It’s been all go. I visited a kinesiologist/reflexologist on Tuesday. Wicked experience. Some people think Jackie is a witch. She sorted out my central chakra by, it seemed to me, manipulating my right big toe. My whole body buzzed. Her handling of the body is self-assured and relaxed but not at all poncey. Very knowing. You feel you are in good hands. I had to say several times ‘I, Hester, want to be well.’ Good point, I thought, as not being well has brought some groovy perks, and been interesting enough to become addictive. (Don’t worry, deep down I love being well.) I came away with Fucus sea supplement, flower remedies and advice to stay away from wheat and drink more plain water. Jackie did say ‘You are in good nick.’ I know it.
Today went to the hospital for bloods, oncology appointment and 2nd chemo. My kind friend Rhiannon accompanied me and took notes, as you can forget every darn word as soon as you come out. The doctor said there was good news as I am in the 25% of breast cancer patients that are HER2+. This means it can be treated with Herceptin. (I love its other name, Trastuzumab.) Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody approved for the treatment of early-stage breast cancer that is Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2-positive (HER2+) and has spread into the lymph nodes, that’s me. The Macmillan site says ‘It works by attaching to the HER2 protein on the cancer cells so that growth factor cannot reach the cancer cells. This stops the cells from dividing and growing. Herceptin also works by attracting the body’s own immune cells to help destroy the cancer cells.’ I am slightly worried to pick up from other sites that HER2+ cancers are generally considered more aggressive. (Also mine is Oestrogen receptive which is another high risk factor.) However, Herceptin has a good track record. It is the drug that hit the news in 2005 as women marched on Downing Street campaigning for its use in early stage breast cancer, as at that time it only had approval for use in secondary cancers.
Only thing is, side effects. It can cause cardiac damage. Not recommended for peeps with already dodgy hearts. Am booked in for an Echocardiogram in around ten days. The results of this will help with decision-making. There are always so many things to be weighed up. Herceptin also can’t be given with the FEC part of treatment. Only with the T part, which I have already had two thirds of. So might have to have it later on its own, maybe after the op.
The doctor could hardly detect where the lump was today. Good. It must have shrunk.
They offered me participation in a trial. It’s to test a drug that they already know works well on metastasized breast cancer that has gone to the bones. They want to know if giving it to early breast cancer patients reduces the chance of it going to the bones. I am keen to help them figure this out, but again, side-effects can be severe. The drug can quite seriously affect your jaw, your gums. Plus, you might be allocated randomly by the computer as one of fifty percent given the placebo. Which still involves being injected in the tummy. Often, over five years! I asked if I could opt to just take the bone drug instead of being part of the trial. No, you can’t. So, food for thought. Tabby says don’t go for it. You have enough messing about with drugs going on. I am inclined to agree, but all the drugs that are helping me now were tested on others. I am in a perfect position to help the researchers and I would like to do that. You do get extra check-ups and what if it did end up saving my bones? *Sigh* Would prefer to have been offered the ‘Eat lots of cooked tomatoes’ trial as I love grilled tomatoes with marmite on Ryevita.
So, Mike’s warrior in pocket, Annika’s beads on wrist, I sat in a reclining chair for the docetaxel. The nurse was from Mauritius. I told her my BFF in France, Manvina, is from Mauritius. Again with chemo we witnessed that a surprising amount of checking goes on. There are many figures on your sheet and on the bag of chemo, relating to how much of the drug is in how much saline, the time over which the drug will go into the vein etc. Rhiannon had a look at all these, noticing that the sheet did not tally with the bag. The nurse went off to check again. Calculations can go wrong, quickly. And remember the nurses have been doing it all day, with different figures zipping around their heads. Our nurse came over and pressed buttons on the timer thing, and said ‘two hours’. Both Rhiannon and I said, ‘No, it’s meant to be one hour.’ She went off again to check. You kind of have to stay on the ball. (And take a clever friend with you who can do maths.) After the hour, while the nurse was taking the needle out and applying pressure we had a long discussion about vegetables, Mauritian pumpkins and squashes.
All went well. I came home, had miso soup. Unwrapped soft cotton head scarves sent by my friend Georgina in Weston-Super-Mare and silk bluey-greens from Sarah in Saffy Walden. Kindness! I am not going to be lacking for cover. My friend Margaret came round with some very easy seed sprouting containers, complete with sprouts. They are exactly what I need. You rinse and drain the jar or trays twice a day. We drank green tea and sampled the sprouts.
Tabby, Bashi, Fred and I took the dogs for a walk then I went to bed at around six. The dogs sneaked up with me. They know when I won’t have the heart to send them downstairs. Whisky is wary of the smell of the toxic Yew Bark so he didn’t try to get under the covers as he usually would.
A couple of hours later Fred brought me hot vegetable and chickpea pie made by my friend Arulesh with ratatouille made by my friend Tina. People’s generosity and practical understanding continues to astound me.
It’s four in the morning now. The steroids are doing their work ie. keeping me awake. It’s my birthday. Katze is purring. Right outside my window it’s the dawn chorus.