I have opted to participate in a clinical trial while undergoing my chemotherapy. A clinical trial is a research study that tests how well new medicines work in people. The main purpose of this trial is to determine if this particular medicine is effective in preventing cancer from returning and in extending survival in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer. (That's straight from the brochure)
Let me back up. In HER2 positive (+) breast cancer, the tumor cells have too much HER2 protein on their surface. This protein makes tumors able to grow and spread quickly, and can make them less likely to respond to some cancer treatments and more likely to recur after treatment. I will be helping to determine why some drugs, alone or in conjunction with another drug, work differently in some women.
My tumor was tested to be HER2+ in addition to being positive for estrogen and progesterone. That makes a triple positive. That makes a scary kind of cancer. That makes ME determined to find out all I can about it and to treat it as aggressively as possible. The tumor was removed with negative margins (they got it all), no lymph node involvement, and no suspicion of it being anywhere else in my body. Because of the HER2+ thingy, let's just be on the safe side. Ok? Ok.
I will possibly be helping save the lives of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the near future. These women could be my sisters, daughters in law, granddaughter, nieces, or my friends. Or it could be you. Or your loved ones. Or your friends.
I realize there's a lot of scientific jargon in this post. I have learned a lot of words, phrases, and terms that, 4 months ago I would never have dreamed I would know. I am getting something akin to a "junior medical degree." Personal experience and involvement tends to make one sort of an expert. I said that, tongue in cheek, to say this: everyone's breast cancer is different. Everyone must do what is best for them, based on research, open conversation with doctors and medical professionals and people who have been through the same thing. And prayer, lots of prayer.
Chemotherapy should begin later this week. It's a scary thing. And I dread it. I really really dread it. I have decided I will spend one long, hot, bald summer going through chemotherapy in exchange for twenty more good summers. However, I must remember that "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21.