Monday, August 23, 2010

Charles River and the PARP Inhibitor Trial

As the old saying goes we've got good news and bad news.

First the bad news.

I might as well get it out of the way. Kay’s cancer is trying to come back. Since her fifth course of chemotherapy her CA-125, the primary biologic marker of her ovarian cancer, has been very low. The range had been all <10 until about 6 weeks ago. At that time her level was found to be 27 on her routine follow up visit, and when rechecked a week later was 30. This was of concern because it likely signaled that her cancer was not cured by her initial chemotherapy, and had started to grow again. She had extensive imaging done, including an MRI of her abdomen, and CT scans of her pelvis and chest, and no single site of cancer large enough to be seen on these techniques was found. Still we were told, and know, that it is likely recurring in multiple tiny areas too small to see on imaging tests. She waited a month, and on testing again the CA-125 was 42, more evidence that the cancer is growing.
We have been researching her options, praying, and talking a lot. Thanks to her connections with Rob McCroskey, her primary oncologist, she has been able to get accepted into a study of a new and promising type of anti-cancer drug called a PARP inhibitor. See my post on today about PARP inhibitors. She was admitted to the Charles River research site in Tacoma as one of 8 persons nationwide to be enrolled in this study. She is literally under lockup for 6 days and 5 nights to complete the first phase of this study. She will receive the drug as a radio-labeled infusion, and they will be doing pharmacokinetic studies for the next 5 days. Then she’ll return in 5 more days for an overnight stay.
After that she will have access to this PARP inhibitor to use as an adjunct to chemotherapy for as long as the cancer stays responsive, i.e. does not show signs of progression. We pray, and ask you to pray, that this will be a very effective drug for Kay, and that her cancer will be cured or induced into a long remission.

Now the good news.

Kay is an exceptional advocate for getting what she needs. Anyone who knows Kay knows that she is not one to be shy about asking for what she wants. We have had a trip planned to visit Maine and then go on to Italy in September for some time. She has arranged to get this initial PARP study done just before we leave, to go on our trip, and to start her chemo after we return. She has also arranged to have the timing of the cycles of treatment work out so that our Thanksgiving trip to So Cal will fit between courses, and not require a “drug holiday.” In addition she has managed to get into this PARP inhibitor study, at least a couple of years prior to this promising drug being available in any other way.
So how can you all help. First pray hard and often. During Kay’s initial battle with this cancer, we could physically feel the power of prayers of support from our friends and family. It was awesome, and we want you to ramp it up again. This is going to be a long haul, so hunker down with us for the long term. Second, please treat us as normally as possible. Kay feels not just good but great right now. We are really trying to maintain a semblance of our normal lives, which are blessed and very good. We don’t need a lot of help right now, but may at some time in the future. We’ll not be hesitant to ask for your help when we need it. Right now we are just waiting to see how all this works out. Kay is going to be really busy tomorrow and the next day with this study. E-mail is probably the best way to send your best wishes and support. She can’t have many visitors, and she will invite anyone she is able to see, but cannot have drop in visitors at least for a couple of days.
So far Kay has tolerated every type of treatment like the incredibly strong woman she is, and we anticipate more of the same with this course. Still her energy level is likely to drop, and I’ll try to keep you all informed through this blog. Thanks in advance for your prayers.

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