Monday, December 29, 2008

The ball is rolling

Today at my doctors appointment, we started the anergic skin testing for the O-Vax vaccine for ovarian cancer. They injected me with small amounts of candida, tetanus, tuberculosis, and one other injection in my left forearm. It wasn't too uncomfortable. I am really getting used to needles. I have to go back on Wednesday to have the injection sites inspected, measured, and checked. Next week I have the DTH skin testing. After that, there is a lull (10-14 days) and then I start the vaccine, provided that all the skin testing goes as anticipated. Hopefully my immune system cooperates with the skin testing - and gives them the results that they are looking for!

Things are moving forward - and not a minute too soon. My CA125 (a tumor marker) is up from 101 to 304, in just a matter of two weeks (normal is <35). This high CA125 is so unusual for me. I feel some 'twingy' type pains every so often near my liver, and in my lower abdomen - I think it must be the cancer rallying for a comeback. There is no significant pain though. Nothing like the liver pains I felt last year during taxol/carboplatin (when I was sprouting a mighty fine specimen of a tumor). So I am not going to worry about the CA125 number. Again, like the nodules that show up on my CT scan, I need these to see if the vaccine is working. Right? Sure.

Christmas was wonderful! My Aunt and Uncle travelled the 450 miles to see us again this year. My sister just started a new job, and my favorite husband couldn't really take any more time off of work for us to travel - so this was really appreciated. I also had a great time with the in-laws and extended family.

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday, and have a happy new year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

First cold

Well, I am nearly over my first (regular) illness in at least three or four years. Yes, I caught a cold. I am so glad that I have it now, since my strength is improving - rather than while I was recuperating from chemo. I have no voice, and have a terrible cough, but I feel fine. I only sound like I have the plague! ;)

I am finally starting to feel normal again after the IP Taxotere chemotherapy. Whew - that regimen really tired me out. We didn't do any decorating for Christmas, and our shopping was thankfully limited this year (everyone is scaling back because of the economy), so I was able to avoid a lot of holiday stress. It is nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and to feel some of my energy coming back.

My parents have the most wonderful friends. We were provided with tickets to the Bears/Packers game at Soldier Field on Monday night. It was 7 degrees at kickoff - with a wind chill of -12. However, we bundled up in layers and barely felt the cold. I stayed outside for the entire first half! Most importantly, the Bears won - so it was a great time! Yes - I have a cold, but I wasn't about to miss a Bears game! You can see part of my favorite husbands scar from his car accident in this photo...

And here was our view of the field

Now on to medical news - my vaccine is apparently done! I made an appointment with my doc for Monday the 29th. I have to go through some anergic testing. That means I have to react to delayed type hypersensitivity testing (DTH) to things like tetanus. I guess they need to make sure my immune system isn't compromised. So I still have some hoops to jump through - but the most important part is done!

For more info on this ovarian cancer clinical trial go to:

The funny thing about being the first person in a clinical trial - no one seems to know what is going on! The research people aren't sure, the doctor isn't sure, everyone has to keep refering back to the protocol. I think that I am going to have to take matters into my own hands, and make sure that I am on schedule with everything required for this (as far as testing and timing) - so that I don't blow this opportunity! I know that they have a lot of other things and other trials that they are doing, so it doesn't upset me that I am not the center of their universe :) I just need to remember that I am my own best health advocate. I'll let you know more next week!

I wish you all the most joyous (and healthy!) of holidays!

Friday, December 12, 2008

CT scan results

The scan showed several 'nodules' some of which may have been scar tissue, some which were cancer. Also, my CA125 results (which had been steadily going down during the Taxotere treatment) increased this time - from 69 to 101. The CA125 is a tumor marker test that hasn't been really accurate for me. But usually it is lower (it was in the normal range of 29-35 when I had active tumor growth) - so the fact that it is increasing now is somewhat troubling.

These results didn't really surprise or upset me. I think that they took my favorite husband by surprise though. He seemed shaken by the news.

There is also some fluid around my liver, and near my lung. She thinks that this is chemo fluid that hasn't been fully absorbed yet. I have noticed being a little short of breath, and being 'bloated' for no apparent reason. The fluid may explain this.

She said that the vaccine is almost ready! She thinks that maybe next week, we will be able to start all of the preliminary stuff. I have to have a number of skin tests, to ensure that my immune system will respond, before we can start the trial vaccine. They can't start the skin tests until they are sure the vaccine is ready. My doctor estimates we should be on the vaccine by Christmas or soon after.

My thinking is - it is a good thing some measurable cancer is present. Otherwise, how would we be able to tell if the vaccine is working or not?

The doctor wants to leave my interperitoneal (IP) port in. The IP Taxotere did cause my CA125 to drop for a while, so we may go back to that chemo if the vaccine does not work. I hated that chemo - I hope not to go back on it!

I am just glad that I am off of chemo for a while. I need to get my Christmas shopping done this weekend, and continue to get my energy back.

As always, I will update when I know more! Good luck everyone - with your Christmas or holiday shopping. I'm hoping to get mine all done this weekend (keep your fingers crossed :) )

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I didn't want to jinx myself by saying anything before, but it looks like my hair is staying with me! It never did fall out during treatment. I guess that is due to my getting the Taxotere chemo on a weekly basis at a lowered dosage, instead of every three weeks at a higher dosage. I actually got a hair cut on Monday. It is about four inches long!

My last treatment was the day after Thanksgiving. Since the Sunday after, I have felt awful. I felt REALLY awful last week. I was so tired, and my belly ached, with sharp pains shooting through my whole abdomen. It may have been from the chemicals being absorbed, or from adhesions forming or dissolving - I don't know and I don't care! I just wanted it to stop. I barely worked five hour days last week. I was tired, cranky, exhausted, nauseated, and generally 'unwell' feeling.

The good news is that I feel so much better this week. The pains are nearly gone, except for a somewhat disturbing pain near my liver. Every pain I have seems to be in the area of my liver! :) It could be from the interperitoneal (IP) port and hose they have threaded through my abdomen. I hope to have the doctor remove the port and tubing soon - I think it may be the cause of much of my discomfort.

If she told me that I needed the IP chemo again, I don't know that I would agree to it. My quality of life was not very good while going through it. I'll cross that bridge though, when and if, I come to it.

I have a CT scan tomorrow, and an appointment with my doc on Friday. I should know more then about the vaccine trial status after I meet with her. We will also see the status of that suspicious spot viewed last time. I'll update after that appointment!