I had my 4 month follow up with my breast surgeon’s office yesterday. My original surgeon is no longer there because he was active duty military and a surgeon in training and breast surgery is not what he ultimately went in to. He is practicing Thoracic surgery now, another type of “chest”. Too bad. I really liked him. So I saw another doctor and explained to her my concerns, changes, questions, and she was very quick and to the point, deferred my questions to the oncologist upstairs, and was on her way in about 2 seconds flat, she and her cohort in training, a 12 year old Doogie Howser.
I found my favorite nurse practitioner, Katy, at her desk and asked if she had a moment. I handed her the brochure. I asked her what she knew about it. Her response was a bit vague and I told her that I was no longer eligible because nobody in charge of my treatment presented it to me when I was eligible last year, Namely, Dr. “G”, who is my doctor and the Chief of the department. Right about then, Dr. “G” just happened to walk into her office. She asked him if his ears were burning. His excuse for the slip was that it should have been the breast surgeon’s office who referred me for the option of the vaccine, but they didn’t and my doctor who I had at that time isn’t here anymore for me to speak with, and he told me there was some ‘falling out’ between the chief of the breast center a couple of years ago and the doctor running the trial, and guess who pays the price for that little childish “tiff”? ARGH!
I was so very disappointed driving home. Once again, a ball was dropped. I try to remind myself that this is only in phase 2 trials and that, while promising so far, there are no guarantees for women like me YET. There may still be a phase 3 later on where they will include women farther out from treatment to begin receiving this vaccine. It targets the body’s T-cells in fighting off the her2neu which my cancer had.
Once home, I dove right into researcher mode. I contacted every drug company I could find who is doing new research on this type of therapy, prevention of recurrence of breast cancer in her2neu patients, and within 30 minutes I received a call from Pfizer. They did a short consult with me to see what studies I might be eligible for. It seems there are other options right now but it will take me some time to pour over some of the details and eligibility requirements she sent to me. It’s a start. In the meantime I have several phone calls and e-mails in to various drug companies and trial sites across the country. There is a phase 3 trial right here in Northern Virginia which I would have qualified for just 4 months ago but now my time line is too late. So disappointing that high risk patients are not being told about this promising treatment. Maybe because it is only in trials yet, but hopefully there is an FDA approved protocol just over the horizon!
Never underestimate what cancer survivor will do to stay in remission! Surviving means continuing to fight and fight for your life! Sometimes it might mean getting a little “mad”.