Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Visit with My Doc

I decided to call my oncologist about my on-going rib pain today and luckily, there was an afternoon cancellation, so I went in to see him. He checked the tenderness in the ribs and found the nodule and then had me lie down and he checked my liver and then all the abdomen - and found another tender spot on my lower right side. When I asked what that could be, he said that it was possible that the nodule is resting on a nerve that extends down to the rib area.

In the end, we decided to get a CT scan - both to check on the status of the lung tumors as well as to see what's going on in the ribs. Before making a treatment decision, we want to see the CT scan results. But he's leaning toward me starting Herceptin and Gemzar, which is a treatment that I'd get every two weeks. I wouldn't lose my hair and I shouldn't get nauseous, but I would experience fatigue. If I start that, then I would probably get a port. I asked if the lymph nodes under the left armpit would get back to their regular size and he said that they probably would. In the event that they don't, they sometimes remove them and/or radiate them.

Other treatment options include this "super Herceptin", TDM-1 (or something like that), which is a targeted therapy that finds the cells that overexpress Her-2 and then deliver a traditional chemo that kills them. He doesn't know how to get it, though. Another option is that researchers at UW in Seattle are experimenting with a vaccine that stimulates your immune system to attack the cancer. He did say, however, that they have been experimenting with vaccinations like this for 30 years and haven't been successful.

I asked him about the radiation therapy that can direct radiation more precisely to the tumors in the lungs and his reply was that usually, that treatment was done for single tumors and that it might not be feasible for multiple ones. I don't think I'll give up that easily, though. I think it has to do with how much lung tissue is damaged by the radiation.

In the meantime, he said I can go ahead and stop taking Tykerb and Femara since they are apparently not working. Maybe he wants my body to recover from the treatments so that I can be as strong as possible prior to starting a different regimen.

I'd been planning to go to a conference in Miami in March and am now wondering if I should just wait and see how I do with this treatment. I'd hoped to use my tax refund to take Eddie to Orlando and Disney World ... but I think the only way I could do it (if I have some side effects from treatment) is if someone else joined me. Gonna think on that one for a bit longer.


jmoore4you said...

Hi Dee,

I hope for good response from your new drug regime. Have you been on Herceptin previously? Hopefully, the two drugs will just do the trick.

Joanna Moore

Carver said...

Dee I'm sorry you're dealing with this. My good thoughts are with you.

Daria said...

Wishing all the best for you. Hope that new treatment kicks some butt.

I was on Femara and it didn't work for me either.

Dee said...

Hi Joanna,
I haven't been on Herceptin yet, so I hope it will do the trick. We'll see!

Hi Carver, Thank you for your good thoughts, as always. I don't feel like I can complain too much - I had a good run of tumor markers, almost a year, and I expect to get back to that point with the new treatment.

Hi Daria, I'm so glad you're doing better - sorry to hear Femara didn't do the trick for you, but hopefully, you're on a regimen that will help!