Wanted to give you an update on how I’m doing with the clinical trial at Fox Chase. The last posts (thanks to Carl for writing them) went into what the trial was all about and my initial experience. The trial has a series of 21-day cycles that include two consecutive weeks of chemo, using cisplatin the drug I was on when first diagnosed, followed by a week off. Each day of the 21-day cycle I take a met-inhibitor pill which is the trial drug. This is the drug that is supposed to stop the growth and spread of the cancer cells.
Last Wednesday was the start of my second cycle. The first cycle had gone OK. I was really tired but the introduction of a steroid really helped take care of that side effect. On Wednesday, we showed up at Fox Chase eager to get the next cycle started. The day started with blood work that came back strong – white and red blood cells were good as was my liver functioning. Next step was the chemotherapy. Unfortunately, about 15 minutes after the chemo infusion began I started feeling nauseous. Another 10 minutes into the infusion and more symptoms started to pop up. I got really flushed. There was pressure moving up from my stomach into my chest. Hives started popping out. Not a pretty sight!
Carl pressed the nurse call button and within seconds two nurses were with me. In the matter of just a couple of minutes, they knew I was having an allergic reaction to the cisplatin and had disconnected me from the infusion. Right behind that came an IV infusion of Benadryl and another anti-inflammatory to calm things down. Within about an hour, I was feeling normal again. As we’ve now learned, people who have had cisplatin before often develop this allergic reaction later on when the drug is reintroduced.
Dr. Denlinger came in to see how I was doing and shared that I wouldn’t be doing back on the chemotherapy. While she could have “challenged” the drug – put me on a 15-hour infusion with close monitoring and an overnight stay at the hospital – she didn’t want to risk a worse reaction. We agreed. Instead, she went back and forth with Eli Lilly, the trial sponsor, and I’m staying in the trial but just using the daily met-inhibitor.
April 21 will be my first CT scan since being on the new drug. On April 22 we’ll hear the results. Carl and I are both still optimistic that the drug is suppressing the cancer cells. My blood test from last Wednesday showed a slowing of the cancer activity from a month or so ago. While the new drug isn’t killing the cancer that is there, if it stops it from going any further, that would be terrific. We know of someone who’s been on the pill for over a year and doing well. I want to follow in her footsteps!
If the results from the CT scan aren’t positive, Carl and I will move on to Plan B. (I feel so grateful that there is now a Plan B!). We’ll probably reach back out to Dr. Geschwind at Johns Hopkins to plan for chemo-embolization. He was very positive about the results I could get from that procedure.
We knew going into this journey that there would be ups and downs. While the chemo reaction was a surprise at least I’m still able to participate in the trial. Hopefully, we’ll see some progress on the scan and I’ll continue. Having a break from chemotherapy isn’t all that bad!
Wrapping up… thanks to all of you for your ongoing care, concern, and compassion. Your prayers, thoughts, positive energy and encouragement are fuels to keep us going forward with hope. It’s appreciated so, so much!