Polly Planner got her plan! Today was the long awaited appointment with my oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. So much information to digest, and we’ll get to that, but here is The Plan…
* I start chemotherapy next Friday, 10/26. I will get 4 cycles of Adriamycin & Cytoxan (AC) over an eight week period, every other Friday.
* My hair will start to fall out with the second dose. I came into this world bald, so fitting I will celebrate my 44th (wow, that sounds scarier than my hair falling out!) birthday this way. The hair thing doesn’t really freak me out, this happens to tons of women and I’ve never heard of anybody’s not growing back…plus I can have fun with the wigs!
* After I finish the 8 weeks, I need to do 12 weeks of two different IV drugs (Taxol & Herceptin), this time every week. The doc tells me although more frequent, this will be less “harsh” than the first 8 weeks.
* Then it’s on to 6 weeks of Radiation therapy, 5 days a week.
* I will also need to continue the Herceptin treatments every 3 weeks until I get to a year from now. This will just be about 30 minutes of IV treatment and doesn’t have much for side affects.
* I will top it all off with Tamoxifen, a pill, once a day for the next five years.
Whew, I asked for a plan and sure got one! Just for the record, I was asking for a shorter plan. The good news is it is a plan they know works for my type of cancer.
So, you may be wondering, if I have stage 1 breast cancer and my lymph nodes are clean, why such an extensive plan? Well, I’ve always been a bit of an over achiever. I had two small tumors, both cancer, but they had different characteristics. The bigger one (1.3 cm) had weak to moderate hormone receptors (estrogen & progesterone), but strong HER2+ receptors. The smaller one (0.6 cm) didn’t have the HER2, but was a strong positive for estrogen (ER+) & progesterone (PR+). I am what’s called Triple Positive. Since we saved lefty, I needed radiation no matter what. The Tamoxifen is to take care of the hormone receptors (ER+ and PR+) and the chemo & Herceptin is for the HER2. I am lucky as they know which drugs work on this type of cancer.
That was the long answer, the short answer is if I do all this my cancer will have a less than 10% chance of coming back. I’ll trade 5 months of crap for another 40 years of my life, which is a pretty great life!