We are prepared should the known side effects, listed earlier, begin to surface. This drug like the others produce their crappiness on a accumulative basis. They get worse as the weeks on go.
All of this because I want to be a part in out how medical professionals and the women who will come after me in this fight can better manage, defeat and prevent cancer. Breakthroughs in research and medical care have come via clinical trials. I know the care I received, the techniques of my surgeons, the confidence of my oncologist were the results of these efforts. Of the brave women who came before me, who volunteered to try new drugs, new regimens, undergo new surgeries. Some of which worked, some sadly that did not. I wish to pay that forward.
So my team had been looking for a clinical trial for me since my diagnosis. Sadly, there aren't as many as you'd think. The protocols and requirements to be included in a trial are extremely stringent. You have to have a specific type of cancer, have had a certain prior chemo protocol (or not), be of a certain age, live nearby (or reasonably so) in order to participate in the treatment and/or evaluations, etc. Many trials involving triple negative breast cancer are focused on metastasized cancer. Cancer that has returned and is very difficult and or impossible to cure. I suppose this is because triple negative cancer is the most aggressive of all breast cancers. Chances are decent that this bastard will return. Finding a cure for when it does is certainly critical.
Coming out of surgery, however, my oncologist mentioned a trial, being conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that sounded promising. The purpose of the "Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group" or "ECOG" , according to "ClinicalTrials.gov : "This randomized phase III trial studies how well cisplatin or carboplatin (platinum based chemotherapy) works compared to capecitabine in treating patients with remaining (residual) basal-like triple-negative breast cancer following chemotherapy after surgery (neoadjuvant). Drugs used in chemotherapy, such as cisplatin, carboplatin and capecitabine, work in different ways to stop the growth of tumor cells, either by killing the cells, by stopping them from dividing, or by stopping them from spreading. It is not yet known whether cisplatin or carboplatin is more effective than capecitabine in treating patients with residual triple negative basal-like breast cancer."
One of the drugs being used in the ECOG trial had already gone thru a "successful" trial in Asia. The CREATE-X study, presented at the 2015 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, showed to increase disease-free and overall survival rates of folks like me. This result coupled with the fact that capecitabine, or Xeloda, is a pill you take at home verses via IV, is "less toxic" than its counterpart drug in the ECOG study, and that I had a 50/50 chance of being randomly assigned to either drug had I qualified, we have decided to "shadow" the ECOG trial by taking capecitabine (Xeloda) for six rounds (18 weeks) as prescribed by the trial.
Today is Day One of the next eighteen weeks - my "maintenance drug" meant to keep this bastard from ever returning. And while I'm not officially participating in the ECOG trial, I hope whatever happens to me - during treatment and after - can be helpful in making care and treatment strides for women who will fight this battle after me.
I plan to keep up my daily morning walks with Bettie and add in increasing time on my Concept2 Rower to strengthen and stretch my chest. For as long as I can. I've healed extremely well from surgery. And yea, I don't miss putting on, tugging at, and otherwise managing a bra, in case you were wondering.