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1st Herceptin Treatment

Kaleena's picture
Posts: 1854
Joined: Nov 2009

Well my mom went for her first treatment on Wednesday.   The first treatment is to be the longest.   Well it was REAL long.   They took my mom in pretty quick and got her seated and then had to ask her questions and go over all of the side effects and she had to sign off on papers, etc.   That took about 15 to 20 minutes.   Then because they never did a CBC panel on her, they had to take a blood sample and test it right there.  So we waited another 30 minutes until the results were back and they were able to proceed.   They did start her first with some saline.   She did not have to premedicate or anything and there were no restrictions whatsoever.

Then they started the Herceptin.  Within about five minutes, my mom looked at me and said she felt funny.  She had a burny feeling in her chest and it was going down both arms.   I went and got the nurse and they stopped the treatment immediately.   Almost as soon as they stopped the treatment, my mom began to feel better.   They then ran the saline again and we waited until the doc arrived.   I don't think it helped that the lady across from my mom also had a small reaction to her chemo about 30 minutes before my mom did.  After my mom seemed well and the doc said to start a drip of Pepsin.   Then my mom tells us that she didn't eat all morning so we got her some crackers.  After the pepsin drip was done, they started the herceptin which was to run for 90 minutes.   She slept for a good while.   When they sat her up, somehow her iv came undone and the herceptin was dripping on her leg, etc.   We took care of that.  And she finished the treatment and then they topped it off with saline.

I told my mom to wait a bit before we left but she wanted to leave.  She was disappointed she had a reaction and it took longer than anticipated.   So we get onto the elevator and of course it had to stop on every floor.   She began feeling very dizzy and by the time we got down to the bottom floor she was pretty nauseous.   We had her sit for a bit and she went to the restroom.  I then got the car and took her home.  She was fine on the ride home, but when she climbed from the basement to her living floor, she was dizzy and nauseous again.   I called the nurse and she ordered Zofran.   

Needlesstosay, I was worried, but by the next day she was up and about and even drove to one of her social events.  Today she drove herself for her hair appointment.   The next treatment is in three weeks and it is only supposed to take 30 to 40 minutes for the Herceptin.  However, because of her reaction, they will start her with Pepsin first.  And they told her to eat breakfast.

Just wanted to share this with you.


Posts: 54
Joined: Dec 2011

Thanks for sharing your experience.  What is her cancer type/diagnosis?  I've been told I may need Herceptin... and trying to learn what I can.  Did she have surgery recently?  Maggie

Kaleena's picture
Posts: 1854
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Maggie:

She has HER2 - positive.   Once they did the PET scan and saw a nodule in each lung, they did not do surgery.   Her only treatment is the Herceptin.



zahalene's picture
Posts: 680
Joined: Nov 2005

didn't go quite as planned either.

I didn't have to go through all the preliminaries your mom did but once I was hooked up and running (with no premeds) things went well until about half way through the 90 minute infusion.

I began shaking violently with chills.  They brought me two heated blankets but to no avail.

Then I began having trouble taking in each breath, escalating to gasping and panting.  At that point they stopped the infusion and administered benadryl, then demerol THEN ativan before I finally went off to la-la-land.

When I awoke I was fine except very groggy, which continued for the next 36 hours or so.  Once all the drugs wore off I was fine.

They promised that they would give me a sedative before beginning the infusion next time.

I hope your mother has much better success with her next infusion.  It never helps to get off on the wrong foot.

Hugs to you both.


GlowMore's picture
Posts: 794
Joined: Feb 2008

Sincerely hope your Mom's Infusion is better next time.......because it sure sounds like it couldn't have gotten much worse.    I am Her2Negative but I remember my first chemo was terrible too.........got home went into chills and spiked a 104 Fever.......they had to call 911 ....   but it did get better and the following time they gave me the pre meds etc that they should have give me the first time.    Learn from each experience..........  sending encouragement and hope and prayers for good results soon.

CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

I took prednisone tablets and claritin three days before chemo. I had aloxi and steroids during chemo.   Remember that herceptin is an antibody, so your body may treat it like a foreign body.  If you are having symptoms, share with oncologist so s/he can figure meds to help. Also the first dose is what is called a loading dose-usually a higher dose. I never had a problem with herceptin, but did with perjeta (very similar to herceptin).  With perjeta, they added benadryl and ativan and then I did fine.

The moral of my story is speak out to your physician and ask your chemo nurse too.  They usually have good and practical suggestions. 



Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2821
Joined: Jun 2010

Stay on top of this with her and her team.  Make sure they are informed about the problems she had and adjustments/additions/they may need to make.  Hope next time goes without a glitch because everyone will be prepared.  Unfortunately, you and you mom will be scared because of this experience.  Dang.





Kaleena's picture
Posts: 1854
Joined: Nov 2009

Thank you everyone.  Sorry I didn't respond quicker but I had my own doctor appointments in the meantime.

She is doing much better.  We are going to go to Virigina for a babyshower next week.  She is looking forward to it.  Her next treatment is November 12th.

I go in for surgery October 29th for a ureter stent replacement -

Never a dull moment !

Thanks for all your well wishes.  


VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9087
Joined: Aug 2009

being there with your mom, on this difficult journey.  It helps in understanding frustrating moments, never ending doctor appointments and insurance health hiccups!

Please remember to take some time for yourself, and happy moments.

Strength, Courage and HOPE for a Cure.


Vicki Sam

Kaleena's picture
Posts: 1854
Joined: Nov 2009

Vickie Sams thank you for your thoughtful response.   My own surgery went well today.   I am taking my mom to my nieces baby shower next week and we have some fun stuff coming up do I am really looking forward to it.   Thanks agsin and my best yo you .



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