Sunday, January 3, 2010

What makes me anxious

While I spend most of my time in a "positive" state of mind, I have my moments when I sink into a pit of despair. It has been said, by women who have beaten Breast Cancer or are still in the throes of it, that the period between diagnosis and surgery is the most brutal. Nope - I think it is dealing with chemotherapy. Round #4 is scheduled for Wednesday (1/6). How I dread chemo days. I have to go to my "happy place" to keep my anxiety level down and remain calm. I'm still trying to figure out why it's causing me so much anxiety. Each night before chemo, I go through the motions of a normal nighttime routine. I set my alarm clock and crawl (sometimes exhaustedly) under the covers, only to lie there and listen to the endless parade of horrible thoughts that march through my brain. Sleep is not even a factor anymore (the steroids certainly don't help). My stomach churns as if it were the evening before the start of a brand new job.
When the dark surrounds you, the family is sound asleep and the dog is happily snoring next to you, it is imagination that takes over and elicits such intense fear that sleep becomes comical. My imagination tells me that the cancer is growing and I have to argue with myself that it is not. Or that I will end up with some other health issue because of the cancer. You see Herceptin –which I must take because of the HER2 status (positive) of my cancer and which will increase my survival rate by 50% since the HER2 cancers are far more aggressive and far more likely to come back — carries a large risk of heart toxicity. It is the Herceptin and the 5 years of tamoxafin that really shore up my chances of living a long life. The chemo is just extra insurance. But, the good news is that new research has found that taking Herceptin with, as opposed to after, chemotherapy helped more women live longer without a recurrence. 84.2% 0f the patients that took Herceptin with chemotherapy were recurrence-free at five years and only 3% experienced heart toxicity. So, the odds are certainly with me. Now if I could just stop freaking out before chemo, I'll be good!

No comments:

Post a Comment