Tag Archives: study drug

Apoptosis

My curiosity about HDAC inhibitors (the class of drug to which Panobinostat belongs) has overtaken my better judgment.  Meaning I went a-Googling, even though I knew beforehand that any explanations I found would be in science-speak and therefore way over my decidedly unscientific head.  However, I did find the following almost plain-language description, featuring actual adjectives:

 

“Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors are emerging as an exciting new class of potential anticancer agents for the treatment of solid and hematological malignancies. In recent years, an increasing number of structurally diverse HDAC inhibitors have been identified that inhibit proliferation and induce differentiation and/or apoptosis of tumor cells in culture and in animal models.”

 

Never mind the wishy-washy “potential anti-cancer agents” or the “in culture and in animal models” qualifier. HDAC inhibitors are cancer agents, alright.  And they mean business.  As my extremely scientific cousin Donald wrote me, “Basically I’m glad I’m not a tumour cell on the receiving end of it since the stuff will kick their tiny butts in several different and lethal ways!”

 

And if that’s not encouraging enough, may I direct your attention to the word “apoptosis.”  It is my new favourite word.  Apparently, in addition to being strangely enjoyable to say, it actually means “cellular suicide” also known as “programmed cell death.”

 

Awfully sinister isn’t it?  I picture the cancer cells drinking up Panobinostat like so much poisoned kool-aid, and my little heart gleefully cries, “Apoptosize yourselves, evil tumour cells! Die, die, die!”

 

What’s not to love?

 

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Friday Night in Emerg

At about 5pm on Friday, my clinical trial nurse called to say that I needed to go to emergency to get my heart checked out immediately. Apparently a MUGA heart scan and 10,000 ECGs are not enough “checking out” for one week.  I’m not complaining – as I’ve said before, if they want to scrutinize every blip and squiggle on my test results, I am happy for them to do so.  Grateful, even.

 

It turns out my medical oncologist had reviewed all my ECGs, but since this new study drug can be hard on the heart (and given all the chemo, radiation and Herceptin I’ve had) she wanted me to be seen by a cardiologist before the weekend just to be sure there was no damage to my heart. 

 

I was told not to be alarmed, that this was just a precaution and they didn’t think anything was wrong – but these kinds of assurances are always a little suspect when you are at the same time being urged to proceed immediately to the emergency department where the triage nurse and ER doctor have been notified and are expecting you.

 

I thought about riding my bike but then reconsidered, given that the storm clouds were about to burst again, and because this was, you know, a possible cardiac situation.  My husband was still in a conference call and then had to pick up our daughter, so I called my friend Angelique. Not just because both her parents are doctors and she knows her way around a hospital, but because she is fantastic company in any situation, and I knew her tennis game had been rained out.

 

Anyway, it turned out that they processed me remarkably quickly, and “they” were without exception kind and friendly and professional.  Plus the doctor who was responsible for me was young, personable, funny and, ummm, extremely attractive with a gentle, deep voice like Forest Whitaker’s.  I blame that combo of qualities for any little flutters on the ECG.  It was like being on a hidden-camera show, and Angelique kept making fun of me when we were alone in the room: “Oooh, Dr. Hot Doctor, listen to my heart!!”  We were having far too much fun for a Friday night in Emerg.

 

After many tests and Q&A’s and a visit from a senior cardiologist who told me that the test of the liver enzyme that would indicate heart damage had come back negative – hooray! – we were free to go.  Dr. Hot Doctor ran through a litany of possible symptoms that would indicate a need for me to run back immediately into his waiting arms (or maybe he just said to the emergency room) and then the nurse unhooked my IV and ECG leads, literally emancipating me at last.  We thanked everyone for their excellent care and efficiency & Angelique was on the phone ordering sushi before I’d even changed out of my hospital gown.

 

Georgia was in bed by the time we got home but my husband was anxiously waiting, so we unpacked our take-out and ate dinner in my kitchen while telling him all about our Friday night at Emerg, including several embellishments about the charms of Dr. Hot Doctor.

 

Then, exhausted and happy to be home with my Mr. Hot Husband, my dear friend, and my at least passably healthy heart, we hit the couch to watch a movie and I fell asleep before the end.

 

Turned out to be a great night after all.

 

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