I don’t know where the time goes. The days have been packed from morning to dusk for months. I would love to keep my blog updated and hopefully soon I will be able to. We are still unpacking, Lenny encourages me often by saying we are making baby steps for now but in time it will all be done. With that being said, I am certain I will start to feel better and have a lot more time to work as I can officially say I am done with chemo.
I received my 4th treatment on August 18, also the kids first day of school. The first 3 treatments basically have been the same recovery of 5 days of being sick and fatigued. The 4th however was a different story. It hit me much harder. I had a recovery of 10 days.
This last round as the days continued and I wasn’t feeling better by day 6, I ended up calling my Oncologist who recommended I go to Urgent Care. I waited through the day pushing fluids hoping I would begin to feel better. The urgent care doctor explained my blood count was low at 1.3 (normal range is 4.2-5.9) at .8 most receive a blood transfusion. I also had an elevated liver panel which she explained was to be expected due to chemo. The doctor wanted me to receive an IV bag for fluids (I know this would have made my status an emergent care and not urgent care). I said I would push the fluids on my own at home, which I did over the next few days. At this time Lenny was out of town. After coming home I started to experience liver cramps much like a charlie horse where my liver would cramp up so tight it was painful. I read online this could happen after chemo treatment when your liver is working overtime to deplete all the toxins. I learned apple cider vinegar helps to cleanse the liver of these toxins, so I started drinking 2tablespoons with one drop of lemon and cinnamon bark essential oils. After experiencing three liver cramps over the days they stopped. All eventually turned out ok, just was another rough 4 days until I started to feel better.
The day of my 4th treatment before I began I asked my oncologist how he would test to know if I needed the 6 treatments. He has told me from the beginning his goal for me was to have 6 treatments but if my body wasn’t handling the chemo well I definitely needed to have a minimum of 4. He told me he wouldn’t be doing any tests until I was three months post treatment and we would still shoot for 6 if I was onboard. I told him I would do any necessary treatments but wanted to know the benefit between 4 and 6. He then said we could just do 5 treatments. At that point I was feeling a bit unsettled as if we were negotiating treatments. I just needed to confirm if 2 more were necessary, as I do not want damage my body beyond what is ultimately necessary. Through research I haven’t found that 6 is any more beneficial than 4 treatments.
Of course, I decided to get a second opinion.
So I whipped out the contact information my good friend Bill had given me about the cancer center at University of Colorado Hospital. Thanks again Bill! I called up and discovered they had an oncologist who only specializes in breast cancer for women who are under 40. Score! (I later found out there are only 2 doctors in the state.) The bad news was she wasn’t accepting new patients. I was able to speak with her nurse and explain I just wanted her to review my records and receive a second opinion regarding my treatment. She ended up speaking with the doctor and fitting me in. I saw her Tuesday. She reviewed all my records and pathology reports with me and although the two chemo drug treatments I have been receiving is a typical and acceptable treatment she would have added one more drug to the treatment, which would have made it even more aggressive on the cancer. She did explain she understands why my oncologist has me aiming for 6 treatments but explained research the last 3 years has shown there is no significant benefit of doing 6 instead of 4 for my age group. She only has her patients do 4 treatments. She also highly recommended I get the additional genetic testing completed as soon as possible. I’ve only had the BRAC 1 and 2 testing which are the main two genes that show if the mutation is genetic or not. Only 5% of all breast cancer is genetically passed down from a mutated gene and the most common are the BRAC1 or 2 genes. However, there is a panel of another 19 genes that have been known to cause breast cancer, that I will be tested for here soon.
She agreed with the 6 weeks of radiation five days a week following chemo. However, my oncologist wants me to follow the radiation with ten years of an oral hormone blocker and she recommends a different route that consists of a shot every 28 days for five years and an oral hormone blocker for five years. She stated the five year recommended treatment has been shown to be more effective for the 35 year old age range and has shown to decrease a patients reoccurrence rate by 15% whereas the 10 year hormone blocker has shown to decrease recurrence by 3%.
The meeting with this new doctor went great. At the end of our meeting she said she would take me on board as a patient and I told her I just wanted to make sure my insurance considered her in network. After calling insurance I called her back to let her know I would be making the switch.
Just this morning I called my previous oncologist to let them know I had taken on getting a second opinion, and nicley explained I would not be coming back for chemo tomorrow.
It feels so wonderful now to know I’m onto the next step and chemo is completed. I can’t be happier that those days of what I called a chemo hangover are behind me. It is a blessing. It’s getting late and I am glad I held myself accountable today to update my blog. I will be doing my best now to update often.
Thank you to all who have been praying for me and thank you if you even me a gift or a card. It truly is wonderful to have such caring and thoughtful friends. I am one to send personal thanks and will do so, I am just behind.