After a light shave, chest sanding, stickering and a brisk uphill walk, a pile of papers with squiggly lines found its way to the cardiologist for interpretation. When that was happening, my wife and I headed to get squiggly noodles at one of my favorite restaurants. Thanks to low white blood cell counts, it had been over two weeks since I had chemo. I was feeling mostly human, so it was time for a giant bowl of Pho. As a bonus, I was able to tolerate spicy food again, so I poured on the chili garlic oil and sweated myself into bliss.
The next day I got an unexpected phone call from my oncology PA, letting me the cardiologist released their interpretation. It was all good news; there were no signs of any cardiac abnormalities during my stress test. Hurray!
Knowing that I’m a knowledge seeker, my PA also explained the cause of their concerned in the first place. It turns out, 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) can occasionally cause cardiotoxicity, which can lead to coronary vasospasm. Clear as mud right? In a nutshell, the chemicals in 5-FU can cause your heart muscles to twitch randomly like your eye might do when you’re stressed out. Except, when this happens in your heart instead of your eye, its called a pseudo-heart-attack. After that explanation, it makes sense why they wanted a stress test.
She also ordered a blood test to determine if I had any heart damage in the past since stress tests don’t do an excellent job at this. This test is called a troponin test. Troponins are proteins released when the heart muscle is damaged; the more damage there is to the heart, the higher the amount of troponin (T and I) in the blood. Similar to golf, you want this score to be as close to zero as possible. Fortunately for me, this number was extremely close to zero (<0.015 ug/L, to be exact), unlike my golf game, which has obviously suffered MANY heart failures. So good news, no heart attack. The chest pain I was having was likely a remnant from the chest cold I caught a few weeks ago.
With that good news in hand, I was ready for round seven in a few days.