Monday, October 17, 2011

Update pre-Denver

Yesterday got up to see Seth and his girlfriend Angie off.  They are driving back to the Twin Cities.  Had a wonderful, but hectic time with them.  I hope I didn't wear them out .

But after they left I took myself to the emergency room at UW.  The lump on my back had developed an abscess and was bleeding and expelling pus, so I called my Dr. daughter and she told me to be seen.  So I did.  The ER doctor lanced the abscess and irrigated it then packed the wound in gauze and sent me home. No idea if it is a tumor or a cyst now.  Maybe a biopsy can eventually be done on the remnant.  I do have a meeting with an oncological surgeon for Nov. 1 to do just that.  But sometimes things get away from you.

Then today was my ct scans.  While drinking the ct contrast agent (which takes an hour), I did a deposition by telephone.  A great way to pass the time.  Far better than sitting around focusing on how bad the drink tastes.  Afterwards, went up to Dr. Martins' office and two nurses, Karen and Heather repacked my wound.  This time without lidocaine.  Ouch.

But just to balance things out, the ct scan results indicate that the tumors are stable or shrinking a bit.  So there's a bit of celebration before heading off to Denver this evening.

More later.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No chemo this week

I showed up at the appointed time yesterday but the blood tests showed that my white cell count was below the required level, so chemo was terminated.   Frankly, I was relieved because the side effects of the Gemzar are not much fun.

This is the fifth type of  treatment I've undergone for my lung cancer.  The hope is not for a cure, but for either stopping progression or tumor shrinkage.  However, with each type of treatment, the odds for improvement diminish as the cancer becomes resistant to treatment.  Several weeks ago, my daughter expressed concern for continuing treatment if there were no good results.  Essentially I would be enduring the side effects of chemo for no payoff. 

We won't know if the treatment has any effect until I have ct scans on the 17th of October.  I am already steeling myself for the probable bad news, given the odds.  I emailed some friends to let them know that this might be the end of the road as far as treatment goes.  But, I am blessed with friends who will not take no for an answer. 

My friend, Mary Pat--we were roommates back in 1978 before she went to graduate school in Chicago--is the Administrator of Clinical Research at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver.  Denver was a center for TB patients back in the last century when it was thought that breathing cold dry air in the mountains was one way to treat tuberculosis.    And over the years this part of the country has become one of the leading centers in the treatment of  lung diseases.  One of the doctors that Mary Pat works with is Dr. Ross Camidge, a noted authority on crizotinib and the ALK rearrangement in NSCLC tumors.  She made an appointment to see him for a second opinion on October 18th.  Perhaps there are some clinical trials that he is overseeing that may be applicable to my situation.  So, I will be flying to Denver the evening of  October 17th to see if there isn't a trick or two left in the grab bag.   My oncologist knows Dr. Camidge and is very supportive of this plan. 

Many, many thanks to Mary Pat for her help and friendship.  Fingers crossed.