Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Clinical Trials: Love 'Em, Hate 'Em

I am so in support of clinical research. After all, that is one reason why I am doing so well. I have options for treatment with success rates because of clinical research. So when I was asked to participate in a Zometa (bone strengthening medication) study, I was glad to oblige.

This is a randomized two arm study, aimed at cancer patients receiving Zometa. This means that neither I nor anyone who touches the drug (pharmacy, clinical staff, researchers) will know if I am getting Zometa every four weeks or every 12 weeks. The two arms means there are just two options. 1) getting Zometa every four weeks, or 2) getting Zometa every 12 weeks and getting a placebo (an inactive substance that will LOOK like the active drug) the two months in between.

So, I love the fact that I am helping research. I love the fact that this expensive drug will be FREE to me for the next year (the length of the study). The staff and researchers are unfailingly polite, pleasant and friendly.

I hate that I have to do extra xrays/scans/ blood draws. They are free to me also but they take time, I am exposed to more radiation/radioactive substances and I have to wait around more. I guess I didn't think through the reality that not everyone is available on Wednesdays so I am having to drive to Seattle an extra day. They had scheduled me to come to Seattle three days in a row but I absolutely refused that! They managed to get some of the stuff onto Wednesdays after that. But last week I spent ALL day at SCCA waiting to be called for tests, getting tests and being surprised by having to do more tests than I remembered reading/hearing about. Probably I just didn't pay enough attention when the coordinator went over it all. But I really wanted to go on a hike and felt put upon because we spent the day at SCCA instead.

All in all, I am glad I am doing this study. Just venting about the reality of the process & wanting to share what it's like.

As always thank you for your prayers, your support.

- Heidi

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Those Really Bad Days With Cancer -By Joe

Everyone has ups and downs in life.  With cancer some of the down days can be quite low.  Last Wednesday was a case in point:
  • Heidi's neutrophil count(normal white blood cells) was too low to allow getting her weekly chemotherapy dose
  • Heidi's rise in tumor markers(a test for increased cancer growth) was abnormally high.  That along with her increasing tumor site pain implies the chemotherapy might be failing to stop cancer growth
  • We found out we'd enter the infamous Medicare 'hole', where the expensive chemo and other prescriptions are no longer covered until we reach a much higher 'level'
  • Upon returning home, we found that our neighbors' dogs had broken in to the chicken pen and killed all four of Heidi's hens
What do you do on a day like that?  Cry? ..of course.  But this amazing lady also chose to complete a very steep hike up Tiger Mountain and to laugh at my dumb jokes.  And sing.  And pray.

I consider my faith in Christ fairly strong and growing each day.  But wow!  Watching Heidi's faith in action is humbling indeed.  We may be facing a very difficult chapter in the battle, but there are many more mountains to climb and songs to sing.

As always, thanks for your compassion, your prayers, your positive thoughts!