Friday, November 11, 2011

Trial Treatments

Life has been full of weirdness lately.  Part of the weirdness is my trying to decide if I wanted to apply for a spot in a trial cancer treatment.  I admit, that when my oncologist told me that my tumor markers had doubled at the beginning of the month, I was put into a tailspin.  He has put me on Tamoxifen because sometimes, when you've been on aromatase inhibitors  (like aromasin and arimidex) which have failed, you can fool the cancer into accepting Tamoxifen again and then it dies off.  The process, however, takes two months to see if it works or not and it may cause cancer flare ups initially.

Great...just great..  So, when I got notice of a new trial at the Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence, RI where they were looking for stage IV survivors who had "failed" on at least two rounds of chemo and hormone therapies to try using modified T-cells (harvested from the patients blood then returned to them in 2 - 3 months) to see if they could get the T-cells to go after the cancer.  Half of the group would get the modified T-cells alone and the other half would receive the T-cells with Interleukin 2.

Well, intellectually, the modified T-cells sounds wonderful and I thought that anything would be preferable to doing more chemo....Only my oncologist said that he wanted to look it over first, and that Interleukin 2 is nasty stuff and it "wasn't a walk in the park."  In addition, I would have to arrange to stay in CT and drive to RI for the treatment and tests.  I'd be gone for about a month if it went through.

Friends from Connecticut rallied and offered housing and transportation if I needed it, so I put my name in.  Only later did I notice that the initial trial only called for 12 people.  I did get an initial call to screen me and see if I was eligible.  A second telephone interview is supposed to be in the offing.

However, it did make my mouth go dry when I put my name in.  What happens in the period between starting the treatment? What if the cancer spreads quickly?  Two to three months while they are working on your T-cells seems like a long time when the cancer basically doubles every month.  What happens if after they do the treatment, it doesn't work?  How bad off would I be by that time?  Would other therapies help?  Would I be able to take them while waiting?

Scary.   I hadn't ever thought about any of these issues.   I mainly just thought that you would apply and if you got int, then you'd start immediately.....What a lot of things to consider.  Fortunately, my oncologist said that he has other things for me to try....even if the thought of going back on chemo leaves me cold.

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