In this corner: Melissa

Posted: February 21, 2012 in Breast Cancer
Tags: , , , , ,

And in that corner: cancer. Yesterday I stepped into the ring and strapped on the gloves to start the fight in earnest. I started my cytokine therapy yesterday. Our bodies naturally produce cytokines, many different types. Here they use two of them. One builds up my T cells so my body will fight cancer itself, and the other goes after the cancer. The therapy is given by subcutaneous injection either around the lymph nodes, around the tumor, or both. In my case, they gave one under each jaw, one in each axilla, one on each side of the belly, and four in the chest. Wasn’t too bad but they do generate an inflamed immune response and I get them Monday through Friday for two weeks, get a week off, then do it again.

But today begins my chemo. I came in fasting and they took my blood sugar. This is how they determine how much insulin I need to get my sugar down to that therapeutic level so they can give me the chemo drugs. Cancer cells have more insulin receptors than healthy cells, so the insulin stirs things up and makes the chemo go right to the cancer and leave the healthy cells alone. This form of therapy is a lot less toxic because, since it’s more targeted, they can use way less of the chemo drugs. Typically they use 5-10% of standard dose, but at this clinic they use a little more than that.

The drugs they have chosen for me are an old-school cocktail of cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-FU. I have had the first one many times, but never the other two. We want to give me drugs my cancer has never seen and hasn’t had the chance to create a resistance.

Most clinics will give the IPT then they will give the IVC right behind it. Here they claim there is a higher success rate if that process is reversed. So it makes for a long, hungry morning as I am fasting and just now getting finished with my IVC bag. Soon as this bag is done, they’ll be in to get my insulin on board, then we wait until my blood sugar drops to what they call the therapeutic “moment.” Once that moment occurs, they push the chemo, then hand you a Gatorade to drink and you eat fruit and get dextrose/water to bring my sugar back up to normal levels.

My bag just finished and I am currently waiting for my insulin. When they give that, they will also start my premeds which consist of Zofran for nausea and dexamethasone. The chemo drugs I will be receiving will be given in the form of a push into the IV instead of a drip.

They just gave the dex and the insulin. I haven’t had dex pushed before and it’s weird. Burning tingles … more like pin pricks… at both ends, so to speak! And a short burst of feeling like I might throw up. But by the time I got the trash can, that dissipated almost immediately. The insulin kind of has a rubbery taste of sorts. So now I wait for my moment which, from what I hear from the others here, manifests differently for everyone. One gal gets the shakes, the guy beside me gets sweaty, some get light-headed. Now we wait to see what I experience.

Well now I know. Right at about 26 minutes, I began to feel a little light-headed, so started paying attention. From there, it was only a couple more minutes before I got really hot and very strange feeling. John went to tell the nurse and there she came with the chemo syringes. Previously I’d only seen it in bags once it was already mixed, so it was interesting. She pushed the three tiny chemo doses and, within about 10 minutes, I was handed a bottle of Gatorade and I pulled out the fruit and sandwich I had been instructed to bring. They recommended a stack in that order.

Let me tell you, that Gatorade tasted so good and felt so satisfying! It’s so funny how it’s all relative. I never think Gatorade tastes good! But I swear, being in a sugar-starved condition sure changes things! My hope is that the cancer hates being sugar starved, as well … and that it’s gobbling down that chemo as though it’s the last meal it’ll ever get! It was a very odd experience but one I’ll be well-versed in before I leave here.

  1. Robin Jorgenson says:

    How interesting Melissa. I’m praying for you and wishing you the best. Beat that nasty Cancer friend!

  2. Danneal Whitton says:

    I am following you (reading your blog) …..I am pulling for you …..and I am praying for you. I pray that you will be cured but I also pray for God to give you strength. It is obvious to all of us that have been reading your words that you are certainly strong but I pray that God gives you everything you need emotionally, spiritually and physically to beat this. Love, Danneal

  3. Hi, Love you… You are very brave and strong. I am proud to know you. i’m sure if it is possible my daughter Cathy would be telling you the same thing.
    I really think it is very generous on your part to willingly share your experiences with us. I pray that God will use your illness and strength to draw others closer to Him. You are one of my heros….
    I continue to pray for your recovery… Love ya…<

    • Oh Momma Pat, you are so precious! I don’t feel so brave so much as I am longing to stay here with my loved ones as long as I can. And as long as I have the means to do that, I’m down. 🙂

      I love you too, Adopt-A-Mommy!!!

  4. Jackie Ryan says:

    Thank you so much for writing your blog, some days I crack up laughing reading your trials and journeys and other days, like today, I get serious. You write so well, I really connect with you as if im sitting right there with you and your telling me face to face. I have been following your blog for quite a while now forwarded to me by my husband Gary, but recently I joined it directly to myself. We are in NSW Australia and Gary is treating his prostate cancer with alternative medicines and therapies. He was only diagnosed 18 months ago but we have already learned an overwhelming abundance of new, strange, and interesting things about our bodies, food, and of course “cancer”.

    I also have 4 little dogs, all Jack Russell’s and all female (mother and 3 daughters) and just loved your pics of your babies and totally understand the love and addiction you have for them.

    Your treatment sounds great, well probably not so much receiving it but great in the attack approach. I’m looking forward to the coming weeks blogs and feeling good vibes for you in this, with all the numbers on all your test results going in the right directions headed back to the healthy levels they need to be.

    Hoping you have a restful night, Jackie

    • Jackie, so very nice to meet you! I’ve emailed with Gary a time or two. He said we have a similar sense of humor … guess you’re a bit demented, are you? LOL

      Bet those Jacks keep you hopping for sure … that’s one heckuva lotta dog in a small package!

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