Friday, May 19, 2017

Perfuse Infusions

First, a quick update: we are done with the Navelbine/Herceptin/Perjeta combo. I may get my hair and nails back! Yeay!!

An empty chemo chair with the IV pole in behind it. The window looks out onto spring trees and greenery behind the building.
My chemo chair and infusion IV pole
I navigated the challenge of getting treatment in Texas without a problem. We found a great oncology practice and a nice doctor. She walked through our treatment plan and echoed what my oncologist had been saying. We even made new friends while we were there getting my infusion. We visited their home and had dinner/nosh. 

When I returned home, my regular oncologist decided that my antigen numbers aren't great (they keep going up), so it's time for a change. Instead of another round, or moving to other maintenance-type treatments, it was time for something else. 

Kadcyla, or ado-trastuzumab emtansine, is an interesting combination of that incredible Herceptin with a chemotherapy drug embedded within. Herceptin finds the hormone-receptive cells and the chemo enters the cancer cell and destroys it. 

Reviews are pretty positive. Fellow travelers report a few down days, but overall a feeling of wellness most of the three-week cycle. The reports of fewer side effects probably has to do with the careful targeting of cancer cells, instead of the spray-and-pray effect of most chemo. Travelers  with bone mets have seen good results. I'm really looking forward to this. As I write, I'm sitting in this chair and getting my first infusion. 

I thought you might like to know how this all works. If you remember, I had a medical device called a port installed under my skin. I sit down in the chair, and my wonderful nurse places a special needle into the port. After making sure it's clear and running properly, they begin a normal IV, usually starting with some saline. 

My port and IV pole.
Ports and poles: how they work together
When the meds are ready, I confirm it's really me, and the nurse hangs the chemo bag and starts it running. This one will take 90 minutes, followed by a 90 minute flush, but if I do well, future infusions will be half that time. Hubby and I usually visit with patients and staff to pass the time. When I'm fully flushed, the clear the port with a blood thinner and alcohol, then they remove the needle. This is far easier than having them put an IV in a vein.

I'll update soon to let you know how it's going, but I'm feeling optimistic.