Roller coaster report: My new treatment
I know it’s a trite analogy, but having stage IV cancer is really like being on a roller coaster. I used to brace myself for every drop, but lately I’ve learned to just hang on tight and go along for the ride. I can’t get off after the ride has started, so I have no choice than to trust I’ll get through it. Note: this analogy may not work for those of you who love roller coasters!
As those of you who follow me know, I was so excited my treatment (Ibrance and Femara) was FDA-approved, ending my monthly back and forth trips to Chicago for the trial. I was feeling great and looking forward to a hopefully long run on the duo. Then came my scan, a couple of weeks ago. Last week I finally got a hold of my consulting oncologist at Indiana University (IU) Simon Cancer Center who agreed it was progression.
Just as I was absorbing this, I got a text from my very dear friend Darlene that she was near the end of her life and asked if I could come down to Tampa to see her. I booked a flight and rushed down. What a kick in the gut that was! Darlene, whom I love dearly and who has helped so many other fellow survivors, was the person I usually went to when faced with a scan such as this. How could this be? Denial and disbelief and sorrow … yet I had to hold it together so I could be help to her and her family.
Then I came home on Monday, knowing I was facing yet another challenge. When you have stage IV cancer, it is hard not to picture yourself in the same situation. And my scary scan and Darlene’s pain and struggle reminded me how perilous my relatively good health can be. But the next day, I dove into action mode and searched through Bctrials.org to find clinical trials to present to my oncologist the next day at IU.
I was thankful that I’ve been keeping up with the research latest developments so that I had focus, and found five promising trials. I brought them yesterday to Dr. Miller. And even before I had a chance to bring them to her, she had a trial waiting for me! My last visit, I signed consent to sample my tumor for a trial for a Phase 2 study of MGAH22 by MacroGenics, a HER2 monoclonal antibody for patients who tested negative for HER2, but have a lower level (2+), Turns out I qualify.
The drug is similar to the wonder-drug Herceptin, which has saved and/or lengthened the lives of so many patients with HER2 positive breast cancer. At times, I remember wishing I was HER2 positive because of the great results Herceptin was showing. I start treatment in a couple of weeks. This time I’ll only have to travel two hours a month rather than the six hours it took to get to Chicago. In a weird way, I’m excited. It’s like the feeling I got as a kid when I was going up the hill on the roller coaster, anticipating the thrill of the drop.
Mike and I were talking about this over dinner after our appointment. For some reason, I don’t get as freaked out over treatment changes. We have been on this ride before. I am thankful God brought me this far and to a doctor I trust and like who actually seems to care. Let’s see where this ride takes u.