Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fourth Ipilimumab dose is complete!

So now it's time to celebrate! Actually, the celebratory blue cupcake was at my daughters third birthday party. But it also seemed fitting for this post. My labs are still good, and at my last check up -- The doctor was again "unimpressed" with my very mild side effects. Since the third dose, I've gotten sick one time and I've got a slightly itchy-rashy spot on my back. But otherwise am in great condition, mind and spirit. Dr Spira basically congratulated me and told me that I would have seen any major side effects by now, and that I've simply sailed through the protocol.

The next step will be to wait a few weeks and then have another whole body PET/CT, which is scheduled for the 10th of December. I will meet with him a few days after and determine the next step. The protocol has changed and it looks like they will mostly likely hold off on the second course of treatment. Everything depends on the outcome of my scan, but the drug company wants to also measure success after the first course of four treatments. I am prepared with my argument should we reach that point, but it all hinges on the result of the scan.

I've got all the drug in me now, so now is the time to wish me luck. We need all those monoclonal antibodies to do their work and wipe out this cancer for good.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fighting Melanoma: An update after three doses of Ipilimumab

I have now received three doses of Ipilimumab. I would say that I am still doing extremely well. My weight remains stable and I continue to feel fine. I have one more dose scheduled on Tuesday, November 30. I will then get another PET/CT scan on December 10. From what I understand, the results from the first scan are widely mixed and most patients continue on and receive another 4 doses.

I have finally started feeling some effects from the drug. Tuesday morning was rough for me. I woke up feeling warm all over and quite a bit nauseous. Not long after I had to rush to the bathroom where I did get sick. After speaking with my research nurse, the doctor wanted to me to take compazine which interestingly enough treats both nausea and schizophrenia.

Since then I've continued to feel only a little queazy, but nothing like Tuesday morning. I've not yet taken any of the pills.

My leg continues to bother me with that dull and annoying pain. I was scheduled to receive Zometa, which is a bone hardening agent. They want to shore up my bones which would both alleviate pain as well as provide at least some level of protection from a bone fracture. Turns out that my recent dental work was still too recent for this treatment. Having the tooth extraction created two areas where bone needs to be regenerated which take on average three months to complete. Zometa can cause a condition called Osteonecrosis which would essentially cause necrotic bone tissue to form in my jaw. I definitely don't want that, so we'll go ahead and wait the additional month.

I currently manage the pain with 800mg of Ibuprofen once or sometimes twice per day. If the pain worsens, I could opt for focal radiation to the leg, but I will do my best to avoid that for now.

I've continued showing up for work a few times per week now, which seems to be working out well. I've been able to find organic food options at both of my commuting destinations which include DC and Reston. All in all -- I'm happy, generally healthy and continue to focus on growing old with my friends and family. That's all any of us can really do.