Friday, October 18, 2013

With all the bad side effects, it should be working..

I received a message while I was staying at Shanna's from my neighbor that her husband's prostate cancer mets had progressed despite the Taxol and now they will mull over several clinical trials in the hope that maybe they might stop this hideous progression.

Since he felt so horrible taking it, we assumed it had to be working...

I remembered an absurd line on the The Big C (a show in which the main character is dealing with stage 4 melanoma). She is being treated with chemo for the first time and notices no side effects in the subsequent days. She panics because if it doesn't cause bad effects against her good cells, it must not be affecting her bad cells too. I guess this is a common belief.

I did wonder if any of the Red Devil was actually staying in me. Shortly after it was administered, I went to pee and a bright red liquid came pouring out of me. On the next day, I went for a run, carefully as heart failure is one of the charming possibilities of the Red Devil. To my surprise, I felt fine. But soon the queasiness started.. and after the second round, the hair falling out.

Maybe it worked as I am alive and have no signs of cancer. Without it (and the cytoxan and taxol), I was given 50-50 odds of surviving. With it, my odds would improve twofold, which as it was pointed out to me, the biggest bang for the buck one could have.

If you were taking the analogy section of the SAT, Breast cancer is to women as_____is to men, the correct answer would be prostate cancer. These body parts do not seem to be analogous excepting they have something to do with reproduction and one could live without either of them but when cancer strikes, they start acting very similar. Same incidence, same dependence on hormones (usually) same pattern of mets. As my neighbor had the very most aggressive kind, he was told that the average time of survival was about a year. This was 6 years ago. After surgery and radiation, the next strategy is to block the hormone that the cancer feeds on. This works for a while but then the cancer learns to live without the hormone. The charming medical term for this type of cancer is 'castrate resistant' though no actual castration is involved (just chemically, I guess).

What does one say? There's still hope that one of the clinical trials will work and if that doesn't work then the next one and so forth.

One of their sons is married (Shanna used to babysit both of their sons). He has apologized for not having a child yet just in case that was high on the bucket list. My neighbor is satisfied that both sons have been successfully launched. Yep that would be a good feeling.

As far as my unlaunched one goes, she has been invited back to her high school today with Maya to give a talk to the parenting class about her experience. Surprisingly, she does not seem nervous. It always amazes me the things that she can handle and what she can't. She can waltz into an all African-American camping unit with the loudest mouthed girl openly hating her at first glance and then makes that girl her best friend. She can stand at the free throw line with lots of eyes on her depending on her to make that basket and she does. But can she make simple arrangements on the phone regarding health care etc? 

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