Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Puppy Therapy

Today was Herceptin Wednesday, and my visits are starting to follow a routine - vitals, doctor exam, infusion - which I am becoming a pro at!

I brought another friend with me this time and after vitals, I was placed in an exam room where Dr. Sara, Debra the nurse practitioner and Dr. Dy the fellow came in to see me.

They did a physical exam (adding three boob flashes to the count) and Dr. Sara said he is continuing to see a difference - even since last week.  WOOHOO!  Before treatment started, you could feel the tumor distinctly; Dr. Sara likened it to a rock under the skin.  It was very dense and it made it easy to measure during my first appointment, which Dr. Sara did so he could keep track and monitor it as treatment progressed.

Today, the tumor was so soft that it could no longer easily be measured.  It is clearly dispersing.  In addition, the doctor can no longer feel the swollen lymph node under my arm. 

Last week, Dr. Sara remarked that after the first chemo treatment, they are mostly interested in how your body (not necessarily the cancer) reacts to the drugs, i.e. whether you have an allergic reaction, experience side effects, etc.  So he said he is "very pleased" to see such a difference in the tumor after just one chemo treatment.  I told him I was very pleased too!

This is all very encouraging and I am very excited, but I'm trying to be careful about not getting TOO confident, since I am still far from the end of the road.  But at least I know I'm going in the right direction.

Dr. Sara also told me that from here on out, I will no longer have to get the Herceptin weekly.  He had said from the start that the weekly Herceptin treatments would be just in the beginning - I wasn't quite sure exactly how long it would be, but today I found out not long at all.  I will still be getting the same amount of Herceptin, but all at the same time instead of doled out over three weeks now.  Next Wednesday is the next full chemo; after that my next treatment will be full chemo three weeks following.

After this very encouraging meeting with the doctor, I was given my recliner in the Infusion Suite.  The nurse hooked up my IV (in my hand; no creative needle sticks today) and after some saline, I was given the Herceptin - just a 30-minute drip today.

During my infusion, a woman walked into the Infusion Suite with a dog!  I was surprised to see a dog in a hospital, because I assumed that was not allowed, but she turned out to be a volunteer.  Her dog Quincy, a Yorkie-poodle mix (is that a Yorkie-poo?), is certified as a therapy dog.  He even wears a very official-looking jacket and everything.  Quincy's owner lives in the neighborhood and brings him to the Infusion Suite every Wednesday and Friday to visit with the patients - a form of Puppy Therapy, if you will.  Although unlike music therapy, there is not a whole "Puppy Therapy" department in the hospital dedicated to this; Quincy and his owner are volunteers.

Quincy's owner asked me if I'd like a visit from Quincy and even though I am not typically a "pet" person, I could not resist.  He was very cute and very friendly.  He sat on my lap while I pet him and chatted with his owner and my friend, and Quincy seemed to charm some of the other patients as well.

I also had a visit from Bernardo, the music therapy guy, who was going to come by for a song or two, but my visit was so short we ran out of time.  I told him next week I would be there all day and my parents have been practicing and were ready to take on their instruments again!

So, now my sights are set on next week.  Since this will be my second full chemo, it means that I can expect to start seeing some hair loss in the days and weeks following, so I am trying to mentally prepare myself for this.  I know it will be hard, but I have to keep reminding myself that it's only temporary, and it's a small price to pay for all the good the drugs are doing, which we are already starting to see.

I am also trying to prepare from a practical standpoint as well.  I am all set with my first chemo cap, which my Mom knit for me.  Here is me trying it on:

Pretty cool, huh?

I am also planning on going wig shopping this weekend, so stay tuned for more modeling shots to come!


  1. Hey Emily!

    I'm really happy to hear that the chemo is working and that it's progressing smoothly! Can your mom knit me a hat like that in black? :o) (just kidding!)

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE the good-news-steps forward. You are right it is a long road, which we'll be here every step of the way. Auntie hugs your way!!!

  3. Wouldn't life be great if everything could be cured with puppies and music?? It's wonderful to hear your continued progress shrinking the nasty cells. You've always been an overachiever so I guess I'm not too surprised :-). I know after the next chemo there can be some unpleasantness, such as your hair but we all support you and there will be good things to focus on as well to help you through!

  4. I think the chemo cap is HOT!! Em, so glad that things are continuing to go in the right direction!

  5. The chemo cap looks fabulous! Love it! And I love the wonderful news too...Keep fighting :-)

  6. Singing puppies....what will they think of next- great news you are getting from the doctors- keep up the good work!!! Dave & Debbie

  7. Glad things are going well. The hat looks great but we need to start thinking Spring!!

  8. The chemo cap is neato!!! Go Aunt J for design! I really like the blond wig on fb, it's something so daring and fun. I know the hair loss will be really hard, but we're all here supporting you. If you need extra puppy therapy, Grigio is all set and mobile! He doesn't have anything pink yet, but we're working on it. Really glad to hear the tumor is continuing to get smaller. Love Brianna and Richard

  9. hey emily, you're a week late for fashion week with that hat, and it's so cute, I have no doubt Naomi would fight you for it! I'm so glad to hear the good news. If you want a wig-shopping companion in arms, call or write. hoping for only good news from here on out.