George and I visited UCLA Medical Center to get a second opinion for my next step.
This was the 4th visit after I got cancer.
I started a combination of Herceptin & Tykerb last April. Although I could control diarrhea which I was warned might happen, an unexpected horrible rash made me stop taking Tykerb several times and reduce the dose from 5 tablets to 2 tablets. After tapering, it was August when I finally got back to the original dose of 5 tablets.
Since then it has been 5 months and today’s main question was if I should end this drug treatment in February.
First, Dr. Glaspy was pleased with the PET scan result I had in December.
“Although this is adjuvant ( the first treatment) and your cancer was not metastatic, it had seriously spread, so I thought this may not be curable. Now you don’t have a tumor any more, so this kind of consultation really brings me joy. “
“ If I were you, I would continue at least 6 more months. If I had a fight with a bigger man than me, and I could knock him down, I wouldn’t turn back and leave because he would stand up and beat me back, and I might not have a chance to win that time.” said Dr. Grasply.
“ If I continue Herceptin and Tykerb so long, won’t cancer get resistant to them?”
I asked a question.
“ It might. But if you stop now, the chance that cancer comes back is probably higher than getting resistant. I think cancer is still in your body.” He answered.
“How about TDM-1? That new medicine is a combination of Herceptin and a chemo drug, right? Even if Herceptin becomes no more effective, can I still use TDM-1?”
He said, “Yes. They are different drugs so even if Herceptin won’t work, TDM-1 can work, and it is powerful.”
Good! I thought.
“ How about the side effect on my heart? My oncologist is concerned that if I use Herceptin so long, it may cause trouble on my heart. “
“ You have to monitor your heart. But usually if the side effect happens, that is not in the long run but at the beginning of the treatment.”
“ If Herceptin is no more effective, it is usually the time that cancer goes into the brain, because Herceptin molecules are too big to get into the brain, but Tykerb does. And you are taking Tykerb, so that’s good.”
Dr. Glaspy used his metaphor again and said, “ If your fist is bleeding and you can’t punch any more, then it’s different, but if you can still punch, keep punching.”
Listening to him, I realized again how aggressive my cancer is and thought that coming through so far has been a miracle.
“ Last June, I said if you could tolerate the side effects and suppress cancer, that would be your goals. Do you remember that? Now both have happened. So this is a really good result.”
His smile and words affirmed to me that the whole thing was a miracle.
Grace through Cancer
How many times has he helped me make important decisions?
How thoroughly has Kaiser treated me and how much has it saved my medical expense?
It was Torrance School District that offered me this life saving insurance, and the Neighborhood Church that now supports my payment for the premium.
Yesterday morning, at George’s ESL Bible class, we studied about Grace, which is undeserved blessing. When I thought what I have experienced through cancer was the Grace of God, I felt God so close that even the core of my being felt warm.
We never know about the future. Cancer may come back. The side effects may cripple me. Yet at least He is giving me “Present”. I have to use this precious “present” making sure to please God. I feel like I were a runner on the start line; I was filled with hope and determination.