Tomorrow I will find myself (for the second time), battling 'The Big C'. Unfortunately this time it's not as simple. The doctors cannot give me the treatment and then say "You're cured!" No, this time the cancer is here to stay :o( Now it's all about making me comfortable (from the pain), getting my body into remission and keeping it there.
A few weeks ago the surgeon called to let me know about the pathology report. It was found that because it's been 12 years since my breast cancer, the cancer cells are presenting themselves a little differently but...they 'believe' the new sites are breast cancer related. That leaves me with a bit of doubt in my mind but that's the best they can give me unless the treatments don't work and prove them wrong. Great system, don't you think? I know I have some of the best doctors on my case but after my initial experience, it's hard to put my full faith in someone else's hands.
So yesterday, DH and I went into the 'big city' to meet with the Medical Oncologist. The day had finally arrived where I would know the plan of attack. In a nutshell, my treatment will consist of the following...
I'm being put on a drug called Letrozole (brand name Femara). For how long, I don't know. It's similar to Tamoxifen and does the same thing by lowering what estrogen levels I have left in my body. If the cancer were to return, then that might be the point where chemotherapy is called for. The doctor believes that my outlook is good considering the length of time since my breast cancer back in 2000.
I'll also be given a drug called Pamidronate every month. It's given by IV and takes about 2-3 hours. This will help strengthen my bones and aid in rebuilding the hole in my sternum. We'll have to travel to the 'little city' for this.
Finally, there will be radiation on my sternum to help with the pain. I have an appointment next week with the radiologist so we'll know more about this then. The oncologist said it 'might' be a five day course and that it will be fairly soon. I'm not thrilled about radiation but the pain is getting worse. I've tripled my long lasting pain medication and it still hurts...a lot!
Right now, DH and I are still trying to wrap our heads around what is happening and how it will affect our lives. It took me eight years to get over the fear of my breast cancer returning and now...well now I have to live with the fact that this is being treated like a chronic disease and I'll be screened for the rest of my life :o( There is no escaping it this time. But...I am stronger so I'm sure I'll be able to figure out a way that cancer doesn't take over my life. I've got two very good reasons right here with me ;o)
I just cannot get over all the wonderful cards/emails full of support, prayer and friendship, along with thoughtful gifts that will help alleviate some of the financial burden. It touches my heart that we mean that much to people. I've tried my best to send out thank you notes or reply to Blog comments but if you didn't leave an email address, I could not get back to you personally.