As reported yesterday, today I had an appointment with the oncologist. Dr Iqbal is at a conference in America so I saw another lady, very nice, but not one I have seen before. I also did not know the breast cancer nurse who was in attendance, which is a shame as Michelle - the regular nurse - is so lovely and I feel so much more of a connection with her. Today's appointment was apparently to follow up on Herceptin treatment and to consider the results of last week's MUGA heart scan.
And the results? Not good. :-(
February's result was 59% (blood being ejected through the left ventricle with each heart beat), and this time it was 44% - and therefore they have suspended my Herceptin treatment for the moment. She said that I would be referred on to a cardiologist just to be on the safe side, as my blood pressure is also higher than usual. I mentioned that last week it was 133/56, and today it was 135/90. I am normally consistent at 120/70 or thereabouts.
I will probably be recalled for a further heart scan in 2-3 months time and they'll then see whether I can be put back onto the Herceptin.
I have to admit, I fell slightly to pieces at this news. Possibly the thought that I was having every treatment possible is one of the things that has been keeping me going. That one of my 'just in case' treatments will be withdrawn/curtailed, I feel like an insurance policy has been invalidated. I want everything they have got to be thrown at this cancer.
I have been reassured that the Tamoxifen will do its job (reducing the risk of recurrence) and that Herceptin is just an 'extra' and not entirely proven, but if that were the case, why would they even bother with it? I'm not stupid... However, I am taking heart in the knowledge that there is a current trial looking at whether 6 months of Herceptin is enough, and that a full year doesn't actually give any significant benefit. These trials take years to run and apparently they are finding it hard to recruit to this one (who is truly willing to take the chance on fewer treatments if the trial shows it isn't enough?). Lets hope it shows that it is enough. I may yet get put back on it, if, after 2-3 months a further scan shows that my heart has recovered.
I know this is quite common, but I just feel so disappointed.
I am hoping that me having started running again won't have contributed - surely me getting fitter should help my heart, not push it too far? Mum and Dad (hello!) want me to cancel walking the 13 mile walk. I will talk to my GP tomorrow about it, and will ask the cardiologist when I get the referral through, but I honestly feel absolutely fine and don't think that my heart is seriously damaged - just slightly more compromised than normal. If I had only 6% higher reading, I would be within the 'normal' range.
The only benefit I can see at the moment is that the appointments won't get in the way of work and other commitments! Hhmmmmm.