6TH VISIT TO CHINA
Returned for another round of DC-CIK. The same treatment as usual, we arrive at Renkang Hospital, meet up with Dr Wang and Dr Li, then have the blood taken for the Laboratory to work with. Dr Wang wanted me to have another PET Scan to check all is OK, the last scan was 8 months ago. The result was that there was no tumour activity in the areas where the Radio Seeds had been implanted last year, but a number of small active spots showed up elsewhere. We had a discussion with Dr Wang who advised us that the choice was ours to make, we could either leave it and wait and see, or have another lot of seeds implanted in the new spots. After a lot of soul searching, we decided we had come too far to ignore the threat and would have more seeds when we returned from our two weeks break, as the Professor who would do the operation was overseas.
In the two weeks off, we visited Guangzhou, Dongchen and also at a hotel in the main part of Houjie – which is a nice way of spoiling ourselves. The weather here is hot and humid, temperature low to mid 30’s.
We then returned to the Hospital to have 2 days of Interlukin to increase the effectiveness of the DC-CIK infusion over the next 3 days. Another 50 radio seeds were implanted in my left lung under CT scan, and the reinfusion of the blood both were successful. I was a bit more affected this time by the operation, but ok after a few days.
All is good, and the regime is becoming easier and more familiar every time. We went via Humen and caught the ferry back to Hong Kong Airport to go home to Australia.
7TH VISIT TO CHINA
It is very familiar to come back to China for the DC-CIK, we are always welcomed warmly by the staff at the hospital. There are usually both new patients and old ‘friends’ to catch up with, and there seems to be a lot of people here from Adelaide.
We arrived late at night from Hong Kong so checked into the nearby Well Garden Hotel for a good nights sleep. The next morning we went over to the Renkang Hospital and saw Dr Wang and Dr Li again. It was decided that the blood would be taken at the Military Hospital Laboratory in Guangzhou, as they now can extract the blood from the veins and not have to use the machine as before. That afternoon we were transported to Guangzhou to have my blood taken, which was a very quick, simple process.
Spent 5 nights at a nice hotel, then took the metro and fast train back to Humen, about 20 minutes taxi ride from Renkang Hospital Houjie.
Spent the rest of our time off at a nice hotel just relaxing (and maybe a bit of shopping!). Both the Metro in Guangzhou and the fast train to Humen are just marvelous. The sheer size of the train station is awesome.
Returned to the hospital to have the Interlukin for two days, followed by 3 days of infusion of the ‘supercharged’ blood! During my first 2 days of interlukin infusion, I experienced a mild rise in temperature. The Doctors here are anxious that the patient’s temperature rises significantly, as they take that as an indication that the process is working. The next 3 days of the DC-CIK infusion, were more to their liking in terms of temperature, as I had mild fevers on days 1 and 3, but a significant fever on day 2.
It is interesting to talk to the other patients, and to find out their stories and hear of the advancements being made in the treatment of their various cancers even in the short time we have been coming to China.
The change in the way patients are treated even in the time since I first started coming to China is really amazing, as Dr Wang and the team are constantly re-evaluating the treatment regime and altering their protocols to achieve the best outcome possible. So what I have written early in my treatment, may not be exactly what is happening today, but an improved version of it.
As usual, go to Humen to board the ferry for the trip home to Australia. As my health and quality of life remains good, I intend to return in November 2012 for ongoing DC-CIK.
Upon my return to Adelaide, I collected the results of the CT Scan that I had before I left for China. I was so happy to read the following short excerpt from the report, and share it with everybody!
CT CHEST 27TH JUNE 2012
Clinical History: Past history of mesothelioma – near complete remission
YAY – Music to my ears!
We arrived fresh from our cruise destination, Singapore flying into Hong Kong on Friday 23 November, but were told by Dr Li that we should wait until the following Monday 26/11 to check in as the oncologist Dr Wang was not coming to the Renkang Hospital until that day.
We checked in to Well Garden Hotel for 3 nights, as it is very close to the hospital and would only take us minutes to get back to the hospital. Bright and early on 26/11 we came to the Renkang Hospital, were greeted warmly by all Doctors and nurses and awaited Dr Wang. He gave me a hug and said that he was glad to see me looking so well (God bless his honesty, he said that it was very good for cancer patients to be fat!) wanted me to have another PET scan and do the usual round of DC-CIK Immune Therapy. Accompanied Dr Wang back to Guangzhou to have blood taken at the Military Hospital Laboratory, although it was not easy as my veins are small and even getting 100ml of blood took attempts on both arms. Following that, went over to another building to have the PET scan. Whilst the blood is being cultured we were not required back at the hospital until 10 December, re-infusion complete on 14 Dec.
We stopped over in Guangzhou for 5 nights to look around. On Thursday 29/11 we hitched a ride to Renkang Hospital with Dr Wang so that we could discuss the results of the PET scan with Dr Wang and the other doctors and the implications for the future treatment. It was really good to hear that they were pleased with my PET scan results, and whilst there are still a few remnants of tumours, there is reduced activity which is attributed to the DC-CIK Immune Therapy. There is another new Immune Therapy called ACTL Immunotherapy, but you need biopsy samples, so will put that one on the back burner in case the DC-CIK stops doing such good work. Went back to Guangzhou with Dr Wang, which was good because we got to talk to him one on one and we are to return in April for further DC-CIK.
We are currently at a very nice place in the main area of Guangzhou, called the Tianhe area, where there are many large shopping malls and places to eat. There are some amazing shopping malls here in this area with real designer shopping, with all the top brands represented and all so huge and sparkling. One of the malls had a huge food court in the basement floor, so amazing to see so many people eating so many different kinds of food with no money changing hands at the point of sale. You buy a card with the amount you want to put in it, and the food seller just takes it out of the card. Got addicted to the Macau Portuguese Tarts (custard tarts) – very yummy!
The Ascott Residences are very nice, and our apartment is one bedroom, large bed & TV, small kitchen, great bathroom and lounge (another TV & Bose sound) / dining / small office area, and also has a washer/dryer. It’s a great place to stay, quite close to nice areas. Have also booked 3 nights at Sheraton Houjie Dongguan,
and 3 at Sofitel Dongguan Humen Oriental Hotel (our favourite) to see other places before we go back to the hospital. It’s all very nice and relaxing being in these very nice places and looking around differing areas.
Unfortunately, it has been cool and raining since we arrived, and the forecast doesn’t look promising – I guess it is winter.
We arrived at the hospital Friday 7 December, and met up with lots of old and new friends and of course our lovely Doctors, Nurses, Interpreters and Cleaning Ladies. Everyone treats us with so much love and joy that you have to just embrace the whole experience. The weather has taken a turn for the better, and we are enjoying sunshine at last!
On Saturday 8 December, the Renkang Hospital arranged an outing for all the Western patients and everyone else mentioned above (at no cost to anyone). They collected us all at 11.00am in the hospital bus, and we all crowded into the small bus, together with cartons of food, for the 90 minute trip to Songshan Lake (Songshanhu). The trip was very loud, with everyone talking at the same time and sounded like a cast of thousands! The lake area is very beautiful, the lake huge with lots of trees and a pagoda on the lake, statues everywhere, bike tracks and lots of places for families to enjoy the wonderful sunshine on this perfect day. Being a Saturday and great weather, there were so many families at the lake. We all piled onto a little train with carriages, winding through the park for the 20 minute trip to the picnic/bbq area. A large number of round stone tables with pits in the middle for the bbq and concrete stools around each table, were scattered around the trees surrounding the lake. We could see people in hire boats enjoying the sunshine on the lake. Once we got there the Doctors, nurses and cleaning ladies went into overdrive preparing the bbq with charcoal pieces in the pits of 3 tables, then putting the wire top on to start the bbq-ing. The amount of food was staggering – kebab sticks of beef, chicken, squid, meat balls, sausage, prawns, round bread (like scones), corn, foil parcels of vegetables, purple sweet potato, sliced potato, eggplant … and the list goes on and on. They also supplied the soft drinks, and for afters mandarins and bananas. Everyone was so full! We had the loveliest day due to the generous spirit of the hospital and staff, who gave us their spare time to look after us so well. Evidently they do these outings twice a year – how great is that!
That evening, to celebrate Bhu’s birthday (husband of a patient), the hospital arranged a birthday cake which all staff and patients enjoyed together – the cake actually had ice-cream in the centre. The hospital arranges cakes for birthdays, anniversaries etc. from a special ward fund.
On Sunday, we started a daily patient meditation group led by a Buddhist Nun, she is the sister of one of the patients. We all felt it benefited us and would enhance our treatment. Then on Tuesday evening, Trish (patient) guided us through a session of Qi (Chi) Gong. This has been taught for thousands of years by the Chinese, and the simple explanation is to bring more Chi or life force into our bodies through movements which help increase our Chi and blood flow throughout the body. Trish has been studying Qi Gong for quite a while and is Level 1, and is therefore able to teach. She is such a great example for us all.
My treatment started Monday 10 Dec. with 2 days of Interlukin 2 only (to help my white blood cells) followed on 12-14 Dec. by 3 days of DC-CIK Immune Therapy as well as daily Interlukin 2. The only side effects are small rise in temperature and night sweats, all in all nothing major.
Wednesday 12 December: the 5th Anniversary of my diagnosis of mesothelioma, when I was given 4 months to live – so what do they know! (So if I act childishly, I really am only 5 years old!) All jokes aside, I feel really blessed to be in this fortunate position at this point in time, and so glad that I found China. We celebrated by going to a local Italian Restaurant ‘Al Pozzo’ for a meal with a number of the Western patients. The owner is Italian, married to a Chinese Lady, and they have two adorable children. We all had a really great meal, and it was a real treat to eat together and chat. The restaurant provides a pick up service – there were 13 of us! Then they brought us all back to the hospital again. Life here in China is sure different.
Thursday 13 December was the wedding Anniversary of Bhu and Neela, so we had snacks, sandwiches and cakes to help them celebrate. The hospital put on food and drink, as well as a cake and presents for the happy couple. It was such a lovely social night, enjoyed by western patients and staff alike, and the highlight of the night was Jan bringing out her guitar and leading us in group singing, then Christmas Carols. Bhu and Neela live in Adelaide and had contacted me via email after reading my blog about China Treatment, so it was nice to meet up with them in person. They are originally from Nepal, and are lovely, lovely people.
Friday 14 December, the last day of treatment and waiting to go home and hug my family. It is a little sad to leave my China family / friends as we are all on differing treatment schedules and don’t often get to meet up – but it is great to hug them and spend time with them when we do see them. We are also lucky to have three great interpreters – Cassie, Claire and Wilson – to help out on a day to day basis.
I met up again with John, who is also challenged by mesothelioma and I had originally spoken to him via email earlier this year when he was interested in the specific treatment for meso, as he was already aware of SPDT. Last time I had treatment, I saw him and he was really not well. In the time since we last spoke and now, the difference in him is amazing. He is looking so well and as well as other treatments, he is currently doing ACTL Immune Therapy which appears to be doing the trick for him. What a wonderful thing to see.
Trish told me about a great book she read about a woman who had nearly succumbed to cancer to near death, and her healing journey. The book is called ‘Dying to be me’ by Anita Moorjani, and I would recommend it as an inspirational experience.
We will return in April 2013 for another round of DC-CIK Immune Therapy. Onwards and upwards!
INFORMATION ON ACTL IMMUNE THERAPY:
From http://www.actlcancertreatment.com/ACTL%20Technology.html – important facts:
· Tumor Cell Targeting Therapy Technology – cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) would be generated to target specific anti-tumor related antigen positive cancer cells. Possess powerful function which can efficiently and specifically eliminate one or several type of specific tumor-related antigen positive cancer cells.
· There is no harm to any normal cells.
· Research (at Stanford Cancer Institute, US) proved it could also block blood vessels produced by tumor angiogenesis, facilitating indirect anti-cancer effect and enhancing clinical efficacy significantly.
· “The most important breakthrough in cancer biotherapy” by the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2010.
· Side effects: Preliminary study of clinical trials showed that, this patented treatment technology has no obvious adverse reactions, the main side effects are as follows:
1), Flu-like symptoms: the main part in tumor patients (About 45%) within a few hours after the transfusion, generally without treatment, symptoms may go away after a few hours. Main symptoms are: fever (37.0c-39.0c) and muscle soreness. If intolerable patients with symptoms, general antipyretic drugs can be given to ease the symptoms.
2) Excited: mainly occurs within a few days after the transfusion. Patients feel good about themselves, and feel the strength increase. About 50% of patients reported.
3) Fatigue: occurs mainly in patients with advanced cancer, especially patients treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or patients with anemia. Transfusion red blood cells or supportive therapy can alleviate the symptoms.
“Why we need to stay in China for 3 months for ACTL treatment?
Jun 27 2012 Post by admin
ACTL requires 6 times blood drawing, and each cell culture may take up to 10~15 days, after the culture of cells, it also requires 6 times of cell reinfusion.
The schedule is listed with estimation days as below:
day1 —1st blood draw, day15—1st reinfusion,
day15—2st blood draw, day29—2nd reinfusion
day29—3st blood draw.
This is a 1-month-cycle example, it is highly recommended to go a 3-months cycle for a more promising result.”