• Nathira Salim

Rest in peace - during scans

Ever since I found the dreaded tumour in my breast, there were a couple of tests I had to go through to get a proper diagnosis. The first few were ultra sound and mammogram, then followed by two biopsies. And after the proper diagnosis there was the CT scan, MRI, Bone Scan, more mammogram and then surgery. In all the scans that required me to lie flat on any surface - I slept like a baby. No discomfort anywhere. Usually when I am waiting for my turn, and it takes time for my name to be called even if I am there way ahead of my appointment time, I find that I sleep well even when waiting. I am thinking maybe this sleeping is a form of escapism. Some people look up the ceiling and go to their happy place, I go to Lala land.

As such, today, I had to go for my heart scan ( echocardiogram) - to check the state of my heart and its chambers before I go for my chemo. And since one of the main side effects of doxorubicin is cardiac toxicity and failure in rare cases, my handsome Indian oncologist wanted me to go through that scan before I put myself in more danger.

There are more than 200 different varieties of chemo drugs and they are usually used with other drugs to created some sort of synergy. The same for nutrition as well. If you were to take on some particular vitamins, they need to be taken with other vitamins and minerals because the maximum benefits comes out from the synergistic properties of these nutrients. In my case, my oncologist told me that for the first half of my chemo - I will be administered Doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide.

I read that there are two types of heart injury that can happen when these drugs are taken. One is called the early injury and the other delayed injury. This delayed injury can occur years after the completion of the treatment and can lead to severe heart failure.*

It's easier to treat the early damage but the delayed heart damage is much more resistant to treatments and is often fatal.

But then this form of delayed heart failure is more common for children treated with this drug and also has the added issue of that drug preventing the child's heart from reaching and adult size.

In summary - I go in to cure my breast cancer and I might come out of it as a heart failure patient. Either way - death is certain.

I will discuss more about chemo drugs and its toxicity somewhat later on. Reading too much about the complications and side effects of something that is supposed to get rid of the cancer cells roaming in my body is not doing any good to me mentally. And I am not supposed to get worked up over these stuffs.

* From "Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients" by Russel L. Blaylock

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