I had my liver biopsies done on Monday 5th August. I wasn’t allowed to eat from 7:00 a.m. and my appointment was 10:30 a.m. The nurse who looked after me was very caring and attentive – in fact, at times, was a wee bit to attentive – even for me!! I had to give her a bit of a background and when I said out loud that I had a brain tumour it suddenly made everything much more real. As it was considered a surgical procedure I had to put on a gown and off I went.
The local anaesthetic was a bit stingy as I am sure some of you will know they can be. I had a couple around the incision site and then off he went. I closed my eyes and he was telling me everything he was doing each step of the way. I didn’t really want to know!! Once he started the nurse was rubbing my legs and ankles and then came and held my hand which I was thought was a little strange until there it was – a push, a sicky feeling in the pit of my stomach, a pressure and an ‘ouch’!!! The doctor THEN said I might feel that as the biopsy needle went into my liver! He failed to tell me that bit!! So one done and another to do. Thankfully he was happy with both samples and he didn’t have to go back for a third! He said I made his job very easy as it wasn’t easy to get to!!
I was taken back to the observation room where my blood pressure and pulse were monitored for 4 hours. I was able to eat and drink after an hour. I was pretty tired and dozed on and off for the first hour but it must have been so boring for Neil and Amy. I took the following day of work and this turned out to be a rather good idea! – I was tired and quite tender – and it’s not like me to say actually I need to stay in bed!!
So following the procedure how do I feel? It felt uncomfortable but not painful. The doctor was great and the nursing staff were very caring and attentive. Having to talk about my brain tumour, well even mentioning it, made it real. Lying there in the ‘operating’ room, made it real. Being in the gown, lying on the bed, being monitored and checked – it made it all fucking real. I had become a cancer patient. This is actually happening. I have a brain tumour which is very possibly secondary breast cancer. I have cancer spots on my lungs and liver, also very possibly secondary breast cancer. Cancer and I are now in a long term relationship – but I am the one in charge. I am the one calling all the shots. I have cancer but cancer doesn’t have me.
The results should be back within 10 working days but they were in fact back within a week and I had an appointment with my oncologist on Wednesday 14th August. This is good as in the grand scheme of things we don’t really want to be hanging around.
So – the results – the cancer in my liver relates to my breast cancer that I had 14 years ago. I thought it might be but it was still a bit of a shock. My oncologist said that it was ‘good news’ as in there are more treatment options available to me and it responds better to treatment. He said that it was also unusual as Herceptin related cancers are normally quite aggressive and reoccur or spread within the first 4 to 5 years – not 14!! But then again this is me we are talking about!!
Professor Bahl was talking ‘some’ years down the line, but he didn’t want to give me a false sense of security. I said I understood but at this moment in time I don’t need or want specifics. ‘Some’ years down the line was sufficient – I am well, fighting this head on and my treatment is only beginning so we don’t need to be considering that route – yet.
So the plan is for chemo which will be done at the Spire hospital at Aztec West which is so much easier than fighting my way to BRI. It will involve 6 cycles of chemo and another combination drug over 18 weeks every 3 weeks. That takes me up to Christmas Day! Part of the drugs will be given to me every three weeks for the rest of my life or until they stops working, but then there are other options available, so that’s quite a lot to take on board. My first chemo is scheduled for Wednesday 28th August. This will take 6 hours as there is a chance of an allergic reaction to the Herceptin but the drugs themselves will take a total of 4 hours. Joy!! It’s going to be a long day.
Before my chemo starts I need several more tests – including a PET scan, heart scan, blood tests and a surgical procedure for a Port to be fitted which is a device that will be fitted into my chest through which the chemo will be administered. (more details of this will follow in my next blog). Some of these tests were done today and the port placement is being done Wednesday. I am not looking forward to this procedure. It will be done under a local anaesthetic and sedation. I will let you know how it goes once I have recovered somewhat.
Its all moving so fast and I haven’t really have much time to process things. This is probably a good thing and perhaps once Wednesday’s procedure is over I can relax a little and think about what has happened over these last few weeks and what is to come.