Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blood sugar

Mat qualified for the clinical trial (YAY!), and his big first day was ... today!

And what a big day it was!

The clinical trial involves two drugs, one of which is taken in a pill (RAD 001, a name almost as good as 5-FU), once daily. The other is a drug that's injected subcutaneously twice daily (and has a much less interesting name -- SOM 230 or something). We both got to learn how to give the shots, first practicing on fake skin and then the real thing. Mat also learned how to test his blood sugar with a finger prick twice daily, because the shots can cause high blood sugar.

Mat got a shot, and then ... threw up. The shot is not supposed to cause nausea, and I really hope Mat doesn't have a repeat of this spring's clinical trial, but we'll see. His evening shot is making him feel sick as I write this. Dang.

As bad as throwing up is, Mat's real fear about this clinical trial over the past week has been the possibility of high blood sugar. Mat feels like he doesn't deserve diabetes -- he doesn't even eat Twinkies! I've tried to explain that lots of people with all kinds of body types and eating habits have diabetes, but he does have a point -- isn't high blood sugar one thing too many?

I guess not, because within hours of taking the first shot, Mat tested his blood sugar level as instructed and had a reading well above normal. Not quite high enough to cause symptoms like fatigue and thirst, but too high to be healthy.

He talked to his doctor tonight, and it looks like he'll be starting treatment for high blood sugar in the next day or two. Steroids, perhaps, plus a Twinkie?

Sunday, December 06, 2009


It's hard to know where to begin when you haven't blogged for more than a MONTH. Sorry about that.

Mat completed the round of radiation for the lump in his chest. The daily appointments were a bit too early in the morning for Mat, who likes to arise at the crack of noon, and the regular slog to MGH was tiring for him, but he made it. Even three weeks after radiation has ended, the lump continues to shrink, and we're hoping it will soon be a distant memory.

We were caught off guard in the middle of the month when Mat's doctor suggested he start a new clinical trial. (Why does anything still surprise us at this point? Because we are creatures of habit, and we fear change.)

My first reaction: you've got to be kidding me. The clinical trial Mat tried this spring was a disaster. He was sick a lot of the time and spent the rest of the time being rehydrated at the hospital. His association with the drug and throwing up became so ingrained that he sometimes threw up in anticipation of the weekly dose.

After the idea of a new clinical trial settled in for awhile, it started to feel better. There are some pretty good indications that the 5-FU has done all it can for Mat, and it's time to look for something else. With the 5-FU being our metaphorical scrape at the bottom of the barrel, a month ago I would have said there is nothing else.

No more drugs for Mat to try.

No soup for you. (We just finished watching all nine seasons of Seinfeld -- could you tell?)

Now it looks like there's something else to try. It is not lost on me that this may be the answer to many many people's prayers. There is one opening in the trial right now, and it was offered to Mat.

On top of that, Mat's doctor was visibly excited about this new drug. It's reported to have milder side effects than the 5-FU and work in similar ways to drugs that have worked for Mat in the past.

The hard part has been waiting. Mat had to wait several weeks after his last radiation treatment before starting the clinical trial, so since about mid-November has been off chemo.

That kind of break was welcome a few months ago, but at this point of increasingly rapid cancer growth, it scares us.

The waiting is almost over. Mat will spend Wednesday at MGH getting various scans and blood tests to see if he qualifies for the clinical trial. (Mat's doctor expects that he will. I am trying unsuccessfully not to get my hopes up and will be crushed if he doesn't qualify.)

If he does qualify, Mat will start the trial a week from Wednesday.

Keep the prayers coming!