Just when you think you've got a plan, everything changes.
We learned today that my cancer is Her2 positive. We had been waiting for a pathology culture that tested for this and it came back today.
At first glance, this might seem unfortunate. Her2 positive cancer is very aggressive and historically has a poor prognosis. The Her 2 receptors, as I understand it, cause the cells to divide rapidly and get out of control quite easily.
However, Dr. Chang (my surgeon) declared that this was "outstanding" news because it means that an aggressive treatment option, previously unavailable to me, is now open. In her experience, treatment with Herceptin (a relatively new drug for Her2 positive cancers) gives us a chance not just to halt the growth of the cancer as the hormone therapy might, but to possibly shrink it back. In particular, it has a unique chance of getting rid of Her2 positive cancer cells that have spread outside of the original tumor (in my case, liver and bone). Other therapies cannot do this. Dr, Chang had told me last week that she was hopeful we would get a positive result, and was nothing short of delighted when she called to deliver the news that we had indeed achieved this.
I have yet to discuss what this means to me practically with my oncologist. However, within an hour of receiving these results his office called to set up an appointment, so clearly he intends to move quickly with an alteration to my therapy. I see him on Wednesday.
Herceptin is most often given in conjunction with chemotherapy. So, just when I thought I'd have three months of not-too-bad, I am now likely faced with "here we go". But you know, I'm ready for this. I want to really feel like I am hurting the cancer and so far I have not felt much of anything.
So, bring on the baldness, the vomit, the fatigue. I am stronger than you, cancer, and we are going to bring you down!