Thursday, March 25, 2010


Tomorrow, I begin my third cycle of GVD chemo therapy. GVD is an acronym for gemcitabine, vinorelbine, and pegylated liposomal doxorubicin.
This is a fairly new regiment, which works on a three week cycle of two weeks on, and one week off. Put another way, the cycle is 21 days long, and I take these drugs, via an IV drip that takes a few hours, on days 1 and 8. I have been doing this outpatient chemotherapy on Friday mornings to minimize work absence, and to have the weekend to rest. After four treatments, I'm happy to report that the regiment a) has resulted in fairly minimal side-effects and b) is working!

When I say "minimal side-effects", what I mean is that with the glaring exception of contracting meningitis because my immune system was compromised - a side-effect of all chemotherapy, by design - my life hasn't been too deeply disrupted by the chemo itself. No chemotherapy regiment is without its toxic side-effects, and I have felt tired and had my share of nausea, but otherwise am experiencing nothing too debilitating (again, besides that two-week hospitalization, which sucked hard) and I have been able to work and get out to have some fun on my better days.

And when I say that GVD "is working", what I mean is that my planned scans following the completion of cycle two, showed excellent results. I have had a "complete response" from treatment, with tumors/lymph nodes shrunk to normal size, and significantly lower amounts of cancerous activity. The cancer is still being effectively combated with treatment, which is a good indication, but still cannot be cured with chemotherapy alone.

As far as I know (the process is confidential) the pursuit of a bone marrow donor for me is still underway, and we're still well within the time frame in which I would not yet have heard back. I am also considering a promising clinical trial, prior to (maybe even instead of) the transplant, that I will write much more about once I know much more about it. In the meantime, I will be here in Washington for the foreseeable future, and will let you all know as plans progress.

A plug for two upcoming donor drives - if you are in New York or the Chicago area and are able to get registered/tell your friends and family, please do!

In New York - April 28th from 10 am-5 pm located at 633 3rd Ave, 7th Floor, New York. Please contact my friend Miriam Fink at to sign up and participate.

In Chicago - May 2nd at Temple Beth Israel in Skokie (details to follow)


Sammie said...

Elissa: How can we arrange a "drive" here in DC? Any contact info would be helpful and we'll do the rest!

Logical Mommy said...

I'd like to register as a donor as well but don't live close to NYC or Chicago. I'd go to DC to register, though (actually I'd go to NYC or Chicago if you needed it).

That doxorubicin is nasty stuff--glad you are dealing with it "well" and we hope for a refuah shleimah for you!

Toby said...

I know that Washington Hebrew is having a drive through the Gift Of Life Bone Marrow Foundation on April 18th. Can we partner with them to get more people to register? Can we get the Gift of Life people to stay another day?

Sara said...

Your post just made my day, I'm 20 years old and my Hodgkins is back for the 3rd time. I'm starting GVD in about a month before I do a Stem Cell transplant. I'm very lucky to have my older sister who is 22 as a full match. But it made me happy to hear you arent having horrible side effects. Best of luck to you on this tough journey, I know it can be hard sometimes I've been through it 2 times already!

LouisianaPatriot said...

My son-in-law is about to receive GVD for Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I am curious as to how everyone is doing, and also if anyone you know with HL has also received the Gardasil Vaccine, or has Epstein Barr virus? Thanks so much. Hope everyone is now in radiant health.

jyotsna said...

Hi my daddy is suffering from non hodgkin lymphoma of B type large cells he is also now having 1st cycle of GVD chemotherapy after 8 cycles of RCHOP and two cycles of RICE and one radiotherapy but he is still struggling nothing is working and doctors advised me to go back home dont know what to do :-(

Patrick Sullivan said...

My non hodkins lymphoma just relapsed. I'm 20 years old and have faith that GVD and a stem cell transplant will cure my cancer for good! Follow me here