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Renate Kriegler Edwards
Nov 14, 2017 Latest post:
Nov 14, 2017
I have Stage 3 breast cancer - the tumor being about the size of an egg, and several lymph nodes under the corresponding arm affected. So it's quite bad in that respect, but at least contained to this and not spread any further. (They scanned my entire body immediately, even before we had the biopsy results.) The fact that it is big simply means I might need more and stronger treatment, and possibly more surgical removal. A bit nauseating, but I might just get two really sexy new boobies for my 40th birthday - many a woman's dream, right?!
Now, the reason why everyone's so positive about my outlook, is that my cancer is 7/8 HER2 positive - meaning it should respond very well to a hormone treatment called Herceptin. This both contains the cancer and may help prevent it from popping up again in the future. This drug is very expensive, but recently a woman campaigned for this to be offered by the NHS and here I am getting it for free - alongside everything else. I am very lucky! This drug on top of all the other nasty stuff may well send me into early menopause, but I guess that's a small price to pay - and perhaps even a relief, as womanhood is becoming a bit more burdensome as I grow older and I really don't want no babies!
I am being treated at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. Breast cancer is huge in Scotland and so they have invested in excellent facilities and treatment plans. This is also a research hospital, so the people treating me are some of the best specialists in the world!
Before my treatment started I was asked to consider participating in two clinical trials. They involve a few extra harrowing tests, but in return I get a lot more personal attention, more close monitoring, potentially less drugs if it looks good, and more post-treatment monitoring. It makes me feel good also that my participation might mean more to-the-point treatment for future patients. (That said, I should point out that my treatment anyway was tailored for me by a multi-disciplinary team based on many aspects of my condition.)
Drugs: Chemotherapy: Docetaxel + Cyclophosphamide - 4 cycles to start with, with 3-week gaps Hormone therapy: Herceptin (Trastuzumab) - for a year, every 3 weeks
After the 4 cycles of chemo, we will take a look at the tumor and either do 2 more cycles or do 4 cycles of another drug (FEC - or 5-fluorouracil, epirubicin and cyclophosphamide), or just go ahead and operate.
Surgery: Breast: I have a very large tumor in my breast. The chemo may shrink it a bit, but unfortunately due to other complications (quite a bit of calcification), they are strongly advising a full mastectomy at this stage. I can opt to have some sort of fake boob being put in it's place during the same operation, or later, or not at all.
Lymph glands: There are several cancerous lymph glands under my arm, so these will need to be removed too.
Radiation: After surgery I expect a few rounds of radiation - to "mop up" any remaining traces of cancer - which might not even be visible.