Posts Tagged ‘Dana-Farber’

Genetic Susceptibility and Biomarkers of Platinum-Related Toxicities Research Study

I finally took part in that Dana-Farber and University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) research study yesterday–evaluating the long-term health of men that have been treated for germ cell cancer with cisplatin chemotherapy. This visit was scheduled for December, but I mistakenly double-booked my calendar with one of Jess’ ultrasounds. Needless to say, the ultrasound was a tad more important. For those that haven’t seen Jess’ blog, the boy was 3lbs 7oz, and the girl was 3lbs 1oz. The c-section is scheduled for March 13!

The research appointment began at the Yawkey Center. After the pleasantries, the research assistant flipped through her paperwork and stated “we’re going to be taking a lot of blood from you today.” Oh my. I replied with a nervous laugh and a “…did I mention my dislike needles?”

Thankfully the phlebotomist was flawless in execution, and the researcher’s presence gave me reason to keep my jaw flapping and otherwise distracted from the tray of viles on my right.

The next step was to visit Brigham and Women’s for a hearing test. The room was small, maybe 8’x8′ with low ceilings and a door that resembled a walk-in fridge. I put on a pair of bulky headphones and was handed a wired, push button remote. The researcher and technician relocated to an adjacent room separated by a glass window. Press the button when you hear a beep. Left ear, right ear. Repeat the words spoken. All uneventful including the result. My hearing is normal.

I completed an at length survey regarding well being and habits. Two things, I’ll mention. First, the alcohol consumption question had incorrect/incomplete ranges for me to answer correctly. I brought this to the attention of the researcher. I believe the running joke is that you tell your primary care physician how many drinks you consume per week, and he knows you’re lying, and then doubles it in his records. However, for science, I wanted to answer truthfully. I either had to choose an answer of “drinks per day,” which would make me look like a raging alcoholic, or “drinks per week” with a range that was not right either. The second thing is regarding side effects, and the purpose of this study. The only thing I continue to have is the cold/tingling hands and feet, also known as Raynaud’s disease. This isn’t new, it started immediately after chemo. Hopefully the URMC and Dana-Farber researchers will discover new ways to reduce incidents of Raynaud’s for future patients. In the meantime, no big deal.

Annual Checkup

I had my fourth annual checkup and CT scan today. All results were healthy. I have one more CT scan in my foreseeable future next December 2014 which will then mark five years post diagnosis/treatment. Assuming the 2014 results are normal, I will only require an annual chest x-ray and blood draw for a biomarker check for 2015 and beyond.

I signed up for a Dana-Farber and University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) research study titled “Genetic Susceptibility and Biomarkers of Platinum-Related Toxicities” during my visit today. This study is evaluating the long-term health of men that have been treated for germ cell cancer with cisplatin chemotherapy. The researchers claim that small amounts of cisplatin remain in a patient’s body for years after treatment and this study is seeking to identify the side effects. Dana-Farber is contributing 275 patients to the study. I will be coming back to Dana-Farber next week for a blood draw, hearing test, and questionnaire for the study.

Full steam ahead on the twin babies front. Jess prefers the names Keano and Reeves after her favorite actor, but I’m on the fence.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

I had my annual check-up at Dana-Farber today. The CT scan and blood work came back normal. As always, I didn’t like the IV, but it went in easier than I expected. The only downside was sitting in the waiting area with it in my arm for over two hours. Although I made it to the appointment on time, some of the radiology staff got stuck in pretty bad traffic. You can’t do much about that. My next DFCI check-up will be a year away, December 10, 2012.

In the clear

I had another 3-month checkup at Dana-Farber on Monday. My CT scan and blood work came back normal. My oncologist believes that I’m in the clear now, meaning a recurrence is unlikely. My appointment frequency has been extended from quarterly to biannually, with the next one in December.

We spoke briefly about my Severe Oligospermia diagnosis. The oncologist believes that my body could naturally overcome it, but I shouldn’t wait and hope for that–in vitro is the starting point when ready for family planning.

Another three months in the clear

I went in to Dana-Farber for a 3-month checkup today. First, the new Yawkey Center is amazing. The interior of the building resembles more of a modern hotel than a hospital. The waiting areas are extremely open yet still quiet and comfortable. The only slight I have about the new building is the difficulty of finding appointment locations. I’ll admit, I’m somewhat directionally challenged, however it would have been helpful to know that my appointment locations had changed prior to arrival. I was already running late because of weather related traffic and I probably burned near 30-minutes on foot trying to find my first stop of the day. Thankfully, if you appear lost at Dana-Farber, any staff member within eyesight will ask if you need help finding your destination. Also, the receptionists have never given me any grief for showing up late, but I don’t enjoy being disrespectful of their time.

Regarding my tests, I had a chest x-ray and blood work drawn. The blood work shows that I’m clear. The x-ray results didn’t arrive in time for my oncologist to discuss the results. No worries there. We had a quick chat about how my next visit to Dana-Farber will be with my mom, for her own appointment. I mentioned that her oncologist in NH stated that my cancer can be cured, while hers cannot. I pointed out that the folks at Dana-Farber have never said “cured” to me before. I asked if they ever would. It is likely, but too soon for their standards. I’ll be over 2-years from original diagnosis in June. Something like 90% of testicular cancer recurrence will happen by year 2. This means I’m in pretty good shape.

Per the appropriate nudging, I’ve made an appointment to check my fertility. I’m not looking forward to this, but I need to know for certain. My next appointment at Dana-Farber will be in early June. That visit will include a CT Scan.

Checkup

I had my 6-month checkup at Dana-Farber last Friday. The good news is that my CT Scan and blood work came back cancer-free. Unfortunately, my appointment schedule was switched back to every 3 months. The original switch to 6 months was a miscommunication between the staff- I need to come in every 3 for the next couple of years.

Part of my visit included a discussion about side effects. In the last few months, I have perceived pain similar to what it was like prior to my orchiectomy. This is “phantom” pain and quite common according to my nurse practitioner. I also brought up fertility. There is a high likelihood that I’m now infertile. My insurance company will need it documented before they’ll cover any expenses related to treatment.

Thank You!

Thank you to all of my sponsors for donating to the 2010 Jimmy Fund walk. Our team raised over $1,000 and my feet, knees and thighs are thoroughly exhausted. We’re definitely going to do it again next year. If you would like to join our team in 2011, just let me know.