August 28, 2021
Hi Friends and Family –
Summer is winding down and things almost feel normal – school is back in session, Glen is on his annual fly fishing trip. I say almost normal because I’m not sure what normal is exactly anymore. I’m guessing many of you feel similarly.
Short version: I shared last month that the radiologist though from the scan images that I may have mild progression. If there is progression, that means the medication is not working and the cancer is growing. Typically that means you move to a new set of medication.
We waited for another month of blood work before making any decisions. Once you leave a line of treatment you cannot go back; you want to stay on a line of treatment for as long as possible.
Last month my blood work looked “ok” so that meant no changes. This month it’s “ok but not great”. I will stay on the same medication though and have scans again in a month or two.
Our normal now includes the stress and anxiety of never knowing if I’m stable or will be searching for a new effective treatment. Not ideal, but better than not having treatment options. So, we march on into fall.
I hope you are all safe, healthy and vaccinated. Please, please get vaccinated if not for yourself for me and others like me – those who are on life saving medication. If we get COVID we may have to stop taking the other medication while recovering. What a terrible choice to have to make.
Miss seeing many of you. Wishing you all a grand end to summer and that our paths can cross – in person – soon.
Long version: The CA 27-29 tumor marker is blood work test that gives an indication of the spread of breast cancer. The lower the number the better. Mine dropped immediately after starting my treatment in summer 2019. In February 2020 it was close to “normal” and then has been slowly rising ever since, with a big jump in June – at the same time I had scans.
The increase in the CA 27-29 coupled with the imaging results made my oncologist start thinking about a second line of treatment. There is an opportunity to consider a clinical research trial when you change treatments. These trials are how they test new drugs and they are critical for getting drugs eventually approved. Think COVID vaccine here – before it was approved it went through multiple phases of testing via clinical research trials.
There was the possibility of my participating in a clinical trial as part of my next line of treatment. I met with the clinical trial nurse, got info on the treatment, Glen and I researched it and I also had some blood drawn to see if I would be eligible. From what we could tell, it looked promising. I could only participate if I had a particular mutation. Spoiler alert – I do not have that mutation. So, this trial is not an option for me. If I need to change my treatment we’ll have to go with the “standard of care” or see if there is another trial I might be eligible for.
So, I’m back to just waiting for my next set of scans to see where things are at.