I have officially been off chemo for 4 1/2 weeks. It has been a struggle deciding what to do next givin my extreme mental attitude toward ovary suppression or removal. I believe stopping my ovaries or removing them (oopherectomy) will not stop the cancer from spreading and I’m partial to keeping my organs that having been doing their job for my entire life. Cancer is more complex, it’s smarter than that or 40,000 American women a year wouldn’t still be dying from this disease. I have to be smarter than cancer, one step ahead…. so choosing to suppress my ovaries from doing their job has been a very difficult decison to make going against everything I believe about my body. I feel like I’m letting her down… that I don’t believe in her anymore. This cancer thing wasn’t her fault, we are a team. I have agonized over this, sleepless nights, anxiety becasue either way it’s a shitty outcome. But I have to try it and if I don’t like it or the side effects are too much for us to handle I can always stop. So yesterday, I started a new chemo treatment which constists of an oral pill called Ibrance, Zoladex and Faslodex shots. First lets talk about Ibrance:
Ibrance was fast tracked by the FDA this past spring. It was approved in February 2015 and marketed as the first drug for the treatment (trx) of Metastatic Breast Cancer that is ER/PR positive and HER2 Negative. Which is me! The Ibrance/Letozole (an antihormonal for post menopausal women with this type of cancer (CA) was approved in February. Then the Faslodex/Ibrance combo was approved for 2nd or 3rd line trx in Aprill 2015. That means, when a trx fails I move on to the next one. I’m currently on my 3rd line trx. Technically, Ibrance is not a chemotherapy agent. It’s called Targeted Treatment. Remember, chemo kills cancer cells. Ibrance (a CDK 4/6 inhibitor for the sciency friends) takes an ingredient away from allowing the cancer cell to grow. For a mear $11,000 a prescription I take 125mgs a day for 21 days, then get 7 days off. Side effects include dangerously low white cell, red cell and platelet count, chronic lung infections, mouth sores, gum and nose bleeds, extreme fatigue and weakness, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, dehydration, diarrhea and hair loss (this one is easy cuz I already don’t have any hair).
Zoladex is a shot in the abdomen. I hate shots. I’m terrifed of needles. I always have been and I get stupid fucking cancer! SERIOUSLY?!?! But non the less Zoladex is required becasue Ibrance/ Faslodex only work in post-menopaual women. The Zoladex is a shot tunneling through fat in my abdomen injecting pellets that release shutting down my ovaries. I get one of these a month. I got my first one this afternoon and it hurt. Side effects include menopausal symptoms: hot flashes, weight gain, and bone achyness.
Faslodex is also a shot, 2 a month after what’s called a loading dose. The loading dose is 2 shots every 2 weeks for the first 6 weeks. Let me tell you these motherf*ckers are painful! I thought they were gonna be in my butt however, new protocol says it’s safer to inject the 3 1/2 inch needles in your thigh, yup I said thigh! They are an intramuscular shot and even though I took my anxiety meds and Jolie holding my hand I was not prepared for the change in body part and I had a MELTDOWN! I cried and felt like I was gonna throw up and then I cried some more. Getting those shots today was probably one of the most painful, anxiety causing, stupid things I have had to do in my life. And I understand I’m scared and I have anxiety and couldn’t relax. I understand all of that. They hurt and I’m sore and nauseous now and I have to get 2 fucking more in 2 weeks!!
Here’s how the shots will work – Faslodex is an Estrogen receptor blocker. Even though we are shutting down my ovaries thus stopping estrogen production our adrenal glands and body fat make estrogen (hence women tend to gain weight once entering menopause. Estrogen is so important in females and is resonsible for many other body functions). Faslodex will block any estrogen molecule from binding to the cancer receptor sites allowing cancer growth. Side effects include constipation, nausea, vomiting, headace, bone pain, hot flashes, and cough. Yippee! (insert sarcastic role of the eyes here.)
So, here’s to a new treatment!