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Topic: Herceptin & Nails-When will they improve?

Forum: HER2+ (Positive) Breast Cancer —

Testing, treatment, side effects, and more.

Posted on: Jun 8, 2009 12:19PM

BMac wrote:

I finished one year of Herceptin on January 8th/09 and my nails are still a mess.  I have to keep them really short or they split in the middle.  I was also on Taxotere (which I finished March/08) and that really did a number on my nails as well but that can't be the culprit.

So I asked my Onc in May, "When will my nails get better?"  Her response?  It's not the Herceptin.  There are other things that can cause problems with your nails, like your thyroid.  Aye Karumba!  There's nothing wrong with my thyroid!  It's the ongoing effects of the bleeping Herceptin!

So dear ladies who out there has been finished Herceptin and experienced an improvement in your nails?  How long after finishing Herceptin did this occur.  I can't wait to have normal nails again.  Not that I ever kept them long but this is ridiculous.

On a more positive note, my energy has greatly improved since going off Herceptin and I'm able to enjoy life much more.

Barbara Dx 10/23/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 3, 1/13 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Jun 9, 2009 05:24AM juliejfsrj wrote:

I finished my year of herceptin in January also.  I did not do any chemo.  My nails did the same as yours, they would split in the middle and peel down.  Reaching into my purse would cause my fingertips to bleed.  I started taking biotin about three weeks ago, and am slowly seeing improvement.  Nails are now almost brittle rather than paper thin.  My nails look pinker and thicker.  They are short still, but feel stronger.  Only my thumb nails are still in terrible shape.

julies
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Jun 9, 2009 07:35AM BMac wrote:

Yeah!  My thumbs too.  They have huge ridges in them.

Barbara Dx 10/23/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 3, 1/13 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Jun 9, 2009 11:38AM lisa39 wrote:

Hey BMac -- how are you?  We haven't chatted in ages.

Re: nail.. my thumbs are ridged too - and the other nails are thin and peeling.  Get this -the other day, I was getting a basket out of the trunk and it dropped on to my toe.  I was wearing an open-toed sandal and it didn't hurt.. .but when I checked it later, a chunk of the toenail was gone!  I finished Herceptin on May 7th btw.

Lisa Dx 11/29/2007, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Jun 9, 2009 11:47AM BRAVEHEART28 wrote:

HEY LADIES!!  HAVE 2 MORE HERCEPTIN'S TO GO.  ONC TOLD ME SOMETIMES THE TAXOTERE CAN SCREW AROUND WITH MY NAILS.  THE HERCEPTIN DOES'NT DO IT.  I HAVE RIDGES AND A BUMP IN MY BIG TOE.  HOPE IT DOESN'T FALL OFF. THAT WOUDL REALLY BE A BUMMER.  IS THE HERCEPTIN DRAGGING ME DOWN.   SOME WEEKS I HAVE NO ENERGY WHATSOEVER.  OTHERS I FEEL REALLY GOOD.  ALSO HAD CHEMO 6X AND 35 RADS.  HAVE BEEN THROUGH A LOT.  LET ME KNOW HOW YOUR NAILS ARE

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Jun 9, 2009 12:14PM GointoCarolina wrote:

juliejfsrj,what kind of biotin are you taking and how much? I have the big ridges in my thumbs too,almost like a dent.Jackie

DX8/2008 IDC,Stage 1,Grade 3,0/3 nodes,ER/PR-,HER2+ Uni Left Mast 9/05/08 chemo & herceptin... Proph Right Mast with TEs March 2010,April 2010 TEs removed due to pain
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Jun 9, 2009 11:31PM smithlme wrote:

I saw this thread and had to respond. I didn't have Herceptin because my first cancer was triple negative and I had AC and Taxol. But...I, too, have tissue paper nails that split and have ridges. It will be 2 years in August since I ended chemo. My oncologist told me it was a side effect from chemo...

Linda

Dx 3/31/08, DCIS, ER+/PR- BRCA2+...I am NOT a survivor...I am a 2X breast cancer A$$ kicker! Dx 3/28/2007, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/9 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jun 10, 2009 09:49PM juliejfsrj wrote:

Pandazankar,

I take Nature's Bounty Biotin 1000mcg.  I think it helps.  My thumbs are also dented in and ridged.   

julies
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Jun 10, 2009 10:04PM swimangel72 wrote:

I finished Herceptin at the end of April this year and my finger nails have improved - but still they split and peel. I finished Navelbine last year so I'm not blaming it on that - Herceptin is known for causing problems with nails. I asked my onc and he said give it a few more months and the nails will get better. He agreed that the Herceptin hurts our nails - he explained that our nails are an extension of the nervous system. The same thing that causes heart problems with Herceptin also causes the nail problems. I never heard that before - that nails are part of the nervous system - I certainly didn't learn that in Biology 101 - but it was one of the few times that my onc actually got talkative, so I tend to believe him.

3/3/08 Right-side mastectomy with immediate muscle-sparing free tram; 3/9/08 Developed abdominal MRSA staph infection and hernia;Completed 4 months Navelbine and 1 year Herceptin; Arimidex - 3 more years! Diagnosed at age 53 Dx 2/5/2008, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH)
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Jun 11, 2009 09:51AM BMac wrote:

Hi Lisa, so good to "talk" to you again.  I haven't been online in awhile.  Our internet was down for about a month and I got myself unhooked from constatly being online.  I'm actually beginning to live life again.

Congratulations on finishing Herceptin.  I know I feel much more energetic since finishing.  I still tire easily but at least I'm able to do things.  I started working out again near the end of January and joined an exercise program at Wellspring in April.

Barbara

Barbara Dx 10/23/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 3, 1/13 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Jun 14, 2009 09:20PM pffida wrote:

I finished Herceptin a year ago and my nails have finally approached normal.  I just got rid of the last split in my thumb.  Be patient -- its just a long wait. 

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Jun 15, 2009 09:17AM BMac wrote:

Thanks pffida.  It gives me some hope.

Barbara Dx 10/23/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 3, 1/13 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Jun 18, 2009 07:30PM Mocity wrote:

I lost all my toenails while on Taxol and Herceptin.  All but my big toes are growing back in but they aren't good strong nails.  My big toes are awful.  My fingernails separated from the nail bed but didn't come off.  However, they are ridged and discolored but the part that separated from the bed is at least growing out.  They are weak though as well.  I guess the Herceptin is keeping them from healing.  My Onc said it is all from the Taxol.  My new issue on the nails is that they have white spots and flake like they are dry but I keep cuticle oil, lotion, etc. on them.  Who knows.  I am glad to hear there is hope that they will all be normal one day again.  It is hard with it being summer and not wearing sandals.  I will be taking the Herceptin until Nov09 and finished chemo Jan09.

Pathology from Bi-Lateral showed IDC (.4cm) in same breast as DCIS and nodes negative Dx 6/25/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jun 19, 2009 05:58AM juliejfsrj wrote:

Having finished herceptin 5 months ago, I finally feel my nails are thicker and pinker, feel smoother and have shape.  They still break if I even reach into my purse, but they don't keep splitting and flaking.  Yay!

julies
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Jul 4, 2009 12:47AM sheila888 wrote:

My nails were messed up just the way you are descriping it, since I was on chemo and Herceptin at the beginning of July 2005, I think chemo did the worst damage. It took at least 2 years to recover completely, I used to cover them with bandaids. They are no longer chipped but my nails never returned to normal. I say thats the least of our problems. We survived worse things. I am happy that Herceptin was approved at 2005 for early stage BC.

I am pleased to say that I found this site where I can share my experiencec with all of you.

Sheila♥ Dx 4/8/2005, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Dx 8/21/2015, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/12/2015 Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Dx 11/2018, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver/lungs, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Oct 26, 2010 09:35PM sheila888 wrote:

Smile
Sheila♥ Dx 4/8/2005, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Dx 8/21/2015, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/12/2015 Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Dx 11/2018, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver/lungs, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 27, 2016 06:39AM jenco60 wrote:

I finished Herceptin over 5 months ago. My nails are coming back but still splitting and my hair is growing VERY SLOW. I am so tired of the side effects of these drugs. My back hurts, my legs are cramping, when I catch a cold it is like pneumonia. I only had a small lump and I feel like I am being over medicated. I read an article today from Moffitt Cancer that said many of the doctors are now allowing patients to take breaks. I had 6 full chemo treatments, 22 radiation treatments and now Herceptin. I think it is a lot of chemicals for a single lump 1.5 CM.

I pray the treatment for this horrible decease gets easier on women in the future. Not having hair is humiliating at times. I live in FL. it is too hot to wear wigs. I am tired of people calling me sir.

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Dec 27, 2016 08:27AM daria7r wrote:

Your oncologist is wrong. Many people on Herceptin have had the same problem. Search online for "Fingernail Disorders During Breast Cancer Chemotherapy" for some pics. The advice seems to be that new tissue will grow back on stopping the treatment, but it pushes out from the root of the nail bed outwards, so it's going to take a long time.

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May 6, 2017 07:11AM - edited May 6, 2017 07:17AM by Why2015

Yes, totally agree! My nails are still a mess 5 months since being on Herceptin for a year. Also had 12 weeks of Taxol to start with the Herceptin. Radiation destroyed my breast. I have lymphedema and fluid retention in the breast, and I was terribly burned and blistered from the radiation. And now I only wonder what kind of damage was done to my heart and lungs as a result of this intense treatment? I still have neuropathy and burning in both of my feet near the toes and in my fingertips. My joints ache from tamoxifen, and I feel like a fat old lady ☹️. I often question is the treatment worth the compromised quality of life? Sorry to others that are more positive about this. I have just found the whole situation to be physically and emotionally draining. In addition, I've had to work throughout most of this time, and I'm doing it all on my own! Good luck to everyone out there!!

Hormonal Therapy 8/11/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Dx IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Right Chemotherapy Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast
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Jun 20, 2017 03:51PM ComputerGal wrote:

Hi, I am in the same boat. I don't know what to do that I haven't already been doing. It's been over a year since I finished with 6 rounds of Taxatere, Carboplatin, & continuing taking Herceptin for a year ending in January this year. My toenails look awful but at least not falling off. My fingernails just terrible. White with ridges. I use tea tree oil as suggested from the nurse, to no avail. They look and feel dry. I keep them short as the ends peel and one has a partial split down the middle. I take all kinds of supplements A, D3, C, multi-vitamin, & 10,000 mcg of biotin twice a day w/o any improvement. This is getting me down. I don't know what else to do. I tried OPI for peeling & breaking nails, but though it looked nicer, when I removed it, it seemed to to make it worse. I put super glue on the split nail to see if that would keep it from splitting more. Can someone help with more suggestions?

Dx 11/9/2015, DCIS, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 11/12/2015 Lumpectomy: Right; Reconstruction (left) Surgery 12/2/2015 Chemotherapy 1/8/2016 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 10/14/2016 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jun 20, 2017 05:27PM Germangirl16 wrote:

Computer gal, your nails sound exactly like mine, right down to the vertical splits I try to fill in with glue. Taking the same supplements at same dosage you are, to no avail. So frustrating. If I ever do find something helpful, I'll pass it along, and should you, please let me know! The other frustration is my hair grew about 11/2 inches, and just stopped growing anymore on top, although sides and back seem to grow a little, grrrrr!

Dx 7/5/2016, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 10/9/2016 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 10/10/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab)
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Jun 20, 2017 08:36PM MinusTwo wrote:

I was told all along that the nail damage is from Taxotere & not Herceptin. Both of you ladies who posted this month need to go to My Profile and enter your diagnosis & treatment specifications.

My final Taxotere was August 2013. Last Herceptin was 9/24/14. I had long since finished rads by then. I took Biotin all through treatment and for 2 years after. I am now 2-1/2 years past final treatment - almost 4 years past Taxotere. Even though I iced, my big toe nails were wrecked. I never totally lost them, but they still look like very sick hooves. One finally appears to be growing, but no clear nail. The other is still semi-detached. It never fell off, but the last 1/3 has not bonded back to the skin.

But I'm celebrating that the vertical split in the 3rd finger nail FINALLY seems to have grown out of it's damage. Again - almost 4 years down the road. At one point I did try a fake nail, but that was a disaster. I used nail polish, super glue, everything else I could think of. It is such a change to look down at my left hand and see a nail that doesn't have to be cut back to nothing every other day so it doesn't continue to split.

Dermatologists are the docs in charge of "hair, skin & nails". Maybe your derm docs will have some new ideas.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Jun 20, 2017 10:54PM Beatmon wrote:

I wish I could find a dermatologist who knew more about nails than what we are all doing. What is so weird with mine is that they were good a year post Taxotere (continuing H&P) when they suddenly went to crap.

I had to have both big toe nails lasered due to being ingrown, the rest of my toe nails are fine. No cracking peeling etc like my fingers. Talk about a daily reminder ,...when I have to manage a shredding nail.

Dx 7/27/2012, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 8/9/2012 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 12/1/2013 Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 7/1/2014 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 8/9/2014, IDC, Both breasts, Stage IV, metastasized to lungs, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy 8/27/2014 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 8/27/2014 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 8/27/2014 Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jul 1, 2017 02:00PM - edited Jul 5, 2017 11:57PM by ComputerGal

Hello Ladies, thanks for answering. MinusTwo, I have had my profile filled out since I signed up. I don't know why it doesn't show. I now have stopped with any kind of polish and am using several types of oils I found at Walgreens. NailTek Keritin Nail Treatment and Sally Hanson Nail and Cuticle Oil Treatment with grapeseed oil etc. I put them on each a couple of times a day. I have no idea if it is helping yet as my nails soak it up & they seem to be as dry as ever. They never seem to grow much either. I use to have to cut my nails fairly frequently as I typed on my job when I worked. Now they grow so minisculely, it seems to take forever to grow 1/64" & they are always snagging on something or peeling.

Now I have some other issues not for this forum but need to go in for an ultrasound & a mammogram.

But should things improve using these oils, I will post my results.

Chg'd profile as noted. Thanks!

Dx 11/9/2015, DCIS, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 11/12/2015 Lumpectomy: Right; Reconstruction (left) Surgery 12/2/2015 Chemotherapy 1/8/2016 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 10/14/2016 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jul 1, 2017 02:13PM MinusTwo wrote:

Computer Girl - you need to go back to My Profile and check the box to make the data public so I will appear.

Good luck with your new testing. Do let us know.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Feb 1, 2018 12:40PM Katgad1020 wrote:

I finished Taxotere, Perjeta, and Carboplatin 2 years ago, and Heceptin 1 1/2 years ago. My fingernails are still a mess. I also have to keep my fingernails short because of them splitting in the middle (vertical ridging). I delveloped deep horizontal ridging in the last year. Some of the deepest horizontal ridging seems to be growing out, but I still have visible horizontal ridging. My nails are still very thin even after continuous use of O.P.I. nail strengthener. At my recent Oncology appt (2 years cancer free!), my Oncologist told me it was still from the chemotherapy I received. It’s an annoyance and not very pretty, but I’ll take it to be cancer free!

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Apr 26, 2018 07:08AM mmorelli wrote:

I too was on Taxotere, Carboplatin (finished May 1, 2017) and herceptin (December 2017). Fingernails are thin, dry and splitting down the middle with ridges as described by others—and it is painful. After trying glues, bandaides, stick on nail 'patches', i'm having a lot of success taking Biotin Forte (2 tablets at night) and using Nail Repair clear polish — Claudia Stevens Miracle Nail Fix. It seals the split nail as it grows out. 2-3 coats does the trick for me, and best of all it stops the pain of snagging on what seems like everything I come in contact with. I hope this helps. I look forward to healthy nails some day

MaryAnn M
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Aug 29, 2018 12:27PM Mocity wrote:

I am 10 years out this summer but I remember these problems like it was yesterday. All my fingernails and toenails came back except my big toenails. I still have issues with them and probably will forever. For me, my lifesaver, was a podiatrist. After many dermatologist appointments with no help I found a podiatrist that GREATLY helped me. Give that a shot!

Pathology from Bi-Lateral showed IDC (.4cm) in same breast as DCIS and nodes negative Dx 6/25/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Sep 4, 2018 11:47AM AliceKo wrote:

Cristl, congratulations on being 10 years out! How exactly did the podiatrist help you with your nails?

My nails are very brittle, spliting. It has been over 5 months since I finished Herceptin, 15 months since I finished Taxol. I found these 2 prescriptions topical medications for brittle and splitting nails - Genadur and Nuvanail. Interesting if anyone heard about them.

Dx 2/2017, IDC, Left, Stage IIB, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 6/21/2017 Mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement Surgery 7/16/2019 Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Chemotherapy Taxol (paclitaxel)
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Sep 11, 2018 10:28AM astra1k wrote:

I was diagnosed as HERS2+. I finished my chemo at end of January 2018. I just finished my last dosage of Herceptin September 2018. I only started having trouble with my fingernails this last month. They are very thin and continually split. I have to keep them really short. My nails have always been strong and would grow long - I never needed fingernail tips. I was thinking that I must be deficient in something. But then something clicked in my brain and I started wondering if Herceptin had anything to do with my nails cracking and splitting. I found women on this site that target Herceptin as the culprit as well as outside articles that point to the Herceptin as well. I'm wondering how long after ending Herceptin will my nails will improve? Looking for other women's experiences. - Thanks.

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Sep 12, 2018 09:18AM NotVeryBrave wrote:

I had a similar experience with my nails. They were pretty good for a long time through chemo and Herceptin and then started doing weird things during the last month or two of Herceptin. Different nails would start to lift - the line between the pink and the white would become jagged. The worst ones were my ring and pinky fingers.

Nowadays my nails are pretty normal. Both of my middle finger nails can start to split down the middle, but I had that problem sometimes with one of them before all of this. The only problem left is my left pinky. The pink part is still about half the length of the normal one. I've cut all the white off probably three times since I'd read that's what you're supposed to do. I don't think it's helping really. I don't like the way it looks and it starts to feel weird if I keep letting it grow.


TCHP x 6 with pCR. One year of Herceptin. DTI pre-pec surgery. Quit Tamoxifen after 3 months. Dx 11/21/2016, DCIS/IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC) Targeted Therapy 12/19/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 12/19/2016 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 12/19/2016 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Surgery 5/9/2017 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Hormonal Therapy 9/9/2017 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Hormonal Therapy 6/26/2020 Evista (raloxifene)

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