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Batteries Out of the Megaphone

“So think of HER-2 as a megaphone.”

This was my oncologist a couple of weeks ago, attempting to explain how the clinical trial I’m on works. I sat up in my chair, intrigued by how he was going to compare a growth protein to a megaphone.

“What HER-2 does is it shouts messages to the rest of the cells, like a megaphone. Everybody has HER-2, you just seem to have too much of it. So the first drug they’re going to give you is going to try and cover it up so the messages can’t get out.”

“Ok,” I said, pretending to understand

“The problem is, even though it’s covered up, it can still send signals. It’s like if you put tape over the mouth of the person with the megaphone. You might not be able to understand what he’s saying, but he can still make noise that can be amplified. That’s where this new drug comes into play. That one’s trying to attack the HER-2 at the root. In essence, it’s trying to take the batteries out of the megaphone, so it can no longer send signals, so your cancer will stop growing. Hopefully. ”

At least that’s the hope. And boy do I hope it works. Because I want to survive, obviously. But also since this medicine is an antibody and not chemotherapy, it’s so freaking easy! Aside from some blotchy skin and a few extra trips to the restroom, it’s like I’m not on medicine at all. I go back in tomorrow for infusion number 2, and I’m cool as a cucumber.

That’s hardly the case the day before chemo. I’ve got to take a bunch of Ativan just to not freak out. Because getting chemo is like a real life version of the Slap Game from How I Met Your Mother. Remember the Slap Game? Where Marshall got to slap Barney five times? A person can handle getting slapped. But how does one handle knowing a slap is coming? Knowing that on Wednesday you’re going to have to sit in a chair for six hours and get slapped from the inside of your body? It’s fucking rough! It’s almost as rough as the medicine itself.

But not so with these antibodies! I’m actually kind of looking forward to it. We get to drive down to Atlanta early and spend the night in a Marriott. We’ll get to have dinner. And then tomorrow I’ll get some medicine to take the batteries out of this megaphone.

At least, that’s the hope.

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