Friday, 21 September 2012

What the Future Holds

I may have mentioned in previous posts that I understood that if my tumours continued to shrink, I might get a break from chemo this fall, while I would continue with the drugs Herceptin and Pamidronate (the cancer-stopper and bone-builder, respectively). I knew that because I have advanced breast cancer that I'd be on and off chemotherapy for the rest of my life.  Apparently it will be more "on" than "on and off."

Last Friday, Geoff and I met with my wonderful oncologist to get the results of my latest CT scan.  We got good news. The tumours in my liver continue to shrink. They are still numerous, but under 1cm in size, except for one. That last large tumour has continued to shrink and is now about the size of the end of my pinkie finger. By the way, my blood tests for some time have shown that my liver is functioning well despite the tumours.  I figure that if my liver can live with cancer, so can I.  The tumours in my bones appear to be stable; no better, no worse.  Contrary to what I was expecting, there were no new fractures. I believe the CT looked at my breasts too. The results didn't give any measurement of the original breast tumour. I don't know if that means it's completely gone or if they just didn't measure it.  It doesn't really matter.

My oncologist reminded me that Stage IV breast cancer is a chronic disease. Like other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and even depression, medical treatment doesn't take a break. He also explained that the unfortunate reality of breast cancer is that, eventually, each chemo medicine stops working. He hopes to get as much benefit as possible from each chemo treatment.  So, I will continue to get Taxol every three weeks, "as long as it is working and it is well-tolerated."

I have to be honest, I was disappointed to get the news. Somehow, I'd dreamed up a chemo-free future where, for one thing, it might be easier to return to work. I have to rethink things. I have to accept that the chemo will continue. So every three weeks I will have a few days where I feel tired and nauseous, and have sore fingers and toes (my weird side-effect).  I don't know how well my hair will continue to grow.  My chemo-brain syndrome will continue to interfere with my speaking.

I get a tiny break though.  No chemo on September 28; I start again October 12.  That means I won't be recovering from chemo when I do the Run for the Cure on the 30th, that I can attend a retirement party on the 28th, and that my nephew's wedding won't be on a chemo weekend.  See?  All good.


  1. My mom's fifth cancer is mycosis fungoides, which is usually diagnosed post-mortem. She took the family on a Disney cruise after she was diagnosed because the docs were all telling her to enjoy her "final" months. She has had to go for photochemotherapy in Tampa every month since then. My poor mother...she's got a beautiful tan from the light therapy, and everyone tells her how healthy she looks. She's up in Sudbury right now, having gone up for her nursing school class' 50th anniversary. Everyone has told her she looks fantastic! Not bad for someone who has been DYING for the past 8 years!!! Like you, as long as it's working, she'll continue. I hope that yours works as well! <3