Archive | July, 2012

The Pen Gets Lighter

31 Jul

My pen has rested heavily recently. I’ve avoided the temptation to put it to paper even though I could’ve told you “No news is good news”. But today changes are afoot.

Today, I changed my hospital, changed my oncologist and changed my protocol. Is something dramatic going on? I think not. Faithful followers will know that my move from Tel Hashomer to Ichilov was not exactly clear cut. I followed my oncologist to whom I have so much to be grateful. Today I changed back to Tel Hashomer. And the change of protocol is a tactic I’ve been recommended to follow for a long time.

Oncology is not an exact science. Far from it. It’s an on-going experiment and I’d love to be around long enough to see how the story unfolds. It’s developing at quite a pace. But unlike the Olympics – there’s no way to measure progress. The individual or team that crosses the line first in finding the elusive cure for cancer will deserve more than gold.

I’m no betting man but my new oncologist seems sure that the elusive Parps are the direction to follow. I’m waiting patiently. No-one will be more relieved to see me on the Parps than Pam. No wonder. The concept that a capsule can replace chemo without any side-effects is cheering indeed. But I have to keep things in perspective.

In the meantime I changed to Mytomycine C – a monthly chemo supplemented by Xeloda. Capsules swallowed daily at my own convenience in the comfort of my home. A Mytomycine infusion in 45 minutes instead of four hours plus of my previous treatments. It’s almost like a marathon runner moving down to middle distance. A walk in the park for me. I’m finding it hard to come to terms that my weekly visit to hospital could now become a monthly affair.

Strange going back to Tel Hashomer. Not exactly re-connecting with an old friend. Nor is it a game. Although it takes an Olympian effort to keep up the challenge.

The Wheel of Fortune Keeps Turning

18 Jul

I don’t know whether I should even be writing this particular posting – so obviously it’s a challenge to know how. Just when I ask myself whether there’s anything else to add to my blog, the big Wheel of Fortune starts moving. The only problem is to know in which direction it’s going.

I was circumspect enough in May, when I posted a “Thank You” to Tel Hashomer, to question whether I’d be back there.  The Parp Inhibitor, under the auspices of Memorial Sloan Kettering, was supposedly coming to Israel, but we didn’t know who would administer it. The oncologist responsible at Tel Hashomer was leaving for a fellowship in the States and I chose to follow my oncologist, who was Head of Department, on his move to Ichilov. Yesterday we were invited to Tel Hashomer to get an update on the Parps.

As fate would have it, administrative details stymied the fellowship and the  oncologist didn’t leave. She’s now progressing on the Parps. Her enthusiasm is palpable. She has that great quality of letting me truly believe that importing the Parps is personally for me. But nothing is certain. Not the timetable, not the ability to receive them and certainly not their guarantee of success. But their trial results have been outstanding – and no-one can take hope away. It’s just keeping everything in some proportion. Will they arrive in time?

In reviewing my case, she comes to the conclusion to move on to Mitomycin C. This protocol has been suggested both by Dr Wolf and by my brother-in-law. Dr Bill Isacoff has always supported the idea. Mitomycin C[1], manufactured by Sigma-Aldrich in the USA, contains three anticancer moieties; quinone, urethane, and aziridine groups.  It inhibits DNA synthesis. It is the most widely used of the Mitomycin antibiotics because it is the least toxic – yet shows a potent anti-tumor activity. It reacts covalently with DNA, in vivo and in vitro, inhibiting DNA replication.

Mitomycin is administered once a month. Either with a hospital-administered weekly push from a 5-FU infusion or a simple swallowing of a capsule called Xeloda – taken five-days on, two-days off .  Xeloda[2] is manufactured by Genentech, of the Roche Group, and is used to treat metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).  It is supposedly no worse than the side-effects of 5-FU. So with the Parps “on the way”, I see this as the sign to move back to Tel Hashomer.

How life goes round. I’m agonizing about whether to move back/on again. Then there’s the terrible timetable of waiting for the Parps – knowing all to well that life has a habit of coming up with nasty surprises. Anything can happen. Minutes before we left for Tel Hashomer yesterday, I learned that a former work colleague, all of 70-years young, had been knocked off his bicycle and killed on the spot.

Who am I to complain?

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Back in Business?

10 Jul

I’ve been back more than a week from the most enjoyable holiday in South Africa. And since then I’ve had two treatments – but pen just doesn’t seem drawn to paper. By keeping this blog solely to the subject of fighting pancreatic cancer, I’ve tip-toed round the temptation of sharing the SA superlatives with you.

I’ve always believed that if there’s nothing worth saying – don’t say anything at all. I’d like to update you on what’s new – but nothing is coming easily at the moment. There’s lots in the pipeline. Firstly, there was a fascinating documentary programme  on TV last week about Hanan Elraz,  a local researcher. The clip is in Hebrew only and shows how this enterprising individual may have come up with another discovery – a herbal cure for cancer. Apparently, according to the TV programme, he’s been accredited internationally with a couple of other discoveries in other fields. He maintains you have to go back to nature and has come up with a natural “potion”. He recently reached the headlines because of his success in treating two high-profile cancer sufferers (type of cancer not mentioned). The two were both close to giving up all treatment and hope. They are now in “remission”. In the programme, Elraz made it clear he’s not looking for more guinea pigs at the moment. He’s looking for an (Israeli) hospital to take his “potion” and research it independently. The link is   http://www.mako.co.il/news-israel/health/Article-3b6675391951831018.htm .

The second development is in the field of nuclear medicine. Apparently Dr Adi Dahan, of the Nahal Soreq Nuclear Medical Research Facility, is having some sort of breakthrough research for pancreatic cancer, with a product called 177 Lu Dota Tate.  Apparently, DOTA-TATE, DOTATATE or DOTA-octreotate is a substance which, when bound to various radionuclides, has been tested for the treatment and diagnosis of certain types of cancer, mainly neuroendocrine tumours. It directs radioactivity into the tumour. It has supposedly just become available in North America in Houston on clinical trial.  I’m following it up, but have yet to make contact with Dr Dahan. Any help or knowledge on the subject out there?

And finally, we are still hopeful that at some point I’ll get onto the Parp Inhibitors. But trial details inIsrael (not to mention timetable) haven’t been published.

So am I back in business? I’m still on Gemzar and Abraxane but the usual side effects seem to be peaking at higher up-sides but lower down-sides. The so satisfying trip to SA on the up-side, but continuing hair-loss and other nasties on the other.

Today, really close friends are coming from overseas to stay – so the fight has to continue.