Great News!!!

8 Jul

Lisa and gman

This is me and my nephew Garrett. I liked the photo from my previous post so much that I thought another was in order 🙂

Wow, what a difference an oncologist makes. Today I saw a breast cancer surgical oncologist up at UCLA. I had previously consulted with this doctor as a second opinion before deciding on a course of treatment. I went back to her today because I just haven’t felt right about what my current oncologist has been telling me and I really wanted her to review my case. It went exceptionally well. I could not have asked for better news. She told me I was having a great response to the chemo and that I would not need additional chemo after surgery.

As you may know I have not had much confidence in my oncologists to date. I fired the first one after he told me NOT to take the required pre-medications the day before chemo (this little blunder nearly killed me, caused me to go into anaphylactic shock, stopped breathing, very scary). The second oncologist, while at least could not be accused of trying to kill me, could not be more inattentive. Each meeting I have had with him he has made it painfully clear that he has not bothered to read my file at all. For example, in our very first meeting he said: “So you’re going to have a lumpectomy?” (If he had read my file he would know that I am having a bilateral mastectomy, that I do not have the option of a lumpectomy).  And, on our second meeting, he argued with  me about the number of chemos I had completed (he said two, it had actually been four) . . . as if I would not know how many. But, he stood there and ever so arrogantly told me over and over that I was wrong, that I had only had two chemos.

So, the final straw for me with oncologist number two was when he recently told me that I would probably have to have additional chemo after surgery. Naturally I was pretty disappointed in hearing this. But, mostly it just did not comport with what I had read in my own research. With the kind of cancer I have there is a pretty specific course of treatment. And, the chemo they use is pretty strong – one drug in particular called Taxotere. It is considered sort of the last line of defense in chemo – if nothing else works, then this one will. Well, because my cancer is of the aggressive type they start you out with this drug.

The course of treatment for my kind of cancer is to have six rounds of chemo and weekly Herceptin treatments (Herceptin is the monoclonal anti-body that is sort of the seek and destroy drug for my cancer – it is truly amazing. Herceptin was developed by Dr. Slamon at UCLA. The specialist that I saw today works side by side with Dr. Slamon). Once the six rounds of chemo are completed, then I will continue the Herceptin for a year. This protocal is pretty well defined and I had never heard of additional chemo being added to the equation. Yet my oncologist has been telling me that I will probably have to have more chemo after surgery. He has told me other horror stories (not sure why) but not worth retelling here.

Anyway, the point is, many things were not right. So, I saw the doctor up at UCLA today and she said that my oncologist was on glue. She said I should never have more chemo. She said “Ask him to point to one clinical study that says you should have more than six rounds of chemo. There isn’t one.”  She had quite a few more choice words for him. She also told me to get out of there, that oncologist number one nearly killed me and oncologist number two clearly does not understand my treatment or how Herceptin works.

Well, it feels great to know that I do not have to have more chemo after round six. And, it feels great to know that my instincts were right. So this next round really is my last round. Wow. I am so happy and so exhausted (the past several  weeks, okay months, with doctors gloom and doom have taken their toll and now with such a weight having been lifted, I think I can finally get some sleep).

So, I will be switching to UCLA at some point to have Dr. Hurvitz be my oncologist. I don’t know exactly when I will switch, perhaps after my surgery. I am not sure yet about the timing of it. The doctor I saw today said I could either go forward with the surgery at Hoag or at UCLA. But, either way, I will have my last chemo on July 16th!

So, things are looking up.

6 Responses to “Great News!!!”

  1. David Olive July 9, 2009 at 3:22 PM #

    What a joy it is to read about this remarkable individual. To see her in these photos with her nephew, it clearly shows her happiness and will to overcome her cancer. I’ve had the privilege to meet her and find her to be such a lovely and fascinating woman. Her day to day is filled with courage, love, appreciation and determination. She is the perfect role model not only for cancer patients but any person going through adverse times. She is an inspiration to all who know her, read about her or who have just come across this blog seeking support and information. God has blessed me with her presence and she’ll do the same for others if not already.

    Thank you Lisa.

    David Olive

    • cancerfree2b July 11, 2009 at 2:41 AM #

      I don’t know what to say, I think I am speechless. Thank you so much for your very kind words, I really appreciate it. You’re making me blush though. I have to say, I don’t think of myself as courageous or remarkable. I especially don’t feel so courageous when I think about the next chemo round coming next week. I admit, each one scares me as each one tends to bring new side affects. And it takes longer to recover now. But, it will pass and I will get better. That is what I resolve to do, get better. I am so grateful that I only have one more chemo 🙂

      Cancer has definitely changed my life. I don’t think I will ever look at anything the same way. And, that is not a bad thing. It has also brought wonderful people into my life and I feel very blessed for that. David, thank you for being one of those people 🙂

  2. Jeff Hartter July 10, 2009 at 1:51 PM #

    Thank you for telling me about your blog, I was wondering about you and how the treatments were going. I take back everything I said to you concerning different color wigs, you look great bald. When you first told me about your cancer and your concerns I knew you had the right personality for handling all the ups and downs that go with it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns with me and everyone via the web.

    Jeff Hartter

    • cancerfree2b July 11, 2009 at 2:54 AM #

      Hi Jeff,
      Thank you for visiting . . . and you don’t have to take back what you said about different colored wigs 🙂 Thank you for what you said, I really appreciate it.

      It was nice seeing you today in the lunch room. I miss being at the office full time with a “real” office. But, I will be back once I wrap up my current full time job – that of beating this thing. It has been good to keep working though. Mostly because I think it is best for me to keep as normal a routine as possible and to see my friends from work. Still, I hate wearing that wig though. As soon as I am done with my current group of clients, I will not wear it again. At least that is my plan. So you will soon see me walking the halls bald 🙂

  3. Carmella July 19, 2009 at 10:56 PM #

    Been keeping up with you via your Blog… I have emailed you regular email but thought I’d let you know I was here visiting with you again and thinking about you… I am sooo
    happy to hear the chemo is over.. and will be praying for you and an easier road ahead for the rest of your journey..

    • cancerfree2b July 19, 2009 at 11:35 PM #

      Hi Carmella,
      Thank you for your message here and for your email via my regular email. Sorry I did not reply to that yet. But, I will soon. I had hoped to be able to join you on Wednesday, but so much came up that day (the day before chemo) that I just couldn’t swing it. The fifth chemo took quite a while to recover from and this sixth one, well, who knows, hoping it is quick. But, I will get through it. I am soooo happy to hear that this is my last one too! It sure makes this set of symptoms a lot more tolerable for sure.
      Thank you for all of your support and help, and for your message here. It really does me good when I log on (to the only place I have the energy to log onto – with my stupid puffy, sore chemo fingers :)) and see that there are visits to my blog and comments. I look forward to celebrating with you soon!

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