Thursday, March 1, 2012

Great News!

Dave’s Great Adventure
Book 5, Chapter 1, Verse 5
March 1, 2012
Great News

I have great news from Houston tonight. Today Kathy and I found a wonderful little Mexican restaurant not too far from our hotel. We've been looking for places to eat since we got here and have found lots of neat little places but it's hard to find the kind of Mexican food we really like. But today we found a little taqueria not too far from here that has enchiladas with real red chile sauce and not chili con carne like most of the Tex-Mex places in Texas have. It's nice to know where great places to eat are.

In other absolutely wonderful news from Houston, we went back to M. D. Anderson today to meet with Dr. Keating's nurse to see what the status of my inclusion in the new drug study might be. We were met by the research nurse in the waiting room and she had a fifteen-page permit in her hand. She said I was in! She started telling me about the schedule we'd need to follow and how we'd be getting the drugs, one of which is my old friend Rituxan, which is given by IV infusion, and the other is the research drug PCI 32765, which is in a capsule form. I asked, well, what if the PET scan isn't normal and what if the biopsy shows Richter's. Oh, don't worry about that, she said, they had already reviewed the PET scan and it was okay. Wow!

So we found out that we'll be starting the new drug clinical trial later this month, on March 27th, to be specific. I'll need a series of tests first; a bone marrow biopsy, CT scan, EKG, many blood evaluations and another physical examination. And then we'll need to come to Houston weekly at first, and then monthly for about six months. But hopefully the drug will work as well for me it has for the first folks on whom it was tested. I will get the Rituxan weekly for four weeks and then monthly for another five months. Once I start the pills of PCI 32765, the day after my first Rituxan infusion, I'll be taking it daily for at least a year, barring significant complications.

Then Dr. Keating's clinical nurse asked me to come in to the clinic to talk with Dr. Keating between patients. I was happy to do so. When he had a chance to break free between his scheduled patients, he came in to our room and we talked about getting me into the study group. Only 40 patients are being accepted into this group! I believe only 117 were in the first, Phase One group (in which the drug’s safety and efficacy were evaluated, and a standard dose defined) so it's a special and select group of folks who have been picked to test this drug. I'm really honored and hope that my experience will help me and lots of folks who come after me. Since the PET scan was normal, or at least, cleared me of having the Richter's Transformation, I asked if I needed the needle biopsy which was still to be scheduled. Dr. Keating said he'd rather I didn't have the biopsy. That was good enough for me, as I didn't relish the thought of having a needle stuck deep into my belly to get cells from my tumors. So, after talking with Dr. Keating, we went back to the transplant clinic and canceled the biopsy. And with that, we were done.

We plan to drive home tomorrow and get out our calendar to schedule to plan out our weekly and monthly trips to Houston. We'll have to plan our life around these trips but that's okay. I look forward to it.

The next message will be about starting this new, experimental drug and what it’s like being on it. I’ll also spend just a bit of time explaining how this Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor drug actually works. I know you can’t wait!

More to come....