I sign up!



Monday 16th December

Just over two hours after leaving home, we are being seen by a lovely trials nurse at the hospital in Exeter.

Today is the day I sign my body over to GlaxoSmithKline.

We are taken to a very comfortable consulting room and the nurse goes through the different tests I will be put through before I get the go ahead to take part in this trial. A complete physical examination. These include CT scans, MRI scans, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, vital signs, blood tests, eye exam and a pregnancy test!
I need to be ‘randomised’ before February 4th.

These are the details from the trial documentation:

“A Study of the BRAF Inhibitor Dabrafenib in Combination With the MEK Inhibitor Trametinib in the Adjuvant Treatment of High-risk BRAF V600 Mutation-positive Melanoma After Surgical Resection.

This is a two-arm, randomized, double-blind Phase III study of dabrafenib in combination with trametinib versus two placebos in the adjuvant treatment of melanoma after surgical resection. Patients with completely resected, histologically confirmed, BRAF V600E/K mutation-positive, high-risk [Stage IIIa (lymph node metastasis >1 mm), IIIb or IIIc] cutaneous melanoma will be screened for eligibility. Subjects will be randomized to receive either dabrafenib (150 milligram (mg) twice daily [BID]) and trametinib (2 mg once daily [QD]) combination therapy or two placebos for 12 months.

Primary aim: Relapse-free survival (RFS)
Secondary aim: Overall survival (OS) of dabrafenib and trametinib as a combination therapy versus placebo; approximately 5 years;
Distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) of dabrafenib and trametinib as a combination therapy versus placebo; approximately 32 months;
Freedom from relapse (FFR) of dabrafenib and trametinib as a combination therapy versus placebo; approximately 32 months;
Safety of dabrafenib and trametinib as a combination therapy in the overall study population; approximately 5 years.”

So, this is what I have signed up for.
It really is frightening and scary territory for me.
Having read a lot about this trial, and spoken (via the Internet), to people already on the trial, there seems to be a lot of hope and positivity for it.
Without help and advice from these people I would be walking a lonely minefield of ignorance

From the oncology waiting room, I then move along to the one at surgical outpatients. We have about a forty five minute wait, but are then called to one of the consulting rooms. It is almost five weeks since my plastic surgeon operated on me. The scar is incredibly neat, and healing well. However, I still have the drain bag attached, and my lumpy, red cellulitis is a pain in the neck! Apparently it’s all normal-ish . . . . the drain fluid is a straw colour, a good sign, but the hard, half-grapefruit-sized lump is an unwanted side effect. As I have no lymph nodes on the left hand side, lymphatic fluid has nowhere to drain, so it collects in pockets, and sometimes becomes infected, resulting in cellulitis. Oh joy! I must keep the bag stuck to my leg, and am given a new, two-week dose of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

My surgeon is great, and really easy to talk to about any problems or fears I may have. I am told the swelling will go down eventually, and cosmetically, I will have a very discreet, tidy scar. I am due to see him again in the New Year for a two month review.

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