updates & radiation

September 9, 2016

i sit here to write, with my  mind racing even as my body begs for rest. but when i lay down, my heart palpitations kick in to high gear. they are back with a vengeance after this latest round of herceptin.

it has been a hard few days. i started radiation tuesday and that night, had several hours of keep-me-awake-on-the-couch-should-i-go-to-the-ER heart pounding, skipping, racing. the next morning it continued, even as i lay on the radiation table, so i walked up to the 3rd floor to the office of the lovely cardiologist that i saw a couple weeks ago. her nurse hooked me up to an ekg and they were able to capture multiple ‘events’ which she says is premature atrial complex – not necessarily a sign of heart malfunction but unsettling (understatement). she prescribed a med to reduce them.

and again, i am walking through the jungle of decision-making. seeking counsel. researching. praying.

because, is the 2 percent difference in benefit of continuing herceptin for 12 months vs 6 (i’ve done 7) worth the increasing side effects? the numbness in my hands this week, the nails that continue to split, the cracks in my nose and lips that haven’t lifted since starting regular chemo february 4, the slowing of hair regrowth, the fatigue, the heart issues.

again and with words that will never be sufficient to capture the depth of my gratitude, i am being faithfully guided and given insight and specific counsel for *my treatment by my beloved integrated oncologist. the one who texts, emails and called me from her home phone this morning to see how i was doing and to advise of her most recent recommendations.

recommendations that resonate as YES! YES, of course, checking my blood levels of herceptin because the half life is 28 days and my infusion is every 21 days and i likely simply have TOO MUCH IN MY SYSTEM and thus the increase of side effects … of course that makes sense. and of course i will not take one more drop until this has been evaluated.

this is in stark contrast to the counsel of my local oncologist, as expected.

and so, i navigate. and listen and ask questions and pray for wisdom.

i am so thankful for my hubby who reminds me of the HOPE that I KNOW … the reality that is beyond and above this particular step in this journey. i step back and i know: it is all good and this will all be good and used for good and i will be well. i *am* well.

 

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this weird in between

August 24, 2016

last week felt different, felt like a turning of a corner. i’d been sailing along, feeling healed from surgery in july and just cruising along with my every-three-weeks herceptin infusion.

then the heart palpitations hit, the day after my last infusion. for several days, i was sidelined, hesitant, worried. what was going on, why was my heart pounding and racing and skipping?

was it the herceptin (which has as it’s main side effect, impact on heart function)?

bigger than that, and underlying really all these next treatment steps, is this: if i believe that i am healed, and the post chemo breast MRI said “complete response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy” and “no visible residual abnormalities” and “completely resolved”

and the pathology from my surgery (lumpectomy and 12 nodes taken) revealed “no residual invasive carcinoma seen” – NONE!

and the surgeon said the pathologist only sees this maybe twice a year and used the word “miracle”

then do i walk into unknown and potentially huge side effects from continued treatment?

i am thankful for the question – for the hard pause this last week represented and the grappling that feels inextricably linked to this healing journey.

more questions, more seeking, more praying, another invaluable consultation with my integrated oncologist, more revealed.