I opened the kimono on Monday, took a deep breath, and told both the chemo check-in nurse and Dr. A about all my side effects. I got a resounding, “So…?”
When I got to the bleeding nose part, the nurse said, “But it eventually stops, right?” My takeaway: unless I’m craving baby heads for breakfast or actual fire is coming out of my ass, my pathetic side effects are child’s play in chemoland.
I learned a few other things at that visit by asking more questions than usual. I’m now on cycle four of six initial cycles, so will officially end this phase in mid-August. Fuck yes. I’ll get another PET scan then to see if another two cycles of the same protocol are warranted. If not, I’ll move to phase two, which may just be a combo of the Pertuzumab and Herceptin, the powerhouse HER2-positive fighters (HER2 is my aggressive strain of the c-monster).
How many cycles is still unknown, but infusion time is 60 mins, with no pre-meds; a dream compared to the four hours I get with all three every three weeks, including the steroid and Benadryl pre-meds. Plus, it would mean saying bye bye to the weekly Taxol, the classic chemo drug with all the classic side effects.
Herceptin can be hard on my heart, but I get another echocardiogram in July to see if there’s been damage. As far as I know, the Pertuzumab causes mostly loss of appetite, but until I remove the Taxol, I can’t be sure if all the other side effects (indigestion, heartburn, hair loss, etc.) are its fault alone.
I did find out why I get all the “you have an unusual protocol” comments from the nurses and other doctors when they find out my cocktail: I’m the first person at the Vancouver Island Centre to get Pertuzumab outside a clinical trial. When Dr. A said it had just come into circulation, she wasn’t kidding. With Herceptin as the HER2 wonderdrug, apparently Pertuzumab is its new BFF and does even more to battle that particular beast. Yay me.
I told Dr. A my family wanted to go away in September and she was surprisingly accommodating. “Just let me know when and we’ll work around that.” And then I asked her a shitload of other questions while she was trying to write me a prescription and in true single-tasker style, she excused herself from the room so she could concentrate on what she was writing. Nerds are adorable.
I felt so buoyed by going against my instinct and being honest about how I was feeling that I truly went against all my pre-conceived notions of my 9-year old and took Stella on my 5 km walk on Tuesday, pre-chemo.
She was such a great sport and I was so touched by how game she was that I would have called Pete home immediately to put another baby in my belly if I wasn’t barren right now and… well… an actual thinking woman.
Yesterday we went again with Stella’s BFF in tow and went even further, with a cream soda at the end as a reward. It was delightful.
I’m officially becoming Bizarro George Costanza and doing everything the opposite from now on. It can only turn out to be a good thing.