This essay was originally published on May 3, 2015.
I had my second Herceptin treatment the other day, and I’m due to get my first “vaccine” injection in three weeks. So far, so good with Herceptin; no vile side effects with the exception of a slightly crusty nose, which isn’t anywhere near as bad as it was when I was getting Taxol. I hope it eventually goes away because someone, somewhere is going to catch me picking my nose.
As promised, here is a link to some information about the study I’m participating in. There is a great deal of excitement about immunotherapy studies lately, because they seem to hold a lot of promise for controlling different types of cancer, including breast cancer. Herceptin is a pioneering treatment in this category, along with Gardasil. Many of us are more familiar with Gardasil because of the controversy surrounding it; some people ignorantly believe that vaccinating young girls with Gardasil to prevent cervical cancer gives them the green light to be sexually promiscuous, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t want to go off on a rant about all the misinformation flying around about vaccinations in general; I will end by saying both treatments are groundbreaking, and Herceptin in particular, is helping many women in the battle against recurrence.
Last, but certainly not least, if you are reading this, please devote about 40 minutes to watching Killing Cancer. This documentary is a real eye-opener about the work being done to bring immunotherapy treatments to people who would otherwise be doomed without them.
Finally, the title and image I’ve chosen have to do with the fact that I have to take a pregnancy test before every Herceptin infusion. Peeing in a cup is no big deal, but I chuckle at the irony that there’s no way I could possibly be pregnant at this stage of the game. Alas, I must do it because protocol demands it; but I will giggle, smirk, and joke each and every time, because I just gotta be me.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Nava Does Menopause.
As I said, all the pregnancy testing in my future is the epitome of irony since I have settled on an estrogen-suppression regimen. If you recall, my medical oncologist and I were discussing using Lupron and anastrozole, an aromatase inhibitor, to kill whatever estrogen is left in my body. I also toyed with the idea of having my ovaries removed, but I’ve abandoned that for the time being. I gave myself a much-needed break after the horrific conclusion of roasting, and during that time, I did some research on Lupron and decided it wasn’t for me. Instead, I am starting Tamoxifen, and will take it for the next six-to-nine months. It’s been eight months since my last period, so technically, I am still pre-menopausal. You have to be period-less for at least a year before you are classified as menopausal. Moreover, aromatase inhibitors are given only to women who have crossed over, which is why I am starting out with Tamoxifen. In addition to Tamoxifen, I will be taking the antidepressant Effexor, instead of my trusty Celexa. It turns out Celexa can render Tamoxifen less effective, so I had to switch. Here’s hoping I can literally remain chill, and not be overcome by heat prostration – sorry, hot flashes.
Stay tuned for updates.