Saturday, December 31, 2011

Somewhere in the middle..


A week and a half after my second surgery I returned to Dr. Glinda's office to see if I was able to get my drainage tubes removed and to find out the results of the lymph node dissection. Well as soon as I saw her face I new some more bad news was about to come..One of the lymph nodes that was removed out of 22 was also cancerous, so being two in total, meant I was stage IIIb.. not stage A as we had hoped(meaning that dreaded survival rate stats just went down). However, I guess I have to at least be thankful that it wasn't worse but "in the middle." And those awful drainage tubes were removed so I was happy about that : ) She then told me that the clinical study that I was considering doing was about to close and I needed to sign the papers right now(later I found out that she rushed these papers over just in time and I was the last person in the US to get accepted into this trial). She also told me just because I signed the paperwork I was able to withdraw at anytime. I was scheduled to meet with my treatment Oncologist in two weeks to review all the details of the clinical trial and the drug I "might" be receiving. Since this drug has not yet been approved by the FDA for stage III patients only stage IV, I may end up getting the placebo(salt water).

On June 9th I met my fabulous Oncology team and finally some positivity is in the air!! As soon as I walked in the Sloan office buildings I was treated with the uttermost kindness(I really think everyone one from the receptionist on goes through kindness training or something). First I met the Dr.'s assistant AK who brought me into the room and made me feel very comfortable, right away we clicked and became instant friends. Next Dr. Magical came in and my mom just bombarded her with a million and one questions about the study, side effects, and anything else that she could think of that was remotely cancer related!! Well as soon as Dr. Magical opened her mouth I could tell she was the most caring and loving doctor and that I would be in good hands. She didn't look at me like all the rest(that poor you face)she looked at me like I understand your pain but you are in the right place and making all the right decisions. She explained every single aspect of the treatment.. I would get injections every three weeks(intensive treatment) and after the 4th injection I would get it every three months for 3 years(maintenance treatment). I would need to give up to 16 vitals of blood the morning before each treatment along with blood tests every month and I would need to get CT scans every 2 1/2 months. Most common side effects would be diarrhea which if not caught early could lead to colon disease, itchy skin and rashes, and fatigue.. other more severe side effects can occur but are more rare. Now I know it is kind of crazy to go through ALL of this for 3 years and just receive salt water but if people like myself didn't choice to take part in these studies we would be even more far off to finding a cure. I have in the course of these 9months been lucky to friend many many melanoma warriors who keep fighting the fight but I have also unfortunately seen too many of my warriors get their angel wings. So salt water or so called "wonder drug" I was more than willingly to take my chances.
Then in came Nurse Motherly who was in charge of the trial and whom I would be in constant contact with and call immediately if any I had any problems, questions, or side effects. And FINALLY walks in Dr. Wonder who found a way to make even my mother calmer!! He was the most positive, reassuring, and extremely thorough Doctor we had talked to so far. He told my mom she needs to STOP researching and looking online and simply leave the worrying to him!! His exact quote was to refer to him as the old Amtrak slogan.. "LEAVE THE DRIVING TO US." And from that moment on we did exactly that.

Next blog more scans and my first trip to the bloodsuckers and the chemo suite...

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