Thursday, October 13, 2011

Good news

Mom got her numbers from the blood work that was done on Monday, and her CA125 count went down to 15! That gives her tremendous peace of mind as far as taking a break from chemo. It will be nice to enjoy the holidays without worrying about when to work in the treatments and getting through the side effects.

The National Ovarian Cancer Alliance developed an app for smart phones and iPad, etc that allows women to keep track of daily occurrences, and if there starts to be any consistency in certain symptoms, such as bloating, urination frequency... then you can keep track of those in a diary format and take a look overall at what your body is telling you. Until there is a reliable screening method, keeping track of symptoms is the next best thing. The CA125 count is used as an ovarian cancer marker, but as I have heard Dr. Porubcin say many times, you can't rely on that number or use a course of treatment based on that number.

Taking charge of your health is the best thing you can do for yourself!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Treatment postponed

Mom's doctor appointment went fine yesterday. There weren't any numbers available from her blood work as she had that done right before meeting with Dr. Porubcin, so there was nothing to go by as far as thinking of another treatment this week. The short of it is there is no Doxil available, and his best course of action was to give mom a break from chemo for now and keep her on regular checkups. He mentioned another chemo drug, Gemzar, that would be used in combination with Carboplatin (one of the first drugs that mom was treated with in 2009). That is what he is recommending to go with should mom need a treatment at some point in time in the future.

Her last CA125 count was in the 300's, so hopefully this next one will be lower. They should have the number in a couple of days. Dr. Porubcin reminded that he doesn't necessarily treat Ovarian Cancer by the number alone... so even if the number does go up, he may not start another treatment unless there are other symptoms that should surface (such as ascites/fluid buildup in abdomen).

So I guess mom is in a wait-and-see-what-happens mode. That's about all I got out of the conversation. The nice thing is that mom should have a nice break from treatments so that will give her some time to do some things without thinking about working around chemo sessions.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

No Doxil for next treatment

Mom received disappointing news today - the Trinity Cancer Center Nurse called and said that they did not get any Doxil for mom's treatment next week, and there is none available any where else.

Dr. Porubcin still wants to see mom next week for her appointment on Monday. At that time he will suggest another possible course of action or treatment.

It's unfortunate because the Doxil was working and mom was on a good pace with the drug - finally - and having another treatment ON SCHEDULE would have been a good thing. Hopefully this won't be too large of a hiccup in her process, however I can't help but feel unnerved as this sounds like the shortage is due to some SNAFU of a third-party manufacturer. I've heard it described as "production delays" but that still doesn't answer the question. Why?

In a Chicago Tribune article, they noted that Johnson & Johnson's  "specialty manufacturer" of the drug was moving out of the contract manufacturing business, which could cause shortages of the drug. This was reported in July. But the fact remains that if they saw a shortage coming down the road, then they should have found another "specialty manufacturer" to take care of this so the transition would be smooth. Not too much to ask. Of course I am not experienced at running a billion dollar company but one would think that there should be some processes in place if they are relying on other manufacturers.

So is Johnson and Johnson going to get in any trouble for this - for inconveniencing thousands of cancer patients? Depends on how bad some situations are I guess.