I’ve been dreading this post. Somehow putting it all in writing makes it real and that’s the last thing that I want. But it is real and it is happening and it doesn’t matter whether I write it down or not, so here goes.
First things first – I have COVID. Because there’s not enough things wrong with my body – COVID decided it was my turn. My symptoms are very very mild – and I probably never would have assumed COVID. But this past Sunday, Travis woke up feeling like crap, and since he was supposed to go to LA the next morning, he took an at-home test… which came back positive. He took a second, just to be sure, and I tested with one of his other at-home tests…. and everything was positive. So Monday morning, he called his doctor, who suggested he self-refer for the monoclonal antibody treatment. So, we both did – we both got approved and we both got our infusions today. So fingers crossed on that front.
I, then, spent a bunch of time on the phone with doctors’ offices trying to get information, appointments switched to virtual, etc. Still not done with that yet, though! But, I was supposed to have my oncologist follow up – so we got that switched to virtual for that afternoon.
Dr. Rizzo is great. She’s so kind, and compassionate. We went over some of the pathology from the surgery, and then started talking about treatment plans. As a starting point, with the news of all the cancer in the lymph nodes, she’s re-visiting all the imaging I’ve had done to see if there are any others that we should biopsy. It’s concerning that the one had previously biopsied benign, but with excision, found a bunch of cancer. So we don’t want to miss that again if we can help it.
I need to have an ECHO done to test my heart function as a baseline, and meet with a cardio oncologist. One of my chemos is from the same family as last time, meaning that it has the potential to do some serious damage to my heart. So we need to make sure of where things are at now so we can monitor throughout treatment.
Dr. Rizzo also wants me to have a bone scan, again to see if the cancer has spread anywhere else. That apparently involves a dye injection and then coming back a few hours later for the actual scan.
Last, I’ll have a Mediport placement scheduled. That will be a port placed in my chest as a central line. One, because chemo is so damn toxic that it can’t be put into just any old vein – it would basically burn and destroy small veins. Two, because I’ll need to be ‘stuck’ so often that having the Port is significantly easier. I had a Hickman line in last time, which is a similar concept but different execution.
My Echo and bone scan are scheduled for the week of Christmas; I assume Port placement will probably happen around then as well.
Then there’s chemo. I will have eight cycles of chemo, received as a 5-hour infusion once every two weeks. So… four months, but only one day every other week. The first part will be doxorubicin (similar to what I had last time) and cytoxan – four cycles of those at the same time. The second part will be Taxol – and the same four cycles.
That takes me through the end of April, presumably. My first day is scheduled for 12/29 – assuming I can get COVID out of my system by then. I also have a “chemo teaching” appointment next week with a nurse practitioner so I can learn about how this chemo will be administered and such.
After I finish chemo, I’ll need to have additional surgery. At minimum, to remove additional lymph nodes. Possibly to remove more tissue from around where Benedict was. The docs are still debating whether that will be necessary or not. I can’t remember if I mentioned this in the last post or not, but when Benedict was removed, they found a second instance of cancer in the sample. Benedict was an invasive ductal carcinoma – meaning it left the milk duct and spread elsewhere. What they found was a tiny spot of ductal carcinoma in situ – meaning a tiny spot of cancer inside a nearby milk duct. That tiny spot was super close to the edge of the sample, so they may decide to go in and take more, just in case.
I don’t know what the radiation plan is now. Originally it was going to be eight weeks, but now that everything has shifted, I just don’t know. I meet with the radiation oncologist next week and presumably will know more then.
Surgery recovery has been mostly good. The incision site looks good. Some discomfort, but no real pain anymore. I do feel like I have an overfilled water balloon attached to me, which is weird, but it gets a little better every day.
I’ll be preemptively shaving my head at some point closer to chemo. It’s already half fallen out anyway, and it’s something I can control, so I’m going to do that. Gotta get some scarves and such first, though – since I’m always so freaking cold.
Also taking suggestions for passing the 5-hour infusion time for my chemo. I don’t have a lot of dexterity in my fingertips right now, so things like knitting aren’t going to work. My dear friend Peg sent me an awesome coloring book, so I’ll have that. I’ll be able to catch up on some podcasts, I’m sure. But…. I need more!