Monday, January 12, 2009

On to Chicago

Vacation is over and, as promised, this post will focus on medical stuff.

Tomorrow, Nate and I will drive to Chicago so that I can start the Phase 2 study bright and early (7:45 AM) on Wednesday. Here's the outline of the study design:

Everyone starts on the drug, brivanib, which is designed to cut off blood flow to solid tumors. The drug is oral, and taken every day. After three three-week cycles, participants have a CT scan to see if the drug is working. The researchers expect it to work in a third of the participants; to not work in a third; and to be equivocal in a third. If it's working, you continue on the drug. If it's not working, you're out of the study. If they can't tell whether it's working, you are randomly assigned to either a placebo or the drug. If you're in this group, and start to do worse, they "unblind" you, and, if you are on the placebo, put you back on the drug.

Of course, there are no guarantees that the drug will work, and no knowing what the side effects may be, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The study requires that I be in Chicago every Wednesday in January, although the 21st and 28th are very short visits, and two Wednesdays in February, one of them a 7:45 AM appearance. This means that I will often be gone from Madison two or three days mid-week, depending on the weather. We have a wonderful place to stay in Wilmette, with my junior high friend Barbara Stock, and since Wilmette is pretty far from the hospital, the cancer resource people at the hospital have found us a good rate at a downtown hotel for the Tuesdays before the 7:45 AM appointments. Nate is staying in Madison for an indeterminate time to do the driving (and much else)--thanks to his fellowship sponsors at the Harvard human rights program, he can work from here as well as Bogota, at least for a time. And thanks to Meghan, who is in Bogota, for lending him to me!

How I feel: Still weak and often tired--it seems easier to sit around than to do any exercise, though I know that the only things that will increase my strength and energy are eating and exercise. Fortunately, with a lot of prompting from Nate, I am beginning to eat decent amounts of food again. (In the hospital and for a couple of weeks afterward, I ate almost nothing.) He's a great cook--this morning I had a bit of a truly gourmet mac and cheese casserole he made. And I am hoping to get back to the gym next week. Maybe before then I can motivate myself to do some easy exercises at home.

In summary, it's a long, slow slog, but the direction seems right, and I'm optimistic.


Robin Chapman said...

Hello Judy--I'm so glad Nate is still there, to help
with Chicago transport and make you tempting meals!
The Phase II protocol sounds great-designed to make sure you get the greatest benefit possible.

Sending love from Banff-

Audrey Waitkus said...

Hi Judith,

I'm so glad the study is beginning, and hope you will be the star "student".


Elsa D. said...

Good luck, I have been on Brivanib (in New York city) since October 31st, it is a "nice" drug to be on!
A Hug from Elsa