Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Back to Dana

I visited Dana-Farber for the first time in about 6 months. I always try to get the first appointment in the morning just in case my doctor is running late, which has been known to happen. This means an early departure around 5:15, arriving in Boston around 6:30.

Today, the traffic was fine and I arrived without incident. When I checked in on the laboratory level, the place was packed. They must have just opened when I arrived because they quickly started calling out names. I was amazed at the nearly 100 or so people waiting at 6:30 for a blood draw prior to the appointment.

I seldom have reminders about CML or cancer, but being at Dana-Farber is a huge one. I remember as I sit in this crowd that I am one of many fighting cancer. It reminds me that I am lucky enough to have the "good kind" but nonetheless, it is a constant battle.

In many ways, I hate coming to Dana-Farber. Don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful and incredible facility that provides ground breaking and amazing treatment to so many people. What I hate is the reminder.

Cancer is a big equalizer. It does not differentiate your race, wealth, or other health status. Cancer can affect any or all of us.

When I come here, I am reminded that I am part of this club that I never wanted to join. Interestingly, on most days, my only reminder is my medication. I don't get too many side effects. Last night, however, (perhaps as a cruel reminder about the appointment) I was awoken in pain with a severe muscle cramp. My pain was loud enough to wake my wife. Fortunately, this is really the only side effect I tend to get.

Today, with my doctor, I am discussing the generic version of Gleevec, imatinib. I am on my last couple of weeks of the brand version. While I recognize the enormous costs of taking the brand name (around $12,000 per month), I am cautiously optimistic that the generic will provide the same level of efficacy as the original. I have already taken a blood test to determine my imatinib levels while on the brand name. Once I switch, I will have another blood test to examine how effective the generic medicine is in comparison.

I will keep you posted when the transition occurs soon. For now, life goes on.