June 4, 2012
As of May 10th, I’ve been on a clinical trial of a potential new cancer drug for 8 months. The last four of those months I have been on the actual drug. We were initially confused by the news that I’d been on the placebo, since my cancer tumors’ growth had slowed down considerably. One set of tumors, the ones in my right elbow, were showing signs of cell death or necrosis.
Our biggest worry was whether the actual medicine would work. My cancer, chondrosarcoma, is a cancer of the bones and ligaments, and is notoriously hard to treat. It doesn’t respond to chemo or radiation. Surgically removing the tumors is the usual treatment, but in some cases, like mine, removing the tumors activates dormant ones. So when you take a tumor out, you agitate the five tumors around it. Talk about a vicious cycle!
The clinical trial drug takes a different approach than the slash-and-burn of surgery. Researchers have discovered that a pathway exists between cancer cells that helps them grow. Block the pathway and the cancer cell starves. It stops growing and according to theory, shrinks and dies.
I say ‘according to theory’ because my tumors have stopped growing, but have yet to start shrinking. This has left me anxious and my doctors somewhat befuddled. The last set of scans and x-rays, done on May 23rd and 24th, show no further tumor growth, but no shrinkage either.
As of now, the trial continues three one-day visits for bloodwork and refills over the next six weeks, and my next set of scans in mid-July. Sarah and the kids are going along on the July trip. I’m hopeful about the potential for good news then.
As long as my tumors are not showing progression-not growing, I’ll stay on this clinical trial. If I start showing progression, MD Anderson will drop me from this trial and move me to a different one. They have several trials that are either active or in the planning stages, so it wouldn’t be giving up, just changing course.
If I have to change, I can. But I hope it’s not necessary; I hope the current drug works and makes my tumors shrink. But I can’t complain. Last year at this time, my local doctors told me I had between 5 and 15 years to live. This year, we have a new path. We have hope and a future. The plan is to die of old age, NOT bone cancer. It doesn’t get to win. I do.