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Suki's next step - Tarceva


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well, it's official. my mom starts Tarceva as soon as her local pharmacist stops scratching her head and gets the order in. (not surprisingly, they don't have it in stock). so it's not a clinical trial to use it as an adjuvent treatment, it's just not the usual use. the fact that mom has one of the genetic mutations that appear to predict success is a big part of why they're giving it to her. that, and she can not have traditional chemo as planned, because she had so much trouble after her surgery.

so, if she can tolerate the side effects - loose, frequent stools and an acne-like rash, as many of you know all too well - she'll stay on Tarceva for the rest of her life.

the doc did describe two other, possible complications I wasn't aware of which are scary. first, the ONLY drug that Tarceva interacts with is, apparently, coumadin which Suki is on b/c she had a pulmonary embolism after surgery, but didn't tolerate Tinzaparin (the shots) (see: pericardial effusion). the interaction rights itself after a few weeks, but her INR will be watched CLOSELY for the first month. second, there is a rare, dangerous complication where her lung may become inflamed. after the first month, though, you're considered out of danger for that one, too.

my mom has agreed to take it one day at a time, and to trust her gut as to what is right for her with this. if she can't stand whatever side effects she experiences, she'll stop. easy as that. god forbid the cancer comes back, it's still available to her then. so she'll start it and we'll see how it goes. we had both kind of set this apart from "chemotherapy" because it works so differently, but really, I think, it is "chemo". the Rx says "outpatient chemotherapy". it's amazing how emotionally charged some of these words are for me and, I think, for Suki, even now.

the doc was regular onc's fill-in, but very nice and attentive, and the nurses were, as always, wonderful. we're so blessed to have such great practitioners around us.

so we went and had a comfort-food dinner, watched a "suspicious package" bomb scare unfold at the Citicorp building right out the window of the diner ( :roll: welcome to NYC), wondering if her O2 would last, since the streets were blocked right around where the car was parked. that was 'exciting'. :lol: in the end, her friend just brought the car around the long way and I kissed her goodnight and sent her back to Jersey.

all told, I feel pretty good. glad the next step is here, and I am excited at the prospect of the drug working to keep her cancer from coming back, ever. I would not be nearly as useful to my mother through this process without all of you so generously sharing your experience. so THANK YOU, thank you, a million thank you's.



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I think this sounds good. Just want to let you know that they put Bri on an antibiotic during his 5 weeks on Tarceva that interacted badly w/ it. I forget the name, but I will look up the info and get it to you. I think I found the interaction information on the Tarceva website. The doc was surprised and took Brian right off it and thanked me for my due diligence. (That was during those awful night sweats and FUO episodes) so just be aware that Tarceva is so new that they are learning what drugs interact and adding to the list.

Seems to me that if Tarceva works for you it works wonderfully!! Sounds like Suki may be in that group and we are praying that is true.

Bunny, we can't say how much inspiration we take from you and from the other daughters and sons in this group. What loving loving loving giving giving giving children you are and what blessed parents you have.

We love your giving and it reaches all the way here and hugs us.



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Good news for Suki!!! Hope this is the ticket to cancer free forever for her. She is cancer free now, right? This is a new use for Tarceva....not to shrink anything, right? Sometimes I must claim chemo brain when I get confused :roll: !!

You sound very happy with MSK....lucky to be so close for expert treatment! Tell Suki I have been following her journey closely since we are almost twins! :wink: ! I am wishing only the very best for her! She is so fortunate to have you as such an advocate.

Warm wishes for a very BRIGHT future for Suki!


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thanks, everyone. Kasey, the idea is that if there are any microscopic cancer cells anywhere in her body, the Tarceva will prevent them from growing into tumors. sounds good to me :)

Fay, I'm not sure...I know she has the little ones that are compressed O2 and the regular, big ones on wheels. which is which?

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I hope she tolerates the Tarceva and that it keeps her stable. It's funny you mention the interaction with Cumadin. When John first started the Tarceva he started coughing up blood. Once they took him off the cumadin it all resolved itself. Since most individuals with a port are on a blood thinner-- it is good you mentioned it so people are aware.

Go Suki!

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I'm glad they are trying Tarceva for your mom. I was on it for 6 months and tolerated it pretty well. I did have the rash, but it seemed to come and go as well as the tummy problems.

Also, let your mom know that she can't have any grapefruit while on Tarceva. Grapefruit interferes with the way Tarceva works.

Good luck and keep us posted.


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This is exciting news. Hope the Tarceva does it for her and that she has only minimal side effects. She's kind of like a trail-blazer to me - I'm really rooting for her!

Re: NYC bomb scare. I'm a substitute postmaster out in a little 2-person PO in rural Colorado. The USPS is CONSTANTLY sending every office across the country reminders, posters, updates, training films to watch, etc., about "suspicious packages and mail." We're "all psyched-up with nowhere to go!" We're more likely to come across a leaking jar of jam in a package here than a bomb! (NOT complaining, mind you!)

Good luck to Suki!


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