Thursday, December 1, 2022

Breast Cancer Fight: Blood Test and Echocardiogram for Chemotherapy and Herceptin Jabs

Chemotherapy is no doubt, brutal on the body. Cancer cells tend to grow fast, and chemo drugs kill the fast-growing tumour cells. However, the drugs don't just target the cancer cells, but also affect normal, healthy cells that are fast-growing too. The damage to these healthy cells cause side effects, which can be rather severe.

That's why before each chemotherapy cycle, I need to do a blood test to check that I'm healthy enough to go through the cycle. The blood test will check my complete blood count {red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets} is at healthy levels, and my kidneys and livers are working properly. 

If my blood counts are too low, or if my organs are not working well, then I might have to delay my treatment or change its dosage. The blood test may also check to see if the chemotherapy is working or if there's any cancer markers.    

I went for my the blood test for my first cycle on Tue 28 Nov at National University Cancer Institute, Singapore {NCIS}, Level 10. It was a fast test whereby the nurse took 4 tubes of my blood for testing. I was in and out in about 10 minutes.

On top of the blood test to check my general health, I also had to do an echocardiogram to check my heart health. This needs to be done every 3 months during my adjuvant chemotherapy and Herceptin jab treatment as both can cause possible heart damage or failure. 

An echocardiogram {aka "echo"} is a type of ultrasound scan to check the structure of the heart and surrounding blood vessels, analyse how blood flows through them and assess the pumping chambers of the heart. 

I did my first-ever echo on the same day as my blood test at the National University Heart Centre Singapore {NUHCS}. The heart clinic is at the Main Building, tucked away near the glass lift in the main lobby. Got a bit lost finding it as I had never been there before.

I had registered via the OneNUHS app and told the registration counter when I arrived. Now after a recent update, there's a "I have arrived" button to press in the app but sometimes the app hangs.

Anyway, I did not have to wait long before the sonographer asked me into a private room. I undressed the top half of my clothing and wore a front-opening hospital gown before lying on the bed for the scan. She then covered me with a blanket.

The sonographer stuck 3 sticky electrode sensors to my chest. They were connected to a machine that monitored my heart rhythm during the test.

She then asked me to lie on my left side. Not gonna lie, but it was really uncomfortable to lie on my left side as I had the surgeries on my left breast, and I don't usually like to lie on my sides due to my scoliosis op. I told her about my surgeries and the implant, and she tried her very best to make me as comfortable as possible.

During the test, she had to press the probe rather firmly as she moved the probe across my chest, left breast, and left side of the body as she tried to record clear images of my heart. 

I was honestly quite scared my implant would burst or shift during the test! But I guess as professionals, they would have come across many breast cancer patients with implants and know what they are doing... she was really apologetic about it though and kept saying sorry. 

From time to time, she also switched on the sound to hear my heart beating and perhaps the sound of the blood flow through my heart?

The whole procedure was not relaxing at all for me even though the room was dark and quiet. I think it lasted about 1 hour.   

I did not have to fast or do any preparation for both the blood and heart tests. The results of both tests were given to Dr Samuel and he went through the results with me during my meeting with him two days later on Thu 1 Dec 2022.

Basically I cleared both my blood test and echocardiogram so Dr Samuel confirmed that my first chemotherapy cycle will start on Mon 5 Dec 2002. My Vitamin D level is slightly insufficient {29, where sufficient range is 30-100} and I think he said my "heart strength" was 56 {normal score is 50}?? 

Ok at least all those dreadful hours I suffered doing cardio paid off somewhat to prepare me with a slightly healthier-than-normal heart haha... I forgot to ask for a copy of the results. 

I'm partly happy that I'm finally starting chemotherapy just to "get over it faster", but also partly scared of the possible severe side effects that I've been reading about and the medical staff have been preparing me for.

I think what I'm most worried about is the weakened immune system which may make every small trigger lead to severe infections, and the weakened heart which may lead to heart failure (*゚ロ゚) 

However, I pray that since I had a rather easy pregnancy with Lil Pumpkin {just massive fatigue in the first trimester, but no morning sickness, vomiting or nausea}, I'm hoping that I will not suffer any common bad side effects from chemotherapy or the Herceptin jab too???! 

I mean, there's probably zero relations but that's just a way I'm comforting myself for now. We will see how it goes next week.

Please continue to pray for me that the second part of my breast cancer fight will go just as well as the first part when I went for my mastectomy and breast implants. Thank you!! 

Blood test: S$245.58
Echocardiogram: S$446.19
Dr Samuel 4th visit: S$99.51


Follow my breast cancer fight on the blog, Facebook or Instagram {#AiFightsCancer}

Before mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgeries

After mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgeries
Surgical Drains Removal After Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction 

Adjuvant Chemotherapy and Herceptin Injections
First Chemotherapy and Herceptin Jab Session

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