In mid-September I had a heart scan. This is the test where they inject you with radioactive material, wait twenty minutes, then take video of your heart, pumping away. I got to watch a little bit of it and, as far as I could tell, my heart seemed to be doing a very good job.
I found it to be a pretty reassuring experience (and slightly less bizarre then I did back in January when I first had this test done).
A week or so later, I went to see my medical oncologist, expecting to be given a date to start Herceptin. Instead, I was told that my heart had not sufficiently recovered from chemo.
The chemo I had was pretty aggressive. And that there is always a 1-2% chance that chemo will permanently damage your heart. There is also a 1-2% chance that Herceptin will damage the heart. Taken too close together, there is a thirty per cent chance of the heart being permanently damaged.
Chemo is very, very toxic. And Herceptin, which I will be taking every three weeks for a year, is pretty toxic, too.
My next heart scan is scheduled for November 10th and I expect to start Herceptin shortly thereafter. My heart and head should both be ready by then.
I have an appointment with my radiation oncologist this morning. My skin seems to have recovered really well and that I am working hard at regaining strength and mobility in my shoulder and arm. I expect to be told that I am doing well but I admit that I'm nervous.
I am making good progress, though, and as my hair grows, I look more like a hedgehog than a cancer patient.
I think I have reached the point where it is not immediately obvious that I've been in chemotherapy. A highlight of the staff retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago was the moment a colleague from Vancouver (who doesn't know me well) inquired as to what kind of leave I'd been on.
That made me feel really good.