The walk through the dark fire is OVER! My 6th and final chemotherapy treatment was Thursday, September 8th. I cannot express how grateful I am to have come through the darkness of cancer to see the light of the future for me. A close friend of mind talked about the light at the end of the tunnel and to keep your eye focused on it. He was right.
I must admit that I am emotional about the chemo process ending and moving forward. I know that I still have to go through some very dark days for the next week, as that is the process with chemo. In about a week I should be building up my strength again, getting my strong mental abilities back. Hopefully the chemo brain will not last that long.
Although the chemotherapy is over, the nine (9) months of Herceptin maintenance begins. I have a very aggressive form of breast cancer called HER2-positive. Because of this I will receive infusions of Herceptin every three (3) weeks for the next nine months. Here’s a little history on Herceptin and how it is helping women with HER2-positive cancer.
Herceptin in Early-Stage and Advanced Breast Cancer Herceptin® (trastuzumab) was the first targeted medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designed to treat human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer, a more aggressive form of the disease.
In September 1998, Herceptin was approved in combination with chemotherapy (paclitaxel) for treatment of women who had not received previous medicines for their advanced (metastatic) HER2-positive breast cancer (first-line treatment). It was also approved as a medicine to be used alone for women who had received prior chemotherapy (second- and third-line treatment).1
In November 2006, Herceptin was approved for treating early-stage (adjuvant) HER2-positive breast cancer when given with chemotherapy (doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide and paclitaxel), a combination called AC-TH. In January 2008, it was also approved as a stand-alone medicine following anthracycline-based chemotherapy. In May 2008, Herceptin and chemotherapy (docetaxel and carboplatin), known as TCH, was approved. This treatment regimen has been associated with a lower risk of heart damage when compared to other combinations of Herceptin and chemotherapy. Another AC-TH combination, comprised of Herceptin, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide and docetaxel, was also approved in May 2008.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States. Approximately 15-30 percent of breast cancers are HER2-positive. Just my luck to get this!
I don’t know if I will ever be able to completely thank all of my friends, colleauges and closest family members enough for supporting me every step of the way through this horrific experience. I have had tremendously skilled physician’s save my life and put me back together after the horrific attack my body received.
This has been a most humbling experience for me. It has also been a very liberating one. I always wondered what I would look like bald. I have wondered about that for years. I think I carried it off pretty well. I never wore a wig and I will sport cool hats when I return to work. My bald head with little hair growth is my badge of courage and I will wear it with pride. I also wondered what it would be like to be a married woman and have to have a double mastectomy. I used to wonder what kind of impact that would have on a couple. Oddly enough my curiosity was answered when I got cancer. We have not let it change us too much. Reconstruction opportunities are amazing and my good friend and plastic surgeon Jay Orringer, M.D. www.drorringer.com is the master of reconstruction and he is going to help me. We owe Jay a lot. He has been there 150% from the moment he sent me to my breast specialist in January to just last night when he called to check on me. Through everything he has held my hand and walked me through the fire. I will always love him for this.
Cancer is a life changing experience that I would wish on no one. Chemotherapy in my opinion is right up there with water-boarding (torture). I am glad that I am done with the chemo. Now I have faced one of my greatest fears and I have won the battle. I did not kick cancer’s ass. It truly kicked my ass and it ripped my body in half. I will never say that I kicked it’s ass. I will politely bow down to it and acknowledge it for its power. I went through the battle and succeeded at finishing the race.
I know that everyone who knows and loves me is glad that this is over and is excited that I can start really living again.
This is WINNING.