No chemo. No Herceptin.
Which means no death threats from a common cold, no heart attack, no bone ache, no red pee, no crushing nausea, no hair loss, no blackened nails, no bleeding gums, no neutropenia, no soul destroying fatigue.
None of it.
I went into my appointment with no awareness that this was even on the table. What I thought we were there to discuss was whether the cancer was HER-2 positive and if so I’d need to get the drug Herceptin as a result. As far as I had been told, if I got Herceptin I had to get chemo as they don’t work well separately and are only licensed together. At the last appointment, my oncologist told me I’d likely be on a chemo regime that could affect my heart function. Herceptin also affects the heart so I wouldn’t actually get them together. It didn’t register at the time because I was so stunned that she wanted to give me the full dose of chemo and carpet bomb my system, just in case.
While I was bored, alone and sat in the waiting room for an hour, a wonderful friend I made on this breast cancer ride reminded me that Herceptin must be given with chemo in order to be effective. I remembered then that was exactly the info given to me in other appointments. So when I finally got into the room with my oncologist and she started talking about chemo and Herceptin being separate, I questioned why if they weren’t effective in this way. Eventually after some backwards and forwards, she admitted it was less effective this way but was the only way to deliver them because of the risk to the heart.
This took ten whole minutes to clarify. But it did give her time to question herself and she took it further by deciding to consult the Computer Oracle.
Apparently after they cut out my cancer and analysed it in the lab, they found it was only in an area of 8mm. Rather different to the previous 20mm they predicted it was from the biopsy. They’re also sticking with it being a grade two cancer, less aggressive than my last cancer which was grade three. Tap, tap, tap onto the keyboard. Tick box here, select grade there.
There appeared the most beautiful bar chart I will ever see. A huge purple rectangle full of life.
92% ten year survival rate from just getting the surgery.
2% added ten year survival rate from hormone treatment.
1% added ten year survival rate from chemotherapy and Herceptin.
She looked at me and said if it was her, she wouldn’t take the chemo and Herceptin. The brutality and damage done by them weren’t worth the 1% benefit.
Which is the question a lot of cancer patients must ask themselves at some point. Is the treatment worse than the disease?
Today that answer is yes. I’ll take my safe heart, my functioning immune system, my hair, my energy, my freedom, my recovery, my life.
Not for 1% will I risk it.
I left that room, surprised and shocked for good reasons instead of bad. Each day I feel stronger and fitter, it won’t be headed for something much worse. Each day of recovery is just for me. Just for my future. I can make plans again now that I’m free of the chemo prison.
Today I plan to celebrate. With pumpkins and treats and skeleton bunting.
Happy Halloween my friends. Life and death together in one day. As it was meant to be and always will.