My Treatment - The Funny Thing About Cancer
Sorry for the pause there.

I started Chemo.  I'll just go ahead and leave it there because chemo/cancer is the perfect excuse for... everything.  But that's a whole 'nother blog :)

The last question I get alot of is "what is your treatment?"  As I said at the end of the last blog, due to some changes in my diagnosis, my treatment plan has been simplified.

Well the big change is we got some additional results back on something called a FISH test.  Don’t ask me what it does or anything like that (heck, I might even be getting the name all screwed up).  But what it found is that a small % of my cancer cells are HER2+.  

Basically there was a small cluster of cells in my lump that are “fed” by a certain protein my body produces.

Because cancer wasn’t complicated enough, my body decided that I should house two totally different types of cancer… yippee!!!  I'm sure this isn't that uncommon, just my cluster of HER2+ cells were so small that they were difficult to find.

Anywho, as the majority of my cancer (triple negative) has no treatment outside of chemo and surgery, and the Avastin trial isn’t getting great results when looking at other forms of cancer, my doctor recommended that we use continuing treatment for that small % of my cancer that has a proven and excellent long term treatment.

And I’m totally onboard.

So here is my treatment as I am thus far aware of it. 

First, I will have 4 rounds of AC, every other week.  Un-abbreviated, this means Adriamycin and Cytoxan (hence AC).  This is one of the most common treatments for breast cancer. 

The Adriamycin (or the A of AC) blocks DNA production and also inhibits the enzymes responsible for repairing DNA.  Cells cannot live without DNA, thus when they’re deprived of it, they die.  No, this drug cannot tell the difference between healthy cells and cancer cells, but as the cancer cells are generally the most rapidly reproducing, this is where a majority of the effect takes place.

The Cytoxan (or the C) stops cancer cells from replicating.

So basically the A helps destroy cancer cells that are already in my body and the C stops them from being able to replicate and grow into tumors. 

After my 4 rounds of AC, I will have 12 rounds of a drug named Taxol, one injection per week.

Taxol slows or stops cell division, or keeps enzymes from making proteins that cells need in order to grow. 

To help with the HER2+ portion of my cancer, I will also receive a drug called Herceptin.  This will be given starting at the same time as my Taxol.

Herceptin is an antibody that blocks the HER2 protein from attaching itself to cancer cells, preventing them from growing.  Basically, herceptin attaches itself to the cancer’s protein receptors, stopping the cell from being able to absorb the HER2 protein.  It can also signal the body’s immune system to destroy the cell that it’s attached to. 

I am not sure how often I will have to get an injection of Herceptin.  This is a drug that in the past has been given weekly for a year.  There were studies recently done saying that it might be as effective given every 3 weeks.  This is a conversation I will have with my doctor as we get a little closer to that time.

So that pretty well covers my treatment plan.  None too exciting eh?

All in all, I’m feeling incredibly positive about this.  I feel like this is a good comprehensive plan for my treatment and covers as many bases as can be covered.

It is good to feel that peace of mind and joy that comes when you feel like you are in the best possible hands.
1/31/2011 06:13:14 pm

So my cancer was HER2 - I took Herceptin for a year every 3 weeks - I took 6 rounds of chemo - It is nothing like chemo. You are kinda wiped for a day (some don't even have that). It is very good for preventing the return in other areas of the body. It is really one of the miracle treatments they have developed in the last few years.

1/31/2011 07:55:31 pm

I can't believe that I understood all that. You are simultaneously killing your cancer cells and growing my brain cells! ROCK ON! These treatments are mind blowingly amazing... makes me want to hug a scientist!


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