I have Her 2 Neu Positive Breast Cancer which overexpresses the protein Her 2 Neu. About 15% to 20% of women diagnosed with Breast Cancer are Her 2 Neu Positive. Ten years ago, my chance of survival would have been extremely slim with the average of less than a 2 year survival rate as Her 2 Neu Positive Breast Cancer was one of the most aggressive and deadliest forms. Today, statistically speaking, I have a good chance I will be around for quite a few years. I try hard not to pay too much attention to those negative statistics because I believe it will influence my thinking!
Herceptin (Trastuzumab) is a targeted therapy approved for the treatment of people with certain HER2+ cancers. HER2+ cancer cells have more HER2 receptors (a particular protein found on the surface of cells) than normal cells. Herceptin was developed by Dennis Slamon, M.D. PhD a UCLA research scientist and Oncologist who was tireless in his efforts to get his drug approved.
Harry Connick, Jr. starred in the movie entitled “Living Proof” based on the book by Robert Bazell “Her 2 the Making of Herceptin a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer”. The movie was produced by Renee Zellweger about the development and tremendous challenges of getting Herceptin approved by the FDA. The movie outlined the never-give-up attitude of Dr. Slamon, a fundraiser who saw the drug’s potential and worked tirelessly to obtain funding, and the brave women who volunteered for the Clinical Trials for this pioneering drug. It is a memorable movie that will touch your heart.
I have been receiving Herceptin since February 28, 2012, first as an adjuvant therapy with Taxol Chemotherapy. The bad news is I had to stop Herceptin on May 15, 2012 after significant heart damage was discovered. My Medical Oncologist ordered Echocardiograms every 3 months since I started Chemotherapy. My Ejection Fraction (EF) of my heart dropped from 65 (which was above normal) to 39 after Herceptin. It is now October 1, 2012 and the EF has not improved. I also had a nuclear heart test which showed that I may have suffered a silent heart attack during Herceptin.
Please see my post on Herceptin – Heart Damage, Heart Attacks and Breast Cancer