumor is gone, that I’ve had quite enough chemo.  Keep your fingers, toes and paws crossed!

Speaking of paws, after my infusion on Thursday, Ted and I left for Auburn on our way to Elko, NV to deliver a cat to her forever home.  We then spent the following night in Reno, and availed ourselves of a couple of buffets.  I don’t know whether it what was I ate at the buffets, or whether this round of chemo was easier, but I haven’t had the problems with diarrhea this week, and I feel pretty good.  My blood pressure is up – almost to the point where I might need to go back on my high blood pressure meds.  I do think that drinking 30 oz of water first thing in the morning has really helped.  Nothing really helps the mess that my nails are (I’ve now lost 4 toenails and 4 fingernails), but I haven’t gotten other symptoms such as mouth sores, so I’ll take it.

This Friday I’m pretty sure I’ll get Taxol, Perjeta and Herceptin, and no doubt magnesium.  I hope all goes well!