Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Chemotherapy Calendar

My chemo is set for three weeks on, one week off.  So my second infusion of paclitaxel is Monday at 10am.  This is assuming my bloodwork comes back ok.  I think it should, as I've rebounded over the weekend.  Only to get knocked down again tomorrow.  I'm feeling a bit like one of those punching dolls with the sand weight in the bottom.

Then there will be a second series of Monday infusions starting July 12, again assuming the bloodwork is ok. 

I posted this to my Facebook page, but I think it deserves mention here.  As you know, I am a big fan of   Dr. Weiss, one of their frequent contributors posted a history of chemotherapy that is quite interesting.  Here's my favorite part:

What is cytotoxic Chemotherapy? A brief history of swords to plowshares

In 1919, Edward Krumbhaar described the effects on the bodies of soldiers exposed to mustard gas. Their lymph nodes shrank and their bone marrows made fewer blood cells. In 1929, Berenblum found that mustard gas could act against cancer in animals. In 1931, Adair and Brag applied mustard to the skin of patients and injected it into a tumor. However, the first successful use of chemotherapy occurred in 1942 at my alma-mater, Yale Medical School. There, Goodman, Gilman, and Lindskog used nitrogen mustard to effectively induce a short remission in a patient with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Harvard developed methotrexate in the 1940s and chemotherapy for solid tumors scored its first cure in 1956, when Roy Hertz and Min Chui Li used it to cure a patient with metastatic choriocarcinoma.

The history of chemotherapy continued through the 1950s and 1960s with a series of acronymed regimens to treat lymphomas and leukemias. In the 1960s, Barnett Rosenberg discovered cisplatin.

Many chemotherapy drugs in use today were originally derived from natural sources. In 1954, Robert Nobel noted that in Jamaica, diabetics sometimes drank periwinkle tea when insulin was not available. It didn’t help the diabetes but it did reduce white blood cell counts. This observation led to the development of the vinca alkaloids-vinorelbine remains a standard lung cancer drug. Taxanes, including paclitaxel and docetaxel were originally derived from the Pacific Yew Tree. In 1966, Chinese ornamental tree extract was found to inhibit topoisomerase, leading to the camptothecans; irinotecan was approved in 1996. Etoposide is derived from the May Apple.

Most cells in the human body do not divide. In contrast, cancer cells frequently divide in order to grow. While dividing, they must copy their DNA, the genetic material of the cell. In some form, all of these drugs work by poisoning the process of DNA replication, thus killing dividing cells. Drugs that work by this mechanism are called “cytotoxic” chemotherapy. Since most of the cells dividing in the cancer patient’s body will be the cancer cells, the chemotherapy is preferentially poisonous to these bad cells, leaving most of the non-dividing normal body cells alone. However, certain cells in the body do divide, causing side-effects in these areas (for example, the cells lining the gut causing nausea, and the cells in the bone-marrow causing low blood counts).

In contrast cytotoxic chemotherapy, biologic (targeted) agents do not work by damaging the DNA of dividing cells. They work by targeting signaling within the cancer cell. The first targeted agent was imatinib, or gleevec, an extremely effective drug for CML; it was approved in 2001. Herceptin was the first targeted antibody (for some breast cancer), with bevacizumab following in 2004 (now a therapy for multiple cancer types).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope that you are doing okay after today's treatment. Thinking of you. Please take care. Much love, m