Good News!

I went with my mom to a doctor’s appointment today. Mom had a CT scan on Monday – part of the protocol for the study drug – and the appointment was to find out the results of the scan. Since Mom has not been feeling well lately, I was worried that the cancer had spread and was causing her symptoms instead of the study drug.

We had to wait while they measured the size of the lesions (why didn’t they do that  before her scheduled appointment???) but when Dr. W came the room, she smiled and said that the lesions hadn’t changed in size in the last six weeks! Mom’s labs were good; all the elements (calcium, creatanine, potassium, etc.) we were concerned about in the spring were fine and within normal range. Her tumor markers were elevated, which is a concern, although if the cancer hasn’t progressed, I’m not sure why the cancer markers are higher.

Dr. W said the elevated cancer markers should be enough data to get the study drug sponsor to “unblind” Mom’s information so she can determine whether Mom has been taking the study drug (XL 184) or the placebo for the last month and a half. If Mom has been taking the placebo (which we doubt because of the symptoms she’s been experiencing), then Dr. W will put her back on XL 184 at the dosage she was taking at the end of the initial 12 week treatment period (60 mg). If Mom was taking the study drug, Dr. W will prescribe a lower dose – 40 mg – with the hope that Mom will experience a decrease in symptoms. Dr. W said the drug isn’t necessarily less effective at a lower dosage.

I asked the doctor about a surgical option. When we first went to MD Anderson, the doctor we saw was a gynecological oncology surgeon, and we discussed the possibility of doing a surgical “debulking” (where they go in and try to take out as many of the tumors as they can) followed by some sort of drug therapy. The doctors decided that surgery was not the best option because they didn’t know how Mom would respond to the follow-up treatment. What if Mom had surgery and then the drug regimen didn’t work? She basically would have had surgery for nothing.

{I just wanted them to go in and TAKE THE MONSTERS OUT! But, lacking a medical degree, I didn’t get a say.}

I was hoping that since the drug is obviously working, maybe they would do the debulking now. Dr. W said surgery still wasn’t an option because of how diffuse the cancer is in Mom’s abdomen. The goal is to keep the cancer from growing and for Mom to maintain a high quality of life for as long as possible.

Mom and I celebrated by driving straight to Moeller’s for some delectable baked goods – a chocolate raspberry roll cake (it tastes sort of like a petit four with a little raspberry filling), some giant daisy sugar cookies, and some fruit danishes. We had a nice lunch at the French House. Mom wanted gazpacho, which is weird because it has so many ingredients she can’t tolerate, but, that was what sounded good, and we shared a chicken salad sandwich on French bread. Then we went home and took a little rest.

I feel good about the report, especially since Mom has been in the blind study for the past six weeks. It is still hard to comprehend that we’re not talking about a cure, just keeping things from getting worse. I can’t imagine what it is like to have something in your body that is making you sick that you cannot get rid of no matter how hard you try. I imagine most people go into battle with cancer hoping to win, meaning the cancer will go away and not come back. Our “win” is that the cancer will just hang out for a while and not do too much damage.

So I guess we can put another tally in the “win” column for Mom and XL 184. Which is definitely good news!

3 thoughts on “Good News!

  1. That does sound like good news! Albeit, in a bizarre way. And, she is certainly “fighting” it by holding it in a “time out”. I am guessing that they won’t ever approve the surgery? right? So, we just have to make sure the monsters don’t pop up from “time out”.

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