28 September 2016

Son of Thalidomide

I was having a nice chat with my chemo doctor Tuesday. I asked him to recommend for me a book or paper that would explain in detail how my daily drug Revlimid works. All I knew prior to that question was that it was a derivative of the dreaded anti-nausea medication Thalidomide, and that it somehow prevented the creation of new blood vessels, thereby killing off cancer cells the way its parent drug killed off the creation of arms and legs in babies in the 1950s.

He explained that scientists don’t know how Revlimid works. He clarified that it enters the bone marrow (where my cancer comes from) and kills off the cancer cells. Okeh. Then he told me that my kind of cancer was originally treated with Thalidomide.

Color me surprised. I hadn’t heard that. Although it helped, the original treatment had so many side effects that some clever doctor figured out what exactly in Thalidomide worked against the cancer and pulled out that small part -- resulting in Revlimid, what my doctor called “the first designer drug.” 

Revlimid, in general, has few side effects and those are pretty mild. Thankfully, I’ve had virtually none of them, so that makes me really happy. According to my doctor, my numbers are still doing really well and that makes him really happy. I guess the situation is the best it could possibly be for a cancer that I’ll have the rest of my life and a drug that I’ll keep taking for the same length of time.

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