Sunday, April 19, 2015

Beginning Again

Heh - my blog is living up to its name. After some issues with my Google account, it's proving easier to simply start up again rather than keep fighting to get access to my own blog.

I'll continue to post Rob/cancer updates here, though with any luck things ought to be boring for a while (more on that later).

Largely I expect to be posting a lot of reviews here for a bit. I got myself a supporting membership for the Hugos, and since I intend to be both an informed voter, and an informed nominator for next year, I'll be doing a lot of reading specifically toward those goals, and I'll be keeping my thoughts here, so that I can refer back to them easily when I need to.

I have a lot of reading in front of me - the only thing on the current list of Hugo nominees I've already read is Jim Butcher's Skin Game. About which I have mixed feelings as a Hugo contender. I'll reread and do a real review sometime soon, but in essence: Skin Game was an enjoyable read, and Jim Butcher continues to be one of the authors that I will pretty much buy anything he writes, as he writes it...but I probably wouldn't have nominated it for the Hugos, and I'm not at all sure where I will put it on a final ballot. The Dresden Chronicles seem to me more powerful in aggregate than as individual reads, and none of the later books would be half as powerful if I hadn't already read the earlier (and weaker) books. If they ever add a Hugo for series (as opposed to trying to slide them in a la The Wheel of Time), I will happily and enthusiastically nominate Butcher's series, but as an individual book, I'm not sure Skin Game quite makes the cut.

We'll have to see how far I make it on the Castalia House offerings. Given what I've read of Mr. Wright, I'm really not looking forward to his related works offering. I gather he's a more competent fiction writer than his non-fiction writing would suggest - to which I can only say "I devoutly hope so!" I will at least attempt to read everything in the Hugo list, but that doesn't mean I will finish everything. If something becomes obvious as drek early on, then I will abandon it as drek, and it will go below No Award on the ballot.

Back to the Rob update. Those who follow us on Facebook will be aware - we got about six months of no growth from the PDL-1 immunotherapy. Unfortunately, the latest CT showed renewed, and fairly aggressive growth (39% in 12 weeks). So the study doctor recommended moving him to the other branch of the study, which adds Avastin (bevacizumab) to the PDL-1, and we concurred. The switch of protocol required a new biopsy, which he had last week, and then the first round of the new infusions was this last Thursday.

The plus sides of this switch are that both the study doc, and our local oncologist are emphatic that the combined therapy branch of the study is the winning branch - the one that is showing best overall results, and the protocol that will eventually be approved by the FDA, and also that Avastin ought to allow for some tumor shrinkage before we even get into the ultimately more important long-term results. The down side is, of course, that if the branch we were on were working, we wouldn't be switching. And also adding another drug, with an additional set of side effects.

But for right now, Rob's tolerating the new protocol fine (we don't really expect any nasty side effects for a cycle or two), and we don't have a new CT until the end of May. So we're back to our boring run down to Vanderbilt every three weeks until the next thing happens for good or ill.

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