January 9, 2014

Day 1, Iressa (gefitinib)

Finally got to meet the oncologist today, with his fellow.  I went in with as much hope as I could muster and came out frankly... disappointed.  Dr. B was friendly but I feel like his hands are tied with established "standards of care" in Canada.  We met his fellow first (I am starting to get a huge dislike for fellows; they tend to not say the right things);  I was angry/upset when he said "expecting to live 3-5 years (with this cancer) is unrealistic".... Screw you!! You are NOT the master of my fate.  I'd like to think I am optimistic... And would like to stay that way!  What a jerk! When Dr. B finally came in, he was calm and compassionate.  He's quite hopeful that I will respond well to the targeted drug therapy (my gene mutation is positive for EGFR exon 19 deletion so I am taking an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor), which I fortunately started today (fingers crossed!!). We discussed all the future expectations, drug side effects, follow up in 4 weeks, how to better manage my pain, etc.  Unfortunately, there aren't any clinical trials with my gene mutation in this area but there is one at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.... We are not opposed to moving.  We'll see, after our first follow up, where we want to be and after we talk to friends and family about our options.  I will request to not see the fellow next time. On the upside, he made us more detemined to prove him wrong!

We learned some interesting things about my new drug (Iressa/gefitinib) from the pharmacist at the cancer clinic.  Antioxidants can counteract its effectiveness!!  What? All that I knew is now officially out the door.  I have to stop taking my multivitamins, reduce green tea, watch how many fruits and vegetables I eat (there goes the juicing).  On top of that, I am now trying to stuff myself silly everyday (I have been watching my diet and making sure I don't over eat for so many years).  All this is totally foreign to me.  

Earlier this week, we went to the Cancer Centre for an orientation.  It's a well run centre with lots of support services.  We have an appointment booked with a dietician next week.  We are also going to see a counsellor to help us cope... This is becoming overwhelming for us and I just started treatment. Hope it gets better with time.  

Update October 24, 2014:
My naturopathic oncologist clarified the benefit of antioxidants.  That was in August so I am back on high doses of antioxidants:).  I don't doubt that the cancer centre's pharmacist truly believes in the contraindication of antioxidants with the use of Iressa but the naturopath's explanation of the differences in the cellular makeup and function of healthy vs cancer cells makes perfect sense to me.  My gut tells me he's right... So going back to what I know. Yay antioxidants!!