05 August 2011
Next week I begin the road into drug trials. In particular a drug called Neratinib that they hope will lessen the recurrence of brain mets for women who've had a Her2+ breast cancer. I fit the bill for the trial (completion of herceptin and no mets), and so next week I am back at Auckland Hospital after a blissful break from over a year of 3 weekly visits.
I feel this decision is good as I'm taken care of by a great team, and the chance to try a new drug to help lessen my chances of recurrence is fantastic for me (unless I get the placebo). However it is tinged with fear, dread of new side effects and basic all round reminders that I'm not off this rollercoaster of cancer I've been riding.
But this morning I woke up with a swollen left side of my face, in particular my forehead has swelling that I've never experienced and upon showing it to my GP he announced he's never seen anything like it. I don't know what is wrong with me and every new thing that my body does since chemo threw it into a chaotic mess, throws me right back to feeling how I felt at the beginning of this journey...vunerable, emotional and well, scared. My face has been giving me grief since going on herceptin. Random lip swelling that I thought was allergy based has increased from once a month to once a week and has got me thinking its being caused by the onslaught of coldsores, otherwise known as herpes simplex virus, that I've been having since chemo and continued throughout the herceptin treatments. And every time I get swelling I end up with a big horrible and painful coldsore. So my GP has put me on a 6 month course of acyclovir to hopefully make it dormant. Alongside that I've bought some lysine tablets to hopefully kick my natural immune defence system back into gear. If that doesn't fix it, then I'll go back for more tests. Hmmm...lets hope this does the trick.
What I'm essentially trying to explain though is that for each woman who has finished the treatment for breast cancer (and I mean surgery, chemo or radiation, or in my case all three) the biggest fear is recurrence. Things that used to be only a bother and maybe we'd leave it, give it time to see if it will heal, any ache or unusual behaviours of our bodies are now elevated immediately to the status of METS! in our head. It's a lot to deal with mentally. We are always on the lookout for it.
The betrayal of our bodies for getting breast cancer in the first instance is just the start of the unpleasant cycle in which we find ourselves in and the mistrust of our bodies is long and continuing.
I hate cancer.