Herceptin Injections & Info

Having the Herceptin injection 3 days post surgery seems cruel but treatment has to continue.

I feel beat up and sore and tender all over. My brain feels foggy and this injection god damn hurts!! The nurse who did this today was my first chemo nurse. She is lovely. When people are kind to me though I tend to cry lol.  I think we are all a bit like that. We hold it together and then someone is kind and the floodgates open.

I’m holding it together- just. It takes effort.

When someone kind holds your hand and asks if you are ok it’s hard to keep the battle face on. I crumbled just a bit.

Then I outright sobbed while having the injection. Did I mention that it does actually hurt. Ok I admit it I am a total wimp. I swore, I cried, I sobbed. No shame as you know what it actually really really hurts. There is something in the actual Herceptin Chemical that actually stings when it is injected. Plus it is cold as it comes out of the fridge. That doesn’t help it not hurt.

These photos are as important as the ones where I have the warrior face on though. The ones where I’m smiling show how well I am coping and I am coping. But sometimes it’s important to show when the pain hits or the effort for control is harder because sometimes it is just harder.

I am a warrior though and I can do this.

Herceptin Information.

What is Herceptin?

Herceptin is actually the brand name for a drug called trastuzumab. It was first approved in 1998 in America though it took a while for it to be used and funded by the NHS in the UK.  IT was finally approved for use by the NHS for use in the UK in 2006.

Herceptin is a targeted therapy kind of drug and can be used on its own or in combination and is used to treat women with the advanced form of HER2 positive Metastatic breast cancer.

Women with the disease have a protein on the surface of their cancer cells, which means the cancer is particularly fast-growing. The HER2 is the Human Growth Hormone.

HER2 makes the cancer cells grow and divide particularly fast and aggressively.

Trastuzumab is a type of targeted cancer drug called a monoclonal antibody. It works by attaching to HER2 so it stops the cancer cells from growing and dividing.

It is sort of scary to find out that your cancer is aggressive and fast growing. Approximately 25 to 30% of women diagnosed with Breast Cancer are also HER2 Positive.

Often this diagnosis comes with Estrogen and Progesterone Positive too. If all these are positive this is called a Triple Positive Breast Cancer Diagnosis.

This was my diagnosis.

Prior to Herceptin this diagnosis was super scary, likely to spread very fast the battle to contain the cancer to stage 1 or 2 would be much harder than it is now with the drug available. I think Herceptin is a wonderful example of how research continues to take place to find better treatment and cures for all types of cancers.

At the start when and if given with other non targeted drugs – standard chemo drugs the Herceptin will probably be given via IV. Later the Herceptin (Trastuzumab) is given into a vein or injected under the skin. You usually have it as an outpatient although I am about to switch to a Home Health Care service which means I won’t have to go to hospital and is actually cheaper for the NHS.

Like all targeted therapy drugs, trastuzumab can cause side effects. Some of the side effects can be serious so it is important to listen to your oncology team and be sensitive to your own body and how it is feeling. I have had a tough time during my treatment. Because of the Triple Positive diagnosis I was treated aggressively and the side effects were aggressive. You learn very quickly to know how your body is feeling and honestly you learn what is normal chemo shit and what isn’t normal chemo shit. In other words when things start to go wrong you are the best judge. When / if that does happen then call your hotline straight away and or get to Hospital. Those trips into hospital were not fun for me but they probably saved my life.

Here are some links to websites that are helpful to read:

MacMillan Organisation Herecptin Info

Cancer Research UK Info 

Breast Cancer Org has a good video to watch

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