I remember the days when I was excited about my CA 125 dropping six points, never mind 6,000. But after chemo four-and-half years ago, the tumour marker was in single digits. Anything lower than 32 is considered normal. So the closer we get to zero means remission, health, life.
In a ghoulish way, I’m sort of fascinated by these numbers — how different they are for different women, how they change with such speed as our disease advances. Do we trust that they still indicate disease if they once did? I don’t have answers (and neither do my doctors!)
After three months of Cisplatin and Gemcitabine last summer, my CA 125 was 45. We knew it wasn’t working. I took a break until the fall to heal from the chemo. In September, CA 125 jumped to 246, a month later, 459, two weeks later, 820. Double double double trouble.
I started Doxil (Caelyx) two weeks later. I’d heard that it often takes several treatments to see the CA 125 drop on Doxil (Caelyx) but a month later I was surprised to see 760. Another Doxil (Caelyx), another reduction to 270! After Doxil #5 (Caelyx)… the party was over. CA 125 climbed to 480. I did Doxil #6 (Caelyx) with a heavy heart… I knew I had used up yet another chemo and the CA 125 confirmed it: 1,200.
I was in a holding pattern this spring waiting for the ARIEL2 trial using Rucaparib (one of the PARP inhibitors) and donated a lot of blood at the lab in preparation. Two weeks after my last CA 125, it was 2,000. Another two weeks, it was 3,300. I started the trial at the end of April 2015 with high hopes that the new drug would make me well.
After the first month on the trial, the CA 125 rose to 7,200! After the second month, 9,100. After the third month, I was out of the trial — just not doing it for me as fatigue and pain increased. Ironically, my CA 125 finally dropped to 7,800.
Two days later I started Taxol (Paclitaxel) and ten days later, lost my hair. Three weeks later I had blood work done in preparation for Taxol #2 (yesterday). Could it be? CA 125 was 1,700!
Now I agree if you think that’s still a pretty big number but I’ve been in the 4 digits since April this year. Who knows what Taxol #2 will bring?
I’m approaching 5 years with ovarian cancer since diagnosis in September. I’ve endured 5 chemos and the Rucaparib trial. A little more time… that’s all I ask. And now on my Dexamethasone night (a steroid given before the Taxol to knock out nausea), I see it’s nearly 4:30 a.m. I should try and get a little sleep. Later today I will celebrate my daughter’s 23rd birthday — this is what I live for now.