Tag Archive | HER2 positive

Quick checkup

Had a quick check-up with Dr. Li this morning before radiation. This one was easy – I didn’t even have to bloodwork beforehand. We talked a little more about whether or not I should go on Tamoxifen. It’s not something that would happen until after I’m done with radiation (although in many places they occur concurrently). The benefit to me would be minimal since the main tumor came back only 1% ER/PR positive, and the lymph node was weakly PR positive at 20%. Dr. Li is leaving it up to me whether or not I want to take the drug. I’m leaning towards no because I already got pathological remission, and the cancer was so weakly positive for progesterone, which doesn’t get as strong a benefit as estrogen to begin with. I’ll have to look up some research to see what the experts have to say.

The other thing we talked about was the addition of another drug on the market for HER2 positive breast cancers. If I were going through chemotherapy now, Dr. Li would have added perjlogoPerjeta to my therapy as well. I find it fascinating that it’s barely been six months, and yet the treatment is already changing. Of course, it’s another $10,000 drug, on top of the $8,000 Herceptin, and all the other treatment I’ve been getting. I am so glad I have health insurance, and I can see why people go bankrupt trying to pay for cancer treatment.

I have to do a followup with my gynecologist (do I have one of those?) to check on the abnormality found on my ovary way back at the beginning of the treatment (when I was getting all those scans). Otherwise, I don’t have to go back for four months! Last thing I did before I left was give Dr. Li my Little Pink Houses of Hope medical paperwork so I’m cleared for the retreat in May. Then, it was over to the radiation wing, where they were having all kinds of problems since one of their machines was down. Not mine, I was selfishly happy to notice.

Diagnosis

So my biopsy was around lunch time on Tuesday, and I got a call early Thursday morning from the pathologist. That didn’t take long, which is usually the case when someone has a serious problem. Turns out the biopsy, both the breast and lymph node, were positive for invasive mammary carcinoma with lobular features. Great – now I have a name and I can start Googling some specific facts, instead of just the generic breast cancer information.

I was scheduled to meet Dr. Engel, the breast surgeon, the next day so we could start talking about treatment. Turns out the tumor was estrogen and progesterone negative, but HER2 positive. Not a great thing, since now I can’t use hormone therapy and HER2 positive cancer tend to be more aggressive. But, there is a drug (Herceptin) that treats HER2 positive breast cancer (improving five-year survival rates from 20% to 67%), and at least it isn’t triple negative.

Dr. Engel was very reassuring and willing to answer all our questions. I appreciate the fact that Erie, PA is a small enough city that I will have specific doctors on my cancer treatment team, as opposed to whoever available within the practice. At the same time, Erie’s big enough that we have some options for surgeons and specialists. Dr. Chan and his nurses recommended Dr. Engel. I had no prior information about the two breast surgeons in town, but I figured if I appreciated working with one team, I’d probably appreciate any doctor they could recommend.

After meeting with Dr. Engel, I had a bunch of tests and meetings scheduled. I will have surgery to put in a port so they can start chemotherapy ASAP. I also will get a breast MRI to look for any abnormalities in the left breast and a PET scan to see if there’s any spread throughout the body. I’ll meet with the nurse navigator and then the oncologists. Busy couple of weeks ahead.