This week Hubby and I got to spend some more time at one of our second homes. Both my medical oncologist and my radiation oncologist are located at Texas Oncology. Thankfully going to these appointments only requires a five minute drive, not the three hours it takes to get to UT Southwestern for my surgical appointments. This is where I had four months of chemo, and it's where I'll go for daily radiation for about six weeks.
Yesterday we had an appointment with the medical oncologist (Dr H). Other than some lower than normal blood counts, I seem to be rebounding well from chemo and surgery. The next step (aside from radiation) for a breast cancer patient with a tumor sensitive to estrogen is to start hormone therapy. That means taking medicine to block the estrogen in hopes of NOT feeding any more cancer cells. (I'm no scientist so this probably isn't the exact explanation, but you get the gist of it) Dr H says he would normally wait until after radiation to have a patient start this so you're not adding something else with side effects onto something already giving you side effects. Since Dr T (my plastic surgeon) wants me to wait 6-8 weeks for radiation, Dr H wants me to start the hormone therapy now.
What are the main side effects you ask? Think menopause: hot flashes (which I already have and will probably get worse), joint pain (which I already have some and will probably get worse), etc. I'm fine with starting the meds.... I can deal with whatever side effects it gives me because this will be one more weapon in my arsenal against this stupid cancer. If my tumor liked estrogen, then I'm all for NOT handing estrogen out like candy to any rogue cancer cells that might be lurking. While 40 is too young to go through menopause, if it means I can be cancer-free, bring it on! Chemo technically put me there, at least temporarily, anyway.
Today we met with Dr Au (I know... I use initials for everyone, but I just think it's humorously ironic that my radiation oncologist's name is Dr. Au). I really liked him. For some weird reason, after all of the doctor appointments and tests and treatments and surgeries I've had over the last six months, I picked THIS appointment to be nervous about. As soon as I saw Dr. Au's kind face, I was at ease. He was happy to take his time, apologized for our wait (he was waiting for a call from the hospital on an emergency patient) and spent over an hour with us going over the ins and outs of radiation therapy. He said as long as Dr H and my surgeons in Dallas are ok with the 6-8 week timeline, then he was ok with it, too. So we have a tentative date of March 20th, which is when they will "simulate" and begin my plan, and I'll start radiation the next week. If I heal faster and Dr T works his magic sooner than expected on the reconstruction part, then we can start sooner. We'll hope for that. I'm not sure what difference a few weeks either way matters now, since I've already had chemo and surgery, but I've learned with cancer, getting things done sooner rather than later is the better idea.
If you'd like something specific to pray for, please pray that I finish healing soon, I continue to improve my range of motion and we are able to head back to Dallas to visit Dr T sooner than expected. (Hubby won't like that part - I think he's a little sick of road trips!)