General Non-Fiction posted February 10, 2019

This work has reached the exceptional level
Glowing in the Dark

Guinea Pig

by Douglas Paul

Background: This is a continuation of the story I started with my "Starlight" post that told of my trip to Houston, Texas. The purpose of that trip was a screening to see I if would qualify for brand-new clinical trial for a new cancer treatment. I took a fall while I was there, but I did qualify for the trial and made it into the actual treatment group based on a randomized selection process for the treatment or the control group.


I think I can detect a faint blueish glow when I turn out the lights and look at myself in the mirror. I could be mistaken, or it could just be wishful thinking, since blue is my favorite color.

I had my first radiation treatment two days ago. The radiation has a half life of six and a half days, so I have few days left to figure this out. During that time, I will set off any Geiger- counters that get within three feet of me. They gave me a card to carry in case I need to go through airport security, since I will set off the alarms.

I also need to avoid small children and pregnant women, so I can't go out in public. I am supposed to stay at least three feet away from people, especially including my wife who is around me the most. No more hugs and kisses for me until next week.

Getting the treatment was an interesting experience. I had to show up at Moffit Cancer Center here in Tampa at 9:00 am for the usual blood testing followed by a meeting with my doctor. Since I showed up using my new walker, I had to tell them that I took a fall three weeks ago in Houston. About a week after that happened, my left leg went numb which has affected my balance enough that I would be foolish to attempt to walk ten feet without using the walker.

My doctor's response was to tell me that we would have to reschedule the radiation treatment so they could set me up for xrays on my hip to see if there was a hip fracture. I said no. The reason I fell in the first place was because my leg went to sleep, so I was pretty sure the fall had not caused my current condition. He gave me an odd look and asked if I was refusing the xrays. I told him I was, unless they could work it in before my treatment which was scheduled at 2:00 pm.

There are a lot of different departments at Moffit and it is an extremely busy place. It isn't easy to suddenly schedule any treatment in another department. I left the doctor without knowing about the xray, but knowing that my radiation treatment would not be delayed. As it turned out, they were able to slip me in for the xrays. I haven't heard the result yet.

When I finally made it to the Nuclear Treatment Department up on the third floor, I was greeted by a team of doctors, nurses and trainees. The trial coordinator was also there. I had been to that department before for another radiation treatment a couple of years ago, and I had never seen such a crowd.

They proceeded to hook me up to a series of impressive plastic tubing while explaining the treatment would be an intravenous drip that would take about an hour. Before they could start that, I needed to take some anti-nausea medication that no one had remembered to order. So, we had to wait about a half an hour before the pharmacy finally delivered the needed medication.

They brought in the radiation capsule, encased in lead, and started the drip. Nothing happened. The tubing system failed. The treatment doctor told me he was sorry for the delay, but that I was the guinea pig, so please be patient. I asked the doctor what he meant by that. He kind of chuckled and told me that Moffit was the only hospital in Florida, and one of the very few in the USA, that was authorized to do this treatment. He said that I was the very first person to get it, but they didn't want to tell me that because they were afraid it would make me nervous.

He went on to say that the reason so many people were closely observing me was that they expected this drug to become FDA approved in the very near future. They thought they would soon be flooded with people seeking this treatment. It had already proven its worth in Europe where it was recently approved for general use and they were getting very promising results.

I laughed and told them that not only was I not nervous, but that I was elated to be the very first person on the cutting edge of a new cancer treatment. He asked if I had any more questions and I told him the only concern I really had was when I would get my very own parking space at Moffit with my name on it.

They finally sorted out the tubing problem and the treatment took about an hour. I never felt anything strange and had no sign of the nausea they had predicted. They kept me for another hour just to make sure I was all right, and then let me go home.

I still haven't had any adverse effects from the treatment other than that slight blue glow I already mentioned. As I write this, I am feeling a large sense of inner peace and hope and wonder. How in the world did I get to be the very first person in the state of Florida, and one of the first in the country, to get a chance at a promising new cutting-edge cancer treatment? THANK YOU, GOD. I feel truly blessed!!!

Of course, no one really knows what the result of this treatment will be, but I am allowing myself to be hopeful that it will have some amount of positive effect in slowing down the cancer progression. I go in once every six weeks to get the treatment and I will have a total of six treatments, so this is basically a nine month program. Once it is over, they will do a bone scan to see what effect the treatment had on me.

I always relax a little when I know what is coming for the next few months. Hopefully, I will be one of those who responds well and the cancer gets knocked back a bit. No matter what happens, I am still in awe that I was given this opportunity. I am extremely thankful and I am feeling totally blessed.


I have been fighting prostate cancer for about twelve years now. It has gotten more aggressive in the last four years. I have been through all of the standard treatments including radiation, chemo, and a variety of $10,000 a month drugs. There are no treatments left for me other than whatever new cancer trials come along, so getting into this trial was a big deal.

There is only about a 50% chance that you will qualify for this trial..If you do, then there is only about a 50% chance that you get into the actual treatment group to receive the drug, rather than the control group which does not get the drug.
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