Friday, June 20, 2008

Changing the Treatment Plan

Five weeks have passed since my 6th chemo treatment and my white blood cells have not recovered to a sufficient level. In addition, the cumulative effect of chemo infusions over these past five months has caused major digestive system discomfort. Although the most recent set of CT scans show that the tumors in my lung and liver remain stable, Dr. Flaherty feels that we are plateauing on the benefits of chemo for my cancer treatment. I agree that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to subject me to the "barbaric" side effects of chemo if the drugs are not shrinking my tumors.

Fortunately there are a number of other treatment options available for Stage IV melanoma. For the next round I will be getting a biotherapy treatment called High Dose Interleukin-2 (IL-2). Treatments such as these involve injecting drugs into the body that stimulate the immune system. Essentially my body will perceive it's under attack from a massive infection and increase the immune response. The hope is that the additional white blood cells produced by the immune system will find melanoma cells and destroy them. Side effects resemble those that normally accompany a severe case of the flu. Currently IL-2 is only utilized for melanoma and kidney cancer.

I will get a reprieve from any form of treatment until 21-July to allow my body to recover from the six cycles of chemo. Deb and I will dovetail in a couple of fun vacations in the meantime, a trip to Disney World and a family reunion (my side) on Cape Cod.

Thanks to everyone for keeping us in your prayers. Our God is a mercifully and loving God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nate and Deb, you are in my prayers on a regular basis, but I will especially pray for this IL-2 treatment and your well being during this time. Marge keeps our small group updated each time we meet and we pray for you then too. I am so pleased that you are able to fit some fun time in there as well. You have a wonderful attitude and are a model to anyone who goes through physical difficulties. God has clearly held you in His hands. Keep it up. In His grip, Joy Stengel