This has been a tough week for Karen. We were holding on to the hope that the Roswell center might fit her into another program, but when we spoke with them yesterday they indicated they didn’t have any other options at this time, at least nothing that the Cleveland Clinic doesn’t have. They are going to get some additional tests done on a tumor sample to check for a different set of markers that they might be able to use in a future clinical trial.
Karen starts up on a conventional treatment Monday at the Clinic. The four week break from chemo hasn’t let her feel any better, and she’s actually developed a new pain, and is having more trouble keeping food down. She’s taking Advil for the pain, and it helps, but sometimes aggravates her stomach problems. We do have all the heavy hitters for pain, so don’t worry about that. She just doesn’t like the side effects from the opioids. We also have plenty of anti-nausea meds, but her troubles keeping food down don’t all stem from queasiness anymore. There is physical pressure pressing on her stomach from something, and she has to struggle a bit to keep it in when she coughs or does feel queasy.
So, we’re heading back up to the Clinic Monday for a chat, and then treatment. The Clinic has all the conventional chemo options, and some immunotherapy trials, but does not have any of the T-Cell trials, which are the next generation of cancer research. Those trials look like they are actually curing some types of cancer in the initial research, but they work by identifying some unique characteristic to to the tumors, and then turbo-charging the body’s own system to go after cells that have that characteristic.
The ability to do this is currently a “perfect storm” type of thing that only works when the person’s cells have certain characteristics that allow them to be turbo-charged, and the tumors have certain characteristics that allow them to be targeted without normal cells being targeted. Unfortunately, Karen’s cells didn’t have the right characteristics for the last trial. One thing we learned is that the trial at Roswell had a new way to force the tumor cells to take on the right characteristics, even if they didn’t start that way. This shows that steps are being made to make it work on a lot more people, and more types of cancer. We’ll start looking elsewhere for other trials, but driving any distance is uncomfortable for Karen right now.
We have looked at alternate therapies, but none jump out as viable. I like the idea of cannabinoid treatment myself, but the only place this seems to really work is in vitro, and almost everything works in vitro (outside the body). Gasoline works in vitro, as does bleach, heat, salt, a hammer, etc. It’s extremely easy to kill cancer cells in vitro. Almost anything can do it. I was dismayed when Jay Thomas (actor from Cheers) passed away from cancer, after trying to treat with cannabinoids/CBD. I am sure they help for some cancers, in some people, but this isn’t predictable yet. Hopefully, the pressure from the public will change this. But I still think this is an option. If for nothing else, at least the queasiness and loss of appetite.
For now, it’s back to the Clinic, and looking for other T-Cell options. Thank you for thinking of us.