Well, we were hoping that I could possibly get out of having to do Chemo - but after meeting with the Oncologist yesterday, we feel chemotherapy it is the best course of action at this point.
Right now, if I chose NOT to do the Chemo, I have about a 60-65% chance of the cancer coming back - If I choose to DO the Chemo treatments, my chances drop to 15 -20% for reoccurrence. They won't ever be able to make the numbers zero because everyone is at risk for cancer (some more than others) already having it, puts me at a greater risk.
So, tomorrow, I have to be at the VA @ 12:30 for another surgery. I am having a small operation to have a port placed just under the skin below my collar bone. This will help to make the chemo treatments easier. Well at least less needles in my arm anyway. It looks like this:
The handout they gave me on it describes it this way:
"The PowerPort Implantable Port is a small device with a hollow space inside that is sealed by a soft top. It connects to a small, flexible tube called a catheter. When a special needle is put into the soft top of the PowerPort device, it creates "access" to your bloodstream, meaning that medications and fluids can be given and blood samples withdrawn."
I'm not sure of the exact date I start Chemo yet - My oncologist wants to start next week but is still waiting on a final HER2 test results. When I was originally diagnosed, one of the blood tests , called an HER2 was inconclusive - they are now running a more specific test called fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) test. This test provides information related to the number of copies of the HER2 gene in the tumor cells.
About 15-20% of breast cancers have too much of a growth-promoting protein called HER2 and too many copies (more than 2) of the gene that instructs the cells to produce the protein. Tumors with increased levels of HER2 are referred to as "HER2-positive." HER2-positive breast cancer tumors tend to grow and spread more rapidly than other breast cancers.
My test originally came back as a 2 - which is boarder line - If I do end up being HER2 positive, then they will add a drug called Herceptin to my other chemo drugs.
Herceptin is a protein that fits like a lock and key on HER2 cells. Once it attaches to the cell, it bring other immune cells to help kill the cancer cell.
The other drugs, I will be taking as part of my chemo are:
Cytoxan, Adriamycin, & Taxotere
Cytoxan and Adriamycin both work to stop the grown of cancer cells, causing the cells to die. Taxotere is a mitotic inhibitor that effects the cell during mitosis keeping it from splitting into more cells. This drug is given every 3 weeks. Which sets the time frame for my treatments. Right now, I am scheduled for 6 sessions (every 3 weeks)
On a sad note, today was my last day at work for quite a while. The oncologist recommends that I limit my time around kids (other than my own) because my immune system will be weakened by the chemo treatments and a common cold could become deadly - I am going to miss the kids in the 2 year old class that I teach and all my friends at Trinity Presbyterian's MMO program!