Before I started this Journey…I was oblivious about all the different breast cancers and all the different treatments. Breast cancer was breast cancer kind of!!! I didn’t know!!! No clue!!!
Many people do not understand that there are different kinds of breast cancer (like me…before). Even some women, who have had breast cancer, do not understand the differences between triple-negative breast cancer, and breast cancers that are hormone receptor-positive or HER 2 positive.
Women I meet may have taken a hormone treatment pill for 5 years to protect them from recurrence. These women may not understand that this option does not exist for my type of cancer. Having to explain this is new to me and can at times be frustrating…because I’m learning myself, and I don’t have all the answers…yet…
Fact: Triple Negative breast cancer is harder to treat than other types of breast cancer. Many tripel negative breast cancers are aggressive. It all depends on the size of the tumor and if it has traveled to the lymph nodes in your armpit (which mine had) (common for tripel negative). Here’s where my wonderful Doctors came In, and reassured me that everything was going fine, even though it was a more aggressive cancer…but treatable!!!
Breast Cancer Gene Mutation – BRCA1 and BRCA2
Everyone has a BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene, which we get from our mother and father. When they work properly, these genes prevent the development of cancers. Less than 10% are born with this abnormality (mutation) in BRCA1 and 2. If you’re born with this mutation you are at risk for developing breast, ovarian and other types of cancers. This test is done by a simple blood test…but here in the US not all insurances pay for them and they are expensive. The cost is around $5,000. With my type of cancer (Triple Negative) I was at a higher risk, and for that reason only it was covered! When my doctor suggested this test I said of course “Of course!” not knowing the cost or anything…then I heard from so many people that this was not covered by their insurance and I got a little scared…Come up with an additional $5,000 for this test??? We don’t have a money tree…Working on it though! ;o)
Turns out it was covered and I HAD NO MUTATION DETECTED! The test says they tested over 17,600 base pairs analyzed…Wow! 17,600!!! I hope this explains a little about the BRCA gene?
When I saw my doctor yesterday, before my Chemo treatment, we went through the NEW chemo I was about to receive…called TAXOL. What’s “funny” about this chemotherapy drug is that it’s called a plant alkaloids. Plant alkaloids are made from plants. It’s made from the periwinkle plant. The taxanes (taxol) are made from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree (taxus)…and to break it down even more the antimicrotubule agents are derived from May Apple plant and a portion of this comes from the Asian “Happy Tree” …to make it very simple – this concoction means they attack the cells during various phases of division. All this could be read on a website called www.chemocare.com. Don’t think I know this by heart! LONG side note!
So, my Doctor went through the new treatment and the new side effects. First of all I had to take 5 steroid pills the night before the treatment and 5 in the morning. This was to prevent any kind of allergic reaction this Taxol-plant (!) could cause.
- Low blood count– Yes, I’m anemic! Ugh! A good count level is 12…I have decreased to a level 8… at a level 7 I would need a blood transfusion. I’m trying to avoid that by changing my diet (again). Yes, I have looked it up and I pretty much know what to add to my diet…and lots of love and prayers from all…of course ;o)
- Hair loss – Hm! What’s there to lose?
- Pain in the joints and muscles – not yet…wait to be seen…felt!
- Neuropathy – tingling of the hands and feet. My Doctor was concerned about this one. It could become permanent.
- Nausea & vomiting – got good drugs for that. Will not happen!
- Mouth sore – Yes – Every time!
- Could have a strong allergic reaction from the Taxol. The nurse, Debbie, injected the Taxol very carefully, through my IV, for 15 min to see if I had a reaction. Luckily I was fine!
- And a few other things that are less important…
This blog has maybe been too serious…and scientific…But in a few years I will most likely be happy and proud of myself do have documented this…and think: Did I really go through this? Wow! There is light at the end of the tunnel…I am 60% though my chemo treatment. I have three left. I remember going into my second chemo – I was ready to QUIT! I was ready to tell my Doctor “I’m done! I don’t want to do this anymore!” But she was my cheerleader and LISTEN to me, and I got through that heavy meaningless feeling… I didn’t ‘sneak out’ the back door, but took charge, and faced my IT…
I hope this will help other people facing cancer. I want them to feel free to contact me. I would welcome them to pick me as their mentor, cheerleader, shoulder to cry on, two ears to listen and one mouth to support them…
Thank you all for reading my blog and thank you for your posts on FB! I’m overwhelmed by your support and LOVE! Absolutely overwhelmed! LOVE YOU BACK!