The Chemo Doctor (Medical Oncologist) & the Genetically Engineered Smallpox Virus (Immunotherapy)

» Imagine taking a serious virus such as » smallpox and genetically engineering it so that it cannot attach itself (attenuated) to healthy cells, but rather so that it can only attach itself to specific types of cells, such as particular types of » cancer cells.

When the genetically-modfied smallpox virus enters the cancer cells, it replicates so fast that the cancer cells basically explode from the inside.

Think about that for a minute. Think about the level of skill and knowledge and technology required to craft such a thing. What a fascinating concept.

This is called » immunotherapy. Immunotherapy represents the future of oncology.

Smallpox has been around since 10,000 BC. The earliest physical evidence of it is probably the pustular rash on the mummified body of Pharaoh Ramses V of Egypt.

Viruses are basically » snippets of genetic code. (DNA, for example, is genetic code.)

This is part of a clinical trial that I am eligible for .. with a genetically engineered virus that has been tested for 2½ years .. on 22 others. I will be #23.

When I heard that I would be #23, I thought of Jim Carrey, Miley and Michael Jordan. Yes, in that order. I also thought of » Hunstsman Sr.

» The Clinical Trials Girl

Later, I asked her » "Am I really number 23? Or did you just say that to try to get me to sign up?"

"No," she said, "You're really number 23."

[ The 34-page prospectus that she gave me says that they are looking for between 18 and 32 test subjects. The Clinical Trials girl said that they are going to quit at #24 and move onto something else. So one more after me.

I did not read the whole thing because it kinda freaks me out to read stuff like this. They have about 30 people working in clinical trials. The Radiation Oncologist is in charge of the trial. ]

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When you have cancer (it should be obvious) your thinking is affected. You catch yourself saying shit that you'd normally never say. Sometimes silly, sometimes stupid.

The Clinical Trials girl has a style of communication that works well with me. And she has a nice voice. These are things that the cancer patient appreciates.

As a patient, you want to do what you can to help move the science forward .. to help move the medicine forward. For those who come after you, and in honor of those who have gone before you.

Of course, I am curious about the other 22, but I do not have the balls to ask about their batting averages. If most of them are doing well, then, yes, that is something I would like to know. But if 17 of 22 are dead .. no, this is somethng that I would rather not know. Feel me?

Dont ask the questions if you'd rather not hear the answers.

I said to her » "The paperwork says that this trial is only for ADVANCED cases. They cant even find my primary source. So how can I be advanced?"

"It has spread to your lymph node," she said. "That makes it advanced."

I did not not feel so good after she said that. Tho I said, "Well, I appreciate your honesty." [ Telling me why I have an 'advanced' case of cancer. ]

After that, I can feel myself being much more careful about the questions I ask her.

"After I get a polio vaccine," I said, "I hardly even know it. Why is this one gong to make me shiver and shake for a few hours?"

Do you want to hear her response? (Probably not.)

» The Chemo Doctor (Medical Oncologist)

I saw the Chemo doctor at Moores today. Wow. Lots of info. Maybe too much. "I have to tell you this," she said, more than once. This is a lot to deal with. Clearly, the shit is on.

No, she didnt say » "Your balls might fall out." But that probably the only thing she didnt say.

"Your dick might fall off. I gotta tell you this. Sign here that you understand that your dick might fall off." Yes, I'm kidding. But not as much as you might think.

But first I should say that this doctor, this oncologist, a 'Medical Oncologist', she was surprisingly easy to talk to. A lady-doctor. From Michigan. A Detroit girl. Detroit girls are tough. If you get into a fight, you want a Detroit girl on your side. (They know how to fight dirty.)

If you say to a guy who is bothering you, "Dude, dont make me call my girlfriend. She's from Detroit," they will instantly apologize and leave you alone. "Sorry, bro. I was only kidding. Please dont call your girlfriend. Here's some money. Take her out to dinner tonight. My treat. In fact, here's ALL my money. Go ahead, take it all."

Yes, I am joking .. but not as much as you might think.

She basically starts out by saying » "Tell me why you think you're here." Which I found to be an interesting gambit. They sorta do that at the hospital for surgery. (Multiple times.)

The results came back today from last week's biopsy to » verify the pathology. The pathology (squamous-cell carcinoma) has indeed been verifed. And the special test for HPV came back » positive.

Last week, when the surgeon was taking samples from my lymph node for re-biopsy, I heard him say to the nurse something about documenting on the samples » testing for "the sixteen". I didnt know then what he was talking about, but now I can see that » this is what it was for.

The Chemo doctor said the exposure to the virus takes "10-to-40 years" to manifest. She also said there is no risk to my son or even to girls I might have sex with in the future .. tho I do not feel very sexy right now.

She said that, in some people (like me) the virus somehow gets into your DNA and replicates as cancer.

They only give you chemo three times » once at the beginning, once halfway thru, and once at the end. The chemo drug makes the cancer cells more susceptible to radiation, which kills (burns) the cancer.

Think about vampires and how they react to daylight. (Not well.) Light is merely a form of radiation. (Or should I say that radiation is a form of light?)

She said it was important for me to keep up nutrition .. that I might not feel like eating .. but that is important and she would order tube-feeding if necessary.

"Would you send me to Guantanamo for that?" I didnt actually say this, but I got her point.

She also said that I probably wouldnt lose my hair. Tho it might thin. I am well beyond vanity here, so this was never a big concern. My only concern was that my head might get cold this winter.

She also said that it was important to get physical exercise. "You will feel tired. You will feel like lying down," she said. "But we dont want your body wasting away. Dont over-do it, but you need to stay active. Go for a walk everyday. Dont stay in bed all day, even if you feel like it."

I was surprised to hear that they have social services available. I am going to call the social service lady on Monday to discuss what they have available. Sometimes, just talking to an understanding person can bring a degree of comfort.

I can tell that I am more rocked right now (emotionally, anxiety) .. with the exception of when the doctor called to say that the biopsy came back positive.

I think there is some fear-of-the-unknown to deal with. You dont know exactly HOW shitty you are going to feel.

She talked about prescribing 'narcotics' if necessary. Doctors dont talk about narcotics unless you might actually need them.

Walking out of there, the joker-voice in my head said to me » "Merry Christmas, dawg. Enjoy your Christmas present."

Beyond all this, tho, idea of the genetically-engineered smallpox virus .. really gave the geek in me a techno-boner. I could feel my mind repeatedly circling the idea ..

.. trying to get a better grasp of the concept and what is involved behind the engineering. Truly fascinating. I would totally love to meet with the person/people who engineered that 'vaccine'.

I mean, basically, you are taking a snippet of nasty, ancient genetic code, which has been here on earth for far longer than you yourself have been here, and which has caused much death and destruction over the centuries and even over many millennia .. and weaponizing it .. to go after (seek-n-destroy) a mutated version of YOUR OWN cells. Which is what cancer is.


I can almost hear those cancer cells screaming now, saying » "Make it stop!"

Think about that .. how cancer cells are really a mutated version of YOUR OWN cells. Containing YOUR OWN genetic information. Food for thought.

She said it only takes 10 minutes to give you the vaccine (via I-V), but that they keep you there for 4 or 5 hours .. to monitor you .. to make sure you are okay.

Once a week for four weeks.

I told her, "You know, the Radiation Oncologist was thinking about just getting the surgeon to cut out this thing and being done with it."

"I know," she said, "I was there at that meeting."

I was trying to get her to explain why she felt that it wasnt a good idea, but she effectively paried my thrust and took the conversation off on another track. She has obviously done this many times before.

All the male doctors have female nurses. Whereas this doctor has a male nurse, so there is a nice balance to all the oncology doctor-nurse teams (radiation - surgery - chemo). It is clear that you must be a stud-nurse in order to work with one of these doctors. I'm sure that they have their pick of the best of the best.

I inadvertently made them laugh today when they asked about my tonsils, which I had out at age 24, right before I got out of the Navy. "They didnt even knock me out," I said, touting my macho ability to endure surgery while awake. "They said that would 'introduce unnecessary risks'. So they just shot me in the butt with Demerol and went to town with their tools."

The nurse and the doctor instantly looked at each other .. as tho finding private humor in what I had just said.

"You're probably fortunate that they gave you any pain-killer at all." They didnt actually say this .. but that was the flavor I was left with. I think they found this practice somewhat medieval.

The Medical Oncologist told me » "This is the standard of care. If you go to pretty much any cancer facility in the country, this is what they are going to prescribe for you."

The head-n-neck surgeon, who I saw last week, left a message on my cell today, reporting the results of the biopsy, which I listened to on the ride down to Moores. He has such a calming, soothing voice that I actually listened to his message twice.

The biggest surprise today, perhaps, came when the Chemo doctor examined me. She took her fingers and felt all around my neck and tumor area. Instead of this being something hurting that you tolerate, it actually felt good. Sorta like a mini neck and throat massage.

I remember being surprised at her skill and her technique and her touch. Because my shirt-collar pressing against it sometimes bugs me. And you can barely feel a shirt collar.

When I get done with my appointment, I normally call the ride service to come pick me up. Normally, I have to wait about an hour for them to show up. But today, the guy was parked there at the curb, waiting for me. That has never happened before.

But it was good, because of Friday traffic. We got an earlier start this way. San Diego has heavy rush-hour traffic. It was around 4 PM when I got out today. Normally I use that dead-time while waiting for my ride to show up .. to call family & friends and update them.

My cousin, the one who was almost Miss Connecticut (twice) .. she is currently my favorite to talk to. She is married to a doctor, herself. She just makes you FEEL GOOD to talk to. She puts a positive spin on everything. Very genuinely. You can tell she means it. "Call any time," she says. "I keep my phone beside the bed. And we're both night owls."

I have had enough trips to various medical facilities that I'm starting to get to know all the drivers on a first-name basis. I keep them all posted on my status. This guy today is a retired Marine. A Filipino. He says that he's diabetic, yet he always has a big super-gulp soft drink.

The end. ■

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on November 21, 2014 11:21 AM.

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