Saturday, March 7, 2009

Drug or No Drug? That is the Question

I got so busy writing about our fun weekend in the mountains, I forgot to update everyone on how I was feeling. Tuesday I went back to Dr. Small (my oncologist) for a one month checkup since I started taking a new drug (or maybe not). When I finished chemo in December, Dr. Small asked me to participate in a new drug study for women who have had at least one recurrence of their ovarian cancer. The thing about cancer is that somehow the cancer cells just get a message to keep growing out of control. The hope of this drug is to block one of the main "feeding paths" for the cancer cells. It is hoped that by blocking this path, the cells won't get the message and will stop growing. The problem with cancer, is that the cells are apparently very smart, and keep finding other pathways when some are shut off. The path this study is hoping to block is called the hedgehog pathway---I know, I know--I've had great fun telling my doctors to watch for side effects-if they find me curled up in a small ball with spines growing out of my back, they know the drug is doing the wrong thing!
Anyway, the study is a double blind study which means there is a 50% chance of getting the drug or not. Even the doctors have no idea if I'm getting it or not--it's all very secret-the drugs are delivered in an unmarked bottle in a brown paper bag-so there is no way to figure out if I'm getting it or not. They will monitor the study monthly by doing a CA-125 blood test, and every 2 months by doing a CT scan. There are no guarantees here, but I figure if there is a chance that this can improve my chances or help someone else later with this horrible disease, it's worth it.
Since there have only been 50 women who've tried the drug world wide, there is no real evidence on side effects. I've now finished 1 month, and all blood tests came back very well. The only thing I've noticed is first I had this insane desire for Rice Krispies daily (do hedgehogs like rice???) and now I've lost my sense of taste. Nothing--I just know what things I love taste like, but can't taste them at all--very strange. I may have discovered a new diet secret--although I can still "imagine" what the M&Ms taste like as I pop them in my mouth! But I am feeling well, still dealing with fatigue-I nap daily, and some neuropathy in my hands at times, but all in all pretty OK.
Say your prayers that the drug does its thing and no hedgehogs will be harmed in the process.
Here's a picture I forgot to put in of Aaron and I on the sleigh ride at Jackson, N.H. last weekend--as you can see, by my furry brown coat and curled up position I don't look anything like a hedgehog--or do I? You decide!

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