Thursday, February 25, 2010

Melanoma Drug Trials

This week the New York Times has run a series of articles in their health section dealing with melanoma and drug trials. This article focuses on the B-Raf inhibitor drug by Plexxicon - PLX4032. This is one of the two drug trials we had hoped to take part in.  We were unable to get a slot in this drug trial, the trial I'm on works in a very similar fashion to PLX4032.  My drug is produced by Glaxo Smith Cline and is mentioned later in the series as a drug they would like to test in tandem with the Plexxicon drug.

The articles can be found here:
    Day 1 - A Roller Coaster Chase for a Cure
    Day 2 - After Long Fight, Drug Gives Sudden Reprieve
    Day 3 - A Drug Trial Cycle: Recovery, Relapse, Reinvention

This is a well written series that describes the clinical trials process, its difficulties and challenges.  It also speaks to the struggles of the cancer patients.  Being in the thick of it right now, has made this very compelling reading from my point of view. 

At this point I'm very grateful to be able to take part in this study.  It has certainly made a positive difference in our life.  We are sure there are still hills to climb, but we're very happy to be where we are now. 

As always thanks to everyone for your continued support. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Good News

It is nice to be able to report some encouraging news. We have had a great two weeks with minor and major miracles to help us along the way.

We had some insurance coverage hiccups a few days before my planned departure for Houston to start the treatment two weeks ago. Thanks to a lot of caring and helpful people we got that resolved quickly and favorably and were able to go to Houston knowing that we had full insurance coverage for this treatment.

I went down on Sunday night (1/24) and stayed in Houston through Thursday (1/28). I had blood tests,and EKGs and visits with the study doctor, Dr. Falchook, to make sure I met the eligibility requirements for the study. All that went well and on Wednesday of that week, I started taking the new medication.

As part of the clinical trial they monitored me for 10 hours following my first dose. This included hourly blood draws and almost hourly EKGs. After that I went back to my hotel. The next day Thursday I had to return for another blood draw 24 hours after my first dose, then I headed home. I continue to take the medication via oral pill twice a day.

At this point I wish I had X-ray vision to be able to see what is happening to the tumors within my body. Unfortunately I don't, but there has been a significant metric that is pointing in the right direction. Since this started in July I have been taking pain medications to deal with the pain in my pelvic area. The dosages have escalated from a few ibuprofen a day in July to needing two Oxycodones every 4 hours to help alleviate the pain. On the Saturday following my first dose I took my last Oxycodone. Thanks to Dennis and Rosie for taking our kids for the weekend, Allison and I had a nice night out and short but fun hike together. Something that I hadn't felt up to for a long time. At this point it was starting to look like things were headed in the right direction. Sunday I took some Tylenol for a headache. But since then I have not taken anything for pain. I have gone for an entire week without needing any pain medication. Being able to walk with no pain is such a great feeling again. This morning I hiked to the top of Flagstaff and skied down, thanks to Curtis who broke trail the entire way up. I was tired at the end but it's something I wouldn't have even contemplated two weeks ago.

We are indeed very grateful for minor and major miracles, and for the prayers and efforts of many that helped bring them to pass.