So, as I mentioned quickly last week, I did start the new clinical trial. It consists of two drugs. There is a low dose, daily, oral chemo called cyclophosphamide that everyone takes. Then, there is a second drug that is randomized. Only half the people on the trial get the drug. It is Abbott’s version of the PARP inhibitor. It is completely randomized. Yay me! I got the PARP inhibitor!
The reason this is such good news is that there has been lots of activity for people who have the BRCA mutation when they take the PARP. Basically what this has shown is that if you are a mutant (which I am) you are likely to respond well to this particular kind of drug. Now, I don’t know exactly how the drug works (I can’t even remember what PARP stands for), but I don’t care. I know it works on the level of DNA and it stops something screwed up from working.
I have been taking the drugs for about a week now. The bad news is that the cancer has spread to my thyroid and the tumours in my lungs have grown. I am coughing a fair bit now as a result of this. It is more an annoyance than anything else but, of course, it is a constant reminder of the cancer that is growing (or hopefully not anymore) inside me. It is also scary because in almost six years, the cough is the first outward sign that there is actually something wrong with me. For years I have said to people that only the chemo ever made me sick, that the cancer never did. For the first time, the cancer is making me sick. Okay, not really sick, but there is something tangible that I can point to and say this is a direct result of me having cancer. That sucks!
The tumour in my thyroid is also sort of visible — not to most people, but I can see the little swelling in my neck that is there as a result of the cancer. More so, I can feel it and find I am constantly rubbing my neck now. Again, just another reminder that it is there.
So, there is no more denial for me. And with the good news of the trial came the bad news of the spread. The cough and swelling started last Sunday and I started the trial on Tuesday, so it was almost at the same time. My hope is that the trial will quickly start to work on both those issues so that the coughing will stop and the swelling will shrink. I know after one week, it is too soon to see a real difference, but I keep feeling my neck hoping that the swelling will feel smaller.
This was the first time I really thought about death and dying. This was the first time I really thought that maybe the time was sooner than I would have liked to believe. For all my past crying, worrying, upset, etc….this was the first time that I rationally said, not out of fear, that I may not see all those future milestones that I secretly continued to think about. The thoughts came and I couldn’t stop them. I wasn’t scared this time though — just sad.
Having said that, I am optimistic that this treatment will work and that it will beat back the cancer and hold it in abeyance for a while. I will get some blood work done in two weeks to see what the tumour markers are doing and will have some indication then of whether or not this is working. Until then, I will continue to hope for the best!