(16-04-22) Herceptin

“You’re not in chemotherapy treatment any more.”

When Dr. Curley said this yesterday, a smile lit up across his face.  It was clear he was proud.  Proud because he was sitting across from a womyn the same age as his wife, from a womyn who – just five months ago – flat-out told him she wasn’t doing chemo, from a womyn whose blood cell counts have been so low at times that postponed treatment and hospitalization were both genuine possibilities.  Proud because – in spite of all this – that womyn was sitting in a chair across from him, alive and finished with the quadruple dose of chemotherapy injections that she endured every three weeks for the last four months.

“How am I not in chemotherapy treatment anymore?  I still have to take Herceptin until November.”

He dismissed the thought with a wave of his hand.  “Yeah, but that’s just a monoclonal antibody.”

Blink, blink.

“That’s just a medication we’re giving you for your HER2 protein, so we can keep the cancer cells from rapidly growing back.”

How is that not chemo?  I thought this question but held back on asking it.  I wasn’t sure if it was the chemobrain acting out … or my natural resistance to understanding anything science-related … either way, i felt stupid for asking, so i kept quiet.

He proceeded to tell me that the symptoms for Herceptin are “not that bad,” and he reminded me that I am “going to start to feel better soon.”  Clearly, he noticed that i needed a mini-pep talk.  It worked.  While the weak smile that slowly spread across my lips (but not my eyes) did not match his 100-watt grin, it was a start.

And that pseudo sense of progress and optimism lasted until about 5:20 this morning, when I attempted to get up and get ready to return to work for the first time in a week.

Pain in between my expanders
Pain all along my right arm

This i understand.  It’s clearly from my radiation mapping yesterday.

Nauseous when i move my head
Three trips to the bathroom in 50 minutes
Body weakness
Chills, then hot flash, then chills

Wait – what is happening?  I thought i was done with chemotherapy sessions knocking me on my ass afterwards.  How am i feeling these things when i am down to just taking Herceptin?

Ah.  Makes a little more sense now.

I know Dr. Curley had his reasons for minimizing my potential side effects … but i wish he would have been straight with me.  I was berating myself this morning for being a baby and calling out of work yet again.  I felt guilty for not doing my job.  I accused myself of playing up the victim role.  I worried that calling out today without a doctor’s note might costs me my job.  It took some text messaging with a co-worker and a Google search on Herceptin side effects before i could comfortably remind myself what i’m sure is obvious to everyone else but me right now: You’re fighting for your life here.  #1 priority?  Take care of YOU.

Author: breastcancerat35

I was diagnosed with Stage 3C Invasive Breast Cancer in October/November, 2015. This blog is my way to process my experience and allow my loved ones to have ongoing updates about my journey.

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