Tuesday, March 28, 2006

We Love Dr. Chemo

Isn't that a strange thing to say? But everytime we leave his office we feel so much better about what's happening to us. We feel true hope.

Dr. Chemo too was saddened about the cancer in Lefty, and said it really doesn't matter if we do chemo before or after Lefty's mast. He said, however, that we have to wait at least 2 weeks after tomorrow's "re-surgery" on Righty to see whether Venita's good to go. Chemo lowers the body's ability to heal so chemo and surgery do not mix.

Dr. Chemo said that from what he's seeing in the path reports, there's no reason to worry about bone scans, liver scans, any overian treatment, or genetic testing (given Venita has no children). Tests he previously ordered came back fine--chest X-Ray, MUGA scan, hormone level test. (That hormone level test apparently told him that Venita still is premenopausal and thus a candiate for tamoxifin therapy.)

Venita will be on the "standard of care" for chemo and hormone therapy based on Righty's cancer staging of T3N1M0. (Yep, once we understand this staging thing better, we'll write about that.) For chemo, that will be 4 treatments of Adriamycin (chemical name doxorubicin) and Cytoxan (chemical name cyclophosphamide), once every two weeks, followed by 4 treatments of Taxol (chemical name paclitaxel), once every two weeks. If she has problems with the chemo, the interval between treatments may be lengthened to three weeks. Each "infusion" will take 2-3 hours. The days after each infusion, Venita will need to return for a white blood cell count and possibly a shot of Nulasta.

The chemo will be followed by 5 years of Tamoxifin, hormone theraphy that blocks the production of estogen and progesterone, hormones that the path reports show "feed" Venita's cancers.

Dr. Chemo thinks we need to get Dr. Nuke on line in some of the decision making that is going on about timing of treatment, so Jim and Venita now have an appointment with Dr. Nuke in 2 weeks.

Dr. Chemo also explained the downsides of having a portacath to deliver the chemo, and one of his nurses found Venita's extra large veins just fine for direct infusion. So that's two fewer surgeries (inserting and removing the port) for Venita (and two fewer encounters with the ever-congenial Dr. Cutter).

We now have the names of 3 local breast surgeons to consider for 2nd opinions. We feel less pressure on moving quickly in that regard now because Dr. Chemo seemed to have no problem leaving Lefty in place until after the chemo.

Thank you all so much for continuing to suffer through all this with us.


Terri said...


You may also want to establish a relationship with an acupuncturist. A friend of mine who had serious nausea problems associated with chemo (last year) found that if she scheduled an acupuncture visit the day after her chemo she was able to conquer the nausea. Supposedly the new chemo drugs eliminate the nausea problems with many patients, but not everyone. Backed up by the lit....

Thinking of you,


Annie said...


So glad to hear there is no urgent need for the second mastectomy, and that Dr. Chemo was encouraging and hopeful. This news is better today. We are all keeping you and Jim in our thoughts and prayers.

Rudy, Ashley, Tiger, Annie and Doug.

Alice said...

So glad you have had some good news. And it's still early enough to get some medical marijuana in.LOL

Love Alice

Alice said...

A friend of mine that has had breast cancer said she loved the portacath. They could take blood and give meds through it. It saved her endless pokes over a long period of time.

julie said...

Alice is too funny..medical marijuana..hey why not if you can get it! anyway, I have been hoping that you would post how everything went today...praying for you!

Cheryl said...

When Winnie had chemo she took cytoxan.
I gave her catnip sometimes... hmm.. I'm with julie and alice-- if you can get the human version...

I have not had chemo.. but I have had other long term meds IV that were very harsh and nauseating . I did not have a portacath and I got stuck 3 x's a week for 2 years.( ok it ususally took more than one stick a session )
I got to know my veins very intimately.
Sometimes I wished for a portacath or some other indwelling . There are pro and cons to each.
My veins held out on their own.
EVID? :)

My cousin used to be a chemo nurse. She told me that although the docs were telling me to drink ensure ( ick) that carnation instant breakfast was just as good.
Just thought I would mention this in case you have trouble with enough nutrients and such. Might be good to have some on hand. Thinking ahead. Hoping you don't have such nausea that you need to suppliment.

I have only been on the FDMB since Dec.-- you have been very kind in answering my posts and offering support. I wanted to let you know that means a lot to me Venita. I am wishing you the best in your journey.

Here's to all of your Dr.'s being wonderful .