it is what it is (and what it is is ok) – by Laurie

Herceptin makes me feel lousy. Or maybe it’s the Demerol they give me from flopping around like a fish with a fever. Either way, after every treatment I feel achy and hungover for a couple of days.
It’s a not nearly as bad as when I also have chemo (and I bounce back more quickly) but I’m still really dragging my butt around, when I bother to get up at all. I’ll go for a walk later but it will take every ounce of the meager willpower I possess to get myself dressed and out the door.
I saw the cardio-oncologist again on Monday and that appointment went as well as could possibly be imagined. My heart was slightly damaged by the Adriamycin but has remained just below normal, since being on the Herceptin. The verdict: I can continue with Herceptin. I don’t need to have heart scans every three months, as I have been. I don’t even need to be followed by a cardio-oncologist unless my ejection fraction dips below 45 (it’s currently around 49) or I experience symptoms of heart failure (um, yeah).

It appears that this whole heart scare was a tempest in a teapot – a reminder that when it comes to treatment of women living with metastasis, doctors are just making stuff up as they go along. They really don’t know the long term effects of the drugs that keep us alive because our being alive and in remission is still so unusual. It’s a bit unnerving but, given the alternative, I’m happy to serve as a human guinea pig.

Cross-posted from Not Just About Cancer.

9 Responses to it is what it is (and what it is is ok) – by Laurie

  1. Thank you for sharing, Laurie. I think it’s so important to write down just how you are feeling at any given moment – physical or emotional. Keep hanging in there and keep up your positive attitude. It will be a blessing to someone else!

  2. Laurie says:

    Thanks Claudia!

  3. Jason says:


    Im sorry you have to go through all of this & Im sorry you are working with doctors in the state that DONT really know what their doing, nor do they get effective results! Its not right for them to charge so much money to use their patients as guinea pigs w treatments & drugs!

    Do you realize thatt you dont need expensive pharma drugs, chemo/radiation, or invasive surgery to deal w metastic cancer? You can use all natural methods that have a %95 success rate & cost next to nothing compared with what “coventional medicine” charges? If you like more info please let me know?


  4. Laurie says:

    Whoa. No thank you. My docs have had great success and I have responded well. I appreciate their honesty with me – I am charting new territory because I am so lucky to be alive.

  5. Thank you for sharing these reflections, Laurie. One of the things my own cancer experience taught me was that so much of what goes on in medicine is trial and error. The doctors sometimes don’t want to let on that that is the case, and us patients would prefer to rely on it not being the case, but the fact is that we are all wonderfully unique and that means variations in response and reaction.

    The doctors don’t know precisely how Adriamycin, or any other drug for that matter, will work in your particular body or in mine because it is all a chemical balancing act. We are astonishingly complex creatures with tiny distinctions in our internal chemistry and genetic constitution. This means that the cascade of reactions signaled by a drug just can’t be predicted precisely in advance.

    I hold out hope for the day–and it is coming!–when doctors will be better able to customize treatment regimens based on each person’s unique chemical make-up. But even then, there is bound to be a degree of “Who knows?” in it all. When you think about how things like hope and laughter can predispose people to respond better to whatever therapy they choose to take advantage of, you have to know that there is a zone of mystery around even the most scientific observations when it comes to human beings.

    Keep living life to the fullest, Laurie. Short or long, it is yours to live and your to give. Best wishes.

    Linda Watson

  6. Laurie says:

    Linda- One of the best, most thoughtful comments on any blog post. Thanks so much.

  7. Stacey Berry says:

    Thank you Laurie,
    It was one year ago tonight that I spent in the hospital with headache and CT scan revealed two brain lessons. I am on Herceptin, Tykerb and Zeloda. I am also thankful to be here. I have a 2.5 year old daughter to be here for as well as the rest of my family. Let’s enjoy Thanksgiving and be in the moment. You are not alone in this battle. My mom is a 20 plus years stage 4 breast cancer survivor. Now at 81 she babysits for me and she is living proof og the possibilities out there. Believe and love,

    • I am a 4-year breast cancer survivor and feel very blessed. May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and keep looking up. Our Lord knows what He is doing and we can trust Him for all our needs!

  8. resistor color coding…

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