Allistaire is just now finishing up her 8th set of doses of chemo out of 10 in this third round. Each morning she gets Etoposide and Cytarabine and then at night she gets Cytarabine again. She has done really well. She is certainly quite tired – sleeping in late in the morning and taking long naps – and is less energetic on the bikes. The hardest part of this round has been the necessity for eye drops every four hours, including throughout the night. Allistaire detests the eyedrops and puts up quite a fight. This makes the midnight and 4am doses especially unenjoyable and thus makes for much more broken-up sleep. The eye drops are just artificial tears to help with the dryness in her eyes that can result from the high-dose Cytarabine. I just looked up Cytarabine to make sure I knew how to spell it – wow – it is so fascinating how all of these medications work. Check it out:
Cytarabine, or cytosine arabinoside, is a chemotherapy agent used mainly in the treatment of cancers of white blood cells such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is also known as Ara-C (Arabinofuranosyl Cytidine). It destroys cancer cells by interfering with DNA synthesis.
It is called cytosine arabinoside because it combines a cytosine base with an arabinose sugar. Cytosine normally combines with a different sugar, deoxyribose, to form deoxycytidine, a component of DNA. Certain sponges, where it was originally found, use arabinoside sugars to form a different compound (not part of DNA). Cytosine arabinoside is similar enough to human cytosine deoxyribose (deoxycytidine) to be incorporated into human DNA, but different enough that it kills the cell. This mechanism is used to kill cancer cells. Cytarabine is the first of a series of cancer drugs that altered the sugar component of nucleosides. Other cancer drugs modify the base.
Etoposide phosphate (brand names: Eposin, Etopophos, Vepesid, VP-16) is an anti-cancer agent. It is known in the laboratory as a topoisomerase inhibitor. It exploits the normal mechanism of action of the enzyme topoisomerase II, which aids in DNA unwinding, and by doing so causes DNA strands to break. Cancer cells rely on this enzyme more than healthy cells, since they divide more rapidly. It is used as a form of chemotherapy for cancers such as Ewing’s sarcoma, lung cancer, testicular cancer, lymphoma, non-lymphocytic leukemia, andglioblastoma multiforme. It is often given in combination with other drugs. It is also sometimes used in a conditioning regimen prior to a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant. Its chemical make-up derives from podophyllotoxin, a toxin found in the American Mayapple.
I asked you to pray that Allistaire would be fever free and so far she has been. We truly praise the Lord for this!!! Please keep praying about this! I was told that the increased likelihood for Cytarabine induced fevers (versus fevers resulting from infections) is just during the time that she is actually receiving the chemo. We have just one day left – Monday morning and Monday night and then when she is finished we can head home – assuming no fever. This means we can literally leave in just over 24 hours – at about 11:30 pm tomorrow night. It would just be incredible to be able to head home. Six days in the hospital for chemo feels like nothing. I mean I just barely moved in and I’ve already begun to pack up! Thank you for all your prayers. We are so thankful for God’s protection of Allistaire throughout this process! Also, let us give a hearty praise to God for “certain sponges” (see note on Cytarabine above) and the American Mayapple that contain some of the secrets of healing my little Sweets. Isn’t it amazing and wondrous that hidden within creation are all sorts of fantastic means of stopping death and supporting life!!!!