Sunday, March 13, 2011

Up, Down and All Around

Well, I passed the test.  I mean, I tested positive for the protein that makes me eligible for the CDK inhibitor study at Penn. 

I had received a call on Monday from one of the nurses informing me that I tested positive.  Then I heard from the doctor (Dr. D) Thursday morning – the day of my regular chemo treatment.  She reiterated that I was eligible and we discussed my options.

Usually oncologists like you to go through three cycles of a treatment plan, then have scans done to see the results.  That day I was to begin my third cycle of Halaven.  Dr. D said I could either continue with the Halaven or enter the program.  I asked her what she would advise had I been one of her patients.  She said if a chemo regime is working, then it is best to stay with it until it stops (working) – which eventually it will. 

I asked if she would talk to my oncologist (Dr. A), which she did that morning.  It was decided that I would continue with the next two doses of Halaven, then have scans to see how things are.  If the drug is not working, I will enter the study.  As it goes, I would have to wait 28 days after my last treatment before I could begin the study drug. When I have the scans it will be about 12 days after my last treatment.  I was concerned about what would happen if the Halaven is working now, but stops in the next 3-6 months.  Both doctors feel I should still be able to make it into a study within that time frame.

I can’t tell you how anxious I was when I received the call from Dr. D.  My thoughts ran everywhere from should I switch to what if I switch and it doesn’t work; what if I have an allergic reaction; what if it doesn’t work; what if it works – for how long would it work. And then of course, all the other questions: who else is on it; how many breast cancer victims; how well has it been working; how does it work, exactly… etc.  The level of anxiety was staggering.

As fearful as I was to stop what I know and go to something so new, I was (I think) a bit disappointed to learn that I will have to wait.  New questions came into my mind like: could this really eliminate or put the cancer into a longer term of remission; will I, in fact, still be eligible for this treatment at a later date; am I staying with a drug that still has side effects (like neuropathy, hair loss, digestion problems, watery eyes) when I could be taking a drug that is just as good with no side effects?

Trying to contain all of these thoughts and emotions can be daunting, and sometimes leaves me short-tempered and irritable – but Thierry tolerates it all pretty well.  Now to wait….. time seems to stand still while I wait for the next scans.  A lot to be afraid of, a lot of questions unanswered.

On a lighter note, Dad seems to be using the medical alert system, at night anyway.  Mom comes home on Wednesday.  She has done very well at rehab.  The weather is warmer, and Jeannine's bulbs are starting to sprout in our planter!

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