Archive for April, 2010

Herceptin

April 28, 2010

Mary Jo has completed three weeks of her radiation therapy.  Her doctor, Dr. Gold, says things are going as planned.  Just 18 more of the 33 treatments to go.  So far she is tolerating the radiation well.  We’re grateful for that.

Yesterday she also started a year long treatment which is an infusion of Herceptin.  Since she was Her2 positive, the infusion of this protein goes directly into the blood and should be of benefit to her by deterring new cancer cell growth.  She’ll get another dose every three weeks.  This protein has the potential to do some heart damage, so she had a heart test last week.  We were glad to find that her heart function is good.  That’s, of course, good news.  The doctors will order a heart imaging test every 3 months to make sure  that her heart is continuing to function normally during this treatment.

We did end up staying all day the 27th at the clinic with the two appointments.  Mary Jo did have a reaction to the infusion which is unusual.  She had severe body tremors or shakes so it meant taking a break from the Herceptin  and giving her some drugs to counteract the side effect.  She tolerated the rest of the treatment well.

It’s been about 8 months since her diagnosis.  It’s a long journey toward health and wholeness. Thanks again for your support along that journey.  We walk with God who strengthens us daily.

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Two weeks

April 22, 2010

Mary Jo has finished her second week of radiation.  No new side effects YET with the radiation, though some are most likely to come around the half-way mark in a couple of weeks.  She still has some of the side effects from the chemo including fatigue, anxiety and neuropathy.  But she is getting help with some of those side effects from the team of professionals around her.

Next week she will begin a year-long course of Herceptin which attaches itself to the HER2 protein and keeps those proteins in check.  The treatment is an intravenous solution she will receive every three weeks.  The Herceptin can be hard on the heart so they will closely monitor her heart function during this time.  It was necessary for her to have another heart imaging test yesterday to check how efficiently her heart wall is pumping and will have another test in three months.  Once radiation is done, she’ll also do hormone therapy for 5 years.  It’s an aggressive approach for an aggressive cancer.

Once again we discover how intricate and complex the human body is.  We know a lot already about it, but still find much of  it mystery.  All of us with or without cancer put ourselves in God’s hands every day.  There’s no better place to be.

1 week done

April 15, 2010

Mary Jo has her first seven radiation treatments over with.  Only 26 more to go.  Dave got to go the other day and see the radiation machine and see the treatment being given.  Interesting what can be done.  So far she’s done well.  They tell us that about half way through the treatments the side effects are worse.  We’ll take these weeks as a gift for now.

Mary Jo does seem stronger, yet remains fatigued.  A blood test yesterday showed that her hemoglobin is now in the low normal range.  She’s excited about that at least.  Fatigue is supposed to be one of the side effects of the radiation too.  So we’ll see how the next few weeks go.  If all goes well, she should be done with radiation on May 20.

The West Salem Relay for Life was last Friday night at the high school.  Mary Jo joined about 75 other cancer survivors in leading the crowd on the first lap of the relay.  It’s good to see the number of people who have many years after their cancer treatments.  She was one of two who were still in treatment.  It’s good to see the hope that is part of that event and the support of people in the community.  We thank everyone.

Radiation

April 7, 2010

Radiation therapy for Mary Jo’s breast cancer began on Tuesday.  One down and 32 treatments to go.  Since this will be an everyday occurrence from Monday to Friday, it will take her to May 20 to complete all the treatments.  That will be about 9 months since a mammogram discovered the cancer. While we hate to see her be subjected to more treatments, this seems to be the best practice for Mary Jo’s kind of cancer.

I suppose (or hope) there will come a day when surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation will seem an antiquated means of addressing this health threat.  But for now, this is the best we have.  We remain hopeful.

We’ll participate in the West Salem Relay for Life on Friday night.  We’ll be reminded there that Mary Jo is not alone on this journey.  Many have completed the journey and found new life through treatment, and others are still on that journey with her.  We celebrate the successes and grieve the losses.  God goes with us all.