Friday, November 20, 2009

Herceptin and Apples

I saw the oncologist today for a check-up. My blood work was all normal so I'm good to go for chemo next week (lucky me). They will now add Herceptin to my protocol. Herceptin cannot be taken orally as it would be destroyed by the stomach. It is, therefore, given as a drip into a vein usually over 90 minutes followed by a period of observation. Herceptin can be given in conjunction with chemotherapy. Herceptin (trastuzumab) is a treatment for women with breast cancer whose tumors have too much HER2 protein. This type of cancer is known as "HER2-positive", "HER2+", or "HER2 overexpressing". HER2+ tumors tend to grow and spread more quickly than tumors that are not HER2+. HER2 stands for Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2.In HER2+ breast cancer, the cancer cells have an abnormally high number of HER2 genes per cell. When this happens, too much HER2 protein appears on the surface of these cancer cells. This is called HER2 protein overexpression. Too much HER2 protein is thought to cause cancer cells to grow and divide more quickly, which is why HER2+ breast cancer is considered aggressive. Studies show that approximately 25% of breast cancer patients have tumors that are HER2+. HER2+ tumors tend to grow and spread more quickly than tumors that are not HER2+.
We spent the evening playing this board game Hannah bought called Apples to Apples which consists only of two decks of cards: Things and Descriptions. Each turn, the current referee selects a Description and players try to pick, from the cards in their hands, the Things that best match that Description. The referee then chooses the Thing that appeals most and awards the card to the player who played it. Once a player has won a pre-determined number of cards, that player wins. The unusual combinations of Things and Descriptions are humorous to the extreme, and had us in an uproar. We laughed and laughed. I almost peed my pants once or twice.

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