Saw the oncologist today for my usual pre-chemo checks. Bloods are all good, as expected and my cough is more or less over, so those things are great.
However, he has now had a proper good look at my records and is recommending that I have 4 sessions of FEC and 4 sessions of Taxotere. So that's another 2 sessions and 6 weeks added to my treatments. Bummer. I am pissed off, but accepting that we have to do everything we can to try and kick the arse of this cancer. I have to admit that the fact he thinks it needs it, does scare me too. I don't think I have fully realised quite how aggressive this cancer really is and it is just starting to sink in. The reasons he gave are that his recommendation is largely based on how many lymph nodes had cancerous cells in them: 20 out of the 23 removed, including the one furthest away.
Earlier this week, I also received an appointment for an MRI scan on 16th December. I wasn't expecting it, so I asked why that had been ordered. Frustratingly, he couldn't recall why he had but it was on the system under his name but without the notes he says he usually puts on them. He said he does usually order them 'as a caution' and 'to clear any doubt' - presumably doubt about this being the right course of treatment.
I also could not get the results of my MUGA heart scan as the online system crashed again while I was there. This happened last time too!!! Is it me??? He wasn't quite so distracted by it this time, though! He said to ask again on Friday, when hopefully the system will be back up again. I think I said before, I am not too worried about that, as I think my heart is fine. Apparently, if it is on the weaker side, he will stick with only 3 sessions of FEC as FEC is more likely to have an effect on the heart - but either way, it will still be 4 x Taxotere. On the plus side, if I have 4 x FEC, at least I know how I am likely to feel on New Year's Eve and that I'll be OK going to H&P's party!!! Otherwise, I was due to have Tax on the 30th Dec, and that could have given me a bad effect and ruined my partying!!! ha ha ha!
I also asked about why have I been recommended for 10 years of Tamoxifen, as it seems uncommon. He said that he has prescribed it for 18 years before, but that was by the by!! He actually thinks I should stay on the Zoladex to suppress the hormones and that will give me options on what other drugs to have instead of Tamoxifen - but that we would discuss all of that at a later time. One step at a time.
We also got into a discussion about when/if I might be able to consider trying to get pregnant again. I completely accept that isn't going to happen for the whole of 2010, but would just like to have an idea of how far ahead we are really looking. I didn't ask about this, but the conversation went there anyway. He thinks I should wait for 2-3 years from diagnosis before trying, as the chances of recurrence are at their highest during this time. I have read this elsewhere, so I am not surprised - BUT I DON'T WANT TO BE 40 BEFORE I TRY AGAIN!!!! This is the thing I was most afraid of at the start.
And I also asked about when I might be able to consider a reconstruction - after herceptin, apparently, which I worked out today will take just over a year to be delivered (18 injections at 3 weekly intervals). That starts when Taxotere starts, which obviously has now been put back by 3 weeks, to the end of January 2010.
Student Sophie was with me again, so we sat and chatted after I had my bloods taken and before seeing Dr Iqbal, and she sat in with my appointment with him. He was very happy that she was there, so obviously feels that this way of training med students is a worthwhile one. He gave her full access to my records - Sophie, if you see anything I don't know and ought to, send me a text!!!! I want to know!! The project they are doing means they have to keep a diary of their time with their patient, and then choose an aspect of the experience to focus an essay on. She said she is going to do her final report on the fertility aspects, which sounds sensible to me.
Finally, Mr Iqbal said to let him know if my periods don't stop because he needs them to stop. I guess, needs me to stop producing oestrogen. I thought a 2nd period had started a few days ago, but it appears just to be spotting, so it does look like things are drying up in that department....
So, A Year in my Life? It will be more than a year of treatments, and it is something I am always going to be looking over my shoulder for. I have to learn to live with this now, and wouldn't want to 'forget' in any case. Hhmmmm, feels all a bit shit this evening.