Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Herceptin/Perjeta ONLY

February 3rd  No more chemo, for a while anyway
Treatment #14 
Good news, no. . . great news!  Best news I have had in a long time.
The chest tumor is still present.  This scan showed a 1.2 cm mass compared to the November scan that showed a 1.4 cm mass.  This report noted “stable” disease, but as you can see it says the tumor is “slightly diminished in size”.  YEAH!

Notice “no evidence of pulmonary mass”.   That means no lung tumors were seen!  Either they are so small that the CT scan did not pick them up or they are no longer there.  There is also the possibility that the tumors seen in May 2013 where not tumors at all.  They could have been scar tissue from some illness in my past.  Either way, nothing was seen on this scan!
Today, I have been freed from the grasps of chemo, at least for a little while.  Now I will only be treated with Herceptin and Perjeta which are targeted therapies and won’t affect my normal cells.  The news gets better as I don’t have to take any steroids or nausea medication with this regimen.  I will feel physically better.   Taxotere works, but it is such a harsh treatment.  I was almost to the point that I was going to ask for a break from it.  This news brings me such relief.

Dr. R. said this is a great time to try to do without the Taxotere.  Eventually I would have to stop Taxotere anyway because the body can only tolerate it for so long.  As I have said in a previous post, Perjeta is new having only been available to patients outside of clinical trials since June 2012.  The use of just Perjeta and Herceptin is also new at least to the doctors treating me.  I am hoping this new treatment plan will work because it has several nice benefits:  a full head of hair again, physically I won’t feel so ill.  I am bursting with happiness about this.  For the next three months, I am free of Taxotere.  Then I will have another scan and hopefully another 3 months of just HP.   

I spoke to a radiation oncologist today about the possibility of radiating the chest tumor.  Because I have had radiation in the past, there are possible serious complications that could occur if radiation is given again, the worst being loss of the use of my right arm.  But before those complications are discussed, my past treatment with radiation must be reviewed to see dosage used in order to see if it can be done at all.  I really want to have radiation because this could actually completely kill the cancer in that area.  The radiation oncologist said he would be fine with the decision “not to” or the decision “to” take this treatment.  The thought of not having cancer in that area any longer is such a strong reason to take the treatment.  Losing use of my arm because of possible nerve damage to the nerves along my neck above where the tumor is located is a strong reason not to, but cancer is way uglier and is a killer where the other is not.  I really won’t know the true risks associated with radiation until my next appointment which will be with the radiation facility that treated me in 2010.  (Date still yet to be scheduled.) They will review my history and will make their recommendation.

Another plus today…I only had to take Tylenol before treatment today.  That is two pills compared to the 8 that I previously had to take.  Also, no Neulasta shot needed to help my white blood cells bounce back.  That is a $4,000 shot out of the financial equation!

Three weeks ago, I had a MUGA scan for my heart function.  It was at 68% which is good and not only is that good, my heart function has improved. 
The test measures your ejection fraction, which is the amount of blood pumped out of the heart during each heartbeat (contraction). It’s usually expressed as a percentage. For example, an ejection fraction of 60 percent means that 60 percent of the total amount of blood in the left ventricle when it is full is pumped out with each heartbeat. A normal ejection fraction is between 50 and 75 percent.

It has been such a good day today.  I still can’t believe the report was so good.  Modern medicine is wonderful. 


  1. I was so hoping to hear only good news about your appointment and look e here!!!! YES! I'm doing the happy dance today for you. This is such good news! I am so happy for you!

  2. We can all let the breath we've been holding out!!! YIPPEEEE!!! I KNEW it was going to be good news! (OK, I strongly suspected, but not being 100% sure, I held my breath and turned blue waiting!)
    Oh, what an awesome post!! If my arms had super-powers I would hug you!!!
    You are SO kick'n cancer's ASS!!! (excuse the curse word). Hugs and jumpin' and hugs and yippee!
    I'm amazed you can do so much at 68% (or less) heart function! You really ARE amazing!!!!
    Not to repeat myself but.... YIPEEEEE!!! Tears of joy this month!!! WoooHOOO!!!

  3. Susan Z, it has been a happy dancing time for both of us!
    Susan R, I am glad you are no longer blue. Luckily 68% heart function is within the normal range which is 50 to 75%. This test measures the amount of blood pumped out of the heart during each contraction.
    Thank you both for your expressed happiness for me. I really needed this good news.

  4. I am considering the herceptin and perjeta treatment. Currently I receive Herceptin only every 3 weeks. Can you tell me what the side effects of the perjeta are? Just curious because the Herceptin alone is very easy.

  5. Hi Debbie,
    I was treated with Herceptin only for 1 year after my stage 1 diagnosis. It was very easy for me as well.

    Perjeta is very similar to Herceptin in how it works to block messages for division and growth --you probably already know this. I tolerated Perjeta in the same way I tolerated Herceptin. Because my treatment included Taxotere in the initial 9 months before my treatment with Herceptin and Perjeta alone, I can't say for sure if some of the side-effects I experienced were the result of some lingering effects from Taxotere. I can say I felt so much better once Taxotere was dropped. My energy returned along with normal hair growth. I did, however, continue to experience diarrhea that was difficult at times. The over-the-counter drug Immodium was truly important for any of my trips away from home. Now after 8 months on TDM-1 my GI tract is finally functioning normally again.

    I have read about other's experiences with Perjeta and most seem to tolerate it well. Some complain of being tired. I may have been tired at times, but I didn't notice while on these two drugs because I started to feel like I would be alive longer than I initially thought. Feeling good can really change my outlook. Of course you will have to have a MUGA scan every 3 months as you do for Herceptin to check your heart function. My heart was never affected by these two drugs nor did I ever have an allergic reaction during any infusions.

    I hope Herceptin works for many years for you. If you decide to add Perjeta and find the side-effects too difficult, your oncologist may allow you to drop it or at least reduce the dosage.

    I hope you have much success with whatever you decide.

  6. Hello hope you are all doing great i want to ask if perjeta can cause total hair loss like chemo or no? Thank you a lot for your feedback . Keep positive

  7. Hi. Perjeta does not cause hair loss. There are side-effects though. For me digestive issues were on-going which were remedied with Immodium. After being treated with Taxotere--which does make you lose all your hair--my eye lashes and eyebrows came back terribly thin. My scalp hair, thankfully, did grow back. Best wishes to you.

  8. Gracias lisa por tus comentarios soy Rosy de mexico. Me detectaron cancer metastasico en agosto 2016 y he pasado por herceptin, kadcyla y ahora comenzare con perjeta herceptin y taxotere gracias por estar aqui y publicar tu experiencia.

    1. Hi, Rosy. I hate to hear of someone else having to deal with metastatic breast cancer. I hope that Kadcyla works for you for a long time. I also hope my experiences help you during yours.