Thursday, 3 May 2012

It's all Greek to me

Socrates reputedly said that “The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing”. As I’ve grown older, my experiences have increasingly led me to believe that he was right. I can think of many times in my life when I’ve held strong beliefs that have later been shown to be quite mistaken. For example, to pick just one, I used to think that the UK should adopt the Euro – in retrospect it seems that would have been a bad move!

Socrates’ quote seems particularly apt in the context of understanding cancer. I’ve spent a lot of time reading scientific articles in order to try and understand the way in which the efficacy of specific cancer treatments may be modified by the genetic mutation that I carry in my TP53 gene (see my post “Genetics – a double edged sword” from March). I read one article and it seems to say one thing, then I read another and it seems to say the opposite! I can spend a lot of time reading without acquiring any wisdom. What I’ve picked up from my research is that whilst I might be able to identify interesting questions related to my treatment it is very difficult for a non medically qualified person to answer these. I'll be passing my questions to my oncologist in order to get an expert view.  

Today’s consultation confirmed that my next step is to try another type of chemotherapy, this time using a drug called Trabectedin (also known as Yondelis). I’m hopefully going to start this new treatment on Wednesday next week. This is dependent upon a bed being available in the oncology ward as this chemotherapy is given over a twenty four hour in-patient stay. I have to call the ward on Wednesday morning to see if a bed is available, if not they’ll try and get me in on Thursday or Friday. On Tuesday I will have a ‘PICC’ line fitted in my arm, this will be used to deliver the drug into my body.

Unlike my previous treatments I will continue having this chemotherapy once every three weeks until the chemotherapy either stops working or until I can no longer tolerate the side effects. The specialist sarcoma nurse told me that they have one patient who has had sixteen cycles of Trabectedin though I think the average number of cycles is closer to five. Hopefully I’ll be on this drug for a long time, the only down side to that would be that I am unable to drink any alcohol at all whilst receiving Trabectedin!

At the meeting with the oncologist we also reviewed the last scan that I had in more detail. From this it was clear that the suspect tumours that are showing in my lungs are small at present which was something positive anyway.

Away from my illness Katie and I have had a busy and enjoyable week or so. We’ve been seeing friends, last week I went on a photographic tour of Slimbridge and earlier this week we went down to London for a couple of days; we had a very nice time in the capital enjoying some of the sights and seeing “Billy Elliot” at the Victoria Palace theatre.

1 comment:

  1. Hi. Hope all goes well with the treatment. I thought you might be interested in this paper: Extreme sensitivity to Yondelis (Trabectedin, ET-743) in low passaged sarcoma cell lines correlates with mutated p53. ( Looks like a mutated TP53 gene might be a benefit with this treatment...

    All the best,