Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Back to Chemo

Where has the time gone? I don't even have an excuse for not posting since October. Well, a little excuse. I was scared to face the truth.

Like I mentioned in June, my breast lump grew back. Since then, we have been talking a lot about it, considering options. Initially my oncologist suggested that if the lump was problematic, the options were surgery and radiation. I saw my radiation oncologist in the fall. She wasn't inclined to radiate the breast unless it was causing a lot of pain. I had pain, but intermittently, and mild. Later in the fall, one of the physicians who supports the oncologist felt the lump and suddenly, a chemo trial was on the table. It was a trial with Xeloda and either Tykerb or a new anti-Her-2 drug. I will admit the prospect of chemo surprised and scared me. I didn't expect that, since I've felt quite positive about my experience with Taxol at the beginning of my treatment. Taxol and Herceptin was my first line of treatment. After a year of that, I took a short break and then started Tamoxifen with Herceptin. The Xeloda trial required two previous lines of treatment, I learned that only chemo counts as a line of treatment in the trial world, so I was ineligible. Tamoxifen didn't count.

The physician ordered another round of scans. I did a bone scan and the results showed stability in my bone mets. I was starting to think the breast mass was simply necrotic (dead) tissue. I wanted a biopsy before stating a new treatment. Then we got the CT scan results. Not only had the breast lump returned, it was continuing to grow. And, there was a second breast tumour I hadn't noticed. And there was some thickening in the abdomen that could represent new small tumours. And there is a mass next to my uterus. Chemo it is!

Ten days ago, I started Vinorelbine, with Herceptin. Clearly systemic treatment is required. Vinorelbine, which I like to call vanilla bean, is known to have milder side effects than chemos like Taxol, for example. So far, I've had some indigestion and constipation. So far, my hair hasn't gone anywhere, but it is too soon to tell if I'll lose it. I pray that the vanilla bean will be effective, with few side effects. I could use your prayers as well.

I will be in Vinorelbine for as long as it works and I can tolerate it. An ultrasound is being scheduled to investigate the uterine mass. And, I hope, I will get back to blogging, both here and on my family history blog. It has been too long between posts. Glad to be back.


  1. I forgot to mention that the big Vinorelbine side effect I need to worry about is that seven to ten days after treatment, white blood cells can plummet, leaving me at risk of infection, I've been told to avoid crowds and prepare my own food during the period of risk. We are using a lot more Purell these days.

    1. oh, my dear Kate,

      I am so sorry that your hope for tumor necrosis was shattered - and that there is another tumor in your breast. I'm glad that at least the bone mets are stable. it sounds as though your medical care team has put together the best systemic treatment possible. I will send my most powerful thoughts that "vanilla bean" does it's job brilliantly and plays nicely with your friend, Herceptin. and it's good, albeit a little scary, that the ultrasound will be scheduled to determine the uterine mass. both Hugh and I had periods where we were cautioned about the real concern for being highly susceptible to infection - we were given masks to wear whenever we went out and it did help us feel a better sense of safety - even if we weren't directly in the line of fire while avoiding crowds, we knew we could still be vulnerable just walking in the wake of someone's cough or sneeze. I have missed you, Kate, and even though you have had some pretty darn serious changes, I am glad you were able to write this update so all those who love and care for you so deeply can send out our very best prayers, good thoughts, and loving wishes for getting things working well for you.

      much love, my Dear Friend,

      Karen OOXOO

    2. As always, your comments warm my heart, Karen.


  2. Here's to Vanilla Bean, that it rids you of the breast tumors, abdomen and uterus too!! And I hope Herceptin keeps the little buggers at bay for a very long time. My love, hopes and thoughts are with you always. I'm so glad to hear your side effects are manageable and your bone mets are stable! Glad you are back blogging! xo

    1. Thank you, Carolyn. So far so good with the vanilla bean. I'm glad we are both back to blogging. ~Kate

  3. Hi Kate,
    So glad to see a new blog post! Welcome back. I sure hope the Vinorelbine works for a very long time and that the side effects aren't too bad. I always hate it when the oncologists ask if they're tolerable... Such a loaded question. Good luck with that ultrasound and thank you so much for the update. xxx

    1. I will do my best to keep blogging. Since the side effects aren't too bad, I can't complain, really. And I should get myself off the couch. Watch this space! ~Kate

  4. Replies
    1. So glad to be back, and included in your Round-up. ~Kate

  5. In the 4 years I was on vino, I lost not a single hair on my head. I hope that's true for you and those beautiful, beautiful curls. xo

    1. I have had a few loose hairs every time I shampoo, bit it isn't much. The chemo curls are fading though. I'm returning to my old, uncooperative waves. I'm cool with that. ~Kate

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