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.