Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lumps and splits

I'm just trying to get up to date here before I start pontificating about other topics again. 

After the awful pleurodesis and overenthusiastic pain management, I recovered from the various chest tubes and antibiotics and went home for a while before beginning chemotherapy for the second time. After much deliberation, I chose the relatively toxic gemcitabine-docetaxel (gemzar/taxotere, or gem/tax) regimen I successfully took the previous year rather than the relatively tolerable temodar (temozolomide) recommended by my local doctor. I received very little help on making the decision; an e-mail to the NY doctor, the gem/tax proponent, wasn't returned, and the case he made to my local doctor in favor of reusing the drugs wasn't something that she could or would clearly articulate. 

I decided on gem/tax because I wanted to pursue what I believed was the more aggressive treatment, and because new scans and showed the disease swimming through my retroperitoneal lymph nodes. The plan was to split the dose of taxotere, giving one half the first week of treatmentand the second the following week. The third week of each cycle would be for rest. I tolerated the first infusion of the drugs well, returned the following week for another infusion, and discovered that my lung had collapsed AGAIN. 

I was admitted to the hospital, and met a new pulmonologist who, appropos of my sarcoma and repeated collapsed lungs, said, "I'm a lumper, not a splitter." That is, he was far more inclined to attribute the lung issues to the cancer than to split them off as something unrelated.

In the next exciting chapter, we'll explore VATS -- visually aided thoracic surgery (which requires some "splitting" alas) -- and get provisionally good news from lung biopsies. Perhaps we'll even start chemo again....

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