My CO-1686: One-Year Anniversary!

Start the fireworks! Beat the drums! High five, everyone! I’m in Jubilation City, carousing big time! I’ve been on the CO-1686 clinical trials now for twelve months and still in control of the “Occupy Celia” nasties! It’s exclamation point day!!!!

Coinciding with the anniversary of my participation in the CO-1686 clinical trials is the anniversary of this blog, a soap-sitcom-documentary hybrid titled “Humor: CO-1686 and Cancer Musings.” Here are clips from the year in review:

Everything started with Tarceva. Or the lung cancer diagnosis. Actually everything started when the birds and the bees and something called love produced a bump – turned out to be me – in my Mommy’s tummy a big chunk of a century ago. Knowing what I know now, I probably had wanted to just snuggle indefinitely in the comfort of my mother’s womb but the nine-month maximum occupancy law of nature had to prevail.

To keep it simple, I’ll make March 2014, the re-biopsy date of my tumor the reckoning point for the commemoration. My Onc’s Onc, the world-renowned Good Doctor of Lung “Cansah” Research happily informed me that I had the T790M positive mutation, which did not automatically qualify me for the CO-1686 clinical trials, but gave me a reason to want to wear a mini-skirt and do cartwheels along I-25 to celebrate. Next came the washout of Tarceva, the three-day goodbye to a 20-month affair that gave me hope, security, rashes, and a contentious relationship with an unsavory character named Mr. Big D. Poking and prodding to draw blood and scans for the chest, abdomen, and brain followed. Then the ingestion of the first CO-1686 pills. I glowed at the notion that I was selflessly serving mankind as a data dame – okay, guinea pig – in the development of a cancer cure. I wrote a half a dozen drafts of my acceptance speech for the future Humanitarian of the Year awards ceremony. Delusions of grandeur can be absolutely exhilarating.

Henceforth every three weeks my caregiver and I drove the 894 miles round trip to the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora for trial stuff: (a) Measurement of blood pressure, weight and height. (b) Blood and electrocardiogram tests, and (c) Consultation with the Good Doctor. We discussed side effects and lab test results. We laughed. We bantered about Tarceva Diva, engineering, medicine, and family. Our foreign accents harmonized: his of the cold Atlantic kind and mine of the warm rice paddy variety. He was tactful and I was considerate. I always knew the precise moment when he would subtly hint “Skedaddle.” He’d sling the stethoscope around his neck then tell me “Deep breaths, Normal breaths” – motions that are not conducive to thought-provoking conversations.

Every six weeks the healthcare pros ran my body through the CTscan tube to check on the trial drug effects on my lungs, kidneys, liver and anything else in the innards. A feisty survivor of Tarceva side effects, I braced myself for harassment by the CO-1686 drug.

Came April, May, June, and July and no bad side effects showed up: no coughs, no fatigue, no headaches, no weight loss, no pains, no shortness of breath, no loss of appetite. Nothing, zip, nada. I theorized the pills were just routinely floating in my system. However, good scans and favorable blood test results proved my Oncology degree from Google University means beans. I proudly crowned myself Queen of CO-1686 Zero Side Effects, poised to break Guinness world record for clinical trials.

Meanwhile the Pacific Ocean breeze, sushi bars, and Mexican menudo beckoned. Cutting the round-trip travel distance from 894 miles to 120 miles made the West Coast a lot more attractive than the Land of Enchantment. My husband and I heeded the call, rented a condo in Southern Orange County, and took my CO-1686 act to UCLA Santa Monica.

Alas, it was not to be all balmy air and tropical scenes for the telenovela sitcom. Hurricane Katrina’s sister slammed through the set. In August, the first hint that the protagonist was mere mortal surfaced. The self-planted crown smashed my toes. My blood sugar numbers shot through the roof. The Good Doctor added Metformin to the regime to control the stubborn glucose.

In September, October, and November, the trial honchos and I kept tweaking the Metformin dosage and that of the CO-1686 until we finally wrestled the hyperglycemia into submission. Metformin reined in my appetite and I shed, fortunately, excess weight that I had lost and gained back through years of yo-yo dieting.

One week in December, Metformin totally lost its grip on my appetite. Food would not go beyond the tip of my tongue. Sushi and Mexican menudo repulsed me. Even pictures of waffles topped with whipped cream and cherries on the IHOP menu turned my stomach. The ordeal muffled my laughter. I wanted to write but couldn’t. My face was constantly hanging over the commode. It was a week of unspeakable misery, a fate I’d wish only on the ISIS executioners. Finally, a foray into medical marijuana paved the way. After squeezing less than four dropperfuls of MMJ under my tongue over a three-day period, my maverick appetite miraculously returned in the middle of the night. Thereafter my new friend MMJ and I parted, promising each other to never say never.

The December scans showed nothing grew, something new. The new stuff was the dilated bile duct. Googler Extraordinaire (moi!) declared the new finding age-related, not cancer related. The New Year ushered in the return of normalcy. There were no issues about which I could write an epic account. The February scan results declared STABLE and….drum roll…….RESOLVED dilated bile duct!

Capping the clinical trial year, just before this blog posting, my UCLA Onc informed me that my Onc’s Onc in Denver asked “How is Tarceva Diva?” The Diva was moved.

Okay, so much for the drama. Let’s do the math!

CTscans went from every 6 weeks to every 9 weeks.

Bloodletting and ECG test continue every 3 weeks. ECG was reduced from 2 to 1 per visit.

THE SUMMARY…DRUM ROLL…

(1) CO-1686 has kept the sole pulmonary nodule stable, or maybe reduced it to a scar.

(2) I lost 25 excess pounds and regained the junior dahlink figure!

(3) CO-1686 brought down my historically high cholesterol numbers to normal.

(4) The CO-1686/Metformin combo brought my before-cancer glucose fluctuations under control.

(5) After the correct dosages were established, the CO-1686/Metformin combo produces no side effects for me.

(6) Skin is taut, clear and soft.

(7) Eyelashes are stubby, nearly invisible – not the kind I’d bat with abandon; hair is full, coarse but obedient.

SOME SERIOUS NUMBERS:

4,380

Number of CO-1686 pills swallowed. Measuring 3/8 inch in diameter, when connected end to end, the resulting chain would be about one-half the length of a football field. It’s a good thing each pill dissolved in the gastric juices and went to work upon ingestion.

8,112

Miles traveled from Albuquerque, NM to Aurora, CO and from Southern Orange County to UCLA Santa Monica, CA: Equivalent to three (3) NY to LA round trips with allowance for chasing kicks along Route 66.

17,012

Blog views from 72 countries, mostly from the US, UK, Australia, Canada. Equivalent to five nights of sold-out performances at the Melbourne Opera House. Take a bow, Diva!

50

Dollars won on a crossword lottery scratcher ticket while being driven to UCLA. Need a few more wins for a Bentley.

1

Inspire.com friend brought by the CO-1686 clinical trials and the blog. Dancingfernandez (Sharon) and Poksa (Celia) waltzed into each others’ lives and talked and laughed as though they had shared lockers in college.

Life is good. So far.