It's been a busy week in terms of my medical care. On Monday, I went for BRCA mutation testing. BRCA is the genetic mutation that Angelina Jolie has that caused her to decide to have a double mastectomy. My particular type of breast cancer (triple negative) is more likely to be associated with the BRCA mutation. It is recommended that anyone that is 60 or younger when they get triple negative breast cancer get tested to determine if they have that mutation. There is about a 15% chance that I will test positive.
If I test positive, I will have my ovaries removed and have a double mastectomy as well has have the lymph nodes removed on the side my cancer is on. If I test negative, I will most likely have a lumpectomy and lymph nodes removed. A tdouble mastectomy and lymph node discection is major surgery, but that is what i will do if I test positive for the mutation because the risk of me getting a new cancer in the other breast is 25%. I'm kind of thinking I don't have the mutation, but I will know for sure on Dec. 31 when I get the test results back.
We spent the night in Nashville Monday night because I had a long day of medical appointments the next day.
Tuesday was a big day for me because I started a new chemo that day. It's commonly called AC chemo. This combination of drugs tends to have a lot of side effects. It can cause severe nausea and vomiting if not covered with anti-nausea meds. I was very happy to learn that I would be receiving an anti-nausea medication called Emend by IV prior to getting the AC. The Emend is very expensive but it's supposed to work wonders. So far, so good. I'm also taking round the clock anti-nausea meds at home over the next 5 days in particular, so hopefully, things will go well on that front.
One thing about AC is that it really causes the white blood cell counts to drop. There is a medicine called Neulasta (also very expensive $10,000) that is given by injection 24 hours after chemo to help boost white blood cell production. Since I live so far away and have a nursing background, they gave me the syringe to give myself the shot today. My chemo finished at 6pm yesterday, so I gave myself the shot at 6pm tonight. I've given lots of injections to other people, but never one to myself. It was a little nerve racking sticking a needle into myself, but it didn't hurt at all. Good to know, since I will be doing this three more times after each of the other chemo infusions of AC.
The problem with Neulasta is that it can cause severe bone pain (since that is white blood cells get produced), particularly in the hips, thigh bones and breast bone. Oddly, they somehow have figured out that Claritin helps reduce the pain, so I'm taking Claritin twice a day right now and will continue it for the next 5 days. Hopefully, it will work it's magic and I won't have bone pain.
The other side effects of AC that pretty much everyone gets are total hair loss about two weeks after the first infusion and taste bud changes so most foods don't taste good. The other chemo just made most things taste bland and I was able to keep about 20% of my hair though that one, so this one will be harder on both of those areas. I know I'll be able to get through it.
Last, but not least, it's really important that I drink a lot of fluids all the time. The chemo can damage my bladder if it sits in there too long, so I have to keep flushing it out. I keep a water bottle with me and take a sip whenever I think of it. Good thing I'm a good water drinker and our water tastes good where I live!
So now, I just want this AC to zap the living daylights out of what is left of my tumor and any other cancer cells floating around in my body...after all, that is what this is all about!
Let's keep our fingers crossed on that one!
Life is good!