Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dealing with Change

When you are dealing with chronic cancer, change is an inevitable part of life with cancer.  Sometimes it is expected, like at the beginning when you have no evidence of disease for the first time.  Other times it is unexpected when the cancer comes back, the treatment doesn't work, or your body just can't handle the drugs that it is being given.

Over the past three years we've dealt with plenty of change in our lives from the initial cancer diagnosis, to a short time in remission to the constant changing of different chemo regiments.  Each change brings its challenges and its blessings.  This time with change I feel like there is more riding on it than ever before.

I met with my gynecological oncologist yesterday.  She gave me a big hug right from the start.  (Yes, I am fortunate to have a relationship with her.) I got the ins and outs of this new trial drug, or parp-inhibitor, (Veliparib or ABT-888) that I will be on. 

So here's what the parp inhibitor does and why it could be effective for me.  All our cells have DNA that need to be repaired.  Cancer cells are no different. Because I have a BRCA mutant gene, that avenue of repair is gone for the cancer cells.  So they use a back door, so to speak, of the protein parp.  The parp inhibitor stops that back door from working and can, in effect, kill the cancer.  That's also why this type of treatment only works for people who have a BRCA mutation.

I start this on Friday.  I will be taking 300mg of this twice a day.  For me that means 6 pills in the morning and 6 pills at night every day for as long as I can handle it.  If I have problems, we can lower the dose and then go back up when I get better.  The best chance I have of this succeeding is with the 300mg dose.  I will also be taking anti-nausea pills before the inhibitor because that is the most common side effect.
Exciting possibilities are definitely here for me, but this science is not perfected.  It works for about 40 percent of people.  Nausea is the most common side effect.  That is a big deal for me since that's what I've been struggling with as of late and what put me in the hospital so many times the beginning of this year.  We already have some hydration scheduled just in case I need it.  Prayerfully I will follow the normal pattern and the nausea will only be around the time I take the inhibitor and after two weeks it will be much better, possibly even gone.  We will also have to watch my blood counts.  The possibility is there that after 6 months my blood counts will just be too low and I will have to stop. 
So we head into this change.  Am I excited?  Yes.  Am I scared?  Absolutely.  In some ways this seems like my last chance since this is what my doctor has been hoping to get me on since I had my recurrence two years ago. 
But as always, God gives us things to remember to trust in Him.  I read some stories today about women who have been on continual treatment for 11-15 years.  It hasn't been easy, but they are still here.  I have also heard from women who have been on this inhibitor that they have gotten their energy back and their cancer has decreased. 

But the best thing God gave me today was a devotion based on Psalm 46.  Here is an excerpt:

"Yes, God is bigger and stronger than all our experiences. He can handle all our difficulties. God has already canceled the sting of our greatest enemy—death. He did it by offering up his one and only Son so that we might live with him forever in his kingdom.
Sometimes it is good that our lives come to a screeching halt. It reminds us that the LORD almighty is our God. And it shows us that he is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

So our family will once again learn to deal with change.  But with that change comes the promise that God is with us at all times.  He has taken care of our biggest problem of sin.  He can easily take care of everything else, in His way, and in His time.

(If you ever have any questions, or anything you would like me to blog about, you can either leave me a comment here or email me at lisarittierodt@gmail.com)


  1. Praying this new drug will be of help in your
    ongoing struggle with cancer! Our love from CA

  2. Thank you for sharing this time of change with us. You will be in my prayers, as you have been since your dear friend Chris shared your story with me. Hoping that God will have in his plans for you an easy transition and this treatment will allow you to continue your journey her with us. God bless you. He is the way and all glory to His name.