The Struggle Has Ended

Greg Hewlett passed away on January 17th after nearly eight years of battling colon cancer. While we grieve his loss, we are comforted to know that he is with his Lord.

If you would like to leave your thoughts on Greg, please see this thread.

If you would like to make a charitable donation in Greg's honor, please see this thread.

Monday, February 1, 2010

FOLFIRI losing it's oomph

Last week I went to MD Anderson for my three-month tests and assessment.

Looks like the run of stable scans has ended for the current chemo ("FOLFIRI"). There was about 15-25% growth in the three tumors (one lung, two lymph nodes).

Dr. Eng says its time to move to the next chemo recipe ("Erbitux + Irinotecan"). This is the last FDA-approved chemo available for me. The last trick in the bag of tricks would be chest radiation, which causes a lot of damage, but can stunt the cancer for significant time (like a year or two). So the Erbitux is recommended next.

BTW, Erbitux is the drug, of which the original FDA rejection was known by Martha Stewart who dumped her stock and ended up in jail.

The bummer about this chemo is that it has a rough side-effect. One I've never had before. It causes a bad rash, much like acne. Pretty ugly and painful. The rash continues as long as I'm on it. Plus it has much of the other bad effects digestive, fatigue, etc.

Also it causes fingernail and fingertip problems, even losing fingernails in some cases. I asked, "What about playing guitar?". "Probably shouldn't", she said. ugh. That was something I was not prepared for.

It is disappointing to move to this last chemo. The one I've been on has worked as I've taken it off and on for six years - way longer than just about anybody they've treated. Me and FOLFIRI had a very long love-hate relationship, but its over. Certainly a bummer.

Please pray the Erbitux will have as long and succesful of a run as the FOLFIRI. Dr. Eng says one man has been on it for four years. Also, my prayer is that there would be new chemos. There is one that just closed (ugh-missed the window) in phase 1 trial. Perhaps it will work well and be available when I'm through with Erbitux.

There is a DNA test you can take to see if your cancer is likely to respond well (shrink) to Erbitux. They don't bother giving it if this test predicts it will not. I took the test about a year ago. My cancer is predicted to respond. It is good I am even in this group at all.

Dr. Eng wants a break from chemo first. She recommends two weeks off chemo altogether. I begin Erbitux Feb 16. So I get a bit of a health-building break.

Ecclesiastes says, "No man has power over the wind to contain it ; so no one has power over the day of his death." I'm not going to get anywhere worrying or trying to change the way things are. Nor trying to speculate what this means for the future - there is no way I could have seen the things I have been given since 2003. I'm going to continue living as I have with hope and cherishing and using each day as best I can. I've had lots of ups and downs. This is one of those downs.

On top of all this, Dolce died on Jan 30. She was a wonderful dog to me and Christine for 18 years - and we got her grown. So she was about 19 years old. She stayed snuggly with her luxurious coat until the end. She was such a wonderful companion to Christine all these years of laying in pain. She was one of a kind. Here's a couple posts with her pics - here and here.