The technical term for what was contained in my pathology report, according to my oncologist, is:
"Your breast was a mess."
I guess I'll need to get my medical dictionary out for that one.
He said he'd never seen anybody with my pathology who didn't have lymph node or vascular invasion before, and that I'd gotten very, very lucky. "Somebody is looking out for you, that's for sure."
No dictionary needed for that one. I really should go play the lottery.
My chemo regimen is going to be grueling. It's TCH: Taxotere, Carboplatin and Herceptin. I'll have six rounds, every three weeks, of Taxotere and Carboplatin. Every week for an entire year, I go in for Herceptin. Then, I'm semi-free; I'll take Tamoxifen every day for five years. That though, is a pill I can take at home.
Wow. I'll be treating this cancer for seven years.
Dr. Blair gave me the choice of starting before Thanksgiving or after. I chose after - my stepdaughter is coming to cook for us, and I don't want to be in bed - I want to eat turkey with my family. So, my first chemo infusion is December 2nd, first herceptin is December 9th, 2nd herceptin is December 16, and the 2nd chemo is December 23rd.
(Note to self: start shopping now and forget the after thanksgiving deals.)
(Note to family: it may be a meager gift year. Consider my continued breathing as your main gift.)
I'll lose my hair about ten days after my first infusion, so warm hats for Christmas is a gift idea I never would have suggested before. :)
During chemo, I'll be taking a steroid to prevent fluid retention, and compazine and ativan for nausea, and possibly neulasta to get my white count up. Any other side effects that pop up will be dealt with at the time.
My main concern, which I brought up but wasn't really addressed to my satisfaction, is what happens if I get migraines because of these medications? If it happens in the infusion room, they'll give me demerol. But, if it's something that happens after, I got the distinct impression that I'm on my own.
I don't think I can possibly get across to these medical professionals how much these migraines have affected my life. The only ones who understand it are neurologists.
Maybe I can get a neurologist to treat me for the side effects of chemotherapy?
I can live with nerve pain. I can life with fatigue. I can live with bone pain. I can live with nausea, diarrhea, bloating. I can live with hair loss. What I can't live with is migraines -- not a year's worth.
How to describe it to somebody who hasn't had one? It'd be like giving birth every day of your life. And, not an easy childbirth either. For you men, it'd be like having somebody kick you in the balls every hour - forever.
Let's just hope that I'm not one of the people who get week-long headaches from herceptin. Maybe I shouldn't get ahead of myself. Maybe my cancer luck will hold.
Because of my focus on migraines, I completely forgot to ask Dr. Blair about getting a port. I think having a port surgically implanted is pretty standard for people who have to have a year of infusions. I'd rather not - it's ugly and leaves a scar that you can't hide, but I have small veins and since mastectomy they can only use one arm for sticks. An IV in one small-veined arm every week for a year might be a challenge.
I guess this will ruin my chances of ever being an IV drug user too.
Darn. Cancer takes away so much.