Cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan has received a full dose of the drug M784 in her US medical treatment and says her reaction to this could determine whether she gets home in Ireland to see her children in July.
Phelan, who is undergoing a one-year cancer trial in Maryland for her cervical cancer, said she had not received a full dose since her initial treatment earlier this year and is unsure how her body will react to the medication.
“The good news is that I was on the full amount of the immunotherapy drug M784 today, I got the full dose,” she said in a video on Instagram.
“I've only ever had one other full dose of the drug at the very beginning, when I started, and that was to cover me for a month while [her doctor] was waiting for approval to give me half a dose. I'm not sure how I’m going to react.”
While she believes she has built up a tolerance to the drug’s side effects, she asked her supporters to say prayers and light candles for her.
“I think I'll be fine, fingers crossed, and please have all your prayers and candles lighting that I won’t have any bad reaction to being on the full amount.”
She said any reaction such as bleeding will mean she has to go back on a lower dose, dashing her hopes of seeing her children during a treatment break in July.
“Really, what they’re looking out for is bleeding. If I have a bleed it means I have damage to my bladder and I’ll have to come up with the drug and go back down [to a smaller dose] again.
Phelan said she plans to relax over the weekend. “I’m taking it handy enough this weekend, I’m not going galavanting too much.” She said she would keep her followers updated on how she reacts to the full dose of the drug.
“I'll keep you posted and let you know how I’m getting on. Please God, I’ll just be tired tomorrow and won't have a bad reaction.” Phelan posted the video a day after she recorded it and says she was too tired after the treatment to upload it.
“I was too tired to post my latest update last night,” she writes, and adds: “By getting the full dose, my tumours have a better chance of shrinking, so fingers crossed all will go well over the next two weeks and I won't be reporting any bleeds.”
She also thanked Irish man Joe O’Donnell from a chain of restaurants called Bourbon Place who donated food to the staff at the NIH in Maryland where Phelan is receiving treatment. She said the staff received 100 meals yesterday and “were so thankful and so grateful”.
In a thank you card given to Phelan, a nurse called Carmen wrote: “I’ve been a nurse for 14 years and to never have seen such a lovely gesture.”