Thursday, August 16, 2007

so this is what it looks like

I had my regular pre-chemo appointment with my oncologist yesterday.

Having had time to get over the wonderful shock of my CT scan results, I had a few questions:

Q-Can my chemo schedule be scaled back now?

A-Yes! (I pause to do a few cartwheels, at least in my head). Instead of a week of Herceptin and vinorelbine, a week of just vino and then one week off, I will have two weeks of treatment and then two weeks off. Is this about as clear as mud? Another way to put it is that instead of being in treatment two-thirds of the time, I'll only be in treatment half the time (although, this exaggerates the impact because I always have treatment on Tuesdays and feel better by the week end).

Q-So, what are we treating now, since there don't appear to be any tumours on my liver?

A-Once you are in Stage IV, you assume that the cancer is systemic and you need to treat it head to toe, with a systemic drug (my oncologist actually said that in this stage, they could give me lethal doses of chemo, followed by a bone marrow transplant, and still find cancer somewhere in my body). If my cancer had been hormone positive, I could have been treated with a pill (like Tamoxifen) but the only treatments available to me are Herceptin and more chemo.

Q-But things are looking much more hopeful than they were last November (asked very tentatively)?

A-An emphatic yes. I should expect however that I will need to change my treatment at some point, when this one stops working. He did make it very clear, though, that he has many other options in his arsenal.

Q-Should we credit the Herceptin for the dramatic improvement in my condition?

A-Vinorelbine and Herceptin have been shown to work remarkably well in combination with each other but yes, Herceptin is a wonderful drug. I am very fortunate that my cancer surfaced after it was approved in Canada for treatment of breast cancer.

Q-Is this what it means to be in remission?

A-Yes, it does.

So there you have it. I'll have a bit of non-chemo time in the next little while and I have a lot more reason for hope.

Not so long ago, daring to hope to attend the BlogHer conference seemed like hubris. Now, I'm working on a couple of big projects and doing a little planning for the future.

It feels good.


Lise said...

REMISSION - what a nice word! I am so happy for you, Laurie.

Mom2Amara said...

That is such fabulous news! Congratulations Laurie!

Chris said...

Smiling out here on the coast. Way to go Laurie.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy for you and your kids.

Blondie said...

I am SO HAPPY to read this!! Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CCCCppppCCppp said...

You *are* lucky that Herceptin has been approved for breast cancer. My wife had mets from cervical cancer. The most hope would probably have come from Avastin+capecitabine. Only approved for some other cancers here in US. There will be a clinical trial in a couple of years. She got cisplatin+topotecan which didn't do enough. The system can be improved. I wish you continued good luck.