Catch Up

As the end of my first year fighting cancer rapidly approaches, I should probably report on some notable details from the past few weeks.

1)  Herceptin ReCap #4/14:  Weight is holding steady and there are no digestive or neurological issues to report.  I can tell I’m regrowing lost head hair because I’ve been noticing shortish strands around my forehead and also along the part line on top of my head, where the Cold Caps might have gotten a bit too cold at times.

2)  Herceptin #5/14:  I went in for my latest treatment last week.  Sharon, the head nurse, escorted me to my infusion chair and asked how I’d been doing.  I answered that I was feeling great and as an illustration mentioned that I’d done a couple of triathlons in the past few months.  It turns out that she has done several marathons in her lifetime (with a PR of under 3.5 hours sometime in her 30’s!), so we spent the remainder of the appointment chatting about our mutual love of running.

She admitted that after several years of slacking off, she would love to get back into a regular exercise program.  Since physical activity has been such an integral component of my own physical and emotional well-being over the past 12 months, I encouraged her to start asap.  I will make a point to check up on her in a couple of weeks when I’m back in the infusion clinic.

BTW, while prepping me, Sharon secured the IV line to my arm with several pieces of medical tape.  When my treatment was over and the IV was removed, I noticed with great surprise that familiar sensation of arm hair being tugged upon like an opening zipper, as if exclaiming, “Body hair!  You have body hair!”

3)  MUGA #3:  The numbers are in and I am delighted to report that all of the hard work is paying off, with respect to heart health, that is.  In August before I started chemo and Herceptin treatment, the first MUGA scan measured my LVEF (left ventricular ejection fraction) at a whopping 77.  January’s test pegged that number at 70, indicating a worrisome drop in heart function.  Because I had noticed some uncharacteristic shortness of breath while biking or walking up the stairs, I was not too surprised at the decline.

Prior to scheduling me for Thursday morning’s test, Dr. Semien reminded me that if the LVEF fell below 65, she would suspend Herceptin therapy until my heart improved.  She emailed me just hours after the MUGA scan with the good news.  The LVEF has rebounded back to 73. Ever since the drop measured in January, I have exercised even more regularly and intensely, resumed taking a beta blocker (prescribed for migraines and hypertension), and reduced dietary sodium.  Coincidentally or not, I am no longer winded while biking early in the morning and can again carry loads of laundry from the basement up to the 2nd floor without carefully measuring my breathing.


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