Alicia had her third chemo treatment yesterday. While she was there she had a consultation with her doctor. Dr. Laux (pronounced Low) gave her the results of the DNA battery that was ordered by Dr. Greco (of Tennessee Oncology). They did find a genetic mutation. This mutation is considered a somatic (aka sporadic) mutation. These types of genetic mutations are considered defective, not because they get turned on and cause havoc, but rather because they get turned off. When they get turned off the body doesn’t know when to kill off the bad cells, when to repair damaged cells, or when to tell cells to slow their division. This makes the mutation related to the “tumor-suppressor” genes. To be clear, this is not a hereditary mutation, it is a sporadic genetic mutation. That means that Bo can’t “get” it from Alicia, it means that those related to her are not at an increased risk for the mutation, and it means that now that they know the source there are ways to overcome the mutation. So, Dr. Laux and Dr. Greco have charted a new course of treatment. They started the first step of that new path yesterday. While she did the regularly scheduled treatment, she also did a new additional treatment. This new treatment, while still a form of chemotherapy, is designed to trick the body into turning on those defective genes that it is trying to turn off. This new therapy will be administered for a year. It is not as aggressive (and not quite as toxic) and therefore not as draining to her as the current treatments have the potential to be. In three weeks she will get her final dose of the initial treatments and another dose of the new drug. In the weeks following that final aggressive treatment she is now set to have radiation done as well. At this point we don’t know as much about the radiation as we will when that date gets closer but it looks like that will be daily for six weeks, and during that time she will also be receiving the new chemo every day. The radiation is a proactive step and will help the doctors, and Alicia, to feel more confident that the cancer cells will not be able to make a return.
In addition to getting her treatment yesterday, during her visit with Dr. Laux, he was not happy with her chemo port and determined that it needed to be removed immediately. He did the removal in his office. Because she has another year of chemo ahead, he recommended that she go ahead with the insertion of a new port, rather than rely on doing a long(er) term chemo by IV. So, today Alicia will be going in to have a new port put in on the opposite side. While unexpected, having a port in place will simplify her treatments over the long term.
I hope this was all clear and helped everyone to understand the broad picture of her diagnosis and treatment.