MSKK and the holy grail (vaccine for OC)
Check in is very efficient at MSKCC. But the wait to see Dr Sabbatini and his staff was horrendous. I was taken back to an exam room around 3:00; my appointment was for 1:00. It is a beautiful facility. And they have a station with soft drinks, coffee, tea and snacks - all free.
I saw the legendary Dr S, as well as two other (female) doctors. They had all read my chart very thoroughly. That much was apparent. Dr Sabbatini is from Mississippi and totally down-to-earth. He seems to have zero ego. And he is a serious contender for Patrick Dempsey's title: Dr McDreamy.
Long story...well, long, I was accepted into the study. They actually seemed excited to get me. I'm thinking that might be because (1) I was hard-core - lots of cancer and a super high CA125 that plummeted into the teens after the 4th treatment. (2) I have been NED for almost a year, and (3) I have tolerated chemo very, very well.
I go back Feb 1st for more blood work and start treatment on the 2nd. I have a schedule, but the gist of it is that I get treatments on Feb 2 and 9th, and the 16th. I get a 4 week break, then go back for one injection in March, blood work in April and May and the final treatment on June 8th. I will have 3 CT scans - April, July, and Oct. They will also call me on the phone periodically, to discuss my general health, etc. Of course, if I have a recurrence, I am out of the trial.
I was surprised to learn that there is a Phase II trial of an almost identical vaccine, being given all over the country, for women in their second remission. I plan to do some research and see what I can find out about the results of that Phase I.
Nancy, he didn't really take a hard stand for or against Taxol maintenance. He said that I had undergone "a lot of chemotherapy - more than most people." And he mentioned that my doctor's notes said I had embraced the offer of Taxol maintenance "with great enthusiasm", and I told him that was correct. He pointed out that I could have declined, as many patients do, and it would have been "perfectly understandable." I told him that, on the contrary, I was sitting in front of him that very minute because the idea of "watchful waiting" does not appeal to me. And he said that the fact that I had tolerated it so well made the decision much easier, a statement I concurred with. I got the impression that he's not against it, per say, but it's not the latest tool in the cancer toolbox and I think he is really on the cutting-edge of things, and has moved past those earlier options. My own doctor told me that I am the last of his patients to get Taxol maintenance. He is using other maintenance drugs now, inclding Avastin (when he can get the insurance companies to pay for it.)
Dr S has a NP named Sandra and I am supposed to email or call her with any questions, and after the trial starts, he wants me to send her frequent up-dates via email, just to let them know how I am feeling, etc. Because there are a couple of long periods in the schedule where they don't see me for weeks at a time.
The formal name of the trial is:
Phase I Trial of Unimolecular Pentavalent (Globo-H-GM2-sTn-TF-Tn) Immunization of Patients with Epithelial Ovarian, Fallopian Tube, or Peritoneal Cancer in First Remission.
The vaccine contains an antigen that will, hopefully, identify ovarian cancer cells and help my immune system recognize and destroy them.
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