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Another Perspective

Better Living through Chemistry

I want to begin by thanking my readers for their thoughts, prayers and good wishes. They are very much appreciated. Thank you.

The computer for the clinical trial study for Ibrutinib randomly assigned me to the older drug, Chlorambucil. While disappointing this drug, that was approved by the FDA for the treatment of CLL in 1957, has milder side effects than does Ibrutinib. My oncologist, Dr. Castro, told me that it is still the preferred drug for treating CLL in parts of Europe and Central America.

Chlorambucil attacks CLL by killing all of the white blood cells, healthy and cancerous alike. My final white blood cell count before treatment was 161.5 (with the normal range being between 4 and 10). The course of treatment involves me taking 26 tiny pills of Chlorambucil in front of a nurse at the UCSD cancer center every two weeks.

The only side effect I have experienced so far is even more fatigue. It comes over me in waves. I took my first dose of Chlorambucil on Tuesday the 13th and by Thursday, I was feeling as back to normal energy-wise as I have felt in months. The next day, Friday, I could hardly get out of bed, sleeping almost the entire day. These two days mark the extremes. Most of the time I move in-between the two.

One byproduct of dying white blood cells is an increase of uric acid. To counter this nasty development, I now take another medication to keep my uric acid under control. I also drink as much water as I can.

Saturday morning a little bit before 8 I received a telephone call from Dr. Castro. He said he was concerned about my kidney function and had arranged for me to be treated for his concerns that day at noon. Treatment involved taking more blood tests and to receive a bag of salt water intravenously just be to sure I remain hydrated. An unexpected call from a doctor on a Saturday before 8 a.m. catches my attention. Fortunately the new labs showed an overall improvement in my numbers including those about which Dr. Castro was concerned . Good news indeed.

I repeated Saturday’s drill yesterday (Tuesday, one week into treatment) with even better numbers. Everything currently is headed in the right direction. This is reassuring, to say the least.

Next Tuesday, at the two week mark, I take my second batch of Chlorambucil. As before, I take 26 tiny pills as quickly as possible, get blood tests, and see the oncologist.

Again, thank you for your interest and caring.

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