Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Chemo

I began a new chemo regimen today:

Gemcitabine (Gemzar) + Cisplatin + Tykerb

Plus, drugs to help control side effects:

Dexamethasone, Zantac, Calcium Gluconate, Magnesium Sulfate, Kytril, Multivitamin (w/magnesium)

If you have any knowledge or personal experience of any of these drugs and have any feedback to offer regarding effectiveness, success rates, side effects and how to control them, anything at all, please feel free to share your thoughts.

Thanks so much to all of you who have spent many, many hours doing the research that helped me come to the decision to start on this new set of drugs. Your efforts are helping me make life-and-death decisions while maintaining my sanity. If you think I'm being brave, I have all of you to thank. Without your help, I don't know if I'd be handling this so well.

I'm still researching the Gamma Knife option for my brain tumors, but I'm hoping that while I look further into that option, this new chemo regime I've started will at least control the spread of cancer in the rest of my body and perhaps even slow down the growth in my brain. I'm also looking into other drugs and procedures that many of you have pointed me toward. I'll continue to pursue these other options.

A few things to consider:

1) Three tumors in my brain showed up on the MRI. We can assume that there are others that did not show up because they haven't become large enough yet. So getting the ones that we can see with the Gamma Knife doesn't mean I won't have any more brain tumors. Also, the Gamma Knife costs about S$20,000. It doesn't seem practical to spend that kind of money if I need to keep doing this same procedure every few months to get rid of additional tumors that will pop up. Also, whole brain radiation is often recommended with the Gamma Knife procedure. I have all sorts of issues with radiation, but I'm still looking into it.

2) The success rate for new chemo regimes once old ones have failed is not so great. According to my research, I may have as little as one or two months of life left if I choose to pursue NO treatment at all. This new chemo regime may give me several additional months, IF it works. But that also means I will be suffering from side effects and a somewhat diminished quality of life. I'm taking a chance to see how this works, but if I become so sick and incapacitated that I can't be a mother to my kids, I will face the difficult choice between a few months of quality life with my children and a mere chance at several more months of being too sick to really be living at all.

3) There is still hope. If this new chemo combo doesn't work, there are others I can try. I've read about a woman who had breast cancer SEVEN times and went through an entire menu of drugs over decades and she is still alive. My friend's mother has had cancer FOUR times in four different places over two decades and she is alive and energetic. I know a woman who has had THREE different cancers over three decades and she is still alive and running marathons. And I know a woman who started off with Stage IV breast cancer, the most aggressive and fast-moving tumors her doctors had ever seen, and went through three courses of chemo, three surgeries, five weeks of radiation -- all with almost ZERO side effects. She finished three 10 km runs and competed in a number of dragon boat races. She's still alive more than two years later, beating the statistics. And she's surrounded by amazing people who are doing all sorts of extraordinary things for her and her family so that their lives are not only as good as they were before cancer, but in many ways, even better. I think you all know who that woman is.

I thank you with all of my heart -- which, I believe, is one part of the body that cancer cannot get.


Sasha said...

Hey, your heart, love, courage and your incredible spirit will never have cancer Shin. And remember you have cancer, it doesn't and won't ever, have you.
I have just been introduced to your blog and again am blown away by you.
My sister works for a big drugs company and used to specialise in oncology drugs (she was an oncologist nurse prior to this)so may have lots of knowledge on these drugs. I've emailed her so will let you know anything she says.
We're of to Oz for two weeks on Monday(Finn's annual check up)but when I return please let me know if I can do anything to help.
Phone no. is 93867601
Much much love
Sasha xxxx

Anonymous said...

Keep up that fighting spirit!
My daughters too now read your blog and they admire the way u r handling the situation-you r so strong and positive.Its great how you got everyone involved inpart in the research.You can beat the odds!
Love :Rubina

Stefanie said...

Dear Shin,
I had no PC for 2 weeks and hearing all this news I feel like I am in one of those psycho movies. Trapped with frightful thinks lurking and wish for nothing more then escape and wake up and realize it was not reality. I could come down and we could laugh it off..
Your fighting spirit is so inspiring, just today one of Josie's classmate's mum said that to me- let her know how fantastic she is and how inspired I am.
And really that is what I hope I can do, help you to realize what an impact you have on all of us.
We whine on our petty little problems of sleep dreprivation and the kind. But you really make me want to be a better person. To keep trying harder and not give up on things. You have so much strength, humor and zest for life. That helps me to try to change my ways, keep my goals and realize dreams and make a difference in the small things of life. I am amazed by you and feel so lucky to know you!
I wish we will run that marathon together we were dreaming about. I hope we will have lots of time to watch a movie and laugh about it or sit on the porch and see our kids play! And if I can put a smile on your face it will make my day.
Keep on going because you shine like a star with your hope, spirit and optimism
With all my love

Anonymous said...

Well said Steffi! I think you spoke for all of us.
Shin you are an inspiration to all.


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