Tuesday, 2 April 2013

That Straw.

March was a busy month and then we had a very, very busy and fun stressful filled Easter here.

Poor camel, today, she broke.
It prompted tears.
It wasn't one 'thing' in particular, just the succession.
The last straw.
Beyond endurance.

I arrived and waited over 45 mins to have to my Herceptin ( trastuzumab), a 3 weekly treatment, not chemotherapy but a special intravenous drug. It is a monoclonal antibody that interferes with the HER2+ receptor. It has had a "major impact in the treatment of HER2- positive breast cancer". I am unfortunately in the 20% that is HER2+ - an aggressive form of breast cancer.

One of the significant complications of Herceptin is its effect on the heart. It is associated with cardiac dysfunction and a condition of treatment is that regular cardiac screening with a MUGA heart scan be undertaken during the treatment period (one year).
Anyway they cancelled my Herceptin.

The reason - I hadn't had my 3 monthly heart scan ...3 calendar months is tomorrow '3rd', 3 months exactly to the day is Thursday 4th which is what scan place booked me for. I had my last heart scan Thursday January 3rd...{are you still with me}.

It's complicated because my last scan was slightly earlier than the 3 months.

I know they are just doing their job but at no time previously did anyone stress the importance of  Heart scan before a certain next treatment.

It was my own fault.
They explained it away and it was just me, stretched. 
Though I fully understand.
For as long as I could I stayed as calm as I could, deep breaths, then the spillage of tears.
That was that.
It threw me.
Unglued me.
I reached my limit.

I hate even thinking about heart damage too*.
A gentle hand rested on my shoulder briefly.

Having it a few days late (under < week) won't make much difference (over a week does) but administering it - if my heart function is affected could ...their registration ...my heart. 
I understood.

Completely why. It's more important to know my heart function is still good.
It doesn't really matter in the 'big picture' if I have it on Friday after my scan.

...I should also update the little lump, the penultimate straw.
I had a Fine needle aspiration of my 'breastless' right lump, Monday 18th. Thursday 21st my regular GP called me back to say the result was inconclusive - only because they only had blood in the sample. She reassured me it was all okay but referred me back to the Oncology clinic Drs for further options.
I was in Sydney , not much I could do but wait till Monday.
Last Monday , first thing , I tried to get an appointment to see the Oncology GP. (The Sydney Oncologists 'big guns' only fly in on Thursday) . The lady, (who I didn't know except she wasn't either of the two receptionists I knew) 'suggested' that the Oncology GP wasn't the right person but my Breast Surgeon in Sydney was perhaps better and she would call me back.

Was I anxious about waiting longer ...you bet !

Instead, I rang my Breast Cancer Support Nurse ; not a McGrath Nurse - though they do similar jobs and work together anyway, to bring comfort and support rather than to administer actual nursing care or any treatment.

She immediately took action to get hold of my results, send them to, and seek advice from, the Sydney Oncologist. Surprisingly he reviewed the scan results of the little lump the same day. My BC Nurse called me back to say the Head Oncologist felt it wasn't anything to worry about ; they would also talk about it the next day at the conference call meeting. I think an appointment was discussed but I said I had my treatment the following Tuesday{today}. I felt a little less anxious anyway after her call.
Nothing is ever certain, everything remains somewhat stressful, wondering. It always will be from now on.

Back to today...
Swiping away my tears , I mention I need to see GP for scripts for medication, my nurse gets my notes and says they are in 'the pile' for when the DR arrives. I still need a blood test, now three monthly too. I leave to have the blood test at pathology and return to the Oncology waiting room. Tick, another requirement done and dusted.

Eyes still puddling, softly spilling down my cheeks , my nose dripping  and no tissues anywhere. The Pink lady [volunteer] unable to locate tissues when I ask, offers serviettes,they do the job just as well.

After a short wait I get my consultation with the lovely oncology GP. She sorts my scripts, checks my little lump and reassures me. She also offers for me to see the counselor but turned out the counselor was not in today.
This. too. will. pass and things will go back to normal.

The other 99 straws , some significant, some insignificant who knows. I am okay.

I wanted to tell you about our Easter , another day now.

Don't ask me about DS19 and the metal fragment in his eye (He did it last Tuesday at work , thought it was ok - he arrived Thursday night and his sore eye gave him grief and pain Friday/Saturday -  after two visits to Hospital Casualty - he went home Sunday with referral to The Sydney Eye hospital and it was all removed yesterday)
...or DS6 - riding into a barbed wire fence yesterday - he just has a few minor facial scratches. I was not present either ...he was at my Brother's on DH's 'watch'.
...I was busy volunteering at Meals on Wheels and nearly got wiped out as the passenger , by another car , when my driver changed her mind about turning right and continued straight ahead. Note:no accident actually occurred but I did have to squeal "watch out" loudly at the driver)
(*Edit to add: my last scan in January was fine, they expect this one to be as well)
So tell me what you did over Easter - did you have fun ?