This week has been another rollercoaster as my doctor in Boston, whose carried me this far, reccomended a different drug than the doctors at MD Anderson in Houston. I was very excited (strange, huh?) about the chemo that MDA was reccomending because of their confidence in a curative approach and having surgery come next, but my loyalty to Dr. Butrynksi in Boston, and the fact that I am doing MUCH better than expected (not by me) because of him made this very difficult for me. He told me that this regimen (called AIM) given over five days will be very rough on me and he thought he could achive the same results with a different, less toxic drug. He was very clear that he wasn't reccomending against the AIM treatment, which was a key factor in my decision. I have also been in contact with two survivors who have had this same regimen, which really sealed my decision.
So in two weeks I check into the hospital for 5-6 days to get a 5 day long infusion of two different drugs, as well as another drug that protects my bladder as the chemo is very toxic while it collects there. These drugs are also heart and kidney toxic, which is why I need to be monitored closely for my first treatment. The treatment consists of drugs called doxorubicin (adriamycin), ifosfamide and mesna, abbreviated AIM. I will be in Syracuse (at Crouse) for this treatment and am hoping that after the initial infusion I will receive my next ones as an outpatient (from home). I will have sixteen days off between treatments as long as my blood counts recover in time for the next treatment. After two cycles I will return to Houston for a comparison PET Scan (they want me scanned in the same hospital for consistency). After that I hope to return to Boston for scans, if possible.
I know this one might be ruff on me (and I will probably finally lose my hair) but I am excited because Dr. Ravi (in Houston) said there is a good chance that it completley kills the heart tumor and the other active spots. He said even if the tumor vanishes (and leaves behind scar tissue) they will operate because the recurrence rate is high, so removing that tissue is crucial. The goal is essentially for me to receive 6 rounds of this chemo (three week cycles) and then go to surgey if all goes as hoped.
I do have another small problem and that's a paricardial effusion (fluid) around my heart. I think its causing some pain, swelling and shortness of breath. They say it in my last CT in June and I followed up with Dr. Gorman about it. An echo showed that it was small and hopefully not much of a concern. The impressions from the PET I had in Houston said that it had grown since my last scan, and luckily I have a follow-up with Dr. Gorman on Monday. I am hoping this doesn't become an issue as if it does it would have to be drained (with a needle I think) or even worse would need to be fixed surgically. That would probably interfere with my chemo, which would be a bad thing at this point. I am hoping to know more on Monday about that.
Thanks for checking and since there is a lot going on I will probalby be posting/updating frequently. I'm ready to move on to the next stage of this, knowing that things now get worse before they get better, but that's OK.