Secondary Breast Cancer patients regularly work with their oncologists to find treatments that work for them. Today, Carine explains her treatment. We hope this will be useful for other patients looking for information about treatments that may suit their circumstances.
Daily hormone suppressing tablets (I take them in morning). I took these for 5 years after primary treatment so was a bit dubious when oncologist suggested trying again. However have been on these for over 3 years now, initially tumours and lunf fluid reduced a bit, but now stable.
GOSERELIN (aka ZOLADEX):
A monthly hormone suppressing impant which is done by the nurse at my GP surgery. I was told by oncologist that this injection assists the Tamoxifen to keep working for longer. Because the needle used to put in the powder is quite large, I get a local anaesthetic injection first.
SIDE-EFFECTS: Difficult to tell as I was going into peri-menapause prior to diagnosis, so all the hot flushes and night sweats may have occured anyway. One benefit is that because of the hot flushes, I had my hair cut, see photo. I also bought lots of cheap chinese fabric fans which I keep handy. They work a treat.
A monthly bone strengthening sub-cutaneous injection in thigh that my husband does for me at home. Have had a couple of breaks due to having to have dental work done, but should be back on this shortly. No noticeable side-effects, at first I got a bit of leg and jaw ache on week 3 of the first few cycles. Two interesting stories about this drug:
(i) At first I was reluctant to admit to tooth pain, as I was scared that stopping the Denosumab would mean my cancer was not being treated. I had not understood (and maybe other people don't either) that the Denosumab is not killing the cancer, it is merely preventing bones from deteriorating further. Since I have not had any broken bones yet, I'm less concerned about this now.
(ii) When oncologist was telling us about this drug, he was under the impression that the normal procedure was for people to self-administer (like diabetes patients do) so he prescribed accordingly. It turns out I was the first person to do this at my hospital so it caused a bit of confusion at first. However I highly recommend it for a few reasons, (a) it saves the chemo chair for someone who needs it more, (b) it saves time, as you don't have to go to or wait in hospital and (c) you can do the injection at any time that is convenient and (d) you don't have to go to the depressing chemo ward every month.
Twice daily calcium tablets. Because the Denosumab prevents the body recycling calcium, I take these to top up my calcium levels. The tablets also contain Vitamin D, also good for bones.
Slow release morphine tablets. I take 40mg twice a day. It has taken me a long time to accept that it is OK to take morphine based pain relief. I find dealing with my pain the hardest part of my treatment. I have a very anti- drug mentality so at first was very resistant. However I don't want to be in pain all the time. I still havn't got it properly sorted, and unfortunately all the complimemtary therapies offered by various cancer charities are all on hold at the moment. I was having fortnightly relexology which I found really helpful, hoping it will restart at some point.
I also had a few sessions of acupuncture which I also found helpful, again currently unavailable due to pandemic.
My husband is keen for me to try, so I occasionally (when I remember) take 10 drops of 1000mg CBD oil. Not convinced it makes any difference, it certainly does not help with the pain. The only effect I have noticed is the vile taste.
I often take ibuprofen for other pains not cancer related. Sometimes Co-codamol or Zapain (has more codeine but same amount of paracetamol) and Oramorph (liquid morphine) when pains gang up together to make it too difficult to bear (usually 10ml).