Diagnosis & Treatment

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow. (Mary Anne Radmacher)

Chapter 1

On the 10th of December 2014, my world was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with an Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in my left breast. At the time of diagnosis, the tumour measured around 8.5 cms and the PET CT scan indicated that the axillary lymph nodes under my arm were also infected.

Following a biopsy a diagnosis of Stage IIIB Triple Negative Breast Cancer was confirmed. This however changed after the FISH test on the tissue showed that the tumour was in fact HER2/neu positive and estrogen and progesterone negative.

My surgeon and oncologist decided that the best way to attack the tumor was with neodjuvent chemotherapy followed by a mastectomy and radiation.

My treatment plan included:

  • Chemotherapy – 12 doses of Taxol (once a week) – 21/01/15 t0 08/04/15 and 5 doses of Adriamycin & Cyclophosphamide aka “AC” (once every 3 weeks) – 22/04/15 to 05/08/15.
  • Targeted Therapy – 4 doses of Perjeta (once every 3 weeks) – 21/01/15 to 08/04/15 and 17 doses of Herceptin (once every 3 weeks) – 21/01/15 to 08/04/15 and 23/09/15 to 01/06/15.
  • Unilateral mastectomy on 18/08/15
  • 25 fractions of radiotherapy – 04/10/15 to 12/11/15

I was in treatment for 540 days!!

Chapter 2

On the 14th of June a CT scan showed several spots on my chest as well as a number of enlarged subclavicular and mediastinal lymph nodes. A PET-CT scan on the 2nd of July and a biopsy on 4th of July confirmed a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.

It is likely that the treatment plan will be lengthy and will comprise of several different drug combinations.

My treatment plan includes:

  • Chemotherapy – 3 cycles of Abraxane (once a week for three weeks with the 4th week off – 9 doses in total)
  • Targeted Therapy – 6 doses of Avastin (given on the first and third week of every Abraxane cycle

The first cycle of treatment starts on 20th July 2016.

Chapter 3

Following a PET-CT scan on 14th September 2016 which showed new evidence of disease including metastases in my hip, femur and rib and a nodule on my thyroid my oncologist changed my treatment plan.

My new treatment plan includes:

  • Chemotherapy – 3 cycles of Cistplatin (once a week for two weeks followed by a week’s break) and 3 cycles of 5-FU which is given continuously in two seven day cycles via a pump connected to the port-o-cath.
  • 5 fractions of radiotherapy targeting my hip, femur and rib

The first cycle of chemotherapy starts on 21 September 2016. Radiotherapy will start on 26 September and will complete on 29 September.

Chapter 4

Following a PET-CT scan in late January 2017  which showed new evidence of disease in my right lung,  and a Brain MRI early February 2017 which showed 4 brain metastases in my cerebellum, my treatment plan changed again and includes:

  • Chemotherapy – 4 cycles of Navelbine (once a week for two weeks followed by a week’s break) and 4 cycles of 5-FU.
  • 15 fractions of whole brain radiation plus 15 boosts targeting the mets in the cerebellum

The first cycle of chemotherapy started on 22 January 2017 and the whole brain radiation started on the 19th of February and will complete on the 9th of March.