Research studies teach us that Velcade is a very sensitive chemotherapy agent.
What do you think of when you hear the term chemotherapy? I think of drugs that cause you to lose your hair and knock you on your butt!
My wife, Pattie, underwent this type of chemotherapy ten years ago after surgery to remove her ovaries. Her post operative cancer therapy included a drug, Taxol, which is still used today–although usually in smaller doses.
Once a month for six months, Pattie and I drove two hours to Marshfield Clinic for her infusion. She spent much of the next week nauseous and incapacitated. By the end of the second month, she had lost all of her long brown hair. Pattie’s experience was difficult on so many levels…
But Velcade, the first of it’s kind proteasome inhibitor, represents a new generation of chemotherapy. Unlike Taxol–or a number of different types of cytoxic agents–Velcade’s side effects tend to be more subtle.
That’s not to say that the peripheral neuripathy (PN) many patients experience while undergoing Velcade therapy isn’t significant. Constipation and fatigue are also common. I feel like I have been hit by a truck two or three hours after my sub-q Velcade injections. And I’m so stiff it is difficult for me to get-up and walk to the bathroom.
Yet later that same evening I’m usually feeling fine again–a whole lot easier to withstand than the four or five day ordeal my wife endured a decade ago.
But when Pattie’s course of treatment was complete, she was finished. Done with all of it. Velcade’s side effects may not be as hard hitting, but they can go on and on, since most myeloma patients continue treatment–on and off–until the drug stops working sometime down the line.
Myeloma chemotherapy–or novel agents, as they’re called–may not pack the punch of the nasty compounds used to treat solid tumor cancers. But with the advent of maintenance therapy, many of us are sentenced to a life of continual treatment. And don’t let anyone tell you that taking Thalomid, Revlimid and/or Velcade–along with their insidious sidekick, dexamethasone–can’t wear you down.
My wife and her doctors weren’t concerned about what Pattie ate or drank before, during or after her chemotherapy. The doses were so strong nothing could have slowed it down.
But our chemotherapy can be different. More subtle. Taken over a longer period of time. And in the world of chemotherapy, I can’t think of a more sensitive chemo agent than Velcade.
The unique molecular make-up of Velcade–along with lower dosing spread-out over a longer period of time–allows Velcade’s performance to be significantly affected by what we eat and drink.
Strange that we need to look-out after our chemotherapy, nurturing it and helping it do it’s job. Ironic, isn’t it?
But ironies aside, myeloma patients who are taking Velcade are presented with a rare opportunity of contributing to the success of our therapy.
You may already have heard that drinking green tea while undergoing Velcade therapy isn’t a good idea:
But did you know that ingesting too much vitamin C might not be a good idea, either?
And here’s a list of nutritional supplements that all myeloma patients should avoid, even if you aren’t currently undergoing myeloma therapy:
glucosamine, glutamine, L-gulamine, hyaluronic acid and alpha lipoic acid.
Newly diagnosed cancer patients are often quick to head-down to their neighborhood health food store and load-up on every supplement they can find. Read an article about the anticancer properties of this vitamin or that supplement and add it to their growing handful of pills and capsules.
And of course, there are some who feel nutritional intervention can slow or even cure cancer.
But myeloma patients need to proceed with caution here for obvious reasons.
Let’s examine this controversial issue tomorrow. Feel good and keep smiling! Pat