...Herceptin infusions, that is.
I guess it could be called "chemo lite" even though technically, it's not chemo. For the next 30 weeks, I'll go to the infusion center to get a herceptin only infusion. The side effects, compared to chemo, are minimal.
Herceptin alone is responsible for decreasing breast cancer recurrence for people with my type of tumor by 40-50%. However, this does come with costs: an increased risk of heart disease (cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, both of which can lead to death) and an estimated financial cost of $100,000/yr.
As I said before, compared to chemo, the side effects (other than heart issues) are minor: fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea. These side effects are said to decrease with future infusions. I had six herceptin infusions with my first round of chemo (last fall, before my surgery). At that time, I also received carboplatin and taxotere. I experienced quite severe leg and joint pain, especially the last half of the treatments, which lasted until January (I finished treatments in November). That pain was attributed to the taxotere. However, now I wonder about that because tonight, for the first time since it went away, I experienced that same pain, on a much lower scale, in my knees while I was driving (before, it was severe enough to cause me to automatically take pain relief if I were driving anywhere out of town), I can "feel" my knees sitting in this recliner, and my ankles were aching at dinner. Granted, this is all at a much lower level, but it is otherwise the exact same pain, in the exact same places that I experienced before.
Now I wonder, will it get worse over time? Is this a fluke? Is it all in my head? Or, will the pain build over time, and if so, how intense can it get over 30 weeks of treatment? Was it compounded by the taxotere?
Will I actually become an old lady before I stop feeling like an old lady?
So, that's what I did today, and, hopefully, that's what I'll do every third Friday for the next 30 weeks. So far, I feel fine, other than those odd, minor aches. You can read about how herceptin works here.
Meanwhile, the detox diet has been going well. I just may have to get used to cooking separately for myself because after 1.5 weeks of no sugar, no saturated fats, no grains, no dairy and eating mostly various leafy greens, fish, chicken, and berries, I really don't find the thought of other foods very enticing. For some reason, tonight, I had an intense craving for Bob Evan's biscuits, but even that intensity was much less than just a few days ago when I could have killed for a mouthful of the fried rice I made my family for dinner.
Now, if I could figure out how to replicate the Garden Tomato Soup that is served at Naslada, I'd be one happy camper.