When you are fighting cancer, you become acutely aware of each and every blood test you take. I’m more familiar with lab values in my five months as a cancer patient than from seven years of nursing. Funny how that works.
Ibrance. Such a great drug, or so they tell me. Every day when I wake up and every night when I go to sleep I pray they are right. This is the drug that will save me. This is the drug that will give me my life back.
But the side effects. The biggest one for me is the effect on my white blood cell count. I’m officially at my lowest white blood cell count possibly in my life, and definitely the lowest since my cancer diagnosis in September. I began my first cycle of Ibrance with a 10.35 WBC count and finished with 4.89. It only crawled up to a 5.80 before I had to start cycle two.
I’m a nurse. That’s what I do. I am terrified. How do I return to the job I love so much if my immune system is gone? How do I care for patients with infections of their own if I’m at risk to catch each and every bug?
Each day brings about a new worry. With each sniffle or everytime I feel like I am flushed I worry. Am I getting the flu? Could this be the start of a cold? Cancer. The gift that keeps on giving. Fear anyway.
Dx 10/9/2018, invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), left breast, 1.5cm, Nottingham Grade 6, hormone receptor positive, ER+ (estrogen receptor)/PR+ (progesterone receptor), HER2- (human epidermal growth factor), BRACA- (genetic mutation), Stage IV, metastasized to bones
First CA 27.29 10/9/2018 83 (goal <38)
Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2018 Tamoxifen (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) pills
Targeted Therapy 10/12/2018 Xgeva (Denosumab) injection
Hormonal Therapy 10/19/2018 Lupron Depot (Leuprolide Acetate) injection
Surgery 11/29/2018 Vaginal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
First CA 27.29 post hysterectomy 12/10/2018 73 (goal <38)
Hormonal Therapy 12/11/2018 Femara (letrozole) pills
Targeted Therapy 12/23/2018 Ibrance (palbociclib) capsules
First CA 27.29 post medication change 1/10/2019 60 (goal <38)