Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A little aloha with treatment update on the side

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii!

It’s Wednesday--I arrived here in Kona this past Saturday afternoon, where I was met at the airport by both daughters as well as my two granddaughters. I’m making the transition to Hawaii-time (a 3-hour difference) much more easily than I expected.

Thanks to perfect planning by both Lauren’s mother-in-law, Jan as well as her friend, Brook I was finally attend a shower for my daughter. Previously, distance and timing had meant that I missed the showers. Oh, yeah…and after the first baby shower, I guess it’s called a “sprinkle.”

I can’t remember the last time I played baby shower games, and the 3 we played were new to me. I wish I taken a photo of the babies we all made from (unchewed) bubble gum! Lauren’s MIL gave her the baby quilt that had been used by Lauren’s husband, as well as his father. It’s not only special because of that history, but it’s still in near-perfect condition. It’s gorgeous, huh?

We are now in a holding pattern as we await the arrival of my 3rd grandchild and 1st grandson. Little Bradley is due June 5, and I’m scheduled to return home on June 6, so I’m cutting it close. However, Lauren’s doc reports that she’s dilated about 3 cm., and she doesn’t expect the baby to wait another week. After suffering from some nasty indigestion my first 2 afternoons here, my tummy has settled down, so I’m hoping THAT won’t be any issue for my attending the delivery.

I intended to send out a treatment update a few days prior to leaving California, but it was good that I didn’t, because there were some last-minute changes.

So, here goes: You may recall I took a 10-day break from Tarceva, during which time my stomach distress cleared up. After going back on a reduced dose of Tarceva a few weeks back, the indigestion gradually reappeared, not only causing discomfort, but making me skip meals AND lose more weight.

While we had hoped I could tolerate the lower dose (combined with my other 2 chemo meds.), it appeared that I wasn’t able to handle that combo. So, I made the decision to discontinue the Tarceva, and give the other 2 chemos the chance to do their thing.

When I went in for my scan last week, the oncologist reported that my cancer was stable—no progression, but no improvement in the fight to beat it back. We discussed the options: Stay on the 2-chemo treatment, switch to a combination I used the first year, try a clinical trial, or try Tarceva alone. Since we knew SOMETHING in the 3-chemo treatment exhibited improvement in my first scan, we decided to opt for trying Tarceva alone.

Just to clarify-- it’s been my assumption, all along, that the issue is NOT the Tarceva per se, but the combination of meds: Carboplatin + Abraxane + Tarceva. The Tarceva is known to have the potential for causing stomach distress, but I’ve assumed that combining it with other chemo-treatments was what pushed my situation over the edge.

What’s interesting is that although I’ve been off the Tarceva for 10 days, I’m STILL experiencing stomach distress, which isn’t at all what I expected. All this time, we’ve suspected the Tarceva as the main cause, but I’m now starting to wonder if the Carbo or Abraxane (or combo of both) has been more problematic than we guessed. I was treated with Carbo/Abraxane 3 days before leaving California. I guess we’ll know more when I start treating with Tarceva alone on June 8.

In the meantime, I’m taking a 2-week break from treatment, and my body appreciates the respite. Of course, we don’t want to let the cancer get the wrong ideas, so I just consider this a chance to gear up for battle!

Aaarghhhhh---I so tired of thinking about, talking about, writing about cancer and my treatment. Thank goodness for the sweet distractions of being here in Hawaii, enjoying the family and absorbing the sensations of Hawaiian sounds and scents. The local doves have such a memorably distinctive coo.

Now, I’m going to get out my colored pencils, and PLAY, while I wait for my little munchkins to visit!


  1. It sounds like Kona is the very best treatment of all! Sending healing thoughts your way! Aloha! Paula

  2. I love the relaxing look of your blog site! So glad you are there and hope with all my heart you will be there be to hold that baby when he arrives! what a nice way to say hello to him! The pictures are great. Have a good break from the chemo... and just relax. aloha my friend!

  3. Big love to you, girlfriend. Those granddaughters of yours look like enough to make anyone feel better! I'll keep my fingers crossed (except when playing the guitar) for the Tarveca to work on its own and for your stomach troubles to calm down and for Mr. C to take a dive off a high board into an empty pool!

    xo, Britta


Please post your kind, considerate and thoughtful comments here.