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General Discussion.
7/20/2017 4:17:14 PM

Amy Lowenstein
Amy Lowenstein
Posts: 1599
It’s been a while since my last update, and I plan from now on to do updates about once every 2 months. If I happen to get one done in less time, don’t count on it happening the next time. I had last written on 5/9/17, since when I’ve gone to Boston for a few days to help my husband celebrate his 50th M.I.T. reunion. (But the food at the reunion meals was mediocre at best, and none of it was typical Boston fare such as scrod or lobster. Had we known, we’d have signed up and paid for fewer of the reunion dinners and gone to Legal Seafood instead.)

I had a CAT scan at nearby St. Mary Medical Center in early May, but I found the protocol not to my liking, so future scans will be at Fox Chase, even if it means driving the longer distance twice within one week (CAT scan first, then doctor appointment and chemo on another day).

I had a colleague named Susan Gallo, CPA. I never met her but feel connected to her. We not only shared a profession, but we also shared a birthday (she was born on my 12th birthday) and a disease (ovarian cancer). Sue was a member of the Long Island chapter of one of my professional organizations, the National Conference of CPA Practitioners (ncCPAp). Sue Gallo died of ovarian cancer this February (after 14 years of the disease), and one of the organizations to which people were encouraged to donate, was the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance. After I made my donation, I got onto an e-mail list from that organization, and now I get some useful e-mails about ovarian cancer research. I may not have met Sue, but I’ve gone to seminars where her husband Frank Gallo was a speaker. Many of our ncCPAp members are good speakers, Frank Gallo being no exception. It’s such a pleasure, as long as I have to get 40 hours of Continuing Professional Education each year, to hear a speaker who engages my interest. It’s a disappointment when I happen to go to a seminar where the speaker cannot get a point across. Frank recently asked ncCPAp members to donate blood on the day that would have been Sue’s birthday, to give back because Sue got so many blood donations over the years. I can’t give blood (let alone I was at a family picnic on my birthday), but I did the next-best thing, donating money to the New York Blood Center in Sue’s memory.

It seems to me that whenever I am on chemo, I have shortness of breath, occasional coughing, and arthritis-like symptoms in knees, hands and wrists. When I’m off chemo for a long enough time, those symptoms disappear, although not necessarily as soon as I’d like. When I last saw Dr. Martin, on July 10th, and told her about the symptoms, she said I could skip what should have been a dose of Pemetrexed that day, and I could take off from chemo for 4 weeks, having a CAT scan on August 3rd and chemo on August 7th.

I will not be back on Pemetrexed, though. Depending on whether or not my cancer happens to be eligible for “targeted therapy” (not likely, and it will take Dr. Martin some time to have my original tumor tested to see for sure), I will either get onto the targeted therapy, or else I will get onto a combination of Avastin and Topotecan on August 7th.

One of my friends was on Avastin last year, and according to her husband, it “punched a hole in her stomach.” When I told Dr. Martin about that, she said that if one waits to try Avastin until practically the last thing, one runs a 10% risk of that “stomach-punching” side effect. If, however, one tries Avastin earlier in the scheme of things, the risk is only about 2-3%. So that’s why I’m going to try the Avastin (in combination with Topotecan) now rather than later.

We’ll have to hope, even though the side effects listed for Topotecan and other chemotherapies are much the same as the side effects of Pemetrexed, that I won’t get the same side effects with the next drugs. I think Pemetrexed has helped for the last year (getting my CA-125 down to a fairly low level as of July 10th, for example), but now that its side effects are getting to be too much for me, switching to other drugs is the right move. Cancer cells do have a habit of outsmarting any drug they get used to after a while, anyway, so at some point Dr. Martin would have suggested switching drugs.

Because the Avastin-Topotecan is a weekly chemo rather than every 3 weeks, Dr. Martin gave me 4 weeks off (rather than just 3) and said if we had any plans for vacation, this would be a great time to go. So, once I got a reasonable number of my extension clients’ tax returns finished, we made arrangements to take off the week of Saturday 7/22 to Saturday 7/29, including a national bridge tournament in Toronto. (So there will be around a 10-day hiatus in keeping people up to date about free puzzles of the day, unless someone else steps into the breach in my absence.)

I will sign off, as usual, with the humorous and/or inspiring quotes I always find.

The first is from one of Phillip Alder’s old bridge columns. He usually quotes something and then adapts the quote to the bridge point of the day. On Friday, July 12, 2013 he began his column with: “Michel de Montaigne, a 16th-century French essayist who was well-known for combining intellectual exercises with casual anecdotes, said, ‘In nine lifetimes, you’ll never know as much about your cat as your cat knows about you.’ “

The second is another “cat” quote, this one from the Crostic on our website of 7/14/17. “You can keep a dog but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals. A dog will flatter you, but you have to flatter a cat. A dog is an employee; the cat is a freelance.”

Then there are two “Wizard Words” puzzles from the website. The quote of 6/3/17 is “The cookbook author titled her collection of chicken recipes, ‘Pullet Surprise.’ “ And the quote of 6/27/17 is “Editing is a very rewording activity.”

From the Dell portion of the website, on 6/25/17, comes this pun: “A King’s Robes” are the same as “Reign Wear.”

Anacrostic 1, from the Spring 2015 issue of Dell’s “Solver’s Choice Crosswords & Variety Puzzles,” yielded this: “A doctor drove into San Francisco’s Chinatown to his favorite Chinese restaurant. To his surprise, he found the place closed. After he had banged on the door, the Chinese proprietor bobbed his head out and said, ‘Sorry, we’re not open tonight . . . Yom Kippur, you know.’ “ This is from Herb Caen’s “Baghdad-By-The-Bay.”

From a Word Games puzzle on the website of 12/29/16: “A picky tourist stopped at each vacation retreat in the area, rejecting each one till he agreed to stay at the final one. It was the last resort.”

Lastly, nine quotes from Penny’s “Anagram Magic Square” Volume 44:
#4: “We hear pretzels are knot food.”
#6: “Each day provides its own gift.”
#10: “A smile is cheap, but it goes far.”
#13: “Happiness is not a buy product.”
#26: “You are never too wise to learn.”
#27: “Never try, and you’ll never know.”
#34: “One cannot force inspiration.”
#41: “Know a dogwood tree by its bark.”
#47: “An open mind has many visitors.”


Amy Lowenstein
edited by Amy-in-PA on 7/20/2017


9/16/2017 9:09:14 PM

Amy Lowenstein
Amy Lowenstein
Posts: 1599
Dear friends and relatives,

Long story, but I've been at Fox Chase Cancer Center ever since August 31, and who knows how long I will be there.

I qualified for the clinical trial offered by my oncologist after all, so I said "go for it". Every 3 weeks one takes the experimental drug
(Mirvetuximab soravtansine) ("M") plus pembrolizumad (a.k.a Keytruda). (Those of you who watch commercial TV may have seen Keytruda ads, but I haven't).
Both of these are immuno- (not chemo-) therapy drugs. We hoped my immune system would activate, to lower or knock out the cancer.

The immune system kicked in all right, but I got a rare side effect called pneumonitis. To combat it , the docs gave me steroids, which caused other problems.

Those of you who remember my "shortness of breath" complaint starting in March may be interested to know that ten days after starting the immunotherapy

my breath got really short, which is why I went into Fox Chase to be evaluated in the first place. So I'm not taking the second immunotherapy infusion which was to
occur on 9-11. Eventually, I'll probably get back on something, but it will be a while. When we can do another CT scan, who knows, it may have turned out that
the "M" and/or the Keytruda did knock out some of the cancer. But it will be a while until we know.

Meanwhile, in between doctor and nurse visits, I'm doing tax returns of some clients on extension.

I'm re-reading some of my favorite books from my home collection. One such book is Dave Barry's Lunatics, written in 2012. (co-author Alan Zweibel,
whom I hadn't heard of before). My comment on my database (cleared up for Internet censors) is "I laughed my gray-donkey-with-pink-ears off." I had forgotten what

all the jokes were that cracked me up 5 years ago, but was interested to see one scene near the end, where the 2 protagonists meet Donald Trump at the
Republican Convention in Florida. He invites them into his box. He mentions they'll be picking the wrong candidate. They ask who the right candidate is. He says "Me".
He winds up in the book not being nominated, and the last sentence of the epilogue is "Donald Trump is still at large".

Today there is only one quotation, from the "Fox Chase Pastoral Care Service" provided with every Saturday night meal. The name of this prayer is "Cancer is so limited".
Cancer is so limited. It cannot cripple love. It cannot corrode faith. It cannot eat away peace. It cannot destroy confidence. It cannot kill friendship. It cannot shut out memories. It cannot silence courage. It cannot invade the soul. It cannot still eternal life. It cannot conquer the spirit. Cancer is so limited!

Thanks for all your prayers and wishes.


Amy Lowenstein.

P.S. They occasionally have special soup at Fox Chase. I recommend the Italian Wedding soup.
P.P.S. I am reading Mark Willen's book "Hawke's Return". It a sequel to his book "Hawke's Point". (full disclosure: Mark is my cousin).
I read the first book because cousin Mark wrote it. I'm reading the second book because the first book is good.


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