Monday, April 24, 2017
Looking, Hoping, Searching for Answers
With my chemo treatments coming EVERY week now, I realize my posts may become shorter and pithier as I try and describe my various feelings and experiences. Much of this time: emotions, side effects, etc., have become routine – mundane almost – in their regularity and familiarity. Although, I’m not immune to the abnormal reaction here or there (as you will read below) – my goal is to stay as boring and “average’ as possible through these next 10 weeks.
On the more "exciting" side, I have developed an allergic reaction from the new chemo drug – Taxol. It’s is a delayed one – it appeared 3 days post treatment during round one. A torso rash – looks like I have a pretty bad sunburn and it itches. Worried the bad reaction would keep me from round two, I was persistent to have my oncologist order higher doses of anti-histamines and promise that she’d come up with a plan for round two.
She did. Higher doses of steroids, along with anti-histamines to try and keep the allergic reaction at bay for round two. So far, it has worked. She also is in discussions with my insurance company to get approval to use an alternative drug to Taxol – Abraxane – which does not have the same adverse side effects as Taxol. The insurance company initially has DENIED her request - bastards. But neither of us is giving up. She has appealed and I have engaged assistance on my end to appeal as the “insured”. Anyone thinking this gal is just gonna take a “no” for an answer now, is sadly mistaken. And while I don’t like the idea of being hyped up on mega steroids for the next ten weeks – and my doctor isn’t thrilled about this either due to possible long-term effects - if I have to do so in order to get thru this, I will. Stay tuned for more on this one……
I received the results of my exhaustive genetic testing last week. As you recall, I was diagnosed with “triple negative" breast cancer. Approximately 10-20% of all breast cancers are diagnosed as triple negative. The triple negative refers to the three known “breast cancer receptors”: 1) estrogen 2) progesterone and 3) HER2. I did not test positive for any of these known receptors. Therefore, unlike patients who are positive to any or all of these receptors - drugs can be given to block the receptors as a course of treatment - the only course of treatment for me is chemotherapy.
Before testing, I was convinced I would find signs of why I have cancer – perhaps my genes would tell the story. Heredity. Perhaps the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. I almost hoped for a positive outcome in some ways just so that I would have some answers. But no. I tested negative for the entire exhaustive breast and gynecological genetic panels. A whole slew of genetic patterns examined for any sign of mutations, weirdness, strangeness….nothing.
As so here we are. I have cancer. No one knows why. There’s no known reason for any of it. What am I to do with that? I’m a person who likes things tied in bows. I search for the logistical, level-headed, reasonable answer for things. I helps to settle my mind. Gives me direction. A stated purpose for jotting a course. Instead, nothing. I may never know why I have cancer or if it will ever return. Because I don’t know what caused it. It keeps me up some nights. My mind races to find answers that just aren’t there.
Ten weeks to go in my chemotherapy. Seems like a long time to go – through June if I stay healthy and have no issues. To help the time go by, Liz and I have had several visitors stay with us over the course of my treatment to date. Along my brother (who remains my rock), and sisters-in-law (who planted an azalea garden for me!),All of this has made a world of difference in my staying positive and forward thinking to when this ordeal is over and I’m once again cancer-free. It is a gift I cannot repay. Thank you.
Posted by JJB at 1:03 PM