SO much as happened since my last post. Sit back and allow me to fill you in! Last Friday, I had an appointment with my current oncologist. She came in and apologized that we didn’t get the answers we wanted at SCCA regarding surgery. I replied that it was ok and I’m ready to move forward with more agressive chemo/treatments. We discussed the suggestions of the oncologist at SCCA as well as Dr Chue and I asked her for her opinion. She said she agreed with the SCCA oncologist (they actually went through their clinical together) and her concern with Dr Chue’s suggestions of 3 different chemos back to back was that while they would have been good post surgery, she felt we needed a more agressive refining to knock out the tumor and dermal invasion FAST. I concurred and explained I would be meeting with Dr Chue again (this past Monday) and would get his opinion knowing surgery isn’t an option now. Both the SCCA oncologist and mine said I could choose from any of the first or second line treatments (TDM1, Taxol/Herceptin/Perjeta, and more) but those two are more cardio-toxic so I was a bit hesitant since my heart function, while still in normal limits, is still depressed from the herceptin alone.
I also asked her if she would be willing to administer low doses of chemo that Dr Chue prescribed. She very reluctantly said she would be willing to do that but explained that she was concerned about her reputation in doing so much out of the box stuff for me. To which I explained I appreciated her willingness to work with me and understood her hesitation. I told her I would talk to Dr Chue then decide and received my herceptin treatment after my appt with her.
Fast forward through the weekend to Monday. I dropped my bigs off at school and headed to the ferry terminal before lunch. I drove on with our little one and had an appt with Dr Chue at 130. Upon my arrival, I was BLESSED with a vial of interferon, the immunotherapy Dr Chue prescribed that insurance denied ($700+ value)! When I met with Dr Chue, I explained surgery isn’t an option and they want me to use chemo/meds to knock down the cancer first. I could see his gears turning as he processed my information. In short order, he explained that he agreed that we needed a more agressive treatment. His recommendation was Taxol (as the other two suggested), Carboplatin, & Herceptin as this combo usually achieves fast and good results without the cardiotoxicity Taxol, Herceptin, and Perjeta would have caused.
Dr Chue still recomended low dose metronomic chemo and explains that while he was willing to work with my oncologist on my side of the water, he has had some patients go back to their oncologists who said they would administer his low dose but didn’t. One patient died and others had horrible side effects from going from low dose to the maximum tolerated dose. He did say that some oncologist actually follow his recommendations and then are amazed and come around to seeing the benefits of metronomic chemo. Considering my oncologist and their pharmacist gave me the maximum tolerated dose of Xeloda last year that landed me in the hospital, I am a little wary of trusting them. Dr Chue did ask that I receive my first two treatments in his office to verify I handle the meds ok before he proverbially hands me off.
I intuitively felt really good about Dr Chue’s chemo recommendations. I also appreciated that he prefers to do blood biopsies every 3 months. What this does is gather circulating tumor DNA looking for alterations. This allows us to see if there are alterations that can be attacked by targeted meds. My current oncologist doesn’t believe in using blood biopsies at all for diagnostic purposes simply because it’s not yet standard of care, which is mind boggling to me. Standard of care cannot yet offer me full healing or even a good quality of life but Dr Chue has had multiple “terminal” patients who are cancer free. Granted he has also had patients who have passed away too but they lived much longer and with a better quality of life than traditional Oncology would offer.
So, we took my blood for the blood biopsy and their nurse trained me on how to inject the interferon-a. They would call in the pre-approval for chemos and call me the following day if they received the approval
I also met with Dr Ho, an amazing Naturopath in their clinic who studied at Bastyr and was just so knowledgeable about how to address every possible symptom of my chemos. How very refreshing to have my ENTIRE body and well-being addressed and not just focusing on the cancer with the rest of the body as collateral damage.
I left my appointment feeling confident and at peace about this path, even knowing IV chemo will soon be pulsing through my veins. As I drove to the Seattle Ferry Dock, I was grateful to have my medical pass because there were cars waiting in que to even get to the toll booth! I showed my medical pass and they waved me directly to the toll booth where they ensured I would be on the ferry that was nearly full and about to load! Thank the Lord for this small help because I was exhausted from the day of travel and just wanted to get home.
The following day (Tuesday) I received a call that my chemo was pre-approved by insurance and I could start as soon as Wednesday. Holy cow! Ok um let me scramble to find people to watch M and pick up the bigs from school! Cue the text messages and phone calls. God immediately provided the help of a few amazing friends and I rested knowing the kiddos would be taken care of so Josiah could come with me to my appt.I called Dr Chue’s Office back and said I could start on Friday…and they put me on the schedule. Wowza…3 days away!
I also decided I would fast before this chemotherapy treatment. Fasting has been scientifically proven to put healthy cells into a protective mode (protecting them from the toxic chemo) while simultaneously weakening cancer cells who don’t self-protect when deprived of nutrients. Fasting also resets the immune system. So my last meal was Tuesday evening. I woke up on Wednesday, drank a cup of green tea, and drank copious amounts of water. Unfortunately, I foolishly didn’t bring enough water with me when I ran a few errands and picked up the big kids so by the time I got home I was feeling DRAINED. Pro tip, when water fasting, add mineral drops to your water to replenish lost minerals and take it easy! I rested for a few minutes and drank lots of water. That evening, after the kiddos were in bed, Josiah administered my interferon shot (it’s literally like .05ml injected just beneath the skin like a TB test). He administered it into my belly below my cancerous breast.
Today (thursday) I added mineral drops to my water and took it much easier! I’ve felt much better today but I won’t lie, water fasting takes SERIOUS self-control. It’s not easy, it’s uncomfortable, but I know that in the end, it will result in fewer side effects from chemo and likely a far better response to the chemo. A few days of slight discomfort are worth the payoff. In the same way, the discomfort of cancer has had an amazing payoff of growing my spiritually, emotionally, and as a person in general. I came across these signs yesterday. They were gentle reminders that God sees the big picture when I can’t and in the end, it’s all going to be OK because my salvation in Christ is secure.
I also started packing my “chemo bag” that I thought I would never need again. In it I put a travel neck pillow, the gorgeous quilt that a dear friend completed in ONE WEEKEND so I would have it for my first chemo treatment 3.5 years ago. I also found my fuzzy purple socks that some of our awesome friends’ boys picked out to send to me for my first chemo. I also included one of my prayer shawls that was knit and prayed over (I have a number of them now), bible study binder, a book gifted to me by a Naturopath, & will include snacks for Josiah (I’ll still be fasting), & my Bible.
Tomorrow morning we will drop M off at a friends and the bigs at school then take the ferry over to Seattle for treatment. I have complete peace and confidence in this therapy and I look forward to what God will do. I’m not too concerned about the side effects but hair loss and fatigue are the biggest factors. Honestly, I don’t care about the hair….I’ll gladly shave it off again. I think it affects the kiddos more than me 😦 The fatigue can be hard as a mom of three.
So many people have asked how they can help. This aspect is SO HARD for me. I tend to want to help others and not accept or ask for help. God taught me a lot the last two rounds of cancer in regards to accepting help. I know others want to be a blessing and I need to let them. That being said, I DO NOT expect anything from anyone, nor do I want anyone to feel guilted into helping in any way. So….Apart from the obvious prayers, we do have a meal train site (message me for the link) set up for a few days each week directly after chemo. There are gaps in dates because we will have family coming up to help us and they will help with meals while they are here. My brother and SIL also set up a gofundme page to help offset the costs of the next vials of interferon, possibly IVC, HBOT, IV ozone therapies (need to discuss further with my ND’s), and my supplements that are helping my body heal and remain healthy, especially during chemo. I know some people prefer to send tangible, useful gifts so I resurrected my “anticancer” amazon wishlist (full of supplements, chemo caps, items I will use in my cancer journey). Again, no expectations or pressure for anyone to contribute at all!
I hope to update this weekend after chemo and let y’all know how I’m handling the side effects! In the meantime, blessings to you all.