On Wednesday I found out that the chemo I’ve been on has stopped working in dramatic fashion; the tumors in my liver haven’t just stopped shrinking, they’re growing again, and are headed back to where we started in the Fall. My Oncologist believes that my cancer has mutated at least once, possibly twice. My cervical tumor was obliterated by the first drug combo (cisplatin/etoposide) but the liver spots didn’t change at all, suggesting possible mutation. The second combo did nothing whatsoever (cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxrubicin). The third combo, that I’ve been on since September, was working really well for four rounds, but has since stopped. It appears to have cleared up the first mutation, making all sorts of space for the second mutation, which is now resistant to 9 chemo drugs and making its presence known..
My cancer is highly evolved, although not in a very intelligent sense or else it would realize that if I’m dead, it’s dead. Not thinking this through very well, are you cancer…..
So, I’m currently waiting for a call from Princess Margaret’s clinical trial group. My Oncologist believes I can get into a clinical trial for an immunological therapy; one of the newfangled treatments that are in vogue these days. If I understand correctly, the treatment would inject protein antibodies that target receptors on the tumor and basically act as a beacon that direct the immune system to the tumor, which otherwise knows how to hide. I think it will be something like this. There are other similar treatments where you inject a virus that has been trained to “know” your tumor (I think...something like that…) This would be a phase one trial, meaning they are still establishing safe dose limits, dose schedules, and side effects, which is obviously less than ideal. In this scenario, I might either get too small a dose, or too large. If I can’t get into this trial, I do not know what I will do next; this weekend is for research.
Tonight I went for a workout, and I had a terrific meltdown afterward that I had half expected. If I’m honest, I went deliberately to trigger those post workout meltdowns that I know to be so cathartic.
I made a bit of a scene. There was sobbing, a lot of screaming and, because I took rather a long time and finished the workout last, rather a lot of witnesses who were obliged to stand there awkwardly waiting for me finish. I didn’t notice a single one of them. When I became aware of the rest of the room again, there was someone sitting next to me, with a hand to hold (which was precisely the appropriate response, by the way)...my gym family is pretty great.
I was expecting the meltdown. I welcomed it, and the calm that follows a good sob. I wasn’t prepared for the reaction of others when I shared the bad news. As a consequence I’ve adopted the self-preservation technique of dropping the bomb: “My chemo isn’t working anymore, it’s growing again..” and then I run away like a child. I can’t handle watching them realize what the words mean….that my oncologist’s “cupboard” of options is getting bare.
But, I have an oncologist who hasn’t given up on me and seems determined to succeed. I’ve got my fingers crossed for the immunotherapy, which would be badass; I haven’t given up on science just yet. I haven’t given up on myself either, in case you were worried :)