Ariel2: My New Superhero Fighting Ovarian Cancer

superhero-blank1Tomorrow, Tuesday, I start the ARIEL2 clinical trial with high hopes that it will make me well and let me live longer. A lot longer.

And it’s not a moment too soon. I’ve been living in limbo land since my last caelyx chemo two months ago. I started monthly treatments of caelyx in November 2014. After my second treatment, my CA 125 (the tumour marker that usually indicates ovarian cancer is alive and growing at 35 and above) fell from 820 to 270. Who would think three digits would make me happy?

All good things come to an end, as they say. The next CA 125 shot up to 480. I had a final caelyx treatment but I knew what the numbers meant. Caelyx was drug number five and it was done with me and me with it.

A CT scan last month confirmed what had been happening on the inside. Previous sub-centimeter pulmonary nodules have disappeared from my lungs (thanks Caelyx!) only to be replaced by 16 new ones — they’re small but they’re new.

The big tumour in my liver is slightly smaller 3.5 x 2.8 cm but now numerous other lesions have developed… All except two are sub-centimeter. “All likely new metastases,” says the report. And Lucy? The big tumour on my right side is slightly smaller… 5.6 x 4.9 cm.

Meanwhile, my CA125 was 1,200 a month ago and two weeks later, it’s 2,000. My CA125 is now higher than it ever was other than just before surgery 4.5 years ago, when it was 2,375.

And we have come to know pain in the last few months. Not agonizing, tv-drama pain. Discomfort. Extreme. Not being able to sleep on my side. Pulling back from a friend when I see a big, tight hug coming. Hugging myself when a sneeze comes. I’m learning to cope with narcotics but sometimes they don’t work as well as a tiny 4 mg steroid or a hot bean bag nestled in my bed.

Of the two doctors I see at the British Columbia Cancer Agency, one is far more positive about the trial’s success. She says that 75% of the patients she’s enrolled in it have a positive response to it. I’m joining the 75% tomorrow! (The other doctor talks about a much lower response rate but she’s looking at larger numbers of women on the study… about 300 have taken this drug in several phases of the trial. You know who I’m listening to.)

What’s Rucaparib All About? 

Rucaparib is one of the new PARP inhibitor drugs that is having good results with women with advanced ovarian cancer.

Rucaparib belongs to a new class of anti-cancer agents known as PARP inhibitors. I was supposed to have been on a similar trial last summer but a new tumour got in the way.

PARP is a protein inside all cells  that helps repair damage to DNA, the genetic material that carries instructions for your body’s growth and development.

Think of PARP as your city’s road repair department: when DNA is damaged by sunlight, radiation, etc., PARP gets to work at repairing the cell (fixes the potholes in the road). The problem is that PARP helps cancer cells repair themselves as well.

Enter the Superhero Team known as PARP inhibitors. PARP inhibitors trick the PARP protein into not working. Think of them as the emergency team that rushes directly to the site of the DNA repair in the cancer cell. Whether through DNA tricks or Cirque du Soleil high wire antics, the PARP inhibitors distract the PARP team from road repair. The result? The DNA defect is not repaired and the cancer cell, without instructions for growth and development, dies. Hail the Super Team… arriving here on Tuesday!

I have two friends who are scheduled for this same trial. We are watched carefully — blood regularly tested and after eight weeks we will have another CT scan to see if rucaparib is doing what it’s supposed to do. Has it worked? How long will it work? What’s the effect, good and/or bad on the patient and her disease. And who will it leave behind?

Think of us this week as we meet our new superhero. And thank you for reading, for your support and your wonderful comments. Here’s to a good life for all of us.

 

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10 Responses to Ariel2: My New Superhero Fighting Ovarian Cancer

  1. Tracy Forbes says:

    Dear Rochelle, I want you to know how much I care about your progress. I feel very privileged to hear your words. I lost my husband, also a writer, 3 years ago to pancreatic cancer. He wasn’t able to walk the path you are walking now.

    I am humbled by your bravery. And you’re a damned good writer.

    Tracy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary Louise Doherty says:

    Very well written Rochelle. Will hug you more gently when I see you. I sure hope the drug works for all three and I also hope that what is learned from the trial will help other women in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I side with the doctor … 75%! Will be watching for updates. Your old friend, Constance

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This makes me so happy to read. And hopeful for me. Our realities have some amazing parallals. Go girl go!

    warmly, marcy
    http://livinglydying.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Susan says:

    Cheering on you and Ariel and the 75% !!! Sending a gentle hug and a warm bean bug. Thank you for your writing and the smile I sense as you are putting words to cyber paper. So many stories yet to be written. oxo Susan

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Susan says:

    Oops. That would be a bean “bag”. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. deb says:

    As always, so well said. Hoping for a truly super super hero and sending good thoughts your way!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Stephanie Campbell says:

    As always, you have done a great job of explaining things for those of us not-so-in-the-know. I will continue to think of you and send my best Die Tumours, Die thoughts.

    Gentle hugs,
    Steph

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: So Much for Super Heroes: Moving On After a Clinical Trial | Cancer Queen

  10. Pingback: CA 125 Drops 6,100 Points After First Taxol | Cancer Queen

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