Yesterday, I started a new medication – Ibrance. It’s a new class of drugs called CDK 4/6 inhibitors, that was only very recently approved by the FDA. I take it every morning for 3 weeks with letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor, and then have one week off. Each month is a “cycle” on the drug. Truthfully, it’s been a challenging last few weeks for me. I’ve been anxious about starting this drug, as it can have more intense side effects than I have experienced thus far, and, frankly, I have been worried that it won’t work. While i know that fear is premature, it nagged at me nonetheless. This drug is considered state-of-the-art therapy for ER+ metastatic breast cancer. I keep reminding myself that, if and possibly when I find myself in the position in which this medication may no longer be sufficiently effective, it is likely that there will be another new drug on the market. And there are other options as well, but none are shown to be quite as powerful as this one.
I also had my first appointment with Dr. G since starting treatment. I was anxious for this appointment as well, as I have had a lot of pain in the first month on these meds. However, Dr. G indicated that the pain at this point, in the manner in which I was experiencing it, was a good sign, and was an indicator that the medication seems to be working. Additionally, she mentioned during her physical exam, that my breast tissue felt softer and less dense, another sign that the tumor may be shrinking. This is good news, particularly since I had not, at that point, started the Ibrance yet. I’m optimistic and hopeful that things will continue on this path, but I also appreciate that things can shift directions quickly. I would be lying if I said that didn’t make me nervous.
We, as a family, have started making strides in finding a new normal in our house. I bit the bullet and set up a monthly housecleaner, and enrolled Felix in preschool two days a week. I have also been going to acupuncture appointments, swimming three times a week, and shifting our family’s diet to include more vegetables and plants. I am arranging for several other supplemental practitioners to help me manage both my medical care and my overall well-being over the course of the next few months and years, and I have several wonderful support groups that I continue to attend regularly. Yet, it’s still been hard. Sleep continues to be somewhat fitful for me, and the hot flashes of menopause are as unpleasant as people say they are. There is no escaping this diagnosis.
All told, though, I have taken solace in how fortunate we are. I am feeling good, considering my diagnosis, and my treatment seems to be heading in the right direction. Felix has been tremendously resilient throughout all of this, and the care, love, and support we have received from family and friends has been incredible, and lifted us up through so much. While it’s ok to struggle at times, I have also been trying to remind myself that it’s ok to also be happy. It’s ok to find joy in the midst of the struggle, and that’s not a cancer challenge, but a life challenge. And it is a challenge I accept.