Thursday, September 13, 2007

Echocardiogram Results

I had an echocardiogram yesterday and got the results today. My heart is good. My oncologist wanted me to get this test because the chemo I had last year does some damage to the heart. She’d told me I should have an echocardiogram every three months, but the first few showed no damage so I hadn’t done one since July last year.

This is an easy, non-invasive test. The technician uses an ultrasound machine (similar to the ones for pregnancy) to look at the heart’s function. Everything was normal.

My doctor also wanted me to do an echocardiogram now because she’s thinking about putting me on a new drug that has heart damage as a potential side effect. This drug is called Tykerb (Lapatinib) and it’s only been approved by the FDA in the U.S. for patients for whom Herceptin no longer works. I assume this is for cost reasons.

I’m on Herceptin now, but I think I should be on Tykerb. Herceptin IS working for me now, according to my doctor, but it doesn’t go to the brain and Tykerb does. She says that for women who are on Herceptin, 45% of the time that the cancer spreads, it spreads to the brain. That’s my biggest worry. I can handle my cancer spreading to other parts of my body, but I’d really like to keep it out of my brain for as long as possible.

Luckily, we’re in Singapore and they don’t care here what the American FDA says, so my doctor says I can have Tykerb next month when it becomes available here. That puts my mind at ease somewhat.

The goal now is to keep both my heart and brain strong and cancer-free. These are the two most important parts of the body – physically and metaphorically.

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