Last week, my appointment with my oncologist was cancelled. Apparently, he was very sick with a high fever. Having a cancer patient's selfishness, my first thought was, "Oh! It's good that I won't be coming into contact with him then!" Then, my more empathic self remonstrated and I wished him well, poor man.
The nurse who works with him was kind enough to confirm my CT results. The tech who did the scan (or rather her radiologist boyfriend) was right. My scan was clean and there is still no sign of cancer on the liver.
However, the nurse also told me that my heart scan revealed that my ejection fraction (the measurement of my heart's ability to pump blood) was down to 48%. Fifty-five per cent is considered normal (before I started treatment, my EF was 56%), so this is not as bad as it sounds. It is however, a fairly significant drop and likely an indication that the Herceptin is putting a strain on my heart (a common side effect of this drug).
This is not the first time this has happened. Adriamycin (the 'red devil') was also very hard on my heart, so we waited a couple of months to start the Herceptin, in order to give my heart a chance to rebound.
According to my oncologist, it is easier for the heart to recover from Herceptin than from Adriamycin. We've discussed the possibility of taking a break from Herceptin (while continuing with the chemo) if damage should occur, so I am confident that this is what he will suggest when I speak to him tomorrow.
I am really reluctant to stop the Herceptin, since it has worked so well for me. There is a voice in my head (one of several. You have them, too. Don't lie) yelling, "Don't mess with what's working!" But the truth is that it's not working if I need to start taking heart medication or worse, end up with heart failure.
So, if my oncologist suggests doing chemo only for the next couple of months, I will agree (what choice do I have?). I will wait for my heart to rebound (it's weird because I don't feel any different, really).
But I am just a little nervous.
And chemo won't be as much fun without the Demerol.