Tuesday, July 01, 2014

When a Chemo Quits Working


Here it is July, and I haven't written anything since April.  I thought it might be time to explain why.

You see, back in April when I was worrying about whether the Taxol was working - it wasn't.  After 2 months of being just under the normal limit number for my CA-125, it went up.  And the next month it went up again, so it was decided that the Taxol was no longer effective on my cancer cells.  Needless to say, I had a minor freakout about it - and I just didn't know how to write about it. First I was waiting for my youngest to graduate high school, then until we told the boys and my folks what was going on.  Then I was waiting until my new oncologist and I made a decision on what to try next.  But it's been too long since I wrote, and I'm feeling the effects.  So here it is.

My new oncologist is a gynecologic oncologist, and she is VERY up on the latest methods/chemos/etc for my type of cancer.  So she decided - even before we realized the Taxol wasn't really working anymore - to take some of the fluid that I'm draining from around my lung and send it off for testing - first to see whether or not there are cancer cells in the fluid, second to see what chemos it responds to.  By the time it was obvious that Taxol wasn't working anymore, she knew that yes - there were still cancer cells in that fluid, and more importantly, she knew which chemotherapies that those cancer cells were responsive to.

The good news is that I have several options.  There are other taxil chemo agents that I can use later, as well as several other drugs.  She started me off with Topotecan three weeks on, one week off, and Avastin on weeks one and three.  Unfortunately, after two weeks, the Topotecan kicked my blood counts into the dirt, so no chemo last week!  I see her next week and we'll decide if we're going to change to two weeks on, two weeks off or lower the dosage and stay on the three week schedule, or whatever else she thinks might work.

It's unsettling.  Coming at the end of a week that included the Oncology Advisory division of the FDA voting against fast-tracking Olaparib for ovarian cancer treatment (hmph) and a delay of an event I had been hoping to get done next month, it was not what I wanted to hear.  It did explain why I was so tired at the end of the day last week.  Anyhoo - that's where I'm at.  I am happy to say that the fluid around my lungs that had been increasing since the end of Taxol seems to be decreasing just a bit lately - so I'm hopeful the Topotecan is making some headway against the cancer.  My scans in June were still clear, so whatever is going on in there is still pretty small.  I'm not getting my chemo free summer, but having a week off every month will be heaven.

In other news - as I said, the youngest graduated high school.  My garden is growing, my flowers are so pretty and just make me smile every day:

We've had plenty of rain this summer so far, and this morning, our new cow dropped her calf!  So we officially have a herd!

(Click to see cows!  And babies!)
The hubs and I took a long weekend trip to Cloudcroft for our anniversary last month, and we're just taking things day by day.  I'm going to try and write more often, but to be honest - when I get home from work I'd much rather work in the garden or yard for a bit before I sit down to catch up on Facebook - or reading, much less writing.  We'll see.  

So here I am - doing my best not to just survive - but to thrive.  So far - so good.