February 5, 2023. This past week Steve and I drove down to UCSF on Thursday for my Magrolimab only infusion. The port draw was at 1030a, then a meeting with NP Sarah and Miss Lindy at 11a. The infusion wasn’t until 3p, so we figured we’d have time to kill and likely still be home by 9p. Not so lucky.
When the lab results came in, my hemoglobin was low enough to warrant the need for a possible transfusion. Magrolimab depletes the red blood cells, leading Sarah to suspect that once the infusion was completed the hemoglobin levels would be dangerously low. The first thought was to administer the transfusion prior to treatment, but that would mean returning the next day. We were not prepared to spend the night, so to us a worst case scenario. Option #2 was to get the infusion followed by a blood draw to determine if getting blood was necessary. If so, they wanted me to get it after the infusion. The challenge was my late afternoon treatment schedule didn’t allow time enough before the infusion center closed at 9p. Fortunately, NP Sarah was able to get the infusion moved up to the noon hour. I did end up needing the blood, leaving me the last patient of the day. Steve and I drove out of the parking lot around 9 that night getting us home at about 1145p. Long, long day.
I was well taken care of by oncology nurses Caroline (one of my wonderful oncology nurses from 2019), Ruby, and Jenna–three shifts of exceedingly capable, empathetic and sweet-spirited caregivers.
I’m not sure why it has taken me a few days to sit down and share my latest results, even though they are very encouraging. I think it is because this is the first cycle of treatments, and there is still a long way to go. I just don’t want to jinx it.
Prior to treatment #1, my cancer antigen count was at an all-time high of 26.2. On Thursday it had dropped to 15.7–the lowest its been since April 2022. To top it off, the size of my pectoral tumor dropped from 2.5 x 2 cm down to 2 x 1.5 cm. After only two treatments! Until now, my only options have been chemotherapy and/or radiation. Truth be told, it felt like there weren’t many options left. I’m almost afraid to get too excited, but after more than a year of worsening labs and tumor growth, I just can’t help it. I’m not just hopeful for me. I’m hopeful for every metastatic or locally advanced, unresectable TNBC (triple negative breast cancer) patient out there.
Good news. The fresh blood has restored my energy level.
Unsurprising news. This past week there has been a mass exodus of hair from my head. Almost shockingly so. Wednesday, Steve helped me cut several inches off, and then on Friday I gave myself an ever shorter cut. I’m pretty sure there will not be a hair on my head by infusion time on Wednesday–a tiny sacrifice compared to a treatment plan that, at this point in time, appears to be working.
Celebrating good news reminds you that there’s still hope — and the end of the story isn’t here yet.— Branden Harvey