100th Day of Chemo: Done at Last

The Pirates of the Nether Regions raised nearly $13,000 last weekend for the Underwear Affair.

The Pirates of the Nether Regions raised nearly $13,000 last weekend for the Underwear Affair. (See end of blog.)

Forgive me if I don’t celebrate the completion of chemo. There is no bell ringing, cheering or cake. My friends are very excited to hear that chemo is over… 5 cycles of cisplatin and gemcitabine. But I’ve been here before.

I’ve finished chemo three times now and while early on I had a faint hope that I would not return to the 6th floor infusion centre, now I believe it’s only a matter of time before I’m back.

And this is a good thing. I believe it’s chemo that’s keeping me alive. It’s the dragon that is beating the tumours into submission. As long as Dr. T signs me up for chemo, it means there is hope for life ahead.

I have a new dragon on my side: I’m heading into a clinical trial which is a new experience for me. It’s a phase 3 trial, which means it’s been tested on people with different cancers and found to be useful. It will be tested on 360 women with ovarian cancer around the world. My dragon’s name is Niraparib. I like it.

The chemotherapy I’ve endured over the last 4 years attacks the cancer cells as well as every other fast-growing cell in my body. That’s why some drugs make our hair fall out or our fingernails. It rots the insides of our mouths and kills the nerves in our hands and feet. Niraparib, like other PARP (poly ADP ribose polymeraseinhibitors, is a new style of drug that targets the cancer cells. It means that instead of attacking our entire body, this new dragon knows where to go.

The dragon interferes with DNA repair within the cancer cell. Angiogenesis prevents the formation of new blood vessels to stop the cancer cell’s growth. It could make a tumour easier to treat, said a cancer researcher at a conference I attended recently. He cited one study using a different PARP inhibitior that gave women 4 months progression-free survival (the tumours didn’t grow in that time). The women didn’t live any longer but the tumours stopped growing. That’s a start.

The goal of this study is to learn if Niraparib can help delay the worsening of ovarian, peritoneal or fallopian cancer among patents who had a good response to previous treatment with a platinum-type chemotherapy drug. Notice that it’s no life saver. It’s no cancer killer. It’s considered a “maintenance” therapy.

What is key is that it’s supposed to give us a much better life than we’d have on chemo. Because of the targeted approach, PARP inhibitors do their work without inflicting massive side effects on patients. It means our quality of life is much higher. And for those of us learning to live with cancer, quality of life is everything.

There are no needles to administer Niraparib. I will take 3 pills every morning at home for the 8 months of the trial. There’s a lot of blood-letting at the lab to see how I’m doing and a CT scan and EKG to make sure my heart is still working.

This trial is a double-blind study which means that for every 3 women in the study, 2 will get Niraparib, and 1 will get a placebo. People have asked if I’m afraid I will get the placebo. Not really. I can leave the trial at anytime. If the CT scans show the tumours in my lungs and liver are growing again, I can leave the trial and go back to the chemo on the 6th floor. It’s worked before.

Daughter Kate and Mom, Rochelle.

Daughter Kate and Mom, Rochelle.

And finally, I wanted to thank you for your kind words of support and your contributions to The Underwear Affair. The fundraiser for the BC Cancer Foundation was held last weekend and my daughter’s team, The Pirates of the Nether Regions, raised nearly $13,000. The Pirates were the top team again. Over the last four years, they raised $90,000.  It goes to research cancers below the waist. Thank you.

Daughter Kate and co-captain Erica, leading the Pirates.

Daughter Kate and co-captain Erica leading the Pirates.

The Pirates: Daughter Kate, Rochelle & Susan, former colleague.

The Pirates: Daughter Kate, Rochelle & Susan, former colleague.


This entry was posted in 100 Days of Chemo, Living with Cancer, The Underwear Affair and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to 100th Day of Chemo: Done at Last

  1. ramy@ramyhill.com says:

    Rochelle, I am so proud of you, from your little sister Ramy!


  2. Helen Bond says:

    Rochelle…..please keep us all posted on how your new dragon is treating you! I was very encouraged to read of this new line of drugs that attacks the cancer cells directly! That’s huge progress! You’re always in my thoughts….big hug to you! A huge CONGRATS to the Pirates for their huge achievement in fundraising!!! Way to go, Gurlz!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mary Louise Doherty says:

    Rochelle, I feel truly blessed to know you. Thank you for the openness in your writing. Mary Louise

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chris Mann says:

    Rochelle – you have a way of speaking your truth that leaves the reader feeling both proud of your courage and overwhelmed with tears because of this difficult journey you are on. You are living your own story the very best way you know how – one step at a time. And because you are sharing your story, being factual and informative, being real about your expectations – the circle of people around you expands and the love and support for you multiplies. Your daughter and her team are also to be commended on their creative and spirited fundraising and passionate support. I’m part of the circle that surrounds you, prays for you, and sends light and love to you and your loved ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kate says:

    Thanks you so much for sharing your journey, Rochelle. You write so beautifully about such difficult trials and tribulations, and your strong bright spirit shines through. Sending every good wish and prayer your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. miaj27 says:

    Thank you Rochelle for sharing this information. Thinking of you and sending you all the best, Mia

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dean Cardno says:

    Notice that it’s no life saver. It’s no cancer killer. It’s considered a “maintenance” therapy.

    As were, some years ago, the various AIDS cocktails and combination therapies. Over a long enough treatment period, “maintenance” therapy is a lifesaver – you live as long as you would have if there was no such thing as cancer – and that’s not so bad. On top, “maintenance” in 2014 might turn into “possible treatment” in 2020, and then cure in 2030, as the oncologists get more experience and understanding.
    Rochelle, I am very hopeful that your new dragon will give you a better life, or maybe return you to the life you had. Moreover, I am confident that your participation in the trial will help to give the doctors the information to extend that to many others battling with this disease.
    All good wishes,


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Constance Brissenden says:

    So very very happy for you! Constance

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Lynne Carrow says:

    Dearst Cancer Queen,

    You and every cancer fighter are inspirational. As I read your latest post, Rochelle, I am taken back 7 years, to when my sister Nancy began cisplaten & gemcitabine. And now my sister in NY has just returned home from the hospital after a stem cell transplant which will hopefully extend her life…she has multiple myeloma.

    I feel blessed to have you as a friend and you are always in my prayers.

    Love, Lynne

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, I celebrate many things but not the presence of being sone with treatment. Very cool about your trial!!!!!
    warmly, marcy


  11. carina says:

    Are you on the trial right now? How is it? Any information about your own experience is highly appreciated! 🙂 Thank you


    • Hi Carina,
      No, I’m not on a trial right now. The growth of the tumour in my lung while I was on chemo this summer bumped me out of a PARP trial. Too bad. It might have been good. How about you?


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