Maintenance Infusion? What's That?

In my post the other day (It's Not All Pretty Pink Ribbons), I mentioned the medications that I'm on now that chemo and surgery are over.  Not only was I a little remiss in my description (thank you, ladies, for pointing out my error), when I corrected it, it still seems a little fuzzy.  Let me try to clear it up here.

In conjunction with my chemo medication, I was also given Herceptin (transtuzumab) and Perjeta (pertuzumab).  Now that chemo is over, I still am on Herceptin and Perjeta.  I will be taking these meds (every three weeks, via infusion) for the rest of my life, or until they stop working and we need to try something else.  Here's a good way of explaining what they do, from breastcancer.org:

"Herceptin works by attaching itself to the HER2 receptors on the surface of breast cancer cells and blocking them from receiving growth signals. By blocking the signals, Herceptin can slow or stop the growth of the breast cancer."
Also, from breastcancer.org:

"Like Herceptin, Perjeta works by attaching itself to the HER2 receptors on the surface of breast cancer cells and blocking them from receiving growth signals. Perjeta targets a different area on the HER2 receptor than Herceptin does, so it’s believed to work in a way that is complementary to Herceptin. By blocking the signals, Perjeta can slow or stop the growth of the breast cancer. Perjeta and Herceptin are examples of immune targeted therapy.

In addition to blocking HER2 receptors, Perjeta can also help fight breast cancer by alerting the immune system to destroy cancer cells onto which it is attached."
Here are the links to the drugs' official websites, if you'd like to learn more:
Herceptin
Perjeta

In addition to Herceptin and Perjeta, I started taking Tamoxifen (daily oral medication) after I finished with chemo.  Tamoxifen helps to block estrogen receptors.  Here's a link if you'd like to learn more about this medication:  breastcancer.org.

To monitor that the meds are working, and to keep an eye on any side effects, I still see my oncologist once every six weeks (down from every three weeks).  I have a CT scan done every three months, and a bone scan done every six months.  In addition, I see a cardiologist and have an echocardiogram done every three months (Herceptin can do damage to the heart).

So, the answer to the question, "When will your treatment be over?" is "Never".  Chemotherapy treatment is over, yes, but I will be in some form of treatment for the rest of my life.  May it be a long one.  ;)

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