Liza was diagnosed with stage 2b breast cancer Dec 13, 2010. She completed chemo, radiotherapy and bilateral mastectomies in 2011. In December 2012 she was diagnosed with a recurrence, with brain and liver metastases. She has completed Gamma Knife for the brain lesions and is currently on oral chemo: Xeloda and Tykerb. She had a craniotomy in February 2015 for what turned out to be reactive scar tissue at the site of the formet brain metastasis, and a resection of a liver mass in July 2015.
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so today I am 3 weeks post liver resection and doing well. I feel like I have done way too many sit ups and two of my incisions are still healing, but I can't complain. I am back to the gym and working up to where i was before all of this happened. I have also had an echocardiogram done to check my heart function and met with the cardiologist. My heart is great and the cardiologist ok'd my oncologist's plan to put me on Herceptin. He says that evidence is that my decrease in heart function was from the Heceptin last time but is happy that I can recover what is lost with time off of the drug. He also stated that I had no evidence of decreased heart function even when it was at its lowest therefore it might be possible for me to stay on Herceptin even if it falls again. My oncologist isn't sold on that idea but we will cross that bridge if and when we have to. When pressed, she told me that if my heart function decreases within a few treatments, we might have to look at a new drug. If it decreases after prolonged treatment, then she would be willing to consider keeping me on Herceptin with maybe a few weeks break for recovery. Again this is all hypothetical. I am hopeful and so is the oncologist that my heart will hold out this time around because I haven't just undergone treatment with one of the most aggressive chemotherapy drugs (AC) and my body is not riddled with cancer as it was previously. I hold onto this hope, as several of the other drugs that would be treatment options in the future are even more cardiotoxic than Herceptin.
On Monday, I had my first Herceptin infusion at the hospital. I saw a lot of familiar faces in the staff, all of whom were very kind and welcoming. And each said that they were sorry I had to be back. They did offer me comfort, as it was hard to go back to the chair. The bright side was that there is a new infusion center since I have last had treatment at the hospital. Gone of the Zenith VHS tv's that didn't play and the manual bell that you had to ring for assistance. In its place is a bigger, brighter center that has new TV's, IPads if you want one, and a fridge/pantry stocked with food and drinks for you while you are undergoing treatment. My appointment ran a little late, as I had to wait to see my oncologist, and then had to wait for the pharmacy to get her order for my Herceptin. As I haven't received Herceptin in over 2 years, my infusion was run over a longer time to ensure I wouldn't have any adverse reactions to it. They also gave me a larger dose, called a loading dose, as it was my first infusion. Thanks to my trainer at they gym , I had great reading material and over all the time passed fairly quickly. I had a problem with my IV line kinking and almost had to have another one put in another place, but that was resolved by not using my arm and keeping it still. Next time, I will hydrate like crazy and use heat to see if they can find a bigger vein for the infusion to avoid this problem.
As I was sitting in the chair it is impossible not to notice the other people around you or hear some of their conversations. It struck me how well I was doing and that I was in a good place. There were a lot of people around me who were a lot sicker and having to receive chemotherapies with much greater side effects. I was thankful that I was doing as well as I was. I have come a long way since my initial chemotherapy treatments in 2010. Herceptin infusions are nothing. It is all relative. I felt a little fluish and am suffering a little more fatigue than before but it is manageable.
On the finding help for me front I did meet with a counselor today. It was helpful and started me on a path to having the tools I need to help both myself and my family. Good resource /confirmation that I am doing the right things for my children and myself. one of the resources I was given was a book about how to help children whose parents have cancer. It was written by her colleague/mentor. When I opened the front cover the dedication jumped out to me. It was dedicated to cancer counselors who inspired her to write and to practice. The counselor who encouraged her to write was my mother, Kathleen Hartnett. And the other is a close family friend who still checks up on me (you probably know who you are). Spiritual or not, I felt like it was a sign that I was in the right place doing the right thing. I feel a lot better about my ability to parent through this cancer journey, and about my ability to take time for myself. I thank people like the counselor I saw today for being there when people need them. Sometimes, i think it is a thankless job that isn't glamorous, but it is oh so important to those of us that utilize their services.
This past weekend, I took the kids to Great Wolf Lodge and had a great time. The next day, I was in a chair receiving chemotherapy. I had a hard time wrapping my head around how both of those things are my life. They are so vastly different. Somehow, I manage; we manage. I am good at compartmentalizing. The counselor said that is a good and healthy thing. So I think I am on the right path right now to recover once again. Living with stage 4 cancer is nothing anyone wants to do. It is hard. The fear never leaves you. But it is do able.