Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cancer #21 - In which I start MELTING like the Wicked Witch of the West...

I am anxiously awaiting my appointment on the 11th with the Rockstar.  In fact, I have a laundry list of questions for her now that I am past all the hard core treatment and looking at my "Survival Care Plan".  

A Survival Care Plan will consist of my marching orders from now on from the Doctor on best practices to ensure that I live as long as possible. (Ie. how often I will need to check in, what tests I will need to take this year, next year and subsequently, what kind of diet she suggests, etc. etc. etc...) 

Coincidentally, the City of Hope recently called to ask if I would take part in their new trial; and it has to do with Survivalship.  Specifically, survivalship of African American Women (who have the lowest survivalship percentage.* Many reasons contribute to this low percent: type of cancer - most are triple negative, late diagnosis, socio-economics, etc.) But, this particular study will examine how specific Survivalship Care Planning and Mentorship can contribute to survivalship.  

It's a blind study, so I may or may not get paired with a mentor, but ideally, when the study begins, I as a young woman, currently receiving treatment will be paired with a mentor who will also be an African American woman who has already gone through treatment and is at least in her 5th year of survival.  She will talk me through MY survivalship care plan and we will meet once a month 1 on 1 for support and encouragement.  So, it's very exciting to start planning BEYOND the treatment and thinking about getting to my new normal.

I am going to ask when I get to take my Matrix like port out of my shoulder.  I say "Matrix" because it's kind of like when Neo and them are in the real world and they have to "plug in" to the matrix...well, when I'm getting my chemo, the nurses "plug in" to my port to hook up the IV...of course I don't immediately find myself dressed in leather with 500 dollar Ray Bans on, but you get the picture. 

So...two more days until the big sit down with the Rockstar...I will also check in with my radiation oncologist, and then I will get my monthlyish Herceptin...which brings me to the title of this post..."Hot Flashes".

Herceptin is a hormone treatment that inhibits production of estrogen in my body since my cancer is estrogen positive (ie. my cancer feeds on estrogen).  I am ALSO taking an oral pill, Tamoxifen, which I began the day after my radiation treatment ended and which I will have to take or 5 (*yes, FIVE) years!   Anyway, the inhibition of my estrogen has caused me to go into a pseudo menopausal state, which is, for lack of a better word....unfortunate. 

As a result, throughout the day, as I am minding my own business, I will immediately feel as if I have fallen into a volcano.  It usually starts at my neck and the heat will move into my ears and then my entire head feels like it is engulfed in flames...Beads of sweat will pop up all across my bald head and then starts to pour down my lasts anywhere from 1 - 2 minutes, but is totally annoying and really uncalled for.  As if cancer isn't crappy enough!

The Rockstar did prescribe some medicine that she said would help with the hot flashes, but I tried it for 2 weeks and it didn't make that much of a difference so I put the bottle back in the pantry with the rest of the pills.  I am SO over taking pills, so anything not absolutely necessary goes!  

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