Melissa is involved in a clinical trial treating her Ovarian Cancer at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is called "OVax".
It is a feasibility study using a DNP-modified autologous ovarian tumor cell vaccine in ovarian cancer patients.
And what does that mean? Well, just that they create a vaccine made up of Melissa's own tumor cells and some form of tuberculosis and then give it back to her. The purpose of the study is not only to see if the idea actually works, but if there are any adverse reactions to this sort of treatment. The study she is involved in is what is known as a 'double-blind' study, meaning that neither Melissa nor her doctors/nurses will know what level of dosage she will be getting. This is done to keep all of the variables within the study to a minimum. A doctor may treat one patient different from another if he/she knew what level of medicine the patient were getting and so it remains unknown. There are three levels of doses that the study is giving to its volunteers and we cannot be certain as to which level Melissa has been chosen to receive.
This week she is having her skin tested and once they are certain that she has an immune reaction to TB we will come back next week and begin administering the first of several injections of this vaccine. We have a schedule of all of the times we will have to be in Tulsa and it is broken up into 18 separate visits beginning today and runs all the way to December of this year. Needless to say, it will be quite a busy year for Melissa and I.
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