The doc at MD Anderson promised to bring up her case to the cancer board to see if they might have some other option coming up, but he wasn’t able to find anything. While waiting on that, and the scheduled chemo for Thursday, we checked out a few options on the Internet. We looked at a couple clinics in Mexico and other hospitals here in the US, but nothing really seemed a viable option. Her cancer is pretty aggressive, and the tumors don’t have any of the proteins and markers that are necessary for some of the known treatments to work.
I’m still thinking Karen would benefit from a cannabinoid, but she’s not exploring that option right now. There is a synthetic cannabinoid that the docs can prescribe, but they consider it an option after other meds have been tried. Perhaps that will change with medical marijuana becoming available here soon.
As far as anti-cancer options, the treatments–including homeopathic ones–don’t show the same results on all cancers. They tend to affect cancers that have specific traits. Karen has received test after test to see if she has any of the known characteristics, but she does not.
Some of the medications given overseas work on some people, but not others, but there hasn’t been sufficient testing to show why. In these cases, the researchers haven’t found any traits that can help them identify why the medication works. These are some of the ones not approved for use here. The Mexican hospitals can be a little scary in this regard, as they even give medications that researchers simply think might work, even though the researchers have found unpredictable results, and don’t know why. This tends to work out great for some people, but not so much for others.
We spent some time reading testimonials from people who went to the various clinics, and found this to be pretty consistent. Some people responded to the treatments, and others did not. One reviewer we found kept up on patients she met at a clinic, and reported devastating statistics about her fellow patients. That review scared us a bit.
Karen’s tumors have been tested for all the known markers. They are BRCA1 negative, BRCA2 negative, HLA-2 negative, etc. Usually when somebody receives a miraculous result somewhere, it’s after finding out they have some sort of marker that has been identified (here or overseas), and where they have found a medication that is effective against tumors with those markers. Or, it’s when nobody knows why it works, but the patient lucks out and it does.
The doc at MD Anderson was a pretty blunt with us. He stated quite simply that the docs have thrown all the conventional meds at the cancer that they know of, and something conventional should have worked better. He also confirmed that the tumors had been tested for all the markers they knew of at MD Anderson, but were all negative. His thought was that the cancer is pretty rare in its resilience.
Basically, we didn’t learn anything much from our trip to MD Anderson, except how much it costs to stay in Houston while there is a big rodeo going on. It’s a lot! I can’t say that we enjoyed much about the trip.
Karen is going to keep fighting. Her doc at the Cleveland Clinic thinks he can get her into a new clinical trial in Pennsylvania in a month or two, so the goal is to keep the cancer in check until we can explore that option. As such, we went up to the Clinic Thursday planning on chemo. Unfortunately, Karen’s lab results showed some numbers the docs didn’t like, so she ended up getting a transfusion of a couple units of blood and some extra IV fluids to hydrate her a little better. The plan is to see how much those helped and then have chemo Monday.
She had the blood transfusion because her hemoglobin levels are dropping. Since she hasn’t had chemo in about six weeks or so it’s not the chemo causing it, but the cancer or blood loss. Karen and I are a little concerned that she may be losing some of the blood in her abdomen. The Clinic agrees that this may be the case, but her hemoglobin isn’t dropping so fast that they think it’s likely, or at least the think it’s not necessary to investigate further quite yet. They ran some new lab work yesterday and will run some more Monday so they can watch the numbers.
Karen’s feeling exhausted. We’re going to try some new medication to keep her queasiness down and she’s going to be more proactive with taking her pain medication. The hope is that if we can curb the pain and queasiness that she will be up more. We have a nice wheelchair now that she uses when we go out, but travel and being up and out leads to pain and discomfort, so we’re not taking any unnecessary trips.
I’ll post again when we have any new info. Thank you for thinking of us!