Tuesday, 25 March 2014

VanSel Cycle 2 Days 8-9: a small milestone

A week into cycle 2 of the VanSel drug trial and we weren't sure whether Steve would be able to carry on.  He had not been feeling great over the weekend - very tired, coughing a lot and physically sick on Saturday.  So it was with some trepidation that we went to hospital yesterday morning, half expecting more problems with his ECG or bloods.

It was a relief therefore to be told by Dr Nick that the morning's ECG had not thrown up any problems with his heart rhythm. Bloods fine. All systems still go!  

Steve has been given medication to help the cough, and we have been re-stocked with hydrocortisone cream and antibiotic lotion to help keep his skin rash under control. So far, so good...

If you have read the blog recently, you will be aware that whilst taking part in the VanSel early phase drug trial, every so often Steve has to give "PK" research bloods over a 24 hour period.  PK stands for PharmacoKinetic from the Greek words pharmakon meaning drug and kinetics meaning movement.  In simple terms, it's the study of what happens to a drug between the time it enters the body to the time it is completely eliminated.  

As well as normal bloods and observations, yesterday and today was PK bloods day, with samples being taken 30 minutes before the morning dose of drugs, then at 2, 4, 6, 10 and 24 hours after the dose has been taken.  Although the amount of blood taken at each session is relatively small, five samples are taken on the first day's hospital visit.  Rather than make five separate small needle insertions, a cannula is used as this can be flushed and "turned off" between samples.  Always assuming the nurse can find a vein good enough to insert the larger needle size....that's where the fun began yesterday.  

It took four nurses several attempts to find a vein good enough for the cannula.  Although they managed to find a vein in his right hand, this seemed to close down after giving two samples. As a result, another cannula was inserted in his left arm in additional to the original one on the left.  Between the two cannulas they managed to squeeze out enough blood for yesterday's samples.

In between all this fun and games, we passed the time reading the weekend national and local papers from cover to cover; Steve dozed; I went walkabout to stretch my legs and we watched Made in Dagenham on the laptop.  Its amazing how tired you can get doing very little!  

Finally left the hospital in the evening, arriving home in time for a glass of wine before before the fast in the run up to the evening dose of selumetanib.

We were back in hospital again today, for the last of the 24 hour PK blood samples.  Just a small needle this time for one last sample.  We were in and out in less than 20 minutes, such a contrast to yesterday's 12 hour marathon...And that's the last 24 hour PK blood sample done and dusted!  Steve has done his bit for clinical research.  

Although the trial continues, he won't have to give any more research blood samples.  Just "ordinary" bloods for testing on a weekly basis, along with the other observations and examinations until the end of cycle 2 in mid April, not so far away now.  It's a small milestone, but a significant one for us. No more long hospital days on the calendar in the foreseeable future!  

Whether Steve continues on to cycle 3 (or beyond) depends on the results of the CT scan scheduled for early April.  That's the next milestone in this journey.  Thanks to everyone who is supporting us along the way x

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