Wednesday, December 31, 2008

OK, so here is the second in my little 'series' of what these cancer drugs are all about.

The second drug in the series is called bleomycin (blee-oh-MY-sin). The way it works is not precisely known, but it seems to damage DNA to the point that a cell will stop its reproductive cycle. This means that while this drug does not actually kill cells, it does stop them from reproducing. This leaves them vulnerable to the other drugs that will be used.

Its major side effect is pulmonary fibrosis--lung damage. People who undergo this type of chemotherapy are monitored closely for any changes in their lung function. The reason this drug is so damaging to lung tissue is because the enzyme your body uses to break down this drug (bleomycin hydrolase), while readily available in the rest of your body, is completely absent in lung tissue as well as skin. This side effect has a relatively high occurrence rate at 10%.

Other side effects include: an allergic-like reaction, reddening of the skin, rashes, itchiness, darkening of ths skin and nail beds, hair loss, fever, chills, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, pain at tumor sites, vascular inflammation, and general discomfort. Rarely, heart attack and stroke have been reported as well.

Again, I want to emphasize that the benefit of this drug outweighs the risk. I will be closely monitored for any damaging side effects. When the risk outweighs the benefits, then the drug is stopped. All side effects are completely dependent on how much of the drug is received (dosage) and age and health of the person receiving the drug.

I can't say that I have any other updates, really. My dad and grandfather were going to come to the cities yesterday, but they postponed their drive due to the crazy weather we have been having--ice and freezing rain and wierd temperatures, oh my! Sounds like they will be taking off tomorrow instead.

Thanks to everyone who has been by and shown your support. It is really appreciated!

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