I think I might be a little bit in love with my oncologist. I met the rather brilliant Dr Stephen Houston for the first time this week. He bounced into the room like the Aussie Tigger of the cancer world and launched into a completely non-patronising, very exciting proposal.
Apparently the pharma company behind breast cancer wonder drug Herceptin has developed another potion to work alongside it in the one in five women (like me) who have an overenthusiastic protein on their cells telling the cancer to grow. It’s called pertuzumab, and the trials so far are looking very encouraging. The doc reckons that with these two drugs plus the chemo, there’s a high chance that my trio of lumps will ‘melt away’ within months. Wow. That’s amazing, isn’t it? He added: ‘If you were my wife, I’d want you on it.’. Well, that’s good enough for me.
He stopped flirting when I mentioned that I was into complementary therapy (as in, therapies that complement conventional medicine and also look at the whole person, mind, body, and spirit). I obviously pushed a button cos he went off on a mini lecture about homeopathy (which I hadn’t even mentioned) being bollocks. I was actually trying to ask if it was OK to be referred up to the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine for mistletoe injections, which appear to work alongside chemo to offset some of the side effects and increase its efficacy. He says it doesn’t work so he doesn’t mind if I do or don’t. I said he’s just told me that one of my chemo drug was an extract of yew tree, so… The two nurses and research assistants said later it was like a tennis match, and they thought I had stood up pretty well against a pure scientist. I did ask them to tell Stephen (I’m not doing Dr so-and-so if they are calling me by my first name. We’re on the same team, right?) that I am a big fan and will gladly taken the many tens of thousands of pounds worth of drugs he’s going to be throwing at me. I just need to keep control of where my own head is, as well.
There’s no data on mistletoe with chemo plus Herceptin, let alone this drug that isn’t even licensed yet, so I will probably not go for another day at another hospital with another injection just yet. I don’t want caaancer to turn into my full-time job!
Anyway, I agreed to sign up to the trial and become a pampered lab rat for a year after reading all the papers he gave me and sleeping on it, so we’ll get going on that in the next couple of weeks. He also mentioned that if I wear a cold cap during the chemo, there’s a 60-70% chance that I will keep my hair. I’ll take those odds and see how it goes before launching into the World of Wigs. Although Suburban Turban has got a rather good selection of natty little hats with Real Hair Fringes you can get a hairdresser to shape for you, so I won’t look like my baldy DH in his golf cap.
Yesterday was a fun day. I had another biopsy (well, about a dozen samples) of the calcium deposits in my ducts to see if they actually are pre-cancerous or not, while squished into a mammogram machine. Nice. They also inserted a tiny metal coil into a lump ‘so if it disappears, we know where it is’. Ooh! Tracey, my surgeon, very sweetly came over for a chat in the waiting room and said she was really hopeful we were still on for ‘the plan’ ie minimal surgery.
Then I got injected with radiation for a bone scan and had to drink pints of water before going back three hours later for 23 minutes of lying with a large flat camera over my entire body an inch from my nose. Eyes shut, some random middle of the road music at high volume. I pissed myself when Bridge Over Troubled Water came on, although not as much as when Theme from Twin Peaks was playing in the breast screening clinic a couple of weeks ago. No kidding. It’s quite weird, seeing a picture of your own skellington, especially this close to Halloween. Although pleasing to see I have a beautifully straight spine.
I was so radioactive I later set off the alarms in M&S (and no, I didn’t get a frisking from a buff security guard, alas) and when I stood next to the radio, it went all fuzzy. And I have had to avoid ‘extended cuddles’ with the kiddies for 24hrs in case they get a somewhat less healthy Ready Brek glow. I was hoping that some superpowers would emerge, but no sign of SuperPinchy joining the Heroes as yet. Am taking spirulina and chlorella supplements, having Epsom Salt baths and DH is madly juicing beetroot for me to soak up the radiation.
Yesterday afternoon I also had another appointment with my lovely kinesiologist, who did a ‘detox’ of my energy meridians, and advised me to avoid sugar and white wine until I don’t have cancer any more. Anyone who knows me will understand this is a bit of a challenge – they are essentially my two staple foods – but makes complete sense as cancer loves sugar and white wine is full of it plus it stimulates oestrogen and I’ve got the sort of cancer that is partly a result of rather too much of that.
So that’s me this week. All looking really positive so far, and I will be enjoying a glass or two of red when we go and see a Queen tribute band in Guildford tonight (and yes, DH will be dressing up as Freddie for the occasion). Fuck Caaaancer!