Monday, June 18, 2007
Really good news
It’s Monday night and I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief. I’ve got a course of action, a positive direction. My life holds promise again!
My 2 o’clock appointment with the oncologist stretched out to nearly 6pm. Followed by a celebratory dinner with my sister.
First came results of yesterday’s PET scan indicating confinement of malignant cells to my lungs. There are about ten tiny bilateral nodules, consistent with the findings of last month’s pulmonary biopsy. Surgery is not an option in this case. The target is too small and too scattered. Apart from the invasive nature of surgery, there’d be no guarantee of getting them all, or that more wouldn’t replace them.
What options are there then? There’s chemotherapy. The rate of improvement for a course of standard chemo may not be much to write home about. But we can aim higher. My doctor runs clinical trials that mix chemo with experimental drugs that act as a kind of booster, where experimental means a drug not yet approved by the FDA.
The trial she recommends combines two traditional anti-cancer drugs (Temodar and Abraxane) with Genasense, an experimental one with exciting possibilities. It has already achieved eleven of the twelve FDA requirements and it has my doctor’s team lobbying for its acceptance. She’s been invited to Spain in a few months to present her findings in conference there.
So I’ve signed up to start this trial next week. My doctor’s enthusiasm is contagious. Her findings so far indicate that patients who respond to this treatment respond “completely”. She’s achieved a high rate of total remission where other treatments had limited success. Even more striking than overall statistics is the success rate achieved in patients with normal levels of blood enzyme LDH. She’s excited about the potential in my case where I am healthy and have excellent blood numbers. There are potential side effects, but for the most part patients are not sickened as they typically are with chemo.
I’m sure I’ll have plenty of mood swings over the course of the next many months. This course of treatment runs in eight week segments: six weeks on medication and two weeks off during which they run more CT scans. It can be repeated up to a total of four cycles. Most of the treatment is administered at home via pills and by pumping the experimental drug through an IV device embedded under my skin near the collarbone.
Right now I’m studying the materials my doctor has given me, anticipating placement of the “mediport” IV device on Friday, preparing for the eventuality of losing my hair, and thinking about the client work I need to get done now that I have some of my mind back.
More updates to come….