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Monday, February 27, 2017

Hello Darzalex, Please Be My Friend

2.27.17

Wellllllllllll... here we go...
The long awaited treatment change to Darzalex is looming tomorrow, Tuesday, February 28, 2017, first thing in the morning!
My hope is for NO side effect DRAMA on this first infusion.

For those familiar with Darza, you KNOW what I am referring to.
For those unfamiliar with Darza, truth is, many (most) myeloma patients experience some sort of "first infusion" reaction, above and beyond the "normal" reaction one has to (other) new chemos. When switching treatments (which has happened more times than I can count now!), I read read read and consult 24/7 about the new medication, treatment details, possible consequences, etc., so I know what I am getting into. I may not fully understand all Darza's bio-chemistry, but at least I won't be surprised if I do have an initial infusion reaction. 

Am I scared? No. Am I nervous? No. Am I anxious? Yes... Anxious to just get this first infusion over and done with. Anxious to know if this treatment will lasso my escalating IgA and M Protein. Anxious to find out if I can be back on the winning side for change. Anxious to be ok for a little bit, if possible. Anxious for a bit of potential "normalcy" in my life, if Darza and I become friends

See Revlimid Dex was challenging regarding GI side effects, but totally worth it prior to SCT (2010), after SCT (2010-2012), then after coming out of remission (2013), until mid 2015. Then Kyprolis Dex gave me at least 9 months, from late 2015 to mid 2016. Then recently Dex, Pomalyst and Velcade, unfortunately barely made a dent. Then actually made a tiny dent, but my Dr and I decided to toss Pom and Velcade aside and go for the new big dog, Darzalex.

So hello to allll day, 8+ hour "slo-mo" infusions Tuesday Feb 28 and Wednesday March 1. The 8+ hour, all day, slow infusion rate is the norm, to help prevent side effects. And if there are side effects, the infusion is stopped, reaction-targeted meds administered, and hopefully, onward I can go. We'll see what happens!

And what are those intense, serious, potential first infusion side effects? 

DARZALEX® (daratumumab) Important Safety Information – Professional

WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS
Infusion Reactions - DARZALEX can cause severe infusion reactions. Approximately half of all patients experienced a reaction, most during the first infusion. Infusion reactions can also occur with subsequent infusions. Nearly all reactions occurred during infusion or within 4 hours of completing an infusion. Prior to the introduction of post-infusion medication in clinical trials, infusion reactions occurred up to 48 hours after infusion. Severe reactions have occurred, including bronchospasm, hypoxia, dyspnea, and hypertension. Signs and symptoms may include respiratory symptoms, such as cough, wheezing, larynx and throat tightness and irritation, laryngeal edema, pulmonary edema, nasal congestion, and allergic rhinitis. Less common symptoms were hypotension, headache, rash, urticaria, pruritus, nausea, vomiting, and chills.
Pre-medicate patients with antihistamines, antipyretics and corticosteroids. Frequently monitor patients during the entire infusion. Interrupt infusion for reactions of any severity and institute medical management as needed. Permanently discontinue therapy for life-threatening (Grade 4) reactions. For patients with Grade 1, 2, or 3 reactions, reduce the infusion rate when re-starting the infusion.
To reduce the risk of delayed infusion reactions, administer oral corticosteroids to all patients the first and second day after all infusions. Patients with a history of obstructive pulmonary disorders may require additional post-infusion medications to manage respiratory complications. Consider prescribing short- and long-acting bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids for patients with obstructive pulmonary disorders.

Interference with Serological Testing - Daratumumab binds to CD38 on red blood cells (RBCs) and results in a positive Indirect Antiglobulin Test (Coombs test). Daratumumab-mediated positive indirect antiglobulin test may persist for up to 6 months after the last daratumumab infusion. Daratumumab bound to RBCs masks detection of antibodies to minor antigens in the patient’s serum. The determination of a patient’s ABO and Rh blood type are not impacted. Notify blood transfusion centers of this interference with serological testing and inform blood banks that a patient has received DARZALEX. Type and screen patients prior to starting DARZALEX.

Interference with Determination of Complete Response - Daratumumab is a human IgG kappa monoclonal antibody that can be detected on both, the serum protein electrophoresis (SPE) and immunofixation (IFE) assays used for the clinical monitoring of endogenous M-protein. This interference can impact the determination of complete response and of disease progression in some patients with IgG kappa myeloma protein.

Adverse Reactions - The most frequently reported adverse reactions (incidence ≥20%) were: fatigue, nausea, back pain, pyrexia, cough, and upper respiratory tract infection.
Serious adverse reactions were reported in 51 (33%) of patients. The most frequent serious adverse reactions were pneumonia (6%), general physical health deterioration (3%), and pyrexia (3%).


MMRF: Darzalez

IMF: Darzalex

So wish me luck and I do hope for the best, with minimal infusion reactions. Me, being me, and proactive as I am, I plan to Dex up Monday, the day before, with 8mg steroids (2 pills). Then Dex up early Tuesday with 20mg (5 pills), before even arriving for the infusion. I may even take some Benadryl in advance too, maybe some Claritin too. YES, all of this PRE-APPROVED by my Dr and chemo lab Pharmacists! I inquired about this at my last appointment, when we agreed to switch from Pom, Velcade to Darzalex. I know I am a "non-conformist" and a bit "rogue", but not stupid :)) I only do what is medical protocol. I will post an update as soon as I feel ok, to let you know how I did. Thank you in advance for caring as you do, all these years!

 How many doggies do you see?
Count the noses :))


Yep!! 

Live happy, live well, and make a difference somewhere, somehow, with someone or something as often as you can!  



4 comments:

  1. I second the vote for no drama tomorrow.
    JC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks JC! Ride for me :)) xoxo

      Delete
  2. Good luck tomorrow. You have the best attitude, so I bet all will go well.
    Still enjoy your posts very much.
    By the way, I just noticed that your posts have had 132,000 views. Amazing work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww Wendy! Thank you so much for your continued and sweet support! I love knowing my posts mean something to others, and they continue to be enjoyable and beneficial :)) Thanks for noticing my views too ! Pretty cool! Hoping all is good with you and your family and hubby! Thank you Wendy! xoxo

      Delete

My Story... How my MM was diagnosed

October/November/December 2009...

Most of my life I was VERY presumptuous about being healthy, taking my (mostly) GOOD health for granted...
I was committed to annual check-ups for all of us, and so late October 2009, my daughter and I went for our annual and very routine physicals.

Surprise, surprise... my routine blood tests revealed extreme Anemia, significant White and Red Cell issues, low Platelets, and a variety of other CBC red flags! I was (stupidly) not worried when my GP doc left repeated phone messages to contact him, and when we did speak, I (stupidly) requested postponement of his referral appointment to the Hematology Dept until the end of the Fall academic term.

Arriving for my first appointment Dec 14, 2009, I was confronted with the check-in sign that read: "Hematology/Oncology"... What? Nooooo! not me... I must be in the WRONG place! And so my diagnosis journey began with vials and vials of blood drawn "stat", urgent Dr consultations, a surprise and painful Bone Marrow Biopsy, a full body Skeletal Scan, more blood tests stat, and then on 12.30.2009... THE revealing meeting... the "huh-what" moment ... the confirmation diagnosis that I, Julie, have CANCER!!!

Happy New Year to me, I just learned a new vocabulary word:
Multiple Myeloma!!! MM, Multiple Mye-what-loma!!!

January - June 2010

My medical metamorphosis began.
I read, and read, and read and researched and researched MM. I trusted my expert Oncology/Hematology team's plan and began my "New Normal" as a cancer patient.
My treatment plan was developed to include powerful Dexemthesone steroids paired with Revlimid chemotherapy, with the plan to be hospitalized for an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant July 2010.

I began living "one day at a time" like never before.
Jim was a wreck. Alissa and Scott were stunned; family and friends shocked.

Me... Cowgirl Up! I got back in the saddle and knew I was in for the ride of my life!
I did well on my initial pill-form Revlimid Chemo, "roid-rage" Dex Steroids and other supportive meds. I am forever deeply grateful and appreciative for all the love and support from everyone in my personal and professional life! I thank all of you for working along with me, and allowing me to continue to lead a semi "normal" life!
YOU have helped save my life!

My treatment trail ride forks to City of Hope hospital as I will saddle up beginning June 9, 2010 for a new rodeo called an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant!
Ye-Ha, let the adventure begin!

Chemical Warfare...

January 2010 - May 2010:
My initial chemo regimen:

Pill form Chemo= Revlimid (10mg capsules)
Pill form Dexamethasone Steroids (40 mg!) paired with Omeprazole
Mepron (looks like yellow finger paint) Anti-fungal, Anti-viral, etc for my very compromised immune system
B-12- to build those cells!
.81 Aspirin to prevent DVT, Revlimid complications
Allopurinol- keeping the kidneys healthy
Acyclovir- anti-Shingles, anti-viral

June 2010:
High dose IV Cytoxan chemo
Neupogen to build up stem cells for Apheresis, stem cell harvest, which was very successful, as City of Hope was able to collect 9.5 million of my own stem cells

July 2010 Hospitalization:
Two days of high dose Melphalan chemo
Then July 5, 2010 = my Autologous Stem Cell transplant infusion!

And you can read my whole story from that point forward in this blog!


What is multiple myeloma?

What is multiple myeloma?

Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other areas of the body. To learn more about how cancers start and spread, see What Is Cancer?

Multiple myeloma is a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. Normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system.

The immune system is made up of several types of cells that work together to fight infections and other diseases. Lymphocytes (lymph cells) are the main cell type of the immune system. The major types of lymphocytes are T cells and B cells.

When B cells respond to an infection, they mature and change into plasma cells. Plasma cells make the antibodies (also called immunoglobulins) that help the body attack and kill germs. Lymphocytes are in many areas of the body, such as lymph nodes, the bone marrow, the intestines, and the bloodstream. Plasma cells, however, are mainly found in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside some hollow bones. In addition to plasma cells, normal bone marrow has cells that make the different normal blood cells.

When plasma cells become cancerous and grow out of control, they can produce a tumor called a plasmacytoma. These tumors generally develop in a bone, but they are also rarely found in other tissues. If someone has only a single plasma cell tumor, the disease is called an isolated (or solitary) plasmacytoma. If someone has more than one plasmacytoma, they have multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma is characterized by several features, including:

Low blood counts

In multiple myeloma, the overgrowth of plasma cells in the bone marrow can crowd out normal blood-forming cells, leading to low blood counts. This can cause anemia – a shortage of red blood cells. People with anemia become pale, weak, and fatigued. Multiple myeloma can also cause the level of platelets in the blood to become low (called thrombocytopenia). This can lead to increased bleeding and bruising. Another condition that can develop is leukopenia – a shortage of normal white blood cells. This can lead to problems fighting infections.

Bone and calcium problems

Myeloma cells also interfere with cells that help keep the bones strong. Bones are constantly being remade to keep them strong. Two major kinds of bone cells normally work together to keep bones healthy and strong. The cells that lay down new bone are called osteoblasts. The cells that break down old bone are called osteoclasts. Myeloma cells make a substance that tells the osteoclasts to speed up dissolving the bone. Since the osteoblasts do not get a signal to put down new bone, old bone is broken down without new bone to replace it. This makes the bones weak and they break easily. Fractured bones are a major problem in people with myeloma. This increase in bone break-down can also raise calcium levels in the blood. (Problems caused by high calcium levels are discussed in the section “How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?”)

Infections

Abnormal plasma cells do not protect the body from infections. As mentioned before, normal plasma cells produce antibodies that attack germs. For example, if you developed pneumonia, normal plasma cells would produce antibodies aimed at the specific bacteria that were causing the illness. These antibodies help the body attack and kill the bacteria. In multiple myeloma, the myeloma cells crowd out the normal plasma cells, so that antibodies to fight the infection can’t be made. The antibody made by the myeloma cells does not help fight infections. That’s because the myeloma cells are just many copies of the same plasma cell – all making copies of the same exact (or monoclonal) antibody.

Kidney problems

The antibody made by myeloma cells can harm the kidneys. This can lead to kidney damage and even kidney failure.