Monday, January 11, 2016

Not A Great Start To The New Year

As I sit here and begin to type, I am truly at a loss for words.  Me - the big mouth and the writer.

On Thursday, 1/7/16 I met with my oncologist to discuss the results of my repeat CT Scan which I had 1/4/16.  Not good news.

The spot on my right lung has gotten larger.  There are also 3 lymph nodes that now are larger.  Cancer has spread to all 4 spots.  He told me my only option at this point is to start on the new immunotherapy drug, OPDIVO, and hope that it slows down the growth.

I am not a candidate for surgery because I only have one lung left.  I cannot have radiation as it is in the same place as my radiation last year.  And, I've already had chemotherapy 4 different times.

Opdivo, is the first immunotherapy drug to be approved to treat lung cancer. It was approved by the FDA early 2015.  It works by blocking a protein called PD-1 on certain immune cells. This protein helps cancer cells avoid being found and destroyed by the body’s immune system. Blocking the PD-1 protein can help the immune system recognize the cancer cells and attack them.  The new approval is based on a study that was stopped early after showing the drug helped people live longer.  Opdivo is administered once every two weeks during a 2-3 hour infusion.  Opdivo is not a cure but a drug to help lung cancer patients without other options, live longer.

I asked my oncologist, on average, what does live longer mean?  His response was, "statistically speaking 6 months longer than without it."  I did NOT ask where I am at now - meaning how long.  I do not want to know.  I may change my mind later but for now - no information is good information.
In a clinical trial of 582 patients whose advanced non-squamous NSCLC had spread or grown after treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy, 292 were treated with OPDIVO, 290 were treated with chemotherapy (docetaxel). OPDIVO was shown to reduce the risk of dying by 27% compared to chemotherapy (docetaxel). Half of the patients on OPDIVO were still alive at 12.2 months, compared to 9.4 months with chemotherapy (docetaxel). Additionally, OPDIVO was shown to partially or completely shrink tumors in 19% of patients, compared to 12% with chemotherapy (docetaxel).
After 4 doses (8 weeks), I will have another CT Scan to see if it is working.  If the spots have stayed the same size (or smaller), we will continue.  If any get larger, my only option is to try another traditional chemotherapy but a much stronger dose.  Again, the goal is to keep it under control as long as possible.






Monday, January 4, 2016

When Someone You Know Has Cancer


A list of basic do’s and don’ts when someone you know has cancer.........


Do:

  • Take your cues from the person with cancer. Some people are very private while others will openly talk about their illness. Respect the person’s need to share or their need for privacy.
  • Let them know you care.
  • Respect their decisions about how their cancer will be treated, even if you disagree.
  • Include the person in usual plans and social events. Let them be the one to tell you if the commitment is too much to manage.
  • Listen without always feeling that you have to respond. Sometimes a caring listener is what the person needs the most.
  • Expect the person with cancer to have good days and bad days, emotionally and physically.
  • Keep your relationship as normal and balanced as possible. While greater patience and compassion are called for during times like these, your friend should continue to respect your feelings, as you respect their feelings.
  • Offer to help in concrete, specific ways.

Don’t:

  • Offer advice they don’t ask for, or be judgmental.
  • Feel you must put up with serious displays of temper or mood swings. You shouldn’t accept disruptive or abusive behavior just because someone is ill.
  • Take things too personally. It’s normal for the person with cancer to be quieter than usual, to need time alone, and to be angry at times.
  • Be afraid to talk about the illness.
  • Always feel you have to talk about cancer. The person with cancer may enjoy conversations that don’t involve the illness.
  • Be afraid to hug or touch your friend if that was a part of your friendship before the illness.
  • Be patronizing. (Try not to use a “How sick are you today?” tone when asking how the person is doing.)
  • Tell the person with cancer, “I can imagine how you must feel,” because you really can’t.

A New Year....New Challenges

Happy New Year!! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.  It was pretty good on this end.  Not having chemo at the moment makes everything better.

I did have a Cat Scan this morning to check to see if the new spot that they found on my right lung in November has gotten bigger.  I won't get the results for that until Thursday.

February 2014 is when I was first told I had lung cancer.  Had surgery.  Had chemo (multiple times).  Had radiation.  There was no way in hell I would ever have thought I would be still blogging in 2016.  I can only thank God, my children and my grandson.  They are what have always given me the strength and determination to fight this beast.

There may be another spot now.  I may have to start treatments all over again.  But, that doesn't matter.  In the past 23 months I have watched my children grow and mature, my one son graduate with his Masters Degree and my grandson have 2 more birthdays.  These are the things that truly matter.