Friday, March 27, 2009

New Drug Regimen

As of today my infusion drug regimen has changed. For the next couple months, I will weekly receive Navelbine, about 20 minutes to infuse, and Herceptin, about 30 minutes to infuse, for a total time (including flushing with saline and port activation and deactivation) of about 1 ½-2 hours in the clinic (as opposed to 4 or 5). I will no longer be getting any of my premeds (Decadron, ranitidine, Zofran, and, alas, Benadryl), because I will no longer be getting Taxol, BECAUSE MY PET SCAN WAS NORMAL.

What this means is that MY BODY IS COMPLETELY FREE OF ACTIVE CANCER. The CT showed that there are still polyps and nodules in my lungs, and the bone scan showed lots of sclerotic spots, as it has before, but the PET, which measures cancer activity, shows that everything is either dead cancer cells or scar tissue. This does not include the brain, however. Even a PET scan on the brain isn't very accurate for metabolism because the brain uses glucose so quickly in normal function, so we'll continue to monitor that with the MRIs and Dr Jason's expertise.

Dr Specht said a few notable things today:

"I can't believe, I really can't believe, that I get to deliver these results to you today!" and

"I wish I could take your response and multiply it tenfold and give it to all my patients!" and

"If you want to travel, you are free to go, just say the word. After all, you can always tell me, 'and just what are we treating?'"

There are a variety of reasons that I am continuing drugs at all—one is that it's pretty clear that my body tends to allow cancer if I'm not on some sort of therapy. Another is that, even though no pockets of activity showed up on the PET, the assumption is that there are still rogue cells roving about my body trying to get a party together somewhere warm and vital, and we want to keep killing off those rogue cells. I will probably stop the Navelbine in the next couple months and continue with Herceptin on its own (back on my old 3-week schedule) or possibly with a different addition; there are also a variety of pills, some with chemo, some with the Herceptin drug, that I might consider instead (obviously, if I don't have to be infused at all, I could take much longer to travel when and where my . . . uh money, and, I guess, full-time working husband, allows . . .). A third is the slim possibility that some of the medication is crossing the blood-brain barrier and helping keep my brain healthy.

Navelbine is supposed to be pretty low on side-effects, though—my hair should grow back (well, we'll see what happened to the follicles with the radiation), I probably won't need anti-nausea meds, and the slight neuropathy in my fingers (which has improved greatly over the last couple weeks with no Taxol) should continue to abate apace. I will still do some GCSF shots (the insurance company is happy about that, I'm sure!), and I think all the other things I'm taking at home.

This news completely outweighs the story I was going to write about yesterday's experience in the bone scan, which was this: right as the main scan finished, the fire alarm went off and we all had to evacuate the building (I was wearing loungey clothes from home, not a breezy gown). Turns out to have been only a burst water pipe on the 3rd level of the parking garage. My car was down there, but it didn't even get wet. So that's all that happened there. Oh, but also—so much more annoying than the person next to you behind the curtain wall listening to TV? The person next to you behind the curtain wall listening to her voice mail on speaker phone. Not just current messages, but saved messages, and then deleted messages. AYFKM?!?


threedee71 said...

Congrats on the amazing PET results, Calin!!! What wonderful news. :)

Nancy Z said...

Calin-- What wonderful news. I think back to months ago. Wishing we would hear this news. I stil am amazed at your will. You are amazing!!!! I know I could not do a fraction of what you have accomplshed. But if I ever have to, you can bet I will think of you and get strength to try!!!
I still am a friend of your mom's and some day hope to meet you. Hugs, Nancy Z.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is some of the best news I have heard. Ever. Lee

Abbie Gardner said...

Hooray for Calin!! Go take a vacation somewhere warm and full of drinks with umbrellas!

Anonymous said...

This is AWESOME news!! We are so happy for you! Thanks for letting us share in your journey. Love You, Jeanne (for all the Schaffners)

Anonymous said...

Incredibly awesome news!

Anonymous said...

Calin you are truly inspirational! I'm so excited about your wonderful results! Hugs to you!

Anonymous said...

Dear Calin, Not only have you lived with courage, but great clarity. Your blog is supremely educational, but also scientific and spirited. You have knit us all together in your orbit, truthfulness,and stamina for wholeness. What fulfilling and amazing news! Look forward to seeing you soon. With love, Julie (and Seelye).

Adam English said...

Woo hoo! Great news! I look forward to seeing/hearing about your upcoming travels.


Robert said...

Hello Calin,
Thanks for sharing such welcome news!

-- Robert Valaas