Buddies, Zevalin and 500s

Yet another May has come and gone and a catch-up is in order.

The annual Lymphoma Association Conference was held in Manchester on 16th. This is the third one that I have attended and as always they have proved very interesting. All day sessions, with extremely good presentations by some of the top lymphoma specialists in the country always give you something to think about.

Over lunch, I enquired about the “Buddy Scheme” that the charity run, whereby a member makes him or herself available to speak with other people who would like to talk over the condition with someone else who is suffering with it, and who has been through some of the same emotions or doubts that they are. Having now discussed it with the buddy co-ordinator, I will definitely put my name forward this week and see how we get on.

There are some very interesting new developments in the treatment field as always, and while they are still a long way from a cure for NHL, the management of the disease gets better every year.

My penultimate maintenance session was on Wednesday, with the last one at the end of July. By then, I will have been attending at the hospital either three weekly, or bi-monthly for two and a half years. Since coming off my “watch and wait” period, at the beginning of 2010, I have had pretty much constant regular support from the consultant and the specialist nurses there. What is going to be different and potentially more difficult, is going back onto the “watch and wait” regime in the autumn. Even when you know that this is the right and appropriate course of action, what it actually feels like is “inaction”. You really want to feel that “something is being done”. However, research shows that there is no benefit at all to either continuing with chemotherapy or indeed maintenance when the disease has settled down and there are no symptoms.

I will need to have a CT scan on completion of the maintenance (mid-August, probably), so that we have a new base-line against which I can be judged, and I will need to attend clinics every three months, so I am not entirely on my own (with regards to professional support), but it will certainly be a change to the routine.

As I have said before, typically, it should be around 3 years from now that I can expect to bumble along before the symptoms return and more chemo is needed. Who knows what the recommended treatment will be then. Zevalin appears to be gaining in “popularity” at the moment. It’s a little bit like the Rituximab, in that it has a component that attached to the CD20 markers on the cancerous B-cells, but it then has a radioactive element that damages the DNA of the cell and kills them. The advantage of this kind of treatment is that it only targets the cancerous cells, as they are the only ones with the CD20 marker. On the other hand, it’s powerful and dangerous stuff, with some interesting side effects. From the Zevalin website:


“The most common adverse reactions of ZEVALIN are: decreases in blood counts, tiredness, abdominal (stomach) pain, nausea (upset stomach), inflammation of the nose and upper throat, weakness, diarrhea, cough, and fever. Common adverse reactions (≥40%) in clinical trials were: low neutrophil count (a type of white blood cell), decrease in number of white blood cells, decrease in platelets, decrease in red blood cells or hemoglobin, infection, lack of body strength and energy, muscles and bones symptoms, and stomach and intestinal symptoms”




So, that’s something to think about 🙂 But, let’s face it, when you are dealing with anti-cancer drugs, none of them are benign and they all tell you that your life could be a misery for a while. Better that than the alternative, though. The CEO of the drug company that makes it said, only yesterday, at a conference in Chicago:


“There is no drug (approved) that is single-dose treatment for cancer,” Shrotriya told IBD in an interview Thursday. “The new data from Europe shows that, in fact, Zevalin could be a single-dose treatment for follicular non-Hodgkins lymphoma, without the typical side effects of chemotherapy.”
 
So, that’s actually pretty encouraging, really. There are some clever people about, that’s for sure.

We picked up the new Fiat 500  couple of weeks ago. The Twin-Air engine really is seriously good and the ride and handling have been greatly improved since the previous one. All in all a great little car.

My Golf has just gone through 70,000 miles today and it’s not yet turned its second birthday…
Jubilee Weekend this weekend which is getting everyone very excited. Or not as the case may be, and I have to say that the Olympics really are starting to get on my nerves now. Only two more months to go and they’ll be nearly over. Still, Mum’s birthday dinner is also this weekend, so it will be good to have everyone together for the first time in ages.
And finally, it’s only 3 weeks until it’s annual leave time.
But, let’s not wish our lives away just yet. Eh?