Seth and I spent most of Wednesday at Fox Chase Cancer Center. I had to have all sorts of screening to set baselines before beginning the LDK378 trial. Over the course of four hours, I had blood tests, a urinalysis, a CT scan, an MRI, an EKG, and finally, a visit with my assigned oncology nurse.
I thought all this information would be sent to the trial sponsor, Novartis, for approval. As it turns out, though, Fox Chase determines patient eligibility. Since the doctor didn’t see anything that would preclude me from participating, we are moving forward.
When I first met with the doctor two weeks ago, the plan was to begin the Thursday after thanksgiving. Something changed, however, and now my choice was November 27 or December 4. Without treatment of any kind my cancer is running amok, and I need to do something ASAP. I wanted to start this Tuesday, but Seth was scheduled to be out of town on business.
Fox Chase is a smaller hospital facility. But when you can’t walk very far unassisted, it might as well be the size of O’Hare. Aside from my emotional needs, I knew it would be physically challenging to handle the visit by myself. Luckily Seth had a plan. He quickly figured out how he could complete most of his tasks early and return home Monday night. In a matter of minutes, he had confirmed the schedule change with his manager.
Tuesday will be a long day. I am to report to the Clinical Research Unit at 7am and probably won’t leave until 5pm. We will probably pack a cooler with snacks and drinks and load movies onto my iPad. I’m trying to think of it as an indoor day of camping rather than a day of blood draws and EKGs. (They should be able to use my port, at least, so I won’t have to be poked with a needle each time.)
I have a lot of anxiety about beginning this new treatment, but I know that’s to be expected. I just try to remember what my oncologist told me when he recommended this course of action: the side effects are reversible. If they are too bad and dose adjustment doesn’t help, I can always pull out of the trial. The treatment I receive is my choice, even if all the options suck. Tuesday will be long and tiring. But I know Seth will be by my side – to keep me company, make me laugh, or just hold my hand.