May 9th, 2011
I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. My regularly scheduled life has demanded much of me lately. I also have been contending with fatigue. It’s been a bit of a dance — keep on top of life and manage to rest and exercise.
It’s a little scary to have experienced a sense of ascension from the Cancer Pit and then feel it tug me back in. Aside from my own physical symptoms, last week two online friends died. Both were parents of young children. Both were around my age. Sarah had been in remission and faced a recurrence that ultimately killed her.
This is Sarah. She made a promise to herself that she would die with her hair.
Derek wrote about going through the same treatment as an online friend on the same timeline. His friend’s treatment worked, but his did not.
These events renewed my sense of urgency about improving our understanding of cancer –– not just breast cancer, but the ovarian cancer that killed Sarah and the colorectal cancer that killed Derek.
Last week, I also participated in my first clinical trial. I had learned about it through Susan Love’s remarkable project, The Army of Women (AoW). I had a doctor’s appointment anyway. It only involved drawing a few extra tablespoons of blood and a follow-up phone call. The researcher I spoke with said that AoW has made a huge difference in their ability to recruit enough subjects for their study. Across the board, she said, the participants have been eager to help.
I had intended to do another clinical trial at the end of my treatment, but it didn’t work. For that trial, I would take Metformin to prevent a recurrence. Because my tumors were hormone-receptor negative, I am not taking anything like Tamoxifen or Armidex to prevent recurrence. My chance of recurrence is around 20-30%.
My oncologist had explained to me why they were prescribing the diabetes drug to breast cancer survivors. They had done meta-analyses of survival and recurrence rates in breast cancer survivors. Metformin seemed to significantly lower recurrence rates when they looked at populational data, controlling for other factors like weight, age, and fitness. They thing it has to do with cortisol suppression.
I ended up not being able to do the clinical trial because the Metformin shipment got held up in Canada. By the time it arrived, I was no longer qualified because of my date of diagnosis. My doctor offered to prescribe it to me for off-label use.
I hesitated. There are potential gastrointestinal side effects to Metformin. And for those of you who are new to my blog, you may not realize that I am a Side-Effect Queen. No discomfort, however small, seems to pass me by.
Then Sarah and Derek died.
That was it.
I called my doctor and decided I couldn’t bank on my fitness, youth, and good attitude to prevent a recurrence. I felt better about doing something at a molecular level that might interfere with tumor formation.
I spoke with three breast oncologists who thought the Metformin was a good idea. My blogger buddies who went to the National Breast Cancer Coalition conference and reported that the Metformin trial seemed like the most promising thing out there in preventing recurrence.
I needed to make a choice. The consensus was that this seems like a good one.
Because if my cancer comes back, it will be metastatic.
Diarrhea or metastatic cancer?
I’m going to take Door Number 1, Bob.
Let’s hope I have made the right choice.
If you are a woman in the US or Canada, please sign up for the Army of Women. You don’t have to be a cancer survivor. There are a lot of clinical trials out there that just need participation. We need a better understanding of cancer. Knowledge is power.
This entry was posted on Monday, May 9th, 2011 at 12:23 pm and is filed under Survivorship, Treatment, Wellness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.