Thursday, September 12, 2013

More chemo for now with a couple of options in sight

I am about to finish the last day of my second chemo round with the new formulation.  This round has been the best so far with minimal side effects.  I'm more tired than usual and chemo taste has started to come on a bit.  However, I haven't had much of any nausea or vomiting since I started treatment on Monday.  My recurring pelvic pain has also subsided as well which I'm all attributing to the re-addition of steroids to my chemo pretreatment.  The actual time spent in treatment has been going pretty quickly since I have regained my previous undergrad ability to sleep on command.  I literally sit in the chair, mess around on my iPad a bit until they hook me up, and am essentially asleep until they tell me that I'm done.  I think I had my mouth open half the time and made occasional noises today as I took my 3 hr nap.  I don't think anyone else in the pod minded though.

My meeting last week with Dr. Abboud, the bone marrow transplant doc, was interesting.  I learned a lot about how the process would happen if it will happen.  I also learned I have to jump through a lot of hoops before we get close to taking out any of my blood stem cells.  This initial meeting was necessary not just for me, but to get the ball rolling with the insurance company.  Also, I had to get my sister's info to them so they can be tested to see if they could donate to me in the very unlikely chance I would need it.  This would most likely be the case if I developed a secondary blood cancer (like a leukemia).  Besides the paperwork, I need to get a bunch of various tests to see how good of condition I am in to undergo the whole procedure.  Then they would take out my stem cells through a blood sorting machine after injecting me with drugs so that I overproduce the stem cells and release them from the marrow into my blood stem.  The collection and sorting would take place over several hours and possibly over several days.  At some point down the line, days to weeks later, I would get the high dose chemo over a week, have the saved stem cells injected back into me, and recover in the hospital for a few weeks until I'm able to return to the germ infested world.  

Another option that is on the line is a NIH clinical trial that is going on in Washington D.C.  Some researchers, performing biomedical research kinda like me (only their work came out with something more clinically useful than anything I will produce), discovered a molecule which can bind to a RNA helicase to disrupt it from interacting with the mutated protein that drives my cancer.  Basically, the drug has been shown to prevent the cancer from growing.  There have only been a few papers about the drug so far, but appears fairly promising from what I have read.  And the good news is that I have the right genetic mutation to make me eligible for the trial, and my paperwork is proceeding in case Van Tine thinks that's the best route for me.  If that happens, it appears that I will be flying to D.C. for a week every few weeks for treatment.  But that is a long ways off down a distant and perhaps possible yellow brick road.  I would greatly prefer if my current treatment would work well since being on a clinical trial is never a good thing since that means the regular ways to deal with the disease aren't working, no one knows whether the trial drug will work, and you're not sure whether you are actually getting the trial drug or the placebo.  

What will happen in the immediate future are bone marrow related tests, more meetings with the docs, upcoming scans, and more chemo in three weeks.  

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