Tag Archive | cancer treatment

Another time, another place

I often hear people talk about how they wished they had been born in a different time period.  We have movies like “Back to the Future” and the “Time Traveler’s Wife” and others where people can be transported to different eras.  I have given that thought myself before and decided the “olden days” were good when things were simple but not so simple that there were no modern conveniences.

I have also thought about how I was born and raised in the United States.  I have been to third world countries and have seen firsthand how hard it is for some people just to survive from day to day.  They do not have access to clean water, food, shelter, education or jobs.  We recently finished a book in school on one of the Lost boys from Sudan that came to the U.S. and it got me thinking again about how I take for granted the fact that I was born to parents in this country.

It gets my brain on overload when I start to wonder, “Why me?”  Why was I chosen to be born where I was and when I was?  Many have even come before me that were fortunate enough to be born here in the U.S. but it was during a time when women didn’t have many rights or you had “washing day” where you had to spend an entire day washing your family’s clothes by hand and hang them out to dry (after you made your own laundry soap). Ugh!  I am counting my blessings!

Did you ever really think about why you were born when you were and where you were?  I’ve read this before but today it popped out at me.  “From one man he made all the people of the world. Now they live all over the earth. He (God) decided exactly WHEN they should live. And he decided exactly WHERE they should live.” Acts 17:26 NIRV  And do you know WHY He made us?  So that we could search for God and find Him (v.27).  Every human being is placed on earth with the purpose of seeking God.  You were specifically planned down to where and when you would be born!  

I no longer wish that I had been born at another time or even in another place (other than NJ).  I was thinking about the cancer diagnosis I received last year.  If I had been born years earlier, my cancer probably would not have been diagnosed in the early stages.  The aggressive cancer I had would have advanced quickly, and most likely it would have been too late for any treatment at all.  Any treatment that I received would not have been as effective as what I was able to get either.  If I lived elsewhere I might not have had access to the healthcare I was able to receive.  I literally pass by the hospital/doctors I use on my route to work each day so treatments were very convenient as well.  Right now I am happy to do just what I was put here for…seeking God.

 

 

Herceptin Highlights

So” chemo”  is over for me now but I still need to get an infusion of herceptin every three weeks until May 2013 (a full year).  This was the one drug that gave me a problem each time I was receiving chemo and would literally burn as it started going in my veins.  Through trial and error we found that extending the infusion from 30 minutes to 45 minutes and diluting it with a bag of saline would prevent the burning from occurring.  Even so, I was nervous about having to receive a herceptin infusion for a year.  On Wednesday, 9/5,  I had my first “herceptin only” infusion and except for having to get stuck twice to find a good vein, it went well.  No burning!  Of course, I had to tell them what to do…I don’t understand why with technology they can’t include this information on the computer screen they bring up for me when I go.  It should be listed there…whatever.  I was surprised that I wasn’t in the short-stay room (for infusions under one hour).  I was looking forward to sitting there talking to other patients during the infusion but was in a private room once again.  It worked out okay though as this was after a day at work and I am still a little tired getting back into a new routine so I was able to take a little snooze.

Herceptin is for treatment of early-stage breast cancer that is Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2-positive (HER2+) which is what I am.  It is an aggressive early stage breast cancer that about 30% of women with breast cancer have.  The HER2 gene makes a protein (HER2 receptor) which is like an antenna on the surface of cells.  These receptors receive signals that tell it to grow and multiply.  Breast cancer cells can have as many as 2 million receptors on the surface compared to a normal breast cell which only has 20,000 receptors.  Cancer grows and spreads rapidly.  This is why  I was so thankful I was diagnosed while I was still in stage 1.  Herceptin is the only approved treatment for HER 2+ cancer.  It attaches itself to the receptors and blocks them from receiving growth signals (extracellular), slowing and stopping the cancer.  Herceptin alerts the immune system to destroy cancer cells it is attached to, while leaving good cells alone.  It also blocks intracellular HER2 signalling.   In studies, women who received herceptin for one year had a higher chance of remaining cancer-free longer when compared to women who did not receive herceptin.

http://www.aboutcancer.com/herceptin_0211.htm

Yes, there are side effects.  Is there anything medically related that doesn’t these days?  I’m not concerned with fatigue and the others but the more serious and less common is that it could cause damage to the heart and lungs.  Because of this I have an echo-cardiogram periodically and they are always listening to my lungs.  Thankfully all is well.

You would think that it would be a good thing to have extra antennae or ears to pick up signals and grow…except when we’re talking about cancer cells.  As humans, we have to be careful about what the antenna in our lives is picking up and what signals are being transmitted to our inner core.  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV)  We need to be careful what we allow our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and places we allow our feet to take us to.

Next week radiation starts and I’ll update you on that.