The Latest Treatments
Yesterday was an easy day. Not really because the reality is every day is hard for Shane, but treatment-wise it was easy. Just Vitamin C and alpha-lipoic acid infusions.
Shane received 25 grams of IV Vitamin C, a pretty hefty amount. This particular treatment has been around since the mid-seventies, and it's surrounded by lots of controversy but also plenty of good evidence to support it it. Here's how it works (thanks to the fabulous authors of, I Have Cancer: What Should I Do? for helping me understand this process).
Vitamin C enters the malignant cell through the glucose transporter (Cancer is avid for glucose. Loves the stuff. That's why as part of a healing diet you want to eliminate sugar---it's just one way you can "starve" cancer). Tricky way for Vitamin C to enter in, eh?
Once the Vitamin C is carried into the cell, it's converted to ascorbic acid and that conversion process produces hydrogen peroxide.
Normal healthy cells convert hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water. BUT cancer cells are missing/low in the enzyme to complete that conversion (an enzyme called catalase) and what happens? The peroxide doesn't get converted, it builds up to a toxic level and the cell dies (apoptosis). Hooray!
Note: The Vitamin C is kept refrigerated and wrapped in foil because light causes it to degrade. That's also why the tubing is yellow.
And today (Tuesday) kicked off fever week when what else? Shane gets fevers every day!
Contrary to popular opinion fever is GOOD. Want to hear something crazy? We've never, ever given the kids a fever reducer. I've rarely even check their temp when it spikes. That's because fever is the body's way of killing off foreign invaders, and the body activates the immune system through fever. The same idea applies to grown-ups. We need fevers to kill off the bad guys and activate the killer T-cells (the good guys). Fever week is all about getting fevers and maintaining them. To illustrate, Dr. Kleef sang a line from a Simon and Garfunkel song with a slight twist, "Hello, fever my old friend." That's exactly the attitude he takes toward fever---friend not foe.
In preparation for these fever days, our kind nurse Julia recommended that I shave Shane's rear end in preparation for a rectal thermometer that would be secured with tape. We mades sure to follow her instructions. The insertion of the rectal thermometer was a wee bit uncomfortable, but in it went and in it will remain until tomorrow. I was able to tuck Shane in this morning at 7 AM at the clinic but they asked that I leave after that. He's rested most of the day while he received Taurolidin (helps reduce negative side effects of IL-2), IV fluids, and Interleukin-2 (IL-2), an immunotherapy drug that also induces fever.
Dr. Kleef gave me the report over the phone this afternoon (he called me "Lady Fishbein." Gotta love this guy. ) and it was all good news! He said that Shane's response was excellent and he has been able to maintain a 104 F temp with no changes in his vital signs. He commented that Shane is very strong, but I already knew that. ;) And he mentioned that those who can get into a fever state with IL-2 have a brighter prognosis. Hooray for fever!
This treatment wiped Shane out (imagine the last time you had a fever and how pooped you felt). He slept through a great deal of the day, so we can be thankful for that. The nurses told him that he'll sleep really well tonight after all that fever---here's to hoping!
And while we're in the good news department, I ought to mention Shane's weight. It finally seems to have stabilized. Yes, he's lost 22+ pounds, yes, his muscles are disappearing quickly (I miss his tree trunk legs), but stopping the weight loss when you have Stage 4 cancer is a big deal. We celebrate all victories around here so we celebrate this one too!
P.S. Dr. K's mother tongue is German and he totally gets a kick out of our name (translated it's "the leg of the fish").