Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Starting Biotherapy

Hi everyone, this is Deb. I will be helping update the blog while Nate is receiving treatment over the next few weeks. We checked into Karmanos yesterday so Nate could start receiving High Dose IL2. I found a great online video that gives every detail as to what that is however it is 27 min long so I'll also give you the basics.

High dose Interluken-2 (IL2)
This is a biological therapy not chemotherapy. Biological therapy treatments use your immune system to fight cancer while chemotherapy attacks the cancer cells directly.
Nate has to be in the hospital to receive the treatment because he receives a dose over a fifteen minute period every eight hours through an IV. 7a.m.-3p.m.-11p.m. is his schedule. Also he has to be very closely monitored for side effects which are numerous. He is weighed every morning because the drug almost shuts down his kidneys and he retains water. He could gain up to 4 lbs a day! They say he will lose it all within a couple of days of getting home by taking water pills. He has his vitals taken every two hours which makes for long nights. His blood is also drawn and checked daily. Most common side effects are general flu like symptoms, fatigue, restlessness, flushing and possibly itchy skin, diarrhea, swollen arms and legs, light sensitivity, chills/shakes, and loss of appetite. We were told most patients will get 8-12 doses with the max being 15. Doses are skipped if side effects are too severe.

We checked into Karmanos yesterday afternoon and Nate received his first IL-2 dose at 3p.m. He did great! We were told that most people get really bad chills and shakes soon after the first dose but Nate never got them. He started to feel aches all over a couple hours later along with some restlessness around 10p.m. but was able sleep most of the night. Dr. Flarhety came in at 8 this morning and was impressed as to how well Nate was handling the doses. The only concern was his blood pressure has been low so they will keep a close eye on that. Nate even felt well enough to eat a small breakfast. So far he has had 3 doses and is (as our nurse says) making this look easy.

We have been impressed with Karmanos so far. We were lucky enough to get a private room which is very large and has a nice feel to it. The nurses are wonderful especially Tania who was the first to sit down and go over everything with us. The floor is set up like a rectangle. The are often times patients lapping the halls during their stay (16 laps = 1 mile). We are in room 5219.

Deb

6 comments:

marissa j. van reken said...

Hey Deb & Nate,

We were so happy to spend some time with your family down here in Florida and we've got you in our thoughts this week as Nate gets this treatment. We hope the side effects are minimal and the treatment is effective. We love you! -Rebecca & Gustavo

John and Sally Cremer said...

Hi Deb & Nate,
Thanks for keeping us in the loop on the details. We know what a pain it is to do that but really helps us know how to specifically pray for you. With such a tough treatment system and many people getting worse right away, we are glad to hear the first treatment went so well!

Marge and Jim said...

Deb and Nate,

Thank you so much for the details of your day. We are so glad that Nate hasn't had any bad side effects yet. Let's hope and pray that continues. Looking forward to all the updates.

Love, Marge and Jim

Anonymous said...

Dear Deb,
We are so glad to hear how well Nate is doing with the treatment so far! We'll be praying for his comfort and healing and also for you, Morgan, and Landon. Thanks for updating - it's good to hear what's going on and to know what to pray for!
Shelly Noordermeer

Future Bulldog said...

I am glad to hear that Nate is handling the treatments well. We are praying.
Love you guys,
Karin

Anonymous said...

You guys are both such humble and wonderful people. I am glad that I made you feel welcome and somewhat at ease with all the new adventures this IL2 treatment entails.