Kickin Cancer’s Butt: Trials and Trepidations

Tomorrow, I enter the world of clinical trials. It’s a dark and murky world, where drugs that worked in mice, rats, and other vermin are put to the test in humans. I will likely be placed in one of two trials that Georgia Cancer Specialists is doing. One is a drug that is meant to block a couple of receptors, which you can think of as little antennae sitting on the edge of a cancer cell, pulling in signals. The other is designed to screw up the communication layer between these receptors and the nucleus. Both are supposed to have the effect of preventing the “divide now” signal from reaching the nucleus, meaning the cell will eventually die. These are considered targeted therapies, because they are meant to attack only the cancer cells, and to leave the rest of my body alone.

These trials have very formal protocols. They start with baseline testing, so tomorrow will include yet another CT, blood work, and an EKG. Once the trial actually starts, there will be certain days each week on which I must spend up to 12 hours being monitored in the office, and certain days when I will have to come back for blood work – much more frequently than I would on my previous chemo treatments. In exchange, I’ll know more about the progress of my cancer in real time than I have in the past. The expected side effects are pretty minimal with both drugs, although there’s a paragraph written by the drug company lawyers that reminds me that just because the rats didn’t grow a third ear as a result of the drug, doesn’t mean that I won’t.

I am excited at the possibility, small as it may be, that one of these drugs will be the key to reversing the progress of my cancer. We know that my last chemotherapy was able to stabilize things, so that’s our fall-back if the trial doesn’t work. I’m a little concerned about how long I will have been off chemo if that does happen, but the upside is worth the risk to me.

Picture me stepping onto the threshold of the perfectly good airplane, with a drug trial of a parachute strapped to my back. 3…2…1…


via cancer


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