Cancer Update

It has been a while since I updated you on the progress of Sal’s cancer so it is about time I did just that.

Sal is still with us but it is not without some scares. A few months ago now she had a scan and it showed that the cancer was back… in her bones, lungs and liver. We knew about the bones as she had a bad back and sciatica and had an MRI scan which showed cancer in her lower spine but the others were new and also very worrying.

She started chemotherapy again but this time an oral one called Capecitabine. It is taken daily for 2 weeks then a week off. That is repeated for 8 cycles then a month off. Between the 2 week cycles there is a blood test to ensure her blood counts are good enough to continue before starting the next cycle of 2 weeks. At intervals further scans are taken to monitor progress. Sal is coming to the end of her first 8 cycles and after having a scan at 4 cycles it is showing that her tumours are reducing. This is of course great news but it is tempered with caution as cancer has a habit of improving then worsening again so we have to keep our feet on the ground and take every day as it comes.

The scan showed a reduction in the small tumours in her lungs and liver… almost to the point of them disappearing altogether. Let’s hope this continues.

She is about to start cycle 7. It is not clear how long she will remain on Capecitabine. We have been told it will be as long as it is effective. Could even be permanent. A small price to pay if it works!

Capecitabine is just 6 tablets per day but it is still a powerful chemotherapy drug with serious side effects including reduced immune system, tiredness, some people get nausea and hair loss although Sal has not yet had those. Taste is seriously effected and she has hand and feet sores. Nevertheless, the side effects are generally less severe than her first chemotherapy so we are thankful for that.

So what is the prognosis? We cannot get away from the fact that Sal now has metastatic breast cancer which means it is now considered not curable. But she is not terminal and with the chemotherapy and some good luck she could still have many years remaining. She is 60 in a few weeks time. We are both hoping, and expecting, to see her 70th. Fingers crossed.

All of the cancer issues are made more challenging as she has other issues, not cancer related, that contribute to her situation. her back continues to give her considerable trouble in the form of sciatica due to trapped nerves. Unfortunately because of the bone cancer involvement there is little they can do about it except give her pain killers. She now walks mostly with the aid of a walking stick. She also continues to get regular (almost daily) migraines but a combination of Sumatriptan drugs and some revolutionary Botox injection treatment she is holding these at bay but it doesn’t help any.

In spite of this we manage to do most of the things we need or want to do. We bought a wheelchair which we can put into the car which, with me pushing, means we can do almost anything that requires any walking (e.g. museums, National Trust houses etc). She also got a blue parking badge which, providing the disbled bays are not occupied by people without a blue badge, helps hugely as we have less far to walk and often have extra space to the sides allowing her to open the car door fully to make getting into and out of the car much easier… or even possible! We even managed a 2 week holiday on a cruise ship! So although it is not at all easy for her (or me for that matter but in a different way) things could be a lot worse.

More if things change but for now we are ticking along and both of our spirits are high and positive 🙂

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