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Why did this happen?

by on April 25, 2009

This is my first real attempt at researching Satomi’s cancer.  When she was first diagnosed over a year ago, I started digging in to the details and quickly became depressed.  I immediately stopped my online research and relied upon the expertise of our Doctors.  That was the only way I remained functional in my day-to-day life.

Now that the cancer has re-surfaced, I am forced to find some mechanism to deal with it all over again.  This time the issue is much more serious so I am compelled not to simply rely upon our Doctors recommendations.  I need to be educated enough about the issues and alternatives that we can discuss options in an intelligent manner.  At least that’s what my head says to do.  My heart hasn’t given me a straight answer in several weeks.

This plans scares the crap out of me.  I’m a forced to cope with the realities of my wife’s illness and remain functional for my family, my work, and my own sanity.  I have been under a tremendous amount of stress.  As the days go by, it only increases.  Most of you know that I exaggerate details for sake of a good story; I only wish that this was the case now.

Some of you may think that I should have attacked her initial onset of cancer with this sort of fervor.  I cannot disagree with you.  Maybe things would have been better if I had fully known the statistics of the potential outcomes.  I realize that hindsight is 20-20 so I won’t allow myself to be overly fixated on this criticism but it does cross my mind.  It’s just another thing to throw into my black hole of a pysche.

Satomi has HER2 positive cancer.  During her treatment, Satomi took Herceptin to battle it.  For those that don’t know what this is, here’s a short explanation of HER2 from the Herceptin manufacturer’s website:

HER2 stands for Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2. Each normal breast cell contains copies of the HER2 gene, which helps normal cells grow. The HER2 gene is found in the DNA of a cell, and this gene contains the information for making the HER2 protein.  The HER2 protein, also called the HER2 receptor, is found on the surface of some normal cells in the body.  In normal cells, HER2 proteins help send growth signals from outside the cell to the inside of the cell. These signals tell the cell to grow and divide.  In HER2+ breast cancer, the cancer cells have an abnormally high number of HER2 genes per cell. When this happens, too much HER2 protein appears on the surface of these cancer cells. This is called HER2 protein overexpression. Too much HER2 protein is thought to cause cancer cells to grow and divide more quickly.  This is why HER2+ breast cancer is considered aggressive”

Our results while on Herceptin were quite good as she was given a clean bill of health after treatment.

As we’ve come to learn, Herceptin is a large molecule drug and the Blood-Brain barrier will stop much of this drug from reaching the brain.  According to some articles, “about 25 to 30 percent of metastatic HER2-positive cancer get some form of brain cancer with “only” 10 to 15 percent of non-HER2 positive breast cancer resulting in brain tumors.

In other words, this ordeal was a distinct possibility from its onset.

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3 Comments
  1. Tina Ray permalink

    Sean, I have some info about possible other treatment sites, if you’re interested. Try to hang in there and call us in the group for day to day mundane errands you need taken care of!! We will gladly help out!!!

  2. Hiromi permalink

    Sean,
    As hard as I know it must be, please be sure to get rest and take care of yourself too. We do not need 2 people to take care of and worry about in our family. [Blog Author Comment: If you consider Dad, that would be three people (:>)]. Eat whole foods [Blog Author Comment: I ate a whole Big Mac just this afternoon] and stay away from junk because it may make you feel good at first but in the end it will make you feel like crap.

  3. Vicki Estrada permalink

    Wow…hang in there, Sean and please give Satomi a giant yet gentle hug from all of us in the group.

    Please get some rest and thank you for sharing with us.

    Oh, be sure to give the girls a hug, too and enjoy the hug they give back to you.

    Love, thoughts and prayers for all of you.

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