Herceptin holiday | Cancer: Curves Ahead

I dragged myself (actually, was driven) down to the cancer center today, more than a little anxious because I was scheduled for my first Herceptin-only infusion. I felt nowhere near the normal I felt when approaching previous chemo treatments. I still felt tired and worn down, heavy-legged and short-winded.

I was near tears at the thought of dealing with another round of as-yet-unknown side effects. Not to mention tomorrow s appointment in radiology to start blocking out and preparing for my impending radiation treatments.

But hallelujah, I got a reprieve. The doctor checked me out and looked at my lab work, and decided there was no way he was going to hit me with another treatment today. My albumin is still pretty low, which means I m still nutritionally behind the 8-ball and need to keep chowing down on lots of protein, along with good fruits and vegetables. Also, I m still carrying lots of water weight because of all the fluid infusions (8) in the last month. My legs and feet are heavy and swollen with excess fluid that still hasn t cleared. Imagine walking around with an extra couple of pounds wrapped around each leg. Your joints are stiffer, your movements slower, and the effort far greater, especially when walking up stairs or an incline.

So basically I was granted an unexpected vacation, with orders to rest a lot, eat well, and exercise very lightly perhaps several walks a day of 50 to 100 yards (my estimate of halfway to the mailbox and back). Just take it easy and give my body time to get rid of all the excess fluid. Even the radiologist was helping out. She ordered a PET scan today (which I very much want to see), and it couldn t be scheduled until Sept.

23. The oncologist also ordered an echocardiogram. In other words, everyone has called a time out (as I ve thought they should) to obtain and examine a battery of scans to see exactly where we are, what s been achieved so far, and where we go from here.

The oncologist is particularly interested in seeing how my heart and lungs have fared with the chemotherapy (particularly since I m still coughing a lot). He may postpone or possibly even cancel future Herceptin treatments, depending on what he sees. And both doctors want to see the PET scan to see what those nodes in my chest look like now. Will they still light up as cancerous/inflamed? The oncologist thinks/hopes the chemo has killed them.

The radiologist wants to know if they have to be radiated; she d rather not, since they lie so close to the heart.

So while the doctors wait for and then evaluate all those tests, I ve nothing to do but rest and recuperate.

And wouldn t you know, this next week just happens to be high time for fall foliage in the high country

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