I was so anxious leading up to today’s dose of herceptin. So much hinged on my body accepting this drug and not having a reaction. This was my lifeline and hope that the cancer wouldn’t come back!
Herceptin (trastuzumab) can be given as an infusion or by injection. After the first few doses I should be able to have the injection which will be so much quicker – expecially as I have to have this every 3 weeks for a whole year!
The first few treatments are given by infusion so that if there was a reaction it could be stopped immediately. It works differently to normal chemo drugs. If my body was going to react badly it would most often be while actually having the drug or later the same day, rarely a delayed reaction except for a risk to the heart but I will be scanned regularly (by a mugga scan) and they assure me if this happens it is repairable. Risk to the lungs is rare but serious but if this was to happen it is most likely in the first couple of doses – unfortunately if this did happen I would not be able to continue Herceptin.
Herceptin is a targeted therapy which reduces the risk of the cancer coming back but it only works if the cancer has the her2+ protein. When I was first diagnosed I felt this was awful as it meant the cancer in me was super spready but now it has worked out to be a blessing. Especially as I had to stop chemo after only 2 fec!
From what I understand herceptin works by finding any cancer cells and sort of cloaking them – I am thinking Star Trek! But opposite! Instead of hiding them it enables our own immune system to see them and destroy! My body should be playing space invaders at this moment! I find this quite a good way of visualising the destruction of any random micro cancer cells!
So going back to treatment. I was so happy Phil was coming with me and staying. It worked out he was the best choice! Luckily he is now totally fed up with hospitals and waiting! Me too! Plus if I sit on his left he can’t hear me chatter as he is deaf in his left ear. This really helped actually as I just sat calmly. Lucky we went in at 9am – seat 9! First had to go through consent forms, then needed bloods taken and checked. This was a bit of an ordeal as I can now only use my left arm because of no lymph nodes left in my right arm to protect me from infection. Unfortunately the best vein in my left arm is still damaged and painful from the nurse back in EAU! Everyone said I should put in a complaint but I’ve got enough to deal with at the moment.
Anyway, lovely chemo nurse manages to get some blood. All good. But bit slow flowing so she puts another cannula in for the drugs. First a bit of saline, then loads of antihistamine to stop an allergic reaction in its tracks. This can make you a bit drowsy but I wasn’t too bad. More drugs, hydrocortisone I think. More saline. Then a break. By this time it’s lunch time. Then time for the herceptin, very slowly. During all this I felt very cold and shivery, achy, headache but on the whole not too bad. My op area was very sore but I thought this could be the drugs working! Bit bored too!
About 1pm to Phil’s relief my sister arrived to take over afternoon shift! So good to see my sis. All change. For the next 5 hours we chatted to each other and everyone else – met a couple of lovely ladies! We made plans for mums 70th birthday, we priced up holidays, talked about flowers, could it get any better? It was a lovely time with my sis. I was ok – not great but ok. Blood pressure low so kept drinking (and weeing!), still had a headache, arms and legs ached. But all not too bad.
So by about 6.30pm we are home! Successful day! Extremely tired but probably build up of not sleeping well due to night sweats from onset of menopause too. I am so relieved all seems good. For the first time in months I feel really positive about the future. Just need to rest and repair.
Friday I have another appointment with the physiotherapist for the cording in my arm (have uploaded a pic under medical section if anyone wants to know what this looks like). Then next Thursday meeting with radiography to find out schedule of treatment. All going well I should have August off to mend ready for next ops.
Happiness is………….. Being here!