Posted in Personal

Chemo Update for Number Six

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. It’s been awhile since I’ve given an update on my chemo journey. Therefore, I’m back today to fill everyone in. My doctor cancelled my sixth treatment due to the fact that I have some numbness in my toes and fingers. After talking with my friend from Gilda’s club, I spoke to my doctor and let him know that I was concerned. He recommended that we cancel the treatment and then lower the dose. So instead of bi-weekly visits, I’ll be doing weekly visits. My friend from Gilda’s had to do the same thing and she said that the weekly chemo treatments were tolerable. The only bad thing is that it puts me out a week longer on my timeline.

There have also been some emotional side effects that didn’t occur until the second half. I’m not sure why that is, I’m guessing that being sick is wearing me down and causing some anxiety. I seem to worry about everything whether it warrants it or not. I’ve spoken to my doctor and he has prescribed some medication. All we can do is see if it works.

I also had some sort of infection and the doctor prescribed an antibiotic for me. I didn’t even know I was sick, I figured I felt lousy because of the chemo. So a word to the wise don’t get lackadaisical about checking your temperature. When the nurse informs you to check it every day, do it.

One last note for everyone, the fatigue is still hanging around. I have this fear that it won’t go away although everyone assures me that it does. 🙂 It might take me a while to get back into the swing of things. I hope it doesn’t take long. I know it’s different for everyone, but I hope I have a speedy recovery. Anybody else have any thoughts on that?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I appreciate your taking the time and if you could leave a few words of encouragement, I’d greatly appreciate it!

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Posted in Family, Health

Second Round of Chemo

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with the second round of chemo under my belt. I was a little anxious because I’ve been told that the side effects grow worse each time you have a treatment.

I spoke with the nurse about this and she told me that the only side effect that gets worse is the fatigue. Well, fatigue I can handle, it’s the nausea that gets to me and since there’s the wonderful anti-nausea medication, I feel like I’m good to go.

Since I’ve had one treatment, I know what to expect. For example, in my concoction of chemo drugs there’s a steroid that makes sleeping difficult. Now that I know this, I’ve been able to prepare for that and take something that’ll help me sleep.

The biggest difference between the first and second chemo is the loss of hair. I was hoping that I could bypass this side effect somehow, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I started noticing my hair coming out in tiny clumps when I was in the shower a day before my second treatment.

After my second treatment, it came out in huge clumps. When I brushed it, there were even bigger clumps stuck in my brush. I’m not bald yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

I expected it and prepared for it, but it’s not a happy moment to say the least.

There are some positive effects to this event in my life. I know what you’re thinking, how can this be? Well, first and foremost I’ll have my life back in just four months.  According to my oncologist, I’ll be cured. The cancer won’t come back. That’s a big positive in my book.

However, there’s more to it than that. It’s brought my family closer. Hubby and the boys are more attentive and we appreciate each other’s company more than we did before. It’s hard to explain, but there’s a tenderness there that wasn’t present before.

I also have a  lot of support. I have a long line of strong women in my family, both on my mom and dad’s side. So it’s nice to have these women rally around me and offer their support.

Speaking of support, I have to mention my friend from Gilda’s club. Her name is Ginger, and she has been a constant source of positive energy for me. She calmed my nerves when I found out I had to have chemo. She took the same drugs that I’m taking and she was very helpful because she shared her reaction to them. It really set my mind at ease.

Posted in Health

“Side Effects” the Movie that inspired this Post on Human Drug Testing

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m taking a break from discussing teen issues today and talking about a movie I saw. I went to see “Side Effects” a couple of weeks ago. It was a great movie with an awesome twist toward the end. I enjoyed it and the movie started me thinking about the new drugs that deal with psychological issues that are available on the market today.

Now, I’ve never taken a drug for depression or anxiety so I have no first-hand knowledge of what some of these drugs can do. But this movie raised some concerns for me. I asked the question, how do we know what the side effects of these drugs are? How do we test for them?

So, of course, I did some research and this is what I found:  A new drug has to go through three phases of testing before it is considered safe for the market and all drugs have to be approved by the FDA.

Phase One: This is where the drug is tested on animals. After the company does this type of testing they must fill out a “New Drug Application.”  This application is then reviewed by the FDA and a local Institutional Review Board. If the application is approved, the review board (made up of scientists and non-scientists in hospitals and research institutions) moves forward and sets up a clinical trial protocol. This protocol describes the type of people who can participate in the human testing of the drug.  The people tested in this stage are healthy humans and they are paid for their participation. The emphasis in this stage is safety. Researchers are looking for any negative effects the drug has on healthy individuals. If no major health concerns appear they move on to Phase Two. The number of participants for this phase range from twenty to eighty people.

Phase Two: This is the phase where they test the effectiveness of a drug while still keeping an eye on safety. They want to see if the drug actually works on the conditions or diseases it’s designed to help. The number of participants for this phase range between a few dozen to about three hundred.  If there is evidence that there is a positive effect from the drug the researchers move on to Phase Three.

Phase Three:  In this phase they gather more information on effectiveness and safety; testing the drug on different populations and different dosages. They also combine the test drug with other medications to see if there’s any negative reaction. The number of people tested in this phase range from several hundred to three thousand.

After this phase the sponsor of the new drug must fill out a New Drug Application. This is the formal step needed to seek approval from the FDA to market any drug in the United States.  If approved that Clinical Trials are set up and these trials are what take so long. They can take several years to complete. For more information on the New Drug Review Process please click this link.  http://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm143534.htm

It takes several years for a drug to appear on the market. As I researched this I grew concerned.  Who are these companies testing the drugs on?

Since these companies are paying individuals to be human guinea pigs there isn’t any criteria to become a test subject. Therefore, I concluded that the test subjects are usually the poor or uneducated or young people who need the money, like college students.

What happens when drug testing goes horribly wrong? As parents we need to teach our young people to value their health and not take it for granted. I know that drug testing is essential and I don’t fault modern medicine for finding new cures, but testing a new drug can be very dangerous for the volunteers. The risks are too great in my opinion. So, what are we to do?

I have an answer. 🙂 But you knew I would didn’t you?  Where can we find human volunteers? My answer is why don’t we look for volunteers in our prison system? We’ve got a number of individuals who are either serving life sentences or on death row. They would be benefiting society and drug companies wouldn’t have to pay them. Maybe that would also bring the cost of the drugs down, which could ultimately bring down insurance rates for health insurance. Hmmm….makes you think doesn’t it?

One may argue that prisoners don’t fit the criteria of a healthy individual. Well…that is a point but my response to this arguement is…most prisoners eat better than our poor and uneducated. Sadly…they are probably healthier than many of our current volunteers.

Is it considered cruel and unusual punishment? I think not…because it is on a volunteer basis. In my opinion, doctors would be able to monitor the subjects in a controlled environment, which would make monitoring the side effects of the drug easier and more accurate. 🙂 This would protect our college bound youngsters, the poor, and uneducated who have done nothing against society.

What do you think? I know this sounds a little extreme…but then you’d have to see the movie to understand my concerns.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on my opinions. 🙂 Do you think this would be feasible?

***I want to thank www.fda.gov for some of the information provided in this post.