Thursday, July 2, 2009


L., my wife and the world's number one supportive pessimist, reviewed my (just typed "our" by mistake) most recent radiology report, and the verdict is in: The news, indeed, was good.

This may sound silly -- the doctor already told us the news was reasonably good -- but it's continually amazing to me how different the report is on paper from what you hear from your doctor. It's not just Dr. BT; he's blunter than most. My oncologist at home, Dr. S, also spins these things within an inch of their lives. And "good" differs quite a bit from "stable" or "not disastrous" or "can stay in the trial, at least." I don't want to exaggerate and say that the tumors are shrinking all around, but there's some reason to hope that maybe next time we'll get a stronger result and actually roll some things back in a significant way. Which would be almost unprecedented -- my cancer hasn't responded really strongly to anything except gem/tax followed by gemzar plus radiation, and that was years ago. So let's hope.

I'm focusing on that because it's getting more difficult to hang with the treatments. I've always thought that brivanib was surprisingly benign, but it's starting to show some teeth. To wit, my mouth is sensitive and painful. I thought there might be some ulcerations in there, but fortunately, there aren't. But I simply can't eat many, many things. Also, my stomach has started acting up. I haven't had nausea, but I have had a lot of issues, including plain old loss of appetite. I suppose that it's not surprising that I'm having more stuff come up, since I've now been on the drug for something like 17 weeks, albeit with a six-week placebo hiatus in the middle.

The other thing, since I'm in a complaining, er, describing mode, is that I'm having increasing difficulty swallowing those four enormous pills every night. I'm pretty sure that the problem is psychological, but it's no less real for that. While I once bolted them down three at a time, I now carefully consider each one, picking it up, putting it down, easing it into my mouth, taking a huge gulp of water -- and almost every time I feel close to gagging. So I wait for a while, then start the whole lugubrious process over again. The whole process takes freakin' forever.

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