A week feels like a year!
Treatment begins next Tuesday (April Fools day) but it feels like it’s been a year in the waiting. Mostly I’ve been feeling calm with the odd ‘meltdown’. It’s not necessary to always be positive. It’s about balance. It’s OK to have bad days as long as you have more good ones. So the one bad day I had is OK considering it’s been 11 weeks since I found the lump. It’s been a LONG wait for treatment.
This blog is helpful for me as far as explaining to people where I’m at without having to verbally tell me story frequently. I also hope it will be an inspiration to other sufferers and their families some day.
I’ve been asked lots of questions about the treatment and been given lots of helpful advise but sometimes people find it difficult to understand why I’m having chemo 1st and surgery 2nd. Others suggest that I try natural remedies or healing. As I’ll explain here… I only have one chance. So if I don’t take the most aggressive option it’s too late to change my mind. The tumour is large and has invaded breast tissue but I’m very glad that there is no evidence of it invading other places!
I’ve condensed my diagnosis and treatment story to help people to understand why I have chosen to go down the ‘clinical trial path’.
Facts about Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)
Most people are under the belief that there is only one type of breast cancer. In fact there are many. There are also different grades and different stages. so one treatment cannot be applied to all breast cancer types.
Typical breast cancer types: Seventy to 80% of all breast cancers are positive for estrogene (ER) or progesterone receptors (PgR). In contrast, the (HER2) protein overexpression and/or HER2 gene are overexpressed , in approximately 15–20%. Both of these cancer types respond to targeted treatment (either hormones or Herceptin).
The type I have: The remaining 10–15% of breast cancers is negative for all of the above cancer types. These are defined as triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).3
- Among all the breast cancer subtypes, TNBC is associated with a worse prognosis. It has a characteristic recurrence pattern with the peak risk of recurrence and the majority of deaths occurring in the first 3 and 5 years after the initial treatment, respectively.
- TNBC is less likely to be discovered on a mammogram than other types of breast cancer.
- Anyone can get TNBC. However, it tends to strike younger women, women with BRCA1 mutations, and women of African, Latina, or Caribbean descent. Asian and non-Hispanic white women are less likely to develop TNBC, according to BreastCancer.org.
The clinical trial I’ll be taking part in
A small, early study (in 2010) found that 66% of locally advanced, triple-negative breast cancers treated before surgery with a combination of carboplatin (brand name: Paraplatin) and Taxotere (chemical name: docetaxel) had no living cancer cells in the tumour when it was removed.
In this study, 14 women diagnosed with locally advanced, triple-negative breast cancer were neoadjuvantly treated with a combination of two chemotherapy medicines: carboplatin and Taxotere. The women received six courses of the chemotherapy combination before surgery in three-week cycles. All of the women completed the entire chemotherapy course. After chemotherapy, the women had surgery to remove the breast cancer. A pathologist examined the removed tissue to see if there were signs of cancer cell activity.
Nine of the 14 women had a pathologic complete response to the chemotherapy given before surgery. This is notable because pathologic complete response to treatment usually indicates improved survival without the cancer growing.
The trial I’m taking part in is the phase before it is implemented. There are 600+ women on the trial across the world. United sisters!
I’m no hero
Participating in a clinical trial feels good as it helps women in the future, but I’m no hero, it’s just that the outlook isn’t great otherwise. Without being a drama queen… this trial is my life line. I’m so blessed to be living in an age where this kind of treatment is possible.
I’m taking an array of supplements (carefully chosen by an qualified specialist) to boost my immunity, energy and kill cancer cells. I’m also on a strict diet plan. No sugar, low fat, plenty of fruit and veges and a good balance of more Omega 3 than Omega 6. It makes me feel like I’m doing something! Who knows if it makes a difference but it feels good to be doing something active.
Roll on Tuesday. I’m getting over it!
I’m going away with one of my three sisters on the weekend to relax in the lap of luxury. YAY!