Saturday 22 October 2016

Guinea Dragon

Well that's the chemotherapy done with. No more nausea, no more not being able to poop for 72 hours because of the stuff they give you to stop the nausea and, best of all, no more of that bastard 5FU pump. Turns out that the Dount of Doom has revealed that not only has the cancer in the liver grown (only a few millimetres) but The Grouchettes have had "musical differences" and some of them have decided to form The Continuity Grouchettes and have got a gig in my lungs. Fortunately they're just tuning up and trying to work out what key to play in right now so there's no symptoms but it's a big hint and a half that the chemotherapy just isn't cutting the mustard any more.

There is a newly approved drug, Lonsurf, that I could take but my oncologist isn't too keen in my case as it's just a variant on how the current chemo drugs work (basically messing with their DNA to stop them dividing) and he says it's probably going to give me a couple of months extra if it works at all. So not so great.

However he thinks, and I tend to agree, that an immune system fiddling drug might work better and there's a lot of research going into this area right now as it's showing a lot of promise for treating cancers of all sorts and given that I just so happen to be being treated in one of the world's premier research hospitals then I figure signing up to a trial of something shiny and new might be worth a go. And duly a week later I'm sat having a chat with a very bubbly doctor who is explaining one of the trials they have. Basically it's a test of an existing drug they give to people with lymphomas to make them produce and mobilise stem cells that they harvest before zapping the lymphoma patient with enough chemicals and radiation to screw up stem cells, then they give them the stem cells back.  However in some lab and animal tests it looks like given differently it can cause the immune system to go crazy ape bananas and start it scoffing cancer cells like chocolate chip cookies.

Sounds great, but what are the downsides. Well for a start these trials are pretty early stage stuff, what's know in the business as "stage one" and used to basically see what sort of a dose of whatever it is is safe to give to people without limbs falling off or their skin going all scaly like in the superhero movie Deadpool.  They do this by "dose escalation", a few people get a low dose and they see if anything happens, then the next few people get a higher dose and so on. So it could be that you're not getting enough of this stuff to make the slightest bit of difference and of course there's always the chance that despite this stuff working on models and in mice when you stick it into dragons the square root of sod all happens.

The other goodie is that they need to keep a very close eye on you so you're in hospital for a while and rigged up to heart monitors for the 7 days the drug is being administered. Oh and that's constantly through a little pump.

And you need a liver biopsy. Two in fact. And the usual PET / CT scans, MRIs, donating half a litre of blood in samples that seem to go with anything cancerish.

But it might just do something and that's got to be better than sitting around in November not doing a great deal and just letting the little bastards grow.

So I'm going to sign up and become a guinea pig. Or guinea dragon in my case.

Wonder if I'll get a wheel to run around in?