Battle with the Silent Killer

Monday, February 13, 2006

Two & ½ months later...

The Lymphatic system is like pearls on a chain. The lymph system parallels the vein system, returning lymph fluid through the lymph nodes (the pearls) until it is dumped into a main vein. It is powered by muscle contractions.

When I had surgery in September, two of the lymph nodes in my groin were removed. Suddenly, the lymph system had lost continuity, and the edema that began with the blood clots turns into lymphmedema. This can become the most crippling side effect. My left leg is plagued with neuropathy (from the chemo) and lymphedema. That's what all the Physcal Therapy was about, teaching me what I needed to learn, lymphatic drainage, to return my leg to as normal a state as possible. My left lower leg is nearly the size of my right lower leg (and, I found out, when I was in hospital after surgery, they were actually worried that I was going to lose my foot, or feet. The edema was so bad, it was interfering with my circulatory system).

I was also fitted with an elastic garment. For December and January, I wore the garments on both legs (all the way up to the upper thigh), but lately have only been wearing it on my left leg.

Before my fifth chemo therapy, the doctor told me about the possibility of participating in one of two clinical trials, post chemo follow-up. There are three arms to the trial: one where they do nothing but monitor the CA-125 level (this is a tumor marker in the blood), one where they administer a slightly lower dose of Taxol than I had already been receiving with my regular chemo (carbo-taxol mix) once a month for a year, one where they administer Xyotax once a month for a year.

In order to participate in the study, I needed to qualify with a number of tests that would be standard operating procedure following chemo, anyway, the main one being a follow-up CAT scan.

I completed my six rounds of chemo on January 25, tolerating it all rather well. I've had very little actual vomitting, mostly a slight degree of nausea, well controlled with oral medication. Only mild 'chemo fog', plus some fatigue, as the effects of the toxicity of the chemo built up over the 4 & ½ months accumulated.

On February 7, I had my CAT scan. On February 8, I had an EKG. On Friday, February 10, I had an X-ray, urine test and a little more than the usual blood draw. Then I met with the doctor, to learn the results.

While there is an area still 'to watch', "Considerations include a seroma" - this was the main item mentioned by my doctor from the surgical report; she is not concerned with it. My CA-125 was 11 on Friday.

I am considered to be in a disease free state! Now, I have to learn where the new 'normal' is for my body. While accept that I will probably not be able to run Bloomsday this year, I hope to be able to run and ride again in the future. My platelet count was 1.3; it needs to be 1.5 for me to be fully enrolled in the clinical trial. I will be tested on Wednesday and may actually be the first enrollee.

Battle with the Silent Killer
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Darbie Marlin
West 524 Euclid Avenue
Spokane, Washington 99205, USA
Voice: 509. 325 .3996

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Last Updated - February, 2006