Friday, March 2, 2007


I was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in March 2006. Like anyone else who receives this news my wife and I were devastated. I knew enough at that time to know my long-term survival was quite unlikely. In the next 28 days I had a CT scan, biopsies were taken by a respirologist, brain scan and a bone scan. On the 28th day I saw an oncologist for the first time and the next day I started chemo. The first run of chemo was a combination of Cisplatin and Etoposide. Three days of treatment then 18 days off, repeated 4 times.

About half way through I had 15 days of radiation on the cancer then a month after the chemo was finished 10 days of cancer on my brain as a preventative measure against brain tumors developing. The treatments went well. With various delays because of low blood counts I walked out of the cancer clinic in August thinking I was cured.

I have to applaud the health care system in my province, in fact across Canada. The treatment I received was completely covered by our provincial health insurance, fast, professional, and I think as good as is available in the world.

In November I started to feel tired and short of breath with very little exertion. I went back to the clinic and discovered the cancer had returned, manifested by a swollen lymph node in my neck that the oncologist found in about a minute and a half and inflamed adrenal glands that were discovered after a CT scan.

I was immediately booked for more chemo, this time a drug called topotecan. It was clear that this time around the treatment was palliative, there would be no cure. I could only hope for the cancer to be forced into remission but there is no current treatment that will beat this particular cancer second time around.

It went quite well in that the cancer really didn't advance in the three and a half months I took the drug but it didn't back up either. The side effects built up as the treatment continued to the point that earlier this week the oncologist agreed to give it a break for a month or so to let my body recover from the poison.

Meanwhile, back in January there was a story in the Globe and Mail about some interesting news from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. A drug that had been used for some time to treat rare metabolic disorders in children had been found to have great effect on human cancer cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells. Tumors in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed DCA-laced water for several weeks.

This drug has not been tested on cancer inside the human body but I, like many others, are out of options. I have obtained a supply of this medicine and started taking it this week. I have created this blog to inform others who may be contemplating this route, or may be on it, of my experiences.

I want to be clear, I can't help anyone obtain this medication, I will not talk about how I got a supply other than to say that because the drug is still prescribed for metabolic conditions doctors, at least in Canada, can prescribe the medication though at some risk if the therapy goes sideways as the drug has not been through human trials.

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