This entry is part 33 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

On the 18th of this month, I began the last (and longest) phase of breast cancer treatment: hormone suppressant therapy.

This required a visit to the VA Hosp to see my head oncologist, Dr. Colonna. They actually called me just as I was heading out the door to go, and I answered the phone to a request I come to my appointment early. This I was more than happy to do of course, and I had a relatively short waiting time when I was finally shown to a room.

Now, the rooms where I’ve been seeing my VA Oncologists are standard hospital rooms. They have a bed (usually raised for some reason), a computer stand on wheels, and a short exam bed. I think they use the rooms for sleep tests of some sort, ’cause there are signs posted on the walls about having to be out by a certain time in the mornings.

First I saw a resident working with Dr. Colonna, and she and I went over my cancer care up to this point and possible hormone suppressant therapies I may consider. I’ve forgotten her name. She departed, then returned with Dr. Colonna and Nyna, one of the oncology nurses.

Dr. Colonna reviewed everything with me again, then gave me a more detailed explanation of the possible hormone suppressant therapies I could use. There were really only two: the standard Tamoxifen and a combination therapy using a pill with an injection. Considering the possible side effects of Tamoxifen—one I disliked a great deal was the risk of blood clots—I opted for the other program, which was the one Dr. Colonna really preferred to use with me.

We also chatted about the possibility of me having a partial hysterectomy because I have PCOS. Dr. Colonna promised to arrange an appointment with the women’s clinic’s surgeon to discuss the possibility.

After our discussion, she gave me a brief breast exam, and we discussed my upcoming (in Aug) mammogram. She said, considering the density of my breast tissue, she thought it might help to do an MRI of my breasts regularly and promised to consider it. That ended our visit, and Nyna took over.

I like the Oncology department. They’ve given me easy to read printouts of all the information regarding the drugs they’ve given me since the beginning. I wish the other departments did this. At first, Nyna gave me the Tamoxifen paperwork, saying this was what Oncology’s pharmacist had seen was prescribed for me, but that was corrected later.

My hormone suppressant therapy regimen:

1. Anastrozole – this is the pill. I get 1MG of it once a day, and I take it with my night meds.

2. Leuprolide injection – this must be administered by nurse every three or six months; I chose the three-month option because it’s easier for me to remember to make appointments every three months because I can do it on my way out of Oncology. It’s also a little involved. Half of it is powder, which is the medication, and the rest is a suspension system of gel. They must be mixed prior to administration, and my first dose was injected in my abdomen (near my belly button) well below the skin (I have a lot of fat there). The gel dissolves slowly as a time-release function for the medication.

After receiving the paperwork, I went down to pick up my medications. Getting the leuprolide injection took a little time because it hadn’t been entered into the computer for the pharmacist to discuss with me. Once that was done, I went to wait on my meds, then took the injection back upstairs. After a twenty or so minute wait (for the gel to get room temperature from being chilled) I had the injection. The nurse said it was supposed to sting as the needle came out, but mine didn’t start stinging until after I’d fastened my jeans shut. Even now, after the weekend, the spot still stings, but it’s not constant. Most of the time, I feel nothing, in fact, and the stinging has gotten weaker as the days pass.

Then, appointment for my next injection made, I was free to go!

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