Thursday, May 31, 2007

Trial starts soon...

Chris found out that all of her recent tests were pretty normal. This was a requirement to begin her clinical trial. She goes to Hopkins next week for a skin biopsy on Tuesday. This is part of the trial and they use it for monitoring progress. On Wednesday she goes for bloodwork. Not the normal workup though. She has to give a LOT of blood. Kind of like a Donor. This gets sent all over the place for various tests.

The actual trial starts on Monday June 11th with a chemotherapy treatment followed by the vaccine injection on Tuesday followed by many days in a row at the hospital for bloodwork and followups. It's very intensive the 1st week. I'll post more as soon as I have specifics.

Here is some information on the work being done by Chris's oncologist:
Research Summary

Dr. Emens develops and tests active vaccination strategies for breast cancer treatment that are optimally integrated with traditional anticancer therapies and newer biologically targeted therapies in additive or synergistic ways. She developed a genetically-modified, cell-based vaccine for breast cancer that secretes the immune-stimulating hormone granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and is testing the vaccine in combination with low doses of Cyclophosphamide (CY) and Doxorubicin (DOX) in patients with Stage 4 breast cancer.

In a mouse model of spontaneous breast cancer where the vaccine does not work, adding CY and DOX cures about 30% of tumor-bearing mice. This chemotherapy effect is largely due to the ability of CY to turn off a special type of immune cell (regulatory T cell) that keeps immune responses shut down. Analysis of patient samples on this trial will yield insight into relevant immunoregulatory pathways in humans that will support the better design of future vaccine trials.

Dr. Emens has also investigated the addition of monoclonal antibodies that target either the tumor itself (HER-2/neu), or the tumor microenvironment (vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) to chemotherapy-modulated vaccination. Both add futher to the antitumor effect of the vaccine.

In particular, HER-2/neu-specific monoclonal antibodies augment antigen processing and presentation, resulted in higher numbers of CD8+ T cells after chemotherapy-modulated vaccination in the presence of the antibody. Based on these data, Dr. Emens is preparing to launch a clinical trial testing the HER-2/neu-specific monoclonal antibody in combination with CY-modulated vaccination in patients with HER-2/neu-overexpressing breast cancer.

The overall goal of Dr. Emens research is to elucidate mechanisms of immunoregulation in patients with breast cancer using the vaccine in combination with standard breast cancer drugs and novel therapeutics. These studies should identify novel drug targets to improve breast cancer therapy.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Lazy weekend!

Friday I took Chris to the hospital to get her echocardiogram. The last test before she starts her clinical trial. We got there early and got right in. Done in just under 25 mins!!! A first for us!

Yesterday, Saturday, we went to the Orioles game in Baltimore. Alex's boyfriend, John, came to visit for a couple days so he came with us. We all had a good time. I put up lights on the new cabinetry I put in the basement and also hung a new ceiling fan in the family room. Big fun!

Today Alex and Chris went shopping while I stained the deck. We're enjoying the time off and the time together!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Where to start?

Sorry for the long delay in getting my blog updated. It's been a pretty hectic week and I'm just now getting a few minutes to get back to it.

First the important stuff. Chris took herself to Hopkins on Friday for a bonescan, bloodwork, and a CT scan. It all went pretty well although the bonescan took a little longer than normal. She goes back this Friday for an EKG which is the final test before the trial begins. I think that she will be starting the trial on June 11'th. It is pretty intensive. Chemo one day, vaccine the next, blood draw each day for 3 days.... on and on. I'll put a schedule up when we know it for sure.

We are both a little overwhelmed with all of what is about to happen but I don't have to tell you how strong Chris is. She keeps our whole family together and is ready to start this in hopes that it works and that it can help others in some way in the future.

I got back from Pinehurst late Sunday. Good trip, lots of golf. It was great to get away for a few days from work and all the stuff at home. Chris insisted that I go and I'm thankful for it.

Michael scored a goal in his lacrosse game on Saturday so that was a big deal for all of us. Of course it happened when I wasn't there. Thank you to The Marries for taking Tyler to his game on Saturday. They've been a huge help with car pooling and when I'm gone.

Yesterday I made a day trip to Columbus OH to visit a company that my firm has a relationship with. Left home at 5:30 am and back home at 7pm.... Good meeting long day!!!

Now we're looking at the summer. Alex is working and doing well. The boys will be home in just a few short weeks! Worst time of the year for sure. They'll be busy though. Vacations are up in the air. We are trying to work out a trip with some good friends of ours but are waiting to firm up our schedules at the hospital. We wanted to try Mexico or back to Aruba. We'll see.

Thanks for all the emails with good wishes! It is quite uplifting!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Charlie off to Pinehurst

Today I'm leaving for a golf trip to Pinehurst, NC with some friends. Chrissy insisted that I go last year and I had a good time. This year should be fun.

Yesterday Chrissy signed the papers to get into Dr. Emmens clinical trial!!!! She's in! She goes back friday for some scans and then starts treatment in very early June. I'll fill you in more soon. It's 5:20 AM and my ride is almost here.

Keep an eye out for her while I'm gone! I know you all will...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Well this was a somewhat normal week. Boys playing lacrosse with a couple of games on Saturday. Chris and I attended their games because she continues to look and feel really well.

Alex took off for a couple of days to visit her boyfriend in NJ. She cam home on Saturday and starts work again at COMSTAR on Monday! Today is Sunday and I was able to get her hooked up in the lacrosse officials world again. She did one game last Saturday and was able to pick up 4 games today. The pay is really good and cannot be passed up even on Mother's day!

This morning we took Chrissy to Bean's and Bagels for breakfast. After that we went to Home Depot and she picked out a bunch of flowers and plants for the yard. The picture to the left shows the patio and all the stuff that Chrissy has worked on the last couple of years. There's a little plaque that says "Mom's Garden". The boys and I then dug lots of holes for all the plants. I then sent them next door to do the same thing for our neighbor. She's a single parent and there was no need for her to dig holes so the boys did it for her. This year Chris made a bunch of planters and flower boxes.

Chris's oncologist called on Wednesday. She had missed an appointment and the Dr. was following up with her. We had no idea an appointment was even made. This Wednesday Chris is going back to see her oncologist and get started on all the paperwork involved with her clinical study. A Ct scan, bloodwork and a physical are in store for her Wednesday as well. Another busy day at John's Hopkins. She is very excited about moving ahead with this!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Avon Walk in DC

Sunday was an absolute gorgeous day in Maryland. Beautiful sunny clear skies and temperatures in the very low 60's. It was a perfect day for walkers in the 2007 Avon walk to walk the final 13.1 miles.

Chris and I drove down to Washington, DC to catch up with some of the walkers that we knew were walking. We took Alex with us as well. We met up with Marianne (works for Chris) and Alex walked the last 7 miles along with her for encouragement. We also met up with our neighbor and good friend Cheryl and her team that were resting at the lunch stop.
After seeing our friends at the lunch stop we left and drove along the route in DC. It was really exciting to watch all of the walkers along the route.

After we drove the route, we ended up at the Kennedy Center in DC. This is where the walk started and finished. It was overwhelming to see each of the walkers cross the finish line. It was if each one were walking just for us!!! In a way they were!

We saw our friends finish and gave each of them a hug when they were done. A very well deserved hug! If you ever get a chance to attend one of these I would really recommend it ! This years walk raised $7.4 Million!!! Money which stays in the local area. THANK YOU to all of you who donated to this walk this year. Your donations go to a very good cause!

More pictures from the day are found in the pictures section....
An article in the Washington Post describes the days activities.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Loss in the Semi Finals

Chrissy has really been feeling pretty well recently. I truly believe that getting out and watching the boys and especially Alex's lacrosse games has been a tremendous lift. Yesterday we drove to Drew University to watch Alex's team play a really tough match.

In each of the last 3 losses that they had their opponant scored 14 goals and Lyco scored 12 or 13. Last night Drew scored 14!!!! Lyco 12.... tough loss. They were losing 4-0 2 minutes into the game, losing 10-2 at halftime. The stormed back and made it a very exciting game but just couldn't climb back. Again, Alex got some good playing time. She said she was very nervous but that went away. Read the write up here. I put pictures up on the pictures page too.

The 1st picture above is right after Alex came into the game for the 1st time. There was a penalty shot being taken and she had to be behind the player. The next picture shows the player falling down as soon as the whistle blew!!!! That's great defense!!! Way to go Allie! (I think she tied the girls shoe laces together when she wasn't looking!)

She is now officially done with school and I have to go up to get her and her things sometime today (Friday). Not sure when yet. It will be nice to see her home. We've really missed her a lot!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Playoff Game 1

Alex's team won their first playoff game 25-13 yesterday at home. Here is the Lycoming press release on it. They only beat Scanton by a few goals in the regular season and it was nice to see them on a wild tear! Alex got some playing time in the 1st half and played a large portion of the 2nd half as well. She is the 1st substitute to come in. She's still a freshman and there are still more experienced players in front of her but it really is encouraging to see her get the amount of playing time that she is getting. She's making the best use of it too.

Note the tatooed "L" on her leg in the pictures for this game that I took. It's not permanent!!! Her team plays Drew University on Thursday this week in NJ. They are going up on Wednesday and staying in a hotel the night before so that they are well rested and ready to go. They lost to Drew in the regular season by 1 goal in overtime! They are looking for redemption.

Chrissy and I drove up to watch the game yesterday and really enjoyed it. Her mom and dad came over to be with the boys and that gave us the time to run up there and back. Another friend helped by getting Tyler to his lacrosse practice as well, thanks Ferren! Without the help from others we would not be able to get out and see Alex. Not only does Alex appreciate it but Chris really enjoys and appreciates it as well. Seeing your child play rec sports and high school sports is one thing, but NCAA collegiate competition is a step above.

BTW Alex did check her grades and did very well again this semester! Looks like she's going to be allowed to go back in August!