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Heart Transplant after Chemo induced Heart Failure

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Hello,

I don't know where to post my story, so please let me know if I should move it. Here goes! I was 49 years old, in great shape and without a family history of any cancer.

11/2020 found lump in right breast
12/2020 diagnosed with triple positive, multi focal IDC and at least two nodes
1/2021 began chemo - AC THP
5/19/2021 last chemo

05/24/2021 I received news that MRI showed complete imaging response to treatment. Then I went in for a regularly scheduled echo (because of Herceptin) and my left ventricle ejection fraction was 15 percent. I was taken to the ICU and discovered my organs were in shock failure. I knew I was very sick, but I thought it was from the chemo.

I spent the first couple of weeks in CICU while they hoped my heart would begin to heal on its own. I was told I was not a candidate for transplant because I had not completed cancer treatment. I was not a candidate for any kind of device, either. I was being kept alive on a heart pump that had been inserted through my groin so I was completely bedridden.

They believe it was the adriamycin that caused my heart failure. It's known to be cardio toxic, but they had never seen someone react so strongly and so quickly. I was not improving and if something didn't change, I was going to die. They told me I would not make the drive home to die when I asked if I could go home with hospice.

My heart was not getting any better, but my other organs had recovered. After being in the hospital about three weeks, my oncology team and cardiology team decided to try and get me on the transplant list. The transplant board was not inclined initially, but the tumor board was able to convince them that I had an 85 - 90 percent or greater rate ofsurvival at 5 years. I went through the very involved transplant work-up and I passed. I also had a PET scan which showed no evidence of cancer.

I was listed on June 22nd and was top of the list. I received my amazing gift less than 48 hours later.

They tell me I am the first in the nation to receive a heart transplant without completing cancer treatment, and I am so thankful they took a chance on me.

I had my lumpectomy in October and my pathology came back completely clear. I started Tamoxifen and Herceptin again in January. We monitor my new heart very closely because of the Herceptin. I am doing better than the doctors expected and I hope to live a long life with my new gifted heart.

Love to all breast cancer warriors,

B

Comments

  • Tsohl
    Tsohl Member Posts: 24
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    Bless you. I’m so glad you shared your story. I have completed 6 out of 35 radiation treatments and was feeling a little sorry for myself. Your post put everything back in perspective.


    I’m sorry you have been so ill and hope that you will live a long and fruitful life!

  • rah2464
    rah2464 Member Posts: 1,192
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    Thank you for sharing your powerful story. You are an inspiration and I wish you a long, happy future.

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,911
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    You really are an inspiration, ilovemybordercollie. Welcome to our community! We're glad you found us, and appreciate your participation sharing such amazing story.

    Heart

    We hope you will stay connected here. If you need help around the boards at all feel free to send us a private message, we're always here!

    Warm wishes,

    The Mods



  • ratherbesailing
    ratherbesailing Member Posts: 118
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    Thank you so much for sharing. For those of us who sweat the smaller stuff, your message is a powerful reminder of just how much we have to be grateful for. Your courage and grace are astounding and, indeed, an inspiration.

  • nns121317
    nns121317 Member Posts: 110
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    Thank you so much for sharing! I have cardiotoxicity from Adriamycin, but nothing like your severity. I'm a little younger than you, and my cardiologist said there is some data which suggests younger and fitter patients can have more cardiotoxicity issues because of how our hearts are conditioned.

    P.S. I have a border collie/German Shepherd mix. Herding dogs are the best!