• Karen

Chemo cycle 8 started + some good news

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

Male Ladder-backed Woodpecker we saw getting nectar from Saguaro blooms in Catalina State Park (he's helping the cactus, too; notice all the pollen on his bill)

On Thursday 5/30, we met with Dr. Brooks. He said David's white blood count was low. It's been low before, but apparently it was even lower this time. A low white blood count raises the risk of infection, so Dr. Brooks decided to drop the Cisplatin component of the chemo IV for cycle 8 (and probably for any future treatments). So on Friday, David received only Herceptin—which should cause fewer side effects—via IV.

The plan for the Xeloda chemo pills during cycle 8 is the same as for cycle 7: Take six pills per day for one week, then stop the pills for one week, and then take them again for one week.

At this point, Dr. Brooks plans to continue the chemo IV treatments. The ninth cycle will start on June 20th. We're not sure when he will do another CT scan to check the size of the tumors, but we suspect it might be in late June. The last one was done on April 16, and Dr. Brooks said he would do another one about two months after the last one.

In the meantime, we received some good news late yesterday. The lab tests done on 5/30 showed that David's tumor markers have continued to decline and they are now in the normal range. (Tumor markers are substances produced by cancer or other cells in response to cancer or some benign conditions.) David's CEA marker is now 1.8; it was 467 when he started chemo last November. His CA19-9 marker is now 22; it was 1,977 last November.

This doesn't mean the cancer is gone, but it does indicate the chemo is fighting the cancer. According to this website, "Once a particular tumor has been found using a marker, the marker may be a way of monitoring the success (or failure) of treatment...If the initially raised tumor marker level goes down with treatment, it indicates that the treatment is working and is having a beneficial effect. On the other hand, if the marker level goes up, then the treatment is probably not working and change of treatment should be considered."

It's nice to know that David is benefiting from enduring the chemo!