Thursday, March 8, 2012


Thursday May 28, 1992

I have a nagging feeling that Frank should go with me today to see Dr. Schwartz. He doesn't offer and I hate to ask. He has SO much to do at the rental house. Dr. Schwartz has bad news. My CAT scan from 2 weeks ago shows 2 new tumors in my lower abdomen. One is on my bowel and one is a lymph node. Both are the size of a quarter. This means my current chemo medicine is not doing the job. He would love to put me on Taxol right now but it is in such short supply he can't get it. Taxol is brand new and really works well about 30% of the time. He has one more drug to try and then I should try to get Taxol at UCLA.

Frank, Gary, Maria and boys and I go out to pizza for dinner. They take the bad news real well.

Mom's intuition was right on. She knew the news was going to be bad because of the nagging pains she had been feeling in her abdomen. As I blog Mom's journal entries, every once in awhile I come across an "if only" entry, and today is one of those days. "If only" Mom had been able to get Taxol started at this time, she might have beaten the cancer. Taxol was discovered in a U.S. National Cancer Institute program at the Research Triangle Institute in 1967 when it was isolated from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, which grows in the Pacific Northwest. When it was developed commercially by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) the generic name was changed to paclitaxel. It is used to treat patients with lung, ovarian and breast cancer. From 1967 to 1993, almost all paclitaxel produced was derived from bark from the Pacific yew, the harvesting of which kills the tree in the process, so there were ecological concerns to harvesting the bark and therefore a very limited supply of the drug. By the end of 1995 paclitaxel was produced semisynthetically and the yew tree was safe from harvesting. At this time the drug became much easier to get. Unfortunately, this was too late for Mom.

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