Today Lee and I had our much awaited meeting with Dr. M to see what magical tricks he would be able to pull out of his bag after examining the data pulled from the tumor biopsy from last month. Alas my tumor yielded no secrets. He was hoping to find some specific mutations that would open a door for innovative treatment. Unfortunately I have pretty much run of the mill type of colon cancer that is resistant to treatment. He did indicate that an FDA approved drug for pancreatic cancer had some possibilities, something to be reviewed and considered.
Dr. M indicated that there are currently two clinical trials coming to their center for which I would qualify. One is for an oncolytic virus from PsiOxus and the other is for the Bristol-Myers Squibb drug, Opdivo. Opdivo is an immunotherapy drug that has had some success with other types of cancer (melanoma, small cell lung, Hodgkin’s lymphoma) but not colon cancer at this point. The PsiOxus virus is designed specifically to attack my tumors directly. I am on the waiting list for both trials. The Opdivo will probably open up in 4-6 weeks and I would be able to participate. The PsiOxus trial is very allocated and my participation wouldn’t be available for four months or so. From what I had read and what Dr. M discussed with us at our prior meeting about the PsiOxus drug excited me very much and I am not alone. There are only six locations in the US for this trial with a very small number of participants. He told us he is getting calls and messages from desperate patients throughout the country seeking placement. We also discussed possible trials in Scottsdale and Phoenix. Lee and I will discuss all of this with Dr. P on Thursday. So lots to think about, waiting and wondering. Fortunately I feel great, I am strong and healthy. In the short term I will continue on my “treading water” drug Lonsurf which seems to still be slowing the tumor growth at this point.
Fortunately Lee and I have a diversion in place. Some of my friends from Oregon were attending the Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions over the weekend and decided to do a side trip to Green Valley. Former customers of mine from my wine shop days, they came with a bounty of fine wines which went fabulous with Lee’s fantastic ribs!
Lots of exciting and good news to report. The most exciting news is that I’m here writing this post. It was twenty-two months ago that I received my “your toast” diagnosis of incurable cancer. At that time, the average survival time for Stage IV colon cancer that had spread to the lungs and liver was twenty-two months. So, I guess I’m above average. Boy did Miss Finkle, my second grade teacher, get that one wrong. Ha! She said I was below average!! See my column below from today’s issue of the Green Valley News for my thoughts on this emotionally charged and significant milestone event for me.
So more exciting news you want huh? OK, I feel great…how’s that? Although I ended 2016 feeling poorly and we had to cancel our Christmas plans, I’ve jumped into 2017 ready to roll. My radiation treatments are finished and my cough is diminishing. On Friday I’m giving my first presentation of 2017, in conjunction with Arizona Oncology. US Oncology, the parent corporation of Arizona Oncology, is redoing their web site and will feature me and my story on their site. My book, LiveWellWithTerminalIllnessandOtherCrappyDiseases, is now available in an audio book format on Amazon, iTunes and Audible. This is perfect for people who are too weak to read, or would prefer to listen to it while undergoing chemo, driving or exercising. Of course they’ll miss out on my brilliant artwork.
Still not satisfied? We have an appointment Monday morning with our guru research oncologist at the U of A Cancer Center. Lee just discovered that Dr. M. was one of only eleven physician-scientists to receive 2017 grant funding from the Harrington Discovery Institute. Harrington’s focus is to advance breakthrough pharmaceutical discoveries. With funding of up to $700,000 per scientist along with involvement from the pharmaceutical industry to make it happen, it is exciting news. It will be interesting to see what Dr. M. has for us to ponder. But it is comforting to know that we are dealing with a genius. I feel fortunate.
As my health and energy improved, I suddenly found a paint brush in my hand. Below our my two latest creations for your amusement. Thank you all for your support!