Imbruvica’s Long Term Side Effects Starting to Surface

So I’ve decided that I’m a bad blog writer and that I’ve let entirely too much time pass since my last update.  Up until a month ago there wasn’t much to post.  It seems that the last few weeks however, have been nothing but doctor’s appointments and setbacks.

Let me elaborate..

bladderUp until the end of 2014, I was doing really well.  I had turned 40, gotten another promotion, was continuing to kick ass in school and was looking forward to traveling with Shelby.  The only issue was that my menstrual cycle was off.  I had gone 2 months without it, then have it for two weeks, followed by spotting for a week and then it started again..and hadn’t stopped.  I was also starting to experience some incontinence.  Not to the point that I couldn’t control an urge to go, but that I would just leak.  It was very embarrassing.

I went to my new oncologist (Dr. Zibelli had left the office that I attended) in early January and told him about my newest symptoms.  He did a thorough exam and did not see any new growth in my lymph nodes (YAY!).  His suggestion was that I see my gynecologist regarding the other two issues and not to see him again until the end of February.  Shelby and I walked right to my GYN and made an appointment for the end of that week.

Fun fact: There is no need for a PET scan right now because they can gauge the progression by feeling the lymph nodes throughout my body.

At Dr. Robinson’s office (my GYN), she suggested that I get an ultrasound of my uterus and have an endometrial biopsy, and to also make an appointment of an urologist/gynecologist that could do testing on my

Grandma and I on her 90th birthday. 11/2014

Grandma and I on her 90th birthday. 11/2014

bladder.  She suspects that the Imbruvica is putting my body into somewhat of a medical menopause.

Less than two weeks later I ended up in the emergency room at Nazareth Hospital for excessive bleeding.  For three days prior, I had gotten heavier but on that particular Tuesday, I could not stop.  At the advice of both my oncologist and gynecologist, I went to the ER in fear that I was losing too much blood.  Somehow, my blood work was in the lower spec but within range.  While there, I had the ultrasound done which showed that I had a significant amount of fibroid perimenopausetumors.  I was told that this could have been a reason why I had more bleeding.

Fun fact: I decided to postpone my appointment with the URO/GYN until I had taken care of the bleeding issue.

The next day, Dr. Robinson performed the endometrial biopsy (ouch) and prescribed me ten days of Provera.  The hormones were to stop the bleeding within two days and then it would start again about two weeks later.

That didn’t work.

The Provera slowed down the bleeding but it kicked right back in as soon as I stopped.  I went right back in to visit Dr. Robinson who advised me on having a DNC.  The next week, she also suggested having a hysteroscopy and an ablation.

(For those of you who are uneducated in the procedures of the female anatomy, a DNC is a scraping of the endometrial lining of the uterus, a hysteroscopy involves filling the uterus with water then using a camera to inspect it, and an ablation is the burning of the uterine wall to destroy the endometrium and prevent the tissue from growing.)

Fun fact: The endometrial biopsy came back negative.  :-)

This past Tuesday (2/24/15), I had the procedure at Nazareth hospital.  Shelby had to have me there at 6:30AM for an 8AM surgical time.  I was put under anesthesia and woke up about an hour later and in pain.  From what Shelby tells me, Dr.  Robinson had shown her pictures of my uterus before and after.  Apparently before, there were tons of polyps that had to be removed.  After, my uterus looked like a fireplace after it had burned out.  No wonder I had such bad cramping after!

This leads me to today, three days after my procedure.  I’ve been home since Tuesday and not allowed to lift anything, exercise or be overly active.  My parents visited me on

Shelby and I in NYC.

Shelby and I in NYC.

Thursday and Shelby has taken very good care of me.  I’ll be able to return to work on Monday and I followup with Dr. Robinson in one week.  I’ll also be having an appointment with my new oncologist, Dr. Bhatia on Tuesday. Both Dr. Bhatia and Dr. Robinson believe that the pros of taking my chemotherapy, Imbruvica, outweigh the cons.  Therefore, I am continuing to take two pills daily.  I’ve also begun to take OTC iron supplements again to combat Restless Leg Syndrome. It seems that losing all the blood has made the RLS worse.  The only thing that seem to help is the iron.

Other than the medical setbacks, I am doing really well.  I was promoted to Continuous Improvement Manager at my company and love going to work everyday.  I continue to take classes at Thomas Edison State College.  And just this past week, Shelby and I booked a trip to New Orleans for her birthday.  If only my body would stop acting up, everything would be great!

Thank you everyone for your constant support and well wishes.  I am motivated by all of your encouragement.  I do apologize for not posting lately.  I will be sure to keep everyone updated more often.

Love you all!

Jennifer “Fitz”

Category: My Fight

16 comments on “Imbruvica’s Long Term Side Effects Starting to Surface

  1. My thoughts and prayers are with you!! It’s a tough road I see, but you will make it through!!!

    • Thanks Ami I. I love reading your posts.

  2. Wow!

    • Love you. :)

  3. Thank you for sharing, for being ever so brave, but most of all for being you. Love you with all my heart!

    • I love you just as much! Thank you. :)

  4. Rocky’s got nothin’ on you kid! You are an inspiration! In my daily prayers. XO

    • Thank you Cindy. I’ll take all the prayers I can get!

  5. I thank God everyday that he has made you strong enough to deal with all the set backs that you incur day in and day out and I know that you will come thru this with flying colors because of your strength…………..

    • As always, thank you Aunt Terry. You always say the kindest things.

  6. You are an amazing woman and incredible person – don’t ever change. Love ya

    • Thank you Trish. That means a lot. We should try and get together sometime.

  7. I am glad you are in the hands of such an able team that can bakance yohr complex case. And i hope you two get to go to NOLA and hava a kickass time

    • Thank you Ellen! That was very sweet of you.

  8. Jenn: WOW!! That’s a loaded blog! Most important thing is that the problem was found and HOPEFULLY resolved. What a past few months you have been experiencing. The Support Group gang has been asking about you and now I know why we haven’t seen you; although, I had to cancel February’s meeting due to the lovely weather (snow).

    We are all praying that things will settle down and now that I read you are planning a trip I will certainly pray harder.

    I LOVE the cartoons and the pictures! You look soooooooo cute!!

    • Thanks Terrie. I am sorry for not attending the past few meetings – although I was planning on being at February’s. ;).
      I’ll most likely be at the March group.

      I hope you are well. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

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