Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Mixed Bag

A mixed bag, is what Dr. A from Jefferson Hospital said.  My recent scans showed improvement in some tumors, but not so in the liver.  She took the liberty of calling Dr. D. at Penn and they both thought that the Phase II trial study was the place for me to be.

I could have guessed the outcome of the scans.  The pressure under my right ribcage has increased considerably.  Sometimes it even hurts in that general area.  I also feel pressure in other places, and often have a backache, albeit on the other side. 

I had the scans on Tuesday, but had to cancel my regular appointment with the oncologist on Thursday because I came down with a horrific cold.  After several unsuccessful attempts to reach Dr. A. by phone, on Friday morning I called Dr. D. at Penn to get an appointment.  I had left the house for about an hour when Thierry got the call from Dr. A. with the news about the scans and her call to Dr. D, so all in all the timing worked out okay.  I saw Dr. D. on Monday, yesterday, and I will begin the trial as soon as they can schedule a special scan for me (and assuming the blood work they ran yesterday comes out okay), very possibly next week.

It seems I have lots of the protein that my tumor needs to grow.  The hope is that this experimental drug will stop tumor growth.  It is a CDK inhibitor that affects this particular protein.  It appears that in some cases there has been tumor regression.  And that is my wish; that not only does it stop growing, but that this thing (or things) in my liver actually get smaller so I am more comfortable.

I will be taking two pills a day for three weeks, have a week off, then start the pills again for another three weeks.  This 3-weeks on, one-week off is a cycle.  I get blood work done and see the doctor at the beginning of each new cycle.  This is very similar to prior treatments.  What is different is that I will now get scans every 8 weeks (MRI/CT/PT), and they will add a new type of CT scan, called “FLT”.  The only difference between the two scans I can remember is that the typical CT requires an injection of sugar which goes directly to the tumors. The FLT does not use this type of injection.  I only hope I have enough slivers of veins left for all of these scans.  Another difference in the schedule is an extra day of blood work that requires my going in for a blood test on the 15th day of my treatment cycle early in the morning before I take the meds; then I take the meds and four hours later return to the hospital for another blood draw.  Thankfully they will use my port for all this blood work – I would have it no other way!

Needless to say I have been a bit in the dumps. Been thinking about “the end” and how I will know when it is coming and what we need to do to prepare for it.  I know everyone says to stay positive and focus on the new treatment – and I am sure I will when I get out of this funk.  But the day will come…….

So, another (newer than) new treatment; another new normal to get used to, and hopefully another few months of a reasonably comfortable life.  I’ll keep taking deep breaths and try to keep the engine fired up, because, as the words on one of the nurse’s pin said: “Cancer Sucks” and there ain’t a whole lot I can do about it.


Anonymous said...

Mary, cancer sucks, and knowing that we as your friends, can't take it away for you also sucks. You are the bravest woman I have ever met. You've been taking this head on. Being in a funk, or thinking about the end is ok, as long as you don't dwell on it. We love you . .


Anonymous said...

Dear Mary

I was sorry to hear that you have been in pain but I hope this new regime will stop that and you will respond well to this treatment. Every day is a gift and I am sending healing thoughts and hugs x Terry x

jeannine said...

Dear Mary,
We keep our fingers crossed and hope so you feel better with this new treatment, Much love, Jeannine & Carl