My stepsister, Claire, 50, an avid outdoorswoman and a nonsmoker, was diagnosed in February with stage 4 lung cancer. You may have read about her journey on this Web site.
That seven-part series ended with Claire about to wrap up her chemo treatment and her sporting a sassy red wig, since, like most chemo patients, she had experienced hair loss. Since then, her tumors have shrunk but have not disappeared, and her hair is growing back nicely.
“My hair continues to grow back in, but I’m sorry to report it does not seem to be coming in red. And it’s way too short to tell if it’s going to be curly or straight. Time will tell,” says Claire. “My tongue is still a little sensitive to spicy hot and to hot temperatures, but it’s getting better too. I still have occasional tingling in my feet, but other than that I seem to have survived chemo unscathed.”
In conjunction with chemo, Claire was treated with Avastin®, as well as Carboplatin and Taxol. Since chemo ended, she has had three treatments of Avastin® alone. Avastin® (bevacizumab) is the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved therapy designed to inhibit angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels develop and carry vital nutrients to a tumor.
On July 28, Claire underwent a scan, which showed very slight growth in her tumors — .4 centimeters (within the margin of error for the scan). “I, too, could feel that they seemed to be bigger, and I would have been surprised if the scan showed shrinkage or no growth,” says Claire.
A little more unnerving was a suspicious shadow or spot on her liver. The doctors don’t know for certain that the spot is cancerous, but they didn’t notice it last time and will continue to monitor it.
Whether it’s cancerous or not, the treatment plan would be the same.
“The Avastin doesn’t seem to be working any more, so we’re switching to the Alimpta,” explains Claire. “I had some steroids before the Alimpta to stave off a possible side effect of rash. The B12 and folic acid I was started on three weeks ago are supposed to mitigate the worst potential side effects of Alimpta.