Here we go…

As I have mentioned before, the life of a stage IV cancer patient is a turbulent life. Full of ups and downs and all arounds. It is a life living on shifting sands, a life without solid ground. It is a life that needs to be focused neither in the past or the future, but in the present, as much as that is possible. I work at continually “chucking” the setbacks and disappointments, working my plan of action, and doing stuff I enjoy. But it is a challenge.

My immediate family consists of my wife Little Lee and our two fluffers, Miss Bubble and Cotty, our fat gray cats. For some time now both of our cats have been quite sick with illnesses from which they may not recover. During this time Little Lee has needed to run a kitty infirmary in addition to being my caregiver. Both cats require multiple medications each day, as well as injections and lots of vet visits. It has placed an added layer of stress on our day-to-day lives. When we have to be away for medical treatment, our super-awesome cat sitter Sandi, becomes the cat nurse. Here is a photo of the feline pharmacy complete with instructions for Sandi.

                                   Kitty Pharmacy

You may remember from my last post that shortly after I signed on to do a clinical trial in Scottsdale, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. The same day I was feeling a bit discouraged about the delay, the phone rang and much to my surprise, it was the University of Arizona Cancer Center, offering me a slot in a clinical trial I was on the wait list for. Back in late January they told me the roll-out of this trial would was delayed and the roll-out would be very slow. The trial director estimated it would be about 5 months before I might have a shot. Was I still interested they asked? Yes, yes, yes was my reply.

Jimmy signs the consent form, let the trial begin!

While I am very pleased to have a shot at this promising, cutting edge immunotherapy trial, I also know that the patients ahead of me on the waiting list either got too sick to participate or passed away. My plan to pursue clinical trials while I still feel pretty good is paying off, and I am grateful to Dr. P for encouraging me to do so.

The trial is composed of a two-pronged attack at the tumors. The first weapon is an oncolytic virus. This virus is specially engineered to attack cancer cells only. It cannot enter healthy cells. The virus begins to break down the cancer cells and although its not strong enough to kill off all the tumors by itself, it helps to make the enemy more visible to the immune system T-cells. The virus helps make my “cold tumors” look more like “hot tumors,” or so the theory says.

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Once the virus is in place, the second weapon is deployed. This is an existing immunotherapy drug you may have heard of called “Opdivo.” If the virus has done its job, then Opdivo will supercharge the T-cells to attack the tumors and hopefully, this one-two punch will take care of the bad guys. Only 40 people in the world will participate in this phase of the research and I am one of the first ten. It’s a bit scary. But when the plane is going to crash and somebody hands you a parachute, it is time to learn how to skydive.

           Lord Cotswold and Miss Bubble

 

 

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24 thoughts on “Here we go…

  1. Thanks for the update Jim. Surrounding you in light and love as you embark on this next chapter. Great article in Sunday’s paper! You are awesome! I hope both kitties get well soon. Take good care, Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

  2. scary, yes,but scarier to not have this chance and i do feel good about it, for what that’s worth. i know you’ll keep us posted. love to you and lee and the beautiful kitties.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you Jim, for the update. As always, if we can help in anyway, we are there for you and Lee. I think Patti, and Lee, have been talking also. Our prayers and thoughts are with your whole family, even the Kitties! We will stay in touch. Love you guys lots moe

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John and I are excited to hear that you’ll be taking the leap along with 9 others soon. We’re glad to hear that viruses are being put to good use! Sending healing prayers to the family …Jimmy, Little Lee, Lord Cotswold and Miss Bubble and hugs too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think this Tucson trial sounds very promising. Not to mention NO MORE driving all the way to Scottsdale all the time. Yayyyyy. I will continue praying that everything turns out FINE. Even for the kitties. And blessings to Nurse “Lee” for ALL she’s been doing. God bless you Lee.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When a door loses , a window opens. Strap on that parachute and go for a hellava ride! Thinking of you both and prayers flowing. If you need anything just give us a call.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Jim, Just a short note to tell you how much I enjoy reading your emails. You are such a fighter and when ever I see your picture you are smiling. It seems you have had to struggle and work harder than most people all you life but you have been very successful and made the best of everything! You are a true inspiration to so many people. That in itself is something to be very proud of.
        I feel I can relate to much of what you are going through as my wife was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma multiform (brain cancer) and battled that for 2 1/2 years. I love your line that “when the plane is about to go down and someone hands you a parachute it is time to learn to skydive!” Lucky for you your a gutsy guy and a quick learner. Keep up the fight and enjoy the ride.
        Thinking of you and Lee always. Sincerely Ric

        P.S. Enjoy your animal portraits also!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Jimbo,

    I’m so happy to hear you made the trial, no one deserves it more than you and certainly no one will enter the program with more enthusiasm and positive energy.

    On the other note, I’m so sorry to hear about your little fluff balls. I hope they recover quickly, paving the way for you to do the same!

    Rex

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dear Jim, I, like Jane above, got an image that you plus the other nine are setting off for space travel, but instead of outer space, yours is inside body space. Wishing all of the ten travelers great success, but wishing you a whole lot more! Marj

    Liked by 1 person

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