How do they decide which chemotherapy drugs to give you anyway?  After all, there are so very many and some are specific to certain types of cancers.  Unfortunately, despite the fact that the substances they are giving you is toxic and can even kill you, they don’t know if the drug they’re giving you is going to work on your cancer.  Not really.  Oncology is a fine art, honestly. Your life and death hang on the oncologist’s decisions.  And when choosing which drug to use, they don’t have any idea if it will work in your particular body terrain or not.  They can only rely on studies and statistics for what has worked for other people in your condition.  And, as sick as it might make you, and with secondary cancers you might develop, it still might not touch your particular cancer at all.  So any really good oncologist has to work, to a certain degree, off of intuition.  Mine does it with me all the time, which is why I love him so much.

When it comes to toxic therapies, if there is any way to have a clue if it would work for you or not, that is priceless.  Just as a side note, I recently had some chemical testing done.  A very strange thing showed up.  A chemical called methy butyl ether, which is commonly found in ground water and gasoline, was stuck in my body.  Where on earth could this have come from? We have a whole house water purification system, so it shouldn’t have been the water.  My first thought was the chemicals I used to handle, bare-handed, as a USMC engine mechanic.  That might do it.  But what else?  This ether is used in the processing of docetaxil … the chemo drug I had for five months.  Hmmmmmmm …. guess that’s why they cause secondary cancers!

There are a couple of labs, however, that I would like to tell you about.  Many conventional folks underestimate them and many alternative folks overestimate them.  They don’t come cheap, but in my opinion, they’re worth it.  The first is a lab in Greece so many refer to it simply as “The Greek Test.”  You purchase the test kit, take it to your local venipuncturist, and get a blood sample for them.  Package, according to directions, and return to Greece.  It tests for both conventional and popular alternative substances, which makes it unique.  That being said, it works off the circulating tumor cells in your blood stream which, many doctors will say, isn’t that reliable as opposed to a piece of tumor.  But way less invasive.  It is a piece of information … not necessarily something on which to stake your life.  It costs in the neighborhood of $2000 and requires a doctor’s prescription. Their website does not list the substances tested for, but here were the conclusions drawn from my test:

*  The specific tumor appears to have resisting populations because of the MDR1 overexpression that can be reversed by the use of verapamil combined with disulfiram.

*  The neoplasmatic cells have the greatest sensitivity in the inhibitor of tubuilin dimmer polymerization vinorelbine, in the antagonists gemcitabine, in the inhibitor of topoisomerase II etoposide, and in the inhibitor of topoisomerase I topotecan.

*  Also, you can use:  cetuximab (C25) as inhibitor of EGF-r, bortezomib as inhibitor of proteasome over-activity and indirectly the transciptional activity of NFxB and bevacizumab as inhibitor of angiogenesis.

I’m betting not a damn bit of this makes much sense to you, but doctors dig it.  The results are several pages long and provide a great deal more information that one even knows what to do with.  I would say it’s a great investment, but I personally had one helluva time dealing with them.  They are, of course, in Greece.  They would take close to a week to answer an email, so if I needed an answer, I had to call.  Since they require wiring funds into their bank, and we lived in a small town with my local bank not having the capability to do that, it was a royal difficulty.  I had to call them at midnight and try to understand them while they tried to understand me.  It was a real goat rope for me, but from what I hear, I am the anomaly again.  Or perhaps Murphy is just my middle name.  If it can go wrong, most times it will!

The other lab is called Rational Therapeutics. and is headed by Dr Robert Nagourney.  This is an assay that uses either live tumor samples or malignant fluid like ascites.  They split the sample into many pieces and run the most common chemo cocktails through them to see which drugs kill your cancer.  This test is in the neighborhood of $3500-$4500 and, yes, that’s pricey.  But just look at the list of agents with which they can test:


5-Fluourouracil (Xeloda)
AZD2281 (PARP)
Carmustine (BCNU)
Cytarabine (ARA-C)
Dacarabazine (DTIC)
Docetaxel (Taxotere)
Epothilone B (Ixempra)
Etoposide (VP16)
Gemzar (Gemcitabine)
Gleevec (Imatinib)
Iressa (Gefitinib)
Irinotecan (Camptosar)
Nexavar (Sorafenib)
Nitrogen Mustard
Paclitaxel (Taxol)
Rapamycin (Sirolimus)
Sutent (Sunitinib)
Sprycel (Dasatinib)
Tarceva (Erlotinib)
Temodar (TMZ)
Trichostatin A (TSA)
Tykerb (Lapatinib)
Velcade (Bortezomib)
Vorinostat (SAHA)
Vinorelbine (Navelbine)
Zactima (Vandetanib)

Some say that these tests don’t play out in real life the way they do on paper.  All I know is that my oncologist took both of these tests into consideration when choosing my particular treatment.  He chose Taxotere based on my results and it sure did play out exactly the way we had hoped.  Perhaps this is not everyone’s experience, but the website is full of folks saying the same thing.  Even though, when I had this test done, chemo was the last thing on my mind, I wanted to know what would not work just as much as what would … just in case.  Sure glad I did!


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