I arrived at Roger Maris yesterday sans caffeine and breakfast per orders for my lab test, with a headache beginning to nag. I was relieved I didn't have to wait too long before they drew the final vial of blood for the cholesterol panel. Hello coffee and advil- breakfast of champions. Oh and pancakes, because the ones they make at the cafeteria aren't half bad.
I was then surprised to get a visit from Kathy my research nurse. 6 months after completion of the study I was on for tdm1, the study would like one last pregnancy test. She arranges for me to go back to the lab after infusion.
I sit tapping my foot in the exam room, waiting for Dr. P to arrive. His footsteps are quiet and he is in the doorway before I know it. He breaks into a huge smile and says- "Seems like forever since I've seen you!" It does.
He tells me everything takes him longer on the new Epic medical chart system, so just bear with him as he clicks through all the screens. (What normally takes me about 2 1/2 hours for a complete visit, takes 5 hours yesterday.)
He then prints out my lab results and swings around to face me. I visibly suck in air... he goes down the list in order. My WBC is still low, not unexpected even 2 months out from chemo. My platelets are also still low. But they have climbed some.
He then breaks formality, and I am reminded of the parts I love about him. In mid sentence he stops and leans closer "Is that your hair? No? Really? I can't tell, you really look good." His sincerity makes me blush.
My cholesterol it turns out, is high. Just a few points above where normal should be. And my heart rate- "off to the races as always." He mentions the possibility of two things- the addition of two prescriptions- one to lower my cholesterol and one to lower my heart rate. But we'll watch and wait for now.
And then we get to the very bottom of the list. My CA 27.29- my tumor markers. To be considered in the normal range they would need to fall below 38. Mine are 41. BUT, they were 44. Smile.
I'm still stable. Not free of cancer, its lurking in there somewhere. But, it doesn't appear to be growing right now. Whew. I feel God's steadying hand on my shoulder. All shall be well.
I get a thorough exam from Dr. Panwalkar- his fingers deftly examine every possible lymph node and he finds nothing.
Dr. Panwalkar almost sounds surprised as well. He keeps asking if I am sure and if anything at all is different. I walk in once every few weeks wondering what cancer will do. He walks in once every hour wondering and often knowing what cancer will do. My gratitude for what he does knows no bounds.
"Good new, bad news he says. Good news, you don't have to come see me for two more months. Bad news, we don't get to see you for two more months!"
Lots of people ask me this all the time- I will try to explain about the treatment I am still doing that is helping to keep me stable.
I will continue on getting Herceptin infusions once every three weeks. Herceptin targets only bad cells, and leaves the healthy ones alone. I will also continue on my Tamoxifen hormonal treatment-one pill daily by mouth. Tamoxifen shuts down my estrogen- estrogen feeds my tumors. I now have hot flahses, night sweats, and do not sleep as well at night. Trade offs I am willing to take on.
But I will remain on break from the chemo that ends up destroying both healthy and bad cells. I will also not have blood work or doctor visits during this time.
So... what we WILL be doing is trying to plan a trip... yep, THE trip. More to follow...