My calendar exploded today. The next two weeks suddenly filled with green, the color indicating doctor appointments. I’m exhausted just looking at it.
Actually, the explosion began two days ago when I was notified that my first chemo treatment will be June 23rd. Midafternoon, after a morning of blood draws and seeing the medical oncologist. The drugs he chooses will determine how long the infusion takes, but the nurse said in some cases it can run 4 to 5 hours depending on the drugs used.
So apparently I was letting my optimism get out of hand again. While I’m hoping the MO will decide on the TC regimen previously described, a few more things have to happen before he makes a final decision. Next Tuesday, the 16th, he’s scheduled a pathology review where he’ll discuss my case with several other pathologists. In particular they’ll be looking at the HER-2 reports, which don’t agree. One said the HER-2 was “equivocal” and another said it was “negative.” There may be others by now that I’m not aware of.
Then on Thursday, I see his nurse for a sort of chatty educational check-up, then get an echocardiogram and a PET/CT scan. That will take the entire afternoon. But he can’t make a final decision until he sees the results of the echo, which together with the pathology review will determine whether he gives me the stronger drugs and whether/if/how well my heart will stand up to them. If he decides they’re necessary, it’s my understanding that he’ll opt for the AC-T regimen — Adriamycin, Cytoxan, and Taxol. The handouts I was given covered the TC and the AC-T, so I’m assuming those are the two he’s considering.
Lovely to contemplate, eh? Then the following Monday, the 22nd, I go in for a teaching session with his nurse. She’ll be explaining which drugs he’s decided to use, the side effects and how they are handled, and all about the infusion procedure itself and how long it will take. Finally, the next day (described above) I go in for my first treatment. Sounds like I won’t get out of there until late in the day, which means probably the 25th before I go back for a Neulasta injection, which will help boost my white blood cells back toward normal. (I’ve read that some patients take the stuff home and inject themselves at the proper time. Not at all sure I could inject myself even if I wanted to, which I really really don’t. On the other hand, 48 hours after chemo, I suspect I won’t feel like going anywhere.) The nurse did point out that if I took the vial home and happened to break it, it would cost me $10,000, whereas if the nurses drop and break it at the cancer center, the cost would be theirs.
After that, three weeks of rest and recovery before the next treatment. Then rinse, repeat. Three more times. Sure hope if the MO changes the drugs of choice, it doesn’t increase the number or frequency of treatments — although I understand that different drugs might require different schedules. Crossing my fingers.
So that’s all. No pressure, right?
Except that my sister decided next week is the best week of the year to come for a visit (not planning to stay with me; they have an RV). I tried to dissuade her, but she figures I’ll be too sick once my chemo starts. I figure I’ll have more time then. But there’s no way of knowing at this point.
Now where’d I put that Ativan …
Note: To clarify, the tumor itself was estrogen and progesterone positive, HER-2 negative. But it had a small satellite nodule that tested positive for HER-2 (hence the confusion about whether to declare the tumor HER-2 positive). As a result, Herceptin will be added to my 4-treatment TC regimen and then continued every three weeks for a year.