Thursday, April 19, 2007

Magic Bullets

Good news on the treatment front:

Tuesday was treatment day A for cycle three and it went very well. Late, as usual, my clinic appointment was at 9:30 but even though I got to the treatment center by 11 am, my scheduled appointment was 12:45. I waited, but asked them to push me up, as I had to pick up Sofie at 3:10. As usual, this did virtually nothing. At half an hour past the scheduled appointment, they finally buzzed me.

But I digress. The very good news is that the CA-125 blood test ("cancer marker") went down after the second treatment cycle. Down a lot, so they (the team) is very encouraged, as am I. It needs to keep going down, but I am very happy that this combination of drugs, given to me in extremely high (read toxic) amounts, seems to be working.

My red blood count was low again, (although I felt fine in Disneyworld, mind over matter, perhaps???) so they decided to transfuse me again, which always pops the numbers up. But the transfusions are about one hour per bag, and I get two, so I let them know that I could do the chemo, but would need to take a break and get my daughter. It was, after all, Free Cone day at Ben and Jerry's and I had promised to take her for a chocolate cone. So after the toxic (but helpful) chemicals were all dripped in, I got disconnected and went to get Sofie. We lined up at Ben and Jerry's which took only 20 minutes, and got cones. Then I loaded her back into the car and headed back to Duke. She was "starving" after the cone, so before the treatment center, I took her to the food court for a snack. She has decided that Hardy's (like Carl's Jr) Twin Burgers are the "bestest burger ever" and so I got her one of those, it is essentially a double cheeseburger with thousand island dressing. She gobbled the whole thing up. Amazing capacity sometimes.

Then against all the rules for kids under 12 not being in the treatment area, I boldly brought her in and she sat on my lap and watched cartoons for two hours. She did really well. And when we were done, we just left quietly.

So, this magic bullet of the title: I got a new drug for the prevention of nausea, something called Emend. Three pills, the first is taken an hour before treatment, then one a day for the next two days. Today is pill day three and I have to say, yesterday I felt as good as I have before any of the cancer appeared! My energy was great, I was not at all nauseous and I went to work at UNC for a projected four hours, but stayed nearly a full day! Today I am working at home, but also feel great. The only problem is that the steroids I am on increase my appetite, so I have to watch that I don't overeat. But this drug seems to be doing the trick. Of course, it is another one that is very expensive, so I am happy for the insurance, so the co-pay is only $50, instead of the several hundred dollars for three pills. How do those drug companies get away with this nonsense?

I am more or less soloing for the next treatment session, Jamie has been staying here "in case" but for now I am feeling OK. But nice to have company.

Next week is treatment B of cycle three, the combo of two drugs. That is the one that did me in last cycle, so I hope these magic bullet pills work well again. I am also still taking the Marinol, for extra measure. I truly do feel sometimes like a walking pharmacy. I usually took nothing more than the BP meds I had to take and Advil occasionally. Now, I start the day with a handful of pills, followed by a shot at 10 AM (and again at 10 PM) and more pills in between, especially post treatment when I take steroids for five days to prevent the bad rash from coming ever again.

But this is about the good news. And it really is good, to know that the numbers are finally going down again. I hope this also means that after the six projected cycles, ending in late June, I will be off chemo for a while. And can get back into some sort of routine about working. I am considering lowering my schedule to 75% time when I re-enter, so that I can get rest and still keep my benefits. But not completely decided yet. Would start in July most likely.

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