Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Routine" Checkup Report

I saw my chemotherapy and supportive care doctors earlier today. Based on my physical exam which included blood work and vital signs accompanied by a decent amount of poking, prodding, and listening, they say I'm in good shape. That makes it 13 months with no evidence of disease.

My chemo doctor does not want me to start back up on the Avastin. I'm okay with that for now. My next appointment will be scheduled for January and my next scan with be in the January / February time frame.

After talking to my supportive care doctor and her team about my current concerns, they gave me some tips and thoughts on how to transition from a full time cancer patient to a new healthier normal from a mental perspective. I'm taking their wisdom and experience under advisement... in plain English, that means I'm thinking about it.

Take care.

More Medical Marvels

Here’s something you don’t see everyday. A team of doctors and researchers used stem cells from a patient’s own bone marrow to grow and then implant the new wind pipe in the patient. The beauty of this is that the host body (in theory) will not reject the transplant due to it coming from the cells of the host. This was done in 2005 and the results so far have been successful. See URL…

This ties into a political marvel as well. President-elect Barack Obama said early last week that as soon as he took office he would void the Bush presidential directive banning federal funding for stem cell research. I know many people view the issue (embryonic stem cells) behind the issue of stem cell research difficult, but I applaud our new president for his swift action on a prior executive decision that I personally found unconscionable. How many lives could have been saved if federal funding for stem cell research had been provided during the Bush years? We'll never know.

I’m at my cancer center today. It is in some ways my first “routine” checkup. I hope it stays routine and will provide an update within the next few days.

Thanks for checking in and take care of yourself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Medical Marvels

Here’s something new in the field of treating head and neck cancer. The November 8 2008 issue of The Economist magazine had an article on the use of nano particles being used in human trials at three Texas medical centers for treating head and neck cancer. 80 trillion particles are injected into one’s blood stream and they find their way to one’s tumor leaving your healthy cells alone. They find your tumor based on the unique properties of the tumor’s blood capillaries. The nano particles are then heated and the tumor dies. The article goes on to say that in lab experiments on mice the tumors disappeared in 10 – 14 days without any noticeable side effects. Here’s a link to the article…

It all sounds so promising. I hope we hear more about this as the human trials unfold.

As for me, things are okay. No new health issues. To wrap up a loose end from an earlier post, my health insurance company contacted me today and agreed to pay for my ongoing Avastin chemo treatment. It took a great deal of work on my part (with help from a few family members – THANK YOU) to educate the insurance company about my case and their contractual commitment. On the negative side, the action of my insurance company two months ago disrupted my then ongoing chemo cycle. What this means to me is if my cancer does come back, I’ll never know if it was due to this disruption, but I’ll always wonder. On the positive side, they did the right thing by now agreeing to continue with the treatments. It will be interesting to see if my doctor wants to go back to my prior chemo regimen or continue with the current wait and see approach. I’ll take his lead on this.

That's it for today. Thanks for checking in and take care of yourself.