Otti Castriotta

First post: Jun 3, 2019 Latest post: Sep 10, 2020
Hi all, in December of 2018 it was decided that it was time to replace my failing aortic valve.  I was enrolled in a study for a less invasive procedure called the TAVR-Trans Aortic Valve Replacement through the femoral artery.  Given my general good health it was thought I would be an ideal candidate for the study.  The study entailed many pre-procedure tests, including a chest CT scan and an angiogram.  

Great news, my coronary arteries are pristine. Lab tests revealed Type 2 diabetes, which can be controlled with medication, diet and exercise. Unfortunately, the chest CT revealed a mass in my left lung.  I was referred on to a pulmonologist who ordered a PET scan to determine if the lung mass was cancerous.  The PET scan did indicate that the lung mass, along with two other sites were cancerous, and I was no longer a candidate for the study.  We were happy to find out that this was not a return of my breast cancer, of which I am a 14 year survivor.  The next step was to meet my Oncologist, Dr. Avina Singh.  Dr. Singh was instrumental in expediting the aortic valve replacement, which had been on hold.  

The TAVR was a huge success on April 9th, and I have been cleared by my cardiac team. So now starts the treatment of my cancer.  Once again, I was entered into an randomized study investigating Immunotherapy and Chemotherapy treatments.  I was put into the arm of the study that combined both Keytruda (immunotherapy) and two types of Chemo concurrently. The first treatment was on May 17th, I was scheduled to have treatment every 3rd Friday for 2 years.  

Larissa and Rachel were both with me from the start.  I was feeling pretty good on Saturday, May 18,  but things went a bit askew on Sunday.  From what Larissa and Rachel tell me, I was not myself.  Rachel described me as catatonic.  I was unable to tell her the day or year, and was very sleepy. I was also running a temperature over 102. The girls decided to have Rachel take me to the ER at 11:30 on Sunday night.  After many test, scans and blood work it was determined that my liver enzymes were off the charts!!  We left the ER at 4 AM and waited to hear from Dr. Singh.  

I was found to have had a rare (0.7%) response to the Keytruda, and would be removed from the study. 

This leads us to our current status.  I am waiting for my liver enzymes to rebound and hopefully restart the Chemo.  In the mean time I will start 2 weeks of radiation to the cancer that was found at T7 on my spine.  

So I am in the middle of quite the journey.  Patience is my virtue and I'm taking one day at a time.  I am still very hopeful, and I trust in the Lord's plan for me.

I look forward to hearing from you through this page.  My daughters would love for you all to add stories of how you know me, or a funny story about our friendships.  I look forward to reminiscing as well.

Love to you all and feel free to share this site with others I may have crossed paths with in my life.