After looking at the results of my last PET scan, my new oncologist in St. Louis has decided that I should have an indefinite break from chemotherapy. Basically, he’s going to monitor me until the cancer starts growing again. I know I should be happy, but I can’t help but feel ambivalent.
The reason behind the break was my body’s reaction to the chemo regimen that my previous medical onco had me on since my mets were found last November. I was on a three-week cycle of Gemzar and Carboplatin and after three cycles a PET scan showed that it reduced the lesions in my lung, bones and lymph nodes by 80%. It was amazing! But after three more cycles, little had changed. My onco was hesitant to try something else since it worked so well at first, even when my platelet levels started plummeting after a single treatment. I was hospitalized twice and had multiple blood transfusions (10 units total,) and when I asked about other treatments and expressed my discomfort with getting so many blood transfusions, she just continued with the same treatments. At least I think she did, since she never discussed any dose reductions or anything like that with me. I got to the point where I was getting one tx every five weeks.
I was really concerned that not getting my full chemo cycle meant that my treatments were no longer effective. My PET scan in June corroborated my fears. Virtually nothing had changed (except perhaps a very teensy shrinkage.) I wanted to stop the treatments, but my onco said no and that she might consider giving me a break in September. By the end of August I lost faith in her and went to the Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis for a second opinion. After talking to a new oncologist there I decided to fire my onco here in Peoria. I had another PET scan last week and as I expected, a weensy reduction, but the same lesions are still there. To give my blood a chance to fully recover, my new onco has decided to take me off the chemo until the cancer starts growing again. He’s also trying to get me into a clinical trial for a breast cancer vaccine.
So yay, I’m not getting chemo for a while. Yay, I won’t be feeling like crap all the time (just sometimes.) Yay, I won’t be covered with bruises or taking Lasix to keep my legs from swelling, making cute shoes impossible. Yay, my blood levels will be strong again. But at the same time, even my inadequate treatments felt like it was keeping the cancer stable. Now we’re not doing anything.
My cancer is Grade 3, triple negative and just waiting until it’s on the move again scares the hell out of me. I wish I could celebrate like my husband and my friends, but I can’t.