It was a lot easier to explain my treatment regimen when I just had to use “zap.” Well, it’s a whole new ballgame now. Now we are into chemistry. The first one you’ll recognize by the more common name I’ve been using: Tarceva. Remember the $200 pill? I’ll get into the other two (or three or more) later in this blog.
Speaking of blogs, who came up with that word? Sounds more like the ’58 “B” horror film starring Steve McQueen. Or something I coughed up earlier. As some point in the future when I am on chemotherapy, I might be “blogging” a whole lot more than I want.
Sorry, digressed. Must be due to the pharmacy that used to be called my office.
So, beginning last Wednesday morning, my entire treatment switched to a single dose of Tarceva. Certainly a whole lot easier than driving over to the medical building for a lung zap. Time will tell (probably 2 weeks or so) if it is having a positive effect.
Yesterday morning, Kim and I had a ♥2♥ with my oncologist to get some things cleared up. We’ve had a bit of miscommunication (or lack of communication) since we met him the first time a few weeks ago. But we are cool now and he helped answer a lot of nagging questions that we had. One of which was our concern regarding the elephant that was sitting my my chest. OK, OK, maybe only a poodle. But Kim and I both left much more knowledgeable and feeling a lot better mentally.
We asked him about the side effects that Tarceva could cause. Of course he didn’t have another hour to go through them all. But he did indicate that I should have seen them (other than the hoped-for rash) within 24-36 hours. So maybe I’ve dodged the #2 blues. But I could use some help in promoting side effect number 1. So M2, you are in charge. Ready? GIMME A Z (Z); GIMME AN I (I); GIMME A T (T); GIMME AN S (S). Whats that spell? ZITS! I’m counting on you cheer types here.
The doc also started me on Zoledronic Acid, more commonly known as Zometa. Since cancer has a tendency of weakening bone structure, there is a risk down the road for some not-so-fun issues like spinal collapse. Of course Zometa comes with its own potential side effects such as osteonecrosis. Something about the word necrosis which reminds me of dead flesh (sorry) that does not give me comfort. But spinal collapse would be the worser (remember, I love to mangle English) of the two. But one of its possible side effects is constipation so if the Tarceva #2 side effect kicks in, maybe they will cancel each other out. I have to go in once a month for the Zometa intravenous infusion treatment which takes about 20 minutes. He also set me up with a prescription of Benzonatate which is supposed to help reduce the 1-2 minute coughing spasms that are occurring multiple times a day.
The combination of all this crap, er healing drugs, has knocked me pretty flat today with a nagging headache and minimal energy. My savior (Advil) which nailed my prior headaches, is no longer on the table since it is “contraindicated” now that I am using Tarceva. Tylenol just does not work nearly as well for me for some reason.
It turns out that the drug, Avastin, that might have been part of my treatment had I been eligible for the clinical trial, is actually still available to me since it is an approved drug. It is also given intravenously, about every three weeks in 45-60 minutes. My doctor feels that it would be a good idea adding that to my treatment plan once all of the radiation effects have quieted down a bit. During the conversation the term aggressive was used. That is not a descriptor a cancer patient wants to hear but it is what it is. It all comes down to a tradeoff on possible side effects versus potential positive benefits. OK, I’m done whining. 🙂
So I have a follow-up appointment with my pulmonary specialist next week and one with my radiologist the week after. Not sure exactly what they would be doing at this stage but they want to stay up on my treatment so I’m not complaining. It will probably be a bit before we know if my fuzzies have grown or shrunk. If Tarceva does not work for me, chemotherapy would be next on the agenda.
Unless something changes (like a zit breakout), you may not see another post for a few days. Stay tuned.
Business as usual. Day at a time.