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[This chapter is dedicated to my sister, Debbie McNeil.  The oldest of my two sisters, she recently “walked the cancer walk” with me by coming to Houston with my youngest sister Lisa Moore as I started my clinical trial at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Debbie brought with her an assortment of Superman related items… a blanket, two pairs of Superman dress socks, a Superman-themed poem that she wrote on my behalf, and even a little Superman statue that now adorns my bathroom sink as a reminder of her kindness.  The next few chapters will call her generous assessment of me as Superman into open question and remind us all that Superman had his own issue to deal with… called Kryptonite.]  

It has been almost two months since I last wrote.  I have missed it.  To be clear, if there is one thing these last few months have taught me – at least from a physical point of view – is that I am no Superman.  My first trial drug medication at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas was administered on April 29, 2024.  

In hindsight, I was cautious but brimming with confidence and hope following that first dose.  For two solid weeks of hopscotching the sprawling MD Anderson Cancer Center, in and out of rideshare vehicles to make it to the (often invasive) next scan, test or biopsy, I had the prize in mind… get accepted into the clinical trial that had been recommended to me.

I had run all the tricks and traps I needed to get into the trial but strangely, there were a few things I didn’t know at the time I entered the trial:

  1. This was a Phase I, “first in man” trial, meaning it was the first time this drug, at this strength, had ever been given to a human being.  

  2. Not only was it a first-in-man trial, but I was also the only person in the world that was in the trial.  Nobody else, just this so-called Superman.

  3. The first dose I received was the “baby” dose, followed by the “transition” dose at 10 times the strength of the baby dose.  The third dose – the “target” dose would be 10 times the strength of the transition dose, or more than 100 times the strength of the baby dose.  Uh… what?

Neither of the above three facts were withheld from me.  I certainly understood #1, especially with having worked for a contract research organization in the past.  Uncharacteristically for me, I just had not asked the questions that would have led me to knowledge about #2 or #3.  Little did Superman know, but he was about three weeks to the day from getting his @@@ royally kicked.  

The baby dose was a bit of a yawner… a bit of inflammation the injection site and a brief flirtation with a fever as the trial drug medicine began drawing the curious attention of my immune system.  The level of monitoring certainly seemed disproportionate relative to the amount of reaction my body gave to the trial drug.  Thankfully, my wife Diana was there to keep me company as it was a lot of laying around in a hospital bed counting the minutes until I could get discharged a little over 72 hours from the time of the injection.  

The inpatient component of this trial – whereby I had to check into the hospital and stay there for three days at a time for monitoring – was not terrible at first, but it was completely incompatible with my still “go go go” lifestyle at 61 years of age.  Even though I felt fine after injection #1, it was nonetheless very difficult to be largely isolated from almost everything I care about… my family, dogs, friends and even my job.  And I have to do these twice more after this?  But in hindsight, I now look back on injection #1 as the “good ol’ days” of my clinical trial experience.

Until next time,


1 Comment

Keep the faith Steve

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