Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Chemo

The scans that were done on September 21 showed a lymph node in my abdomen that has swollen to 1.4cm (just over ½ inch). Dr. Chou believes that the lymph node is just inflamed from the chemotherapy, but the rest of the team is not as optimistic. They say that it is very likely malignant tumor growth. To try and figure out which it is, they have put me on a new chemotherapy regimen. The new chemo will not be as hard on my stomach, so any inflammation that the old chemo caused should be gone with the next set of scans. If it is malignant tumor growth, the fact that it is there means that it had become resistant to the chemo that I was taking, and the new chemo will have a better chance of controlling its growth. Regardless, through trial and error, the next set of scans should provide valuable information.

There is an option to surgically remove the suspect lymph node, especially since it appears to be a localized occurrence. Of course, I am still waiting on the 8h9 monoclonal antibody clinical trial to start, which will required a surgical implant of the antibody. Because the trial should begin in the next few weeks, (hopefully not months), if I decide to have it removed, I will wait and have it removed at the beginning of the trial. I just don’t want the risk of an additional surgery, when I have a planned surgery coming up soon.

The surgery that was planned for September 22 to replace the line in my chest was delayed until September 25. By delaying the surgery, I was able to get a mediport in place of the central line that I had. They perform essentially the same function, but the mediport is implanted below the skin, which allows me to take a shower and swim. With the old line, I couldn’t swim at all, to shower I had to wrap my chest in plastic, and Marissa had to change my bandages at least once a week in addition to daily flushes with heparin. Needless to say, I am very excited about having the mediport. I am still having an unusual amount of pain in my neck and shoulder from the surgery, but hopefully it will be gone in a few days.

I am also excited about my new chemo. I know that sounds a little weird, but let me explain. I will be taking two drugs, Vinorelbine and Cyclophosphamide. The Vinorelbine is given just once per week, for three weeks, then one week off. The drug is administered via IV push, which means that it is from a syringe and the nurse just pushes it in slowly over 10 minutes. The Cyclophosphamide is just a pill that I take at home every day. Not being at the hospital all day every day is very exciting. This new chemo is also supposed to be very mild, so side effects should be very tolerable. Also, if necessary, this combination can be taken for as much as two years.

I was supposed to start the chemo on Monday, October 5, but my white blood cell count is too low. They are delaying me another week to recover. Hopefully they will come up soon and I can start the new chemo on Monday, October 12.

As always, thanks for all of the prayers, and thanks for your support at the SL100 tailgate fundraiser Friday night at the DCHS football game.

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