Chronicle of a Stem Cell Transplant (and on through to the other side)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Je me déplace à Montréal!

That's right, we're moving to Montréal - this Tuesday! Nothing like 6 days notice to move across the country. We're flying out with as much luggage as West Jet will allow us to bring and will be staying at a hotel (thanks, Jenny) until we can move into a furnished place at the end of the month (which we will find when we get there). Now I'm wishing I hadn't been such a shit in Madame Pekovich's class during high school. My French would certainly be better. Merde!

Ian will be going with me (trust me, he's very upset to be getting out of school 7 weeks early) and my parents will come out soon and/or I will be back from time to time, in between weekly follow-ups at McGill. I am very grateful to actually know someone who is going to be in the trial with me too. We serendipitously met at the chemo clinic a few months ago and she will be flying out next Tuesday as well. It is amazing to have met someone who knows exactly what I'm going through and that we will be heading into this unchartered territory together.

The drug I will be receiving is called MGCD 0103 and is part of a new class of cancer drugs called HDAC inhibitors. Having shown promise particularly among the small portion of patients with Hodgkin's that does not respond to standard treatment, it attacks cancer cells differently than standard chemo. It kills the cancer cells directly and may actually boost the immune cells to make them better at fighting the tumour cells (just in case you were wondering).

Unlike other cancers, with Hodgkin's, the primary cancer cells are less than one percent of the mass or tumour. These cells (evil Reed-Sternberg cells) originate from premature B cells that fail to develop into normal, mature functioning immune cells. Imbeciles! The rest of the tumour mass is made up of reactive inflammatory cells, which is a normal immune response to any injury, infection or disease.

In theory, you would expect these immune cells to kill the tumour. But they can’t because the little buggers are actually collaborating with the cancer cells, providing support by secreting factors that help the cancer to grow. Stupid wankers! MGCD0103 works by influencing the reactive immune cells either by turning them into killer cells, or by simply getting rid of them. Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Reed-Sternberg has got to go.

How long this will take is anybody's guess, but if all goes as planned, I will be in the trial for one year. So, for these first few weeks while we get sorted, email will be the best way to get hold of me, until we have a land line in our new place. Also, I've opened up the "Comment" option (seen at the bottom of each post) on here if you would like to drop by and teach me more swear words in French.

In the meantime, nous préparons à la bataille!