When I was first diagnosed, we went through the process of consulting with doctors and contemplating treatments. Just thinking about the various directions in which we could go was overwhelming. After tumor board, we had resigned ourselves to the fact that I would have to do surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. I think one of the most difficult aspects of being diagnosed with cancer is not the cancer itself, but understanding the difficult side effects that come with treatment. Surgery was cool, radiation sounded okay, but chemotherapy scared the crap out of me.
During the bargaining phase of our grief, C and I tried to wiggle our way out of chemo...the docs were not amused. Finally though, I decided that it was going to be okay - I was going to endure (obviously, cause you, know...to kill the cancer). I made plans. I called a friend who does hair and asked if she would cut it short, and eventually shave it. I researched wigs - specifically turning my own hair into a wig (it's totally a thing). I made a mental list of friend who offered to sit in sessions with me - sorry if you were just saying it to be nice. :)
When we found that the cancer has metastasized, though, everything seemed to change. It's hard to tell though, if the change happened specifically because of the metastasis.
A few weeks ago, when my bone biopsy had been scheduled, before I had results, we met with an oncologist and went over our Plan A and Plan B. They are markedly different:
Plan A: Stage III: We do chemotherapy first so that the medication can go through the body and kill any renegade cancer cells. Then surgery, then radiation to the chest wall.
Plan B: Stage IV: Endocrine therapy. See how it goes. Take it from there.
If you've seen any of the previous posts, you'll know that we are at Stage IV. The oncologist basically said that we don't want to exhaust our options. We want to try different methods, see what works, and proceed once we know how the tumors respond. Many women prevent breast cancer and/or prevent recurrence by taking tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is a hormone receptor suppressor that blocks the flow of hormones to the tumor. Many breast cancer tumors are very sensitive to estrogen and progesterone. Right now, this little pill keeper is my BFF. I used to have a moment of panic when I didn't put my keys, or my makeup in my purse. Now...on my drive to work each morning, I reach into my purse and make sure this baby is with me.
For the time being, I take tamoxifen everyday, along with my other vitamins. Because the tumor on my spine has already started to wear a little on the bone, I also get a monthly injection of Xgeva, which is typically used to treat osteoporosis. One doctor recommended injections of Lupron as well. Lupron shuts down ovaries and all hormone production. It also puts the patient into menopause for about a month (for reference, women usually experience menopause over a period of two years). I can handle a lot, but I can't handle menopause at 28. Funny how we have our tipping points. I told my oncologist that I'll do Lupron if I don't see decent results in six months. He's down.
Almost one month in, we aren't doing too shabby. I feel grateful each day that I get to hold on to a little bit of "normal" by doing this first. I don't know what the future of my treatment plan will bring, but I'm not inclined to worry about this now. Two weeks ago, I started to feel hot flashes. They don't really bother me much. I find them more amusing than anything - luckily, I'm too brown to look flush.