To: Family & Friends

Date: August 4, 2014

Subject: Clinical trial, day one

This was originally an email written to my family and friends on the date above. I decided to make these public in the event they may be helpful to someone in the future who is embarking on a similar journey to mine.

Hi Everyone,

I’m getting started on my clinical trial today. It’s a combination of an infusion (every 2 weeks, like before) and a pill that I take twice a week. The trial drugs are attempting to block the cancer cells from continuing to grow by signal blocking at two different levels. They refer to this as “targeted therapy” rather than “chemotherapy” – chemo is like using a shotgun (blast everything) vs the targeted therapy which is more like using a (relatively aimed) handgun. In the future there is hope of more of a sniper rifle approach (already being tried for other kinds of cancer).

Expected side effects are digestion related (nausea, diarrhea) as both drugs hit that system. I’m told to expect an acne-like rash on my face too – good times! However they seem pretty positive about the drug’s effectiveness, so those are fine trade-offs in my book.

I’m at the University of Colorado Cancer Center for the trial instead of the Kaiser hospital I’ve been visiting for the last 18 months. The CU Cancer Center on the opposite side of town and traffic is a bit of a mess, but it’s a very nice facility and it has fantastic WiFi! The doctors, nurses and other folks I’ve interacted with so far have all been both friendly and competent – always a good combination.

I’ll be visiting the hospital with some regularity since this is a trial and they need to measure the results and side effects. This week I’m back tomorrow morning and Thursday; then again twice the following week and three times the next week (once for infusion, etc.). After that things begin to taper off a bit.

I had the port installed in my chest so that I wouldn’t need to get IVs for infusions, blood draws, etc. However for these initial infusions I have to get an IV in my arm in addition to the port because they are using my port for blood draws (getting measurements) and don’t want the trial drugs to taint the results. The IV hurts. 🙁 They brought down their “vein whisperer” nurse to stick me because I told them about my previous troubles getting an IV during my surgical hospital stay.

I’m pretty optimistic that I’ll be able keep the same work schedule (or better) that I had during my previous chemo treatments.

The Benadryl they gave me before they started the infusion is making it hard for me to focus my eyes, not to mention keep them open so I’ll sign off for now. Fingers crossed for lots of desired effects and few side effects.

This post is part of the thread: Cancer – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.