What a difference 15 minutes in your oncologist's office can make.
Last Friday, I had a routine appointment with my onc and ended up walking out a little dazed and confused. It started out as they always do, with my doctor making sure I was feeling okay and there was nothing different than normal (normal chemo stuff) going on in my body.
He then asked me if I had had the MUGA-scan done yet. After informing him that I did a few days earlier, and him checking to see if he had received the results, he left the room and asked one of the nurses to call the office where the scan was done to get the results that had yet to be delivered.
He came back and then asked me about my appointment with the radiologist. I told him it was scheduled for the 21st (of September). He didn't seem pleased with this and asked me why so late. (He referred me to the doctor three weeks ago.) I told him there were scheduling problems on both sides and why did it really matter since I wasn't to start radiation until January (or after the last chemo treatment). He gave me a weird look and said, "no, I was hoping you would be starting radiation by the end of the month." WHAT?!
It turns out that radiation is to start after the "super" treatments ended and can be done while receiving herceptin treatments. Okay... so it looks like I'm shooting for the beginning of October. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just that I'm not prepared mentally for this. I thought I wouldn't have to think or worry about this for months.
Then the doctor told me my Herceptin treatments will continue on for a year. WHAT?! A year?! No, for 6 more treatments (I'm thinking). No, for a year (he's saying). He shows me the treatment plan page in my file and it says, "continue for a total of a year." As I write this, I'm thinking I need to call for clarification. I'm still not sure if he means a year from now or a year from when I started them back in May. Either way, I'm not going to be done in December and if it's a year from now, it will 17 more treatments. 17!!
By now, the nurse comes in with the results from my MUGA-scan. It showed that there has been some damage to my heart. My score from an echocardiogram back in May was 63. Now it's down to 48 and anything under 50 is a cause for concern. The doctor wants to hold off on treatments for four weeks and have another MUGA-scan at that time. I was surprised - but happy - to hear that my heart can heal and that it should be in better shape in just four weeks.
So, to summarize: no herceptin treatment tomorrow and none for at least four weeks. MUGA-scan in four weeks and praying that my heart is repairing itself. In that time, I should be starting radiation treatments and I don't even know what that looks like yet (time, duration, etc.). And my herceptin treatments will either last for a whole year starting whenever I can start them or will continue to May/June.
I won't lie, I had a small melt down when I got home. Mostly because of the thought that I'm not going to be done with all of this by February or March. I was looking forward to having it all behind me by spring and celebrating that fact. There are days when I'm just so sick of being a cancer patient and Friday was one of those days before I even met with my oncologist.
Now that I've had a couple of days to process all of this, I'm feeling less anxious about it all. I hear radiation is no walk in the park, so there's a little apprehension there, but it will be nice to get it over with. Even though I don't want to have any delays in my treatments, it's kinda nice having a break when there's nothing being pumped into my body. I'm glad for technology that can show there's something going on with my heart and thankful for my doctor who cares more about my health than pushing forward with treatment.
And the biggest blow - continuing herceptin treatments longer than I had planned for - may be a blessing in disguise. Who am I to know how much of this drug my body needs to kill off all the HER2 proteins in my body? The only one who would know such a thing is God. I'm hoping it's HIS plan that my treatments are to continue... for however long.