On the morning of September 7, I had an appointment with my oncologist. I had confirmed that we would do it over the phone and kept my phone handy to await is his call.
At 11:00, the nurse who works with Dr. G. called to say that I would be hearing him before the end of the afternoon, thus giving me several hours to work myself into a state of high anxiety. I’d had an echocardiogram and two CT scans on August 29 and I knew that my doc would have the results.
I had no reason (other than history) to believe that the CTs would reveal anything bad and I’d managed to pretty much forget about the results until the day I was to receive them. On that day, I became a nervous wreck. I jumped every time the phone rang and when the call I’d been waiting for finally came through at around 5pm, I was a mess.
My oncologist apologized for the delay, and, as always when I hear his voice, my annoyance and anxiety dissolved. He told me that both CTs were fine. I have lots of scarring on my liver (from the cancer) and a little scaring on my lungs (from the radiation) but that there was no sign of cancer anywhere.
Then I asked about the echo, which surprised Dr. G. He didn’t have the results in front of him and had to go look them up. When he did, he sounded a bit taken aback.
My ejection fraction is at 48%. The normal range starts at 55%, so I’m really just below that but it’s enough of a concern to send me to a cardiologist and to cancel next week’s treatment.
My concern is not that there is permanent heart damage (although it’s a bit freaky to think that my poor heart is a bit over-stressed) because Herceptin damage is usually reversible. My fear is the length of time it will take my heart to bounce back and what my treatment options are in the interim. And what if the toxicity has built up to a sufficient level that long term treatment with Herceptin is no longer viable?
This drug has been my magic potion, the one I credit with my remission and the fact that I’m here today. I’m not ready to think about giving it up.
And I don’t have to. Not yet. Going to try and save all my questions for the cardiologist and, in the interim, carry on with my happy, busy life.
Update: I have an appointment with a cardio-oncologist on October 3rd.
Cross posted from Not Just About Cancer.
When my heart function dropped during treatment they put me on Lisinprol which I stayed on up until 3 months ago — 1 year after treatment ended. Not sure if it actually did anything but the docs thought it might take some of the pressure off the heart. My ejection fraction had dropped to 45. Throughout this time I continued to do triathlons, running and biking races as well and my heart was ok. So see if Lisiniprol is an option and maybe they can continue with the Herceptin and not have to stop it.