Monday, May 8, 2017

Genetic Testing and IP chemo

So back in March my oncologist recommended getting genetic testing because of my age at diagnosis (43) and family history (2 paternal aunts with Breast Cancer before 50, paternal grandmother with lung cancer, father with mesothelioma)... luckily my referral went to North York General and they are fast!  My appointment with the genetic counsellor was a few days after my referral.  My BRCA1 and 2 results came back normal within 4 weeks. So they tested a complete 18 gene panel and she called me Friday to say they were all normal. What a relief!  I figure that ovarian cancer is enough thank you very much... I was convinced that with my family history I'd be needing a double mastectomy within a few years.  So the negative result means that I just have to deal with the risk factors associated with chemotherapy alone and not the added stress of the genetic predisposition.  I am happy also because I figure that my brother and sister don't have any increased risks, and my son and niece and nephews also have the same risks as everyone else.  Thank God for the little wins :)

The other thing is that my cancer is an early stage 3 - no lymph involvement as far as I know, but it had spread within the abdomen.  Both ovaries were involved and a small piece in my omentum. So I've been reading and researching a lot and I kept wondering why she didn't order IP chemo for me.  IV chemo is done intravenously, and IP is intra-peritoneal- meaning that the chemo goes straight into the abdomen through an implanted port.  
I decided to muster up the courage to ask about it.  So she reviewed my file and confirmed that I am a good candidate for that. The port was placed on Friday and ummm....holy OUCH.  The port is about the size of a fat loonie.  It was placed under my skin close to (or maybe even attached to?) my lower right rib.  There's a 25cm catheter that runs inside my abdomen and the bottom was close to my lower left side. I believe this is a weird response, but I could swear the end of the catheter is just scratching up my insides.  The pain was worse on Friday night and all day Saturday, and started to subside a bit yesterday.  I think I had already forgotten how much pain I had from the hysterectomy... so I guess that's the bright side.  If I can forget about the pain from the hysterectomy that was only 3.5 months ago, then this wee little procedure should be in my rearview mirror in no time at all.  I've totally got this!
My CBC counts were all fine today and I am in for my first IP chemo session this Thursday.  Those take home info sheets imply that I may be in for some more serious side effects, but I know that the statistics for ovarian cancer are definitely improved with the IP chemo.  Mehmed is in grade 8 right now.  So every time I struggle a bit with those side effects, all I have to do is think about him to know that it will be worth while in the long run.  I'm happy I had the courage to question my treatment plan, and that she confirmed this is a good plan for me going forward.