The End of Herceptin & My Zombie Boob

The End of Herceptin & My Zombie Boob

Caught your attention there didn’t I? I know you want all the details about my zombie boob but we need to back up a bit and work our way up to that little treat.  Cancer treatment as a rule is nasty stuff.  The Drs poison us, so we can kill the cancer, so we can live. The nastier the cancer the more poison we put into our bodies.

Becoming Toxic and Finishing Herceptin

My particular type of cancer, Her2+, responds well to a little drug called Herceptin.  Herceptin targets every stray cell of my nasty cancer so it can’t grow back.  One small issue – in some people Herceptin causes heart function issues.  The GOOD thing is this damage is reversible once treatment has stopped.  I have been receiving echocardiograms every three months to keep an eye on my ticker.  My most recent echo showed signs on strain and reduced function in my heart. When I read the report it said the following: “Findings may represent early cardiotoxicity”.

Time to add another Dr to my care team. I was lucky enough to get an appointment with a lovely cardiologist who specializes in cardiology & oncology.  Why is this speciality a thing?  Well lots of cancer patients don’t die from cancer, they die from cardiac issues caused by treatment.  So I decided I don’t want to be one of those folks so the cardiologist and I adjusted some of my medications and made a plan.  My oncologist and cardiologist then decided after my next Herceptin infusion I would be done with treatment. Of the total 26 planned infusions I received 23.  Statistically the missing three infusions should not raise my risk of recurrence and my prognosis is so good that we could stop.

So here I am on my last day of treatment. Last Herceptin. Last day in the chair.

That should be exciting enough, right?  I sort of thought, ok I kicked this thing to the curb time to celebrate! But my body had other plans.  The medication changes caused me to gain 9lbs in a week.  Did it help that I played tennis on a 95 degree day?  Maybe not.  Did eating Thai food with a high sodium content help?  Also, no.  So my Cardiologist adjusted my medication again and in 24 hours I peed out about 6 of those pounds.  All done right? Wrong.

Mammogram & The Zombie Boob

Just by coincidence I had my Mammogram scheduled for the same day I peed away 6 lbs.  No biggie – just confirmation that my boobs were cancer free and back to their luscious healthy selves.  So I wasn’t too worried – just this one little thing I had noticed a few weeks before but obviously decided to keep to myself.  I had a BIG old bump at the base of the breast that had surgery and treatment.  I assumed it was due to treatment, specifically radiation and surgery.  I assumed this was normal hardening of the skin.  You know what they say about assuming, makes an ass out of you and me.  So, the mammogram tech took a feel and she was like “What fresh hell is this” but my mammogram WAS COMPLETELY CLEAR.  Totally normal.  So that won me a visit to the ultrasound room.  She felt my lady lump’s lump and was like “uhhhhh, I am sure it’s nothing”and we laughed because who wants to worry someone FINISHING CANCER TREATMENT.  Then the radiologist came in for a visit and here is what she said.  “I think you have something called fat necrosis”.  Basically, my boob fat died and became necrotic and hardened and there is an oily cyst in there.  It sound disgusting and I am pissed off about it. Let’s look at the definition.

Necrosis:  the death of most or all of the cells in an organ or tissue due to disease,
injury, or failure of the blood supply

So basically part of my boob is dead, and I am carrying it around with me, like a zombie.  I have a zombie boob. The GOOD part of having a zombie boob is that it is dead, no blood supply.  Cancer has a blood supply to feed it and help it grow.  Zombie boob is just dead chicken fat being carried around in my very expensive support bra.

So what does this mean?  It means I get to have another biopsy to double, triple check, 100% confirm that it is just a zombie boob and not a cancer boob. Biopsies suck, but dying sucks more so I go for my biopsy tomorrow.  Until then I will not celebrate being done with treatment.  Until those results come back clean I will not declare myself a breast cancer survivor.  Cancer is nothing like they show you in the movies, it never leaves you once you have it. There is aways one more test.  One more xanax supported office visit. It’s the new normal but I am going to do everything I can to keep my dead boob (and alive body) free of any more cancer.  That’s my goal, to live.

PSA:  Don’t google Zombie Boob.  It’s nasty.

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