Cancer log 179: End of infusions

Today I had my last infusion.  I used to call them chemo, but it’s not the kind of chemo that makes you super-sick and makes your hair fall out.  I only had that for two months last summer.  Before that, I had three months of other drugs, including one called Herceptin, which is a fascinating drug that you could learn more about by watching this movie (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_Proof_(film)).  It may have helped save my life, and its development was certainly a major breakthrough in hormone-positive breast cancer treatment.

After the chemo and surgery, I agreed to do a year of Herceptin follow-up treatments, once every three weeks, for a half-hour infusion.  That doesn’t sound like so much time, but it’s rarely just that half hour.  For example, this morning I was at the hospital at 7:30 for bloodwork, followed by a meeting with my doc, followed by Herceptin, and I didn’t leave until 11:30.  With transit time, I spent five hours today on medical stuff, so you can understand that being done with these feels like getting a piece of my life back.  Cancer took so much time.  I’m still angry about that.

I didn’t think Herceptin alone really had any side effects, but I have been tired all afternoon, and I came up to lie down and watch a show and started crying a few minutes later.  Kevin says that I’m usually really tired the day of (and the day after) Herceptin, but I guess I hadn’t noticed, probably because the effect is so much less pronounced than with chemo.  So, that’ll be good too, not having that tiredness anymore.  Maybe that’s why I started crying.  Maybe not.

I ought to be feeling more celebratory, but I think I’m too exhausted to celebrate.  Next week, they’ll finally take out the port — a small surgery where they make an incision and remove the little device that ran a tube up my neck to the big vein and made it much easier to do the chemo (etc.) infusions.  I’m really glad I got the port, and for a while, I was even amused by it, and kind of felt like a cyborg.  But lately, I’ve just gotten so sick of it — I want it out, out, out.  If the cancer comes back someday, I’ll get the port again, but for now, I am ready to be done with this visible marker, this bump under my skin that I run my fingers across most nights, that I want to scratch, even though it doesn’t actually itch.  Psychosomatic something.

After the port comes out, there will be a long stretch with nothing medical, which is kind of amazing to contemplate.  In mid-November, I talk to the plastic surgeon about scheduling the next reconstruction surgery, probably around the end of the year or early January.  I’m not done quite yet — and of course, I’m now a cancer patient for the rest of my life — an increased level of scrutiny and screening for ovarian and colon cancer, along with extra attention paid to my heart, which was put at increased risk by both the chemo and radiation.

Still, it’s great to be done with the infusions.  I will celebrate, I promise.  I just need to rest for a while, first.

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