Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Dramatic response at the far end of the spectrum"

That was pretty nice to hear from Dr. Raish on Tuesday.  He is really pleased with my response to this regimen.  He also called it not only a good, but a dramatic response.

After six rounds of Taxotere, Herceptin, and Perjeta, over the course of five months, there are no visible cancerous lesions in any of my lymph nodes, in my lungs, or in my liver.  There is a 6mm lesion (probable cyst) in the left lobe of my liver.  Since I'm ultra-paranoid and a major worrier (plenty to worry about in my world!) I looked back through all of my radiology reports mining for the left lobe liver lesion.    The good news is that it has been there, unremarkable and unchanged, in every report.  I remember going over my first CT scan with Dr. Raish in the fall of 2012.  Me being me, I freaked out about the thing in the liver, described in the report as "unremarkable." He reassured me that unremarkable is a very good word in a radiology report.  In the last couple of years I have learned to read these things and let the pieces go that don't say things like - oh, for instance "likely metastases."  But I still had to check out the liver thing.

There is a woman in my support group who had eight Taxotere before continuing with just the HER2 therapies.  I brought the question in of whether there might be a difference between the six or the eight treatments.  Dr. Raish said it is partly a question of tolerance of chemotherapy.  In the all-is-relative world of Cancerland, though I bitch and whine, I tolerate the chemo well.  I am fortunate to have very little to no neuropathy, and am as functional as I can be.  Since in the recent Cleopatra Study (google if you are into things like this) the average number of Taxotere treatments was in fact eight, we decided to keep going.  So at this point I have had seven and will, barring problems, top it off with one more in three weeks.  The Cleopatra Study looked at the regimen I am having, in the metastatic setting, and showed excellent results.  

I also brought up the question of hormone receptors.  The current incarnation of my cancer is 3% estrogen receptor positive and 60% progesterone receptor positive.  At the end of this chemo we will test my blood for the presence of either of these.  It is assumed that I am post-menopausal, but it will be good to confirm this or know otherwise.  At that time we will discuss hormonal treatments (not Tamoxifen, as that was a bust) - probably an aromitase inhibitor.

In addition to the CTs I had an echocardiogram last week, as Herceptin sometimes damages the heart and must be discontinued.  Fortunately my heart function is still good so we can continue the medication.  The procedure was not fun.  The tech decided after around 45 minutes probing around that he couldn't see well enough (inducing mild panic attack) and I had to get my second contrast IV of the day.

I checked in with Dr. Raish about the turmeric and the occasional pot, and my lovely oncologist's response was, "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it!"  I am pretty neutral on the idea of any influence I can have over this disease; I feel extremely lucky to be having a good response to
treatment.  For whatever random reasons, some people respond well and some don't.  But... just in case, I will keep on keeping on with yoga, swimming, walking, turmeric milk, and the elimination of cow dairy and most refined sugar.

Word of the Day: IATROGENIC - this means caused (-genic) by treatment (iatro-).  I am fortunate to have had virtually no symptoms or conditions that are or were caused by cancer.  However, like the majority of breast cancer patients, there have been Plenty of iatrogenic issues.  More on that another time, but for now, my most surprising and most random iatrogenic condition: the ongoing rib saga:

I'm not sure whether this is funny or not, but I will give you the rib report.  I am a rare person that suffered rib fractures on my right side as a result of the radiation I had in 2013.  The first mention of them said there were two fractures, on ribs 2 and 3.  Subsequent reports documented fractures in ribs 3, 4, and 5, with the 5th reported as chronically unhealed.  My scan from last week said, "overlying healed right rib fractures involving the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh ribs, stable."  Um.... whatever, I guess.  It explains many of the sensations I have on that entire side of my body.  

I think that's everything.  I have nothing whiny or mopy to say today!

1 comment:

  1. Love you, Laura....and am glued to your posts. Keep writing. You do it so beautifully!