Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Operation or not

The docs advise that they can operate but they can only remove what they can see with their physical eyes. The fact that the cancer is growing in various places shows that the cancer is microscopically in the whole abdomen, so an operation would just remove what we see today and then in a few weeks I will have new growths again.

I have finally decided to go for the screening on the clinical trials. This coming Friday I will go for all the interviews, contract signatures and all the medical tests and then I should hear within a week whether I am accepted and what treatment I will receive. I have full faith that God will give me the correct treatment to kill the buggers.

Friday, October 17, 2008


The past weeks have just flown by with being kept busy with the home renovations and working again. Monday (29 Sept) I went to have blood drawn to have my tumour marker checked, as planned. By Tuesday afternoon I had had no news so I decided to call the oncology clinic. Dr L was on holiday for the week so the nursing sister returned my call. Tumour marker was at 25.6. That was not the news I wanted to hear. The marker has gone up by more than 10 points, in fact by over 150% and that means there is cancer activity again. I phoned the oncology clinic again and asked whether Dr L would entertain a phone call with me, whilst on holiday but the reply was negative. Wednesday I phoned a very dear friend who is in the oncology industry to verify whether I was overreacting and she confirmed that such a large increase in the marker does indicate cancer activity. I must mention that my tumour marker is still in normal range (0 to 30).

The following Monday morning Dr L phoned me whilst I was driving to work to share that we have a problem and that my appointment with her for the afternoon would be postponed until I had gone for a chest/abdomen and pelvis CT scan. This was arranged for Tuesday (7 Oct) and I saw Dr L later that day. We received confirmation that I have 2nd generation ovarian cancer. There are 3 growths, 2 minor and one more concerning in the lymph gland. At this stage I don’t know much other than that I will need 6 months of chemo, administered monthly. The chemo cocktail will be different and the side effects will be much less debilitating. Dr L says that I will feel shitty for a few days post chemo but will be able to work and travel in the weeks in between chemo. That is all I know so far. I am waiting for the Dr’s to phone me in the next few days to agree the finer details of how we move forward and whether or not they are going to perform surgery to remove the nasty bits.

A few days later….

So, the Docs (trio of three) did contact me. Dr V (gynae) saw me personally without an appointment and before he rushed off to an emergency and told me not to worry about anything – all is still early days and he was surprised that Dr L and I had done the extensive tests we had to date. Dr H (the specialist gynae oncologist) also phoned and said based on verbal conversations with Dr L he was not too worried yet but he wanted to see the CT scans. I duly arranged to drop these off with him and he promised to phone me the next day. Which he did, Friday 11 Oct, with the news that I am definitely 2nd generation ovarian cancer with platinum resistance (in short the first bout of chemo did not kill the buggers!!). The options being presented to me now are either 1. Do nothing, 2, Partake in a clinical trial or 3, the generally accepted medical treatment for this stage to cancer. Ian and I have spent the better part of a week researching the options 2 and 3. The clinical trial is evaluating Caelyx (the standard chemo cocktail for this stage of cancer) vs a new drug called Patupilone. It is an open trial so post screening and acceptance you know which drug you are on. Caelyx has a 28 days cycle vs Patupilone having 21 day cycle. What I like about the clinical trial is that you received a much more intensive follow up and more CT scans so you are fully aware of your state of health. What I don’t like about it is that if I am selected and put on Patupilone then I feel uncomfortable for 3 reasons, being the chemo cycle (every 21 days and based on my previous experience that extra week makes the world of difference in terms of how you feel), the major side affect being severe diarrhoea with chronic doses of cortisone to counter this (can you imagine me sitting in a meeting and missing the loo…. Heaven forbid!! ). The alternate is standard ‘Caelyx’ 2nd line ovarian cancer treatment, with this treatment I may look a bit tanned but Dr H tells me that I have been through the worst chemo experience with my first cocktail (he personally would never take the cocktail…. Bugger him being a male!!)

So where to now….. Clinical trial and I have 50-50 % chance of getting Caelyx or Patupilone plus great follow up….. or Caelyx via my medical scheme……