Thanks for checking in on Chris’ website. I am going to give you an update first, then I will blog about his great trip to OH and CT (w/ a few photos) either tonight or tomorrow.
We got home late Wednesday night after traveling through all that crazy bible belt weather. Thursday morning we went to see Dr. Xavier for a check-up. She was happy to see Chris and also relieved we had no emergency medical conditions during his trip. She spoke to some of her mentors and they all decided that they would take Chris off of Methotrexate all together. She said his cancer response was mixed-both shrinkage and growth, and she did not like how his kidneys were processing all the chemicals. It was too harsh on them. She wanted to start Chris off with localized brain radiation because she is worried about his increasing vision problems, however because our insurance is STILL pending, he would not be able to get it until it goes through. So in the meantime, she has come up with a “Plan B”. A chemo cocktail with a complimentary Rituxan treatment.
Rituxan is a monoclonal antibody, a biological treatment given to help support the chemo treatments. (see Chris vs Cancer page for a more detailed description). In addition to Rituxan he will be receiving 3 additional chemotherapy drugs and a vitamin “body recovery”. Dr. Xavier described this new treatment plan as aggressive and nasty, but assured us that is would be the best option for him to reach a goal of complete remission. Here are the chemos he will receive-feel free to send me questions on them or look up more about them online. I will be brief with descriptions and side effects (not necessarily ones Chris is experiencing) on the website so not to bore or confuse you.
Etoposide aka VP16: Commonly used for treatment of testicular, bladder, prostate, lung, stomach, and uterine cancers, as well as, brain tumors, Hodgkin’s and Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. Low platelet and white blood cell counts. Hair loss, loss of fertility, and nausea/vomitting. 21-28 days to recover.
Cytarabine aka Ara-C: most commonly used for treatment of Leukemia, Lymphoma and mengineal Lymphoma (specifically cancers found in the spinal cord and brain lining. Side effects are low blood counts, therefore risk of infection, anemia and/or bleeding. It takes 21-28 days to recover blood counts. Also, nausea/vomiting, mouth sores.
Ifosfamide: Most commonly used for testicular cancer, but also NHL, head and neck cancer, and lung cancer. Low white blood cell count- risk of infection. Hair loss, vomiting/nausea, loss of fertility, neurotoxicity- meaning hallucinations, vivid dreams, confusion, fogginess. Recovery is 21-28 days. Related to nitrogen mustard gases.
Mesna: a chemo-protectant. A drug used to reduce the risk of some serious side effects of ifosfamide, specifically bleeding and irritation of the bladder. Side effects are bad taste in your mouth and nausea related to the bad taste.
Chris will be on 1, 2 and sometimes all 3 chemos during 5 consecutive days. Because of the long recovery from each round, he will only do a round every 3 weeks. So far there has been no nausea or vomiting, no loss of appetite (he no longer resembles the State Puff Marshmellow, now I call him my cream puff!) Other then extreme fatigue, the only side effect he is experiencing is the neurotoxicity from Ifosfamide. He has been hallucinating and having crazy dreams and thoughts. They are delaying the Ifosfamide tonight so he can get some undisurbed rest, but he will start again with it tomorrow. Typically Ifosfamide is given 2x a day for all 5 days he is here. Unlike the methotrexate his kidneys are now protected and untouched, so another episode of renal failure is not likely.
Radiation will start as soon as we receive insurance. Until then, please continue to keep Chris in your thoughts!