Monday, November 24, 2014

Flying again

Mark's job is flexible, but the cost to go to Chicago as a family is about $400 to drive. For me to fly it's about $100 plus a little spending money. I planned to make this trip alone, but then my dad called and said he would like to come along. My dad is a smoker. In the past, he has had a lot of anxiety about flying. Once, a few years ago, I remember him visiting my sister, Ashley, in California and dawdling on his way to the Sacramento airport. He got to the airport and realized he had missed his flight home. He ended up staying an extra week in Cali. 

I thanked my dad for his offer, but told him I was fine to go alone. He assured me he wanted to go with me. He said I didn't have to go alone. He said he was working on his fear and he wasn't afraid to fly. Mark searched and found a ticket for my dad. He also paid the extra fee so we could sit next to one another on the plane.

Here we go...or not
(first, they had to de-ice the plane)
We took the blue line to the green line to the end. We walked through the snow to the Hospital. I got my blood pressure checked. I peed in a cup. A quick talk with the doctor and we were on our way.

My pee and Me
My dad has never been to Chicago, so I took him to Giordano's for a pizza lunch.


Then, I took him to see the bean.

Me and Dad reflecting

Our next stop was The Field Museum.

Would have been fun to spend the night 
in the museum!

We took the bus to Ghirardelli for a malt.

(Sorry, no pic. Just look at my malt from my last visit and multiply by two!)

Then, it was time to go back to train to the airport to home.

Our flight was delayed by an hour, but we didn't care!
It was a great little trip with my dad!
Thank you, Dad, for coming with me!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Don't we all wish we could fly away for the day and be back home in time to sleep in our own bed? This is my first solo trip to Chicago. The joy of working on the weekends is getting up 3:30 am to go to the airport.


I love Chicago Metro System! I can take the trains and buses everywhere I want to go. I need to take the trains first- the Blue Line from the airport to the Green Line to the end, then a bus ride or walk the 4 blocks to the hospital.


It's almost funny that I have to go all this way to get my blood pressure checked and to pee in a cup. It seems I could do those things most anywhere, but I have to follow the clinical trial. This trial may hold a potential cure for me or it may buy me more time on this earth. My inconveniences seem small compared to that, so I do it. Though, it does take a toll on our family and our pocket book.

Today, I traveled to Chicago for this:

And this:

Then, I moved on to some fun. I had a whole afternoon to myself. I decided to go to The Art Institute of Chicago. It's been about 16 years since I have been here. Just a small sample of the art I saw...

Then, it was time to take in The Magnificent Mile to do some window shopping. I stopped for a treat before I caught the train.

Wow! What a long day! I took the trains. Waiting for the plane...

and in about an hour...the automobile.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chicago, Here we go again!

Here we go again.  After two more 12 hour shifts, the first snowstorm of the season was looming on the radar. The first flakes started flying as we hit the road.

Snow starting to fall
Girls and I falling asleep Zzzzzzzzz.
 By the time we crossed the Wisconsin border, the snow was blowing and it was getting hard to see the road. We saw a jack-knifed semi and many cars in the ditch. We journeyed on. Illinois welcomed us with sunshine coming up over the horizon. The blinding snow stopped.

Bathroom break
We made it in time for my appointment. I had vital signs taken, labs drawn, and filled out questionaires. We went over the side effects of Lucitanib, the drug I will be taking. It can cause anorexia and can damage the heart which is the reason behind all the tests and monitoring. Lucitanib blocks the action of certain molecules called "angiogenic factors" that may cause tumor cells to grow. The biopsy I had back in April identified that I had elevated levels of the factors that Lucitanib blocks. Due to the potential cardiac side effects, I will have check my blood pressure at home twice a week.

This drug has shown promising results in previous clinical trials. This is a phase 2 Clinical Trial specifically for Metastatic Breast Cancer. The trial will compare the efficacy of 2 doses of the drug. Participants are randomized to the dose we are given. I am the first person in this trial.  



Study Questions

Part 2

BPs with "Doctor's Office" Accuracy!

There was no peripheral IV start. No waiting for the Pharmacist to mix my chemo, then waiting for it to infuse. Lucitanib is a pill. Down the hatch it went. After I took my first dose, I had to wait two hours, then have another EKG to compare with my baseline.

Study Drug


The hospital sits next to a beautiful park, Washington Park. We walked together, exploring and enjoying a lovely 60 degree day. We found a massive, breathtaking sculpture called The Fountain of Time, created by artist Lorado Taft in 1920. An ominous hooded figure, Father Time, stands alone and faces probably 100 carved figures as they move past in all the stages of life. Birth, family, struggle, love, art, religion, war,.... death all pass time. There were waves and movement in the concrete, a couple kissing, a mother holding her child, a woman suffering... all melting into one another, part of each other in a real and lasting way.

Maybe many people who experience this sculpture are moved by it in some way. I saw myself among those figures. I feel my time is running out...

Fountain of Time

Fountain of time

Starting this drug means we need to follow the clinical trail to the letter. All of my labs and scans have to be completed in Chicago, so I'll be back two more times in November. Then, in December we will do scans and see if it is working. If it is working, we need come back 2 weeks later. Then, once a month after that.

Drive home

Fun treat on the way