【➽】 Immunotherapy: Trial Finder & NEWS

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Maia
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapies Trial Finder for CRC

Postby Maia » Wed Jun 04, 2014 2:58 pm

June is Immunotherapy Awareness month and, as Vicki mentioned above, the Cancer Research Institute (devoted exclusively to immunotherapies against cancer) is posting 30 days of testimonial stories, from patients helped by different immunotherapies, for different cancers. You can watch and read a new story each day visiting http://www.theanswertocancer.org and I thought of posting each day here, in this thread too -instead of starting a new thread, or a new thread each day, and be all over the place (even more) with immuno-blah-blah... :mrgreen:

June 1st: day 1
Daniel M: melanoma Treatment: anti-CTLA-4 drug ipilimumab (Yervoy®) as part of a clinical trial.
What if your cancer had only a 5% success rate with standard treatment?
"When the doctor called, he said, 'Daniel, are you sitting down or standing up?'"
Image

June 2nd: day 2
Pam G: lung cancer Treatment: anti-PD-1 drug nivolumab as part of a trial
What if chemo and radiation don't work for your cancer?
"I would not be alive today if it were not for this drug."
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PNgTgxeUM0
Image


June 3rd: day 3
Carley r: Ewing's sarcoma Treatment: autologous tumor cell FANG™ vaccine (uses patient's own tumor cells as a vaccine) as part of a trial
What if your cancer came back?
“It just seemed like a really positive idea to build your immune system to be able to fight cancer, instead of just breaking it down with chemotherapy."
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7hx0Qv_2j0
Image


June 4th: day 4
Father dennis b: acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) Treatment: chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy
Would having cancer make you question your beliefs?
"The T cell experience was a walk through the park. It was a piece of cake compared to the chemo and the transplant."
Image

andy21
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapies Trial Finder for CRC

Postby andy21 » Wed Jun 04, 2014 4:11 pm

Great to get this info.

FANG vaccine is working atleast for some. Hopefully it'll be seen in CC results soon.
http://mywebsitepronto.com/clients/grad ... ng-vaccine
http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01505166
Caregiver: To 67 Yr father
diag. Stage IV, 5/12, liver mets
6 cycles Xelox/Avastin, Start 06/12
Stage 1 of Two Stage Resection Surgery in Dec, 12. 2nd line fails.
T Cell Trial May-Jul, 2013
Becomes a Heavenly Angel in August, 2013

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Maia
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapies Trial Finder for CRC

Postby Maia » Wed Jun 04, 2014 4:47 pm

The FANG vaccine, until past year:
Mol Ther. 2012 Mar;20(3):679-86.
Phase I trial of "bi-shRNAi(furin)/GMCSF DNA/autologous tumor cell" vaccine (FANG) in advanced cancer. (full article)
Senzer N1, Barve M, Kuhn J, Melnyk A, Beitsch P, Lazar M, Lifshitz S, Magee M, Oh J, Mill SW, Bedell C, Higgs C, Kumar P, Yu Y, Norvell F, Phalon C, Taquet N, Rao DD, Wang Z, Jay CM, Pappen BO, Wallraven G, Brunicardi FC, Shanahan DM, Maples PB, Nemunaitis J.

If you look at the graphic in page 3, it seems that CRC patients did it quite well -I may be wrong, but it looks like they were 6 patients (blue bar), and 5 of them exceeded for a lot the 'historical expected survival' (marked by the vertical double-line).

These are the stories of the patients with the best results (complete remissions/ durable regressions) but I think several more maybe just got many months more of good life. Of course those won't do headlines but, for them... a big difference. I hope that's the case : )

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juliej
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapies Trial Finder for CRC

Postby juliej » Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:56 pm

Maia wrote:June is Immunotherapy Awareness month and, as Vicki mentioned above, the Cancer Research Institute (devoted exclusively to immunotherapies against cancer) is posting 30 days of testimonial stories, from patients helped by different immunotherapies, for different cancers. You can watch and read a new story each day visiting http://www.theanswertocancer.org and I thought of posting each day here, in this thread too -instead of starting a new thread, or a new thread each day, and be all over the place (even more) with immuno-blah-blah... :mrgreen:

Maia, we love your "immuno-blah-blah"! You've no idea how much hope you inject into this forum with your posts. Today I'm wearing a long white linen skirt (for immunotherapy awareness month) with a sky blue top (for colon cancer).

The FANG (love the name!) vaccine results were fascinating. At the conclusion it said they were advancing it to Phase II to

1) gain further evidence of effectiveness in a randomized study,
2) evaluate effectiveness in the adjuvant setting in patients with minimal residual disease,
3) and determine the feasibility of concurrent immune modulating therapeutic doses of chemotherapy and vaccine administration.

So it looks like they are going to try it in the adjuvant setting for those with just a little left over disease. That's good news for those who need "maintenance" chemo. Also, the last item (combining immune modulating therapeutic doses of chemo PLUS vaccine) is exactly what Dr. Wolchok was talking about in the TED talk.
Stage IVb, liver/lung mets 8/4/2010
Xelox+Avastin 8/18/10 to 10/21/2011
LAR, liver resec, HAI pump 11/2011
Adjuvant Irinotecan + FUDR
Double lung surgery + ileo reversal 2/2012
Adjuvant FUDR + Xeloda
VATS rt. lung 12/2012 - benign granuloma!
VATS left lung 11/2013
NED 11/22/13 to 12/18/2019, CEA<1

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Maia
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapies Trial Finder for CRC

Postby Maia » Wed Jun 04, 2014 6:13 pm

juliej wrote:The FANG (love the name!) vaccine results were fascinating.


I also love the name! Someone with good humour in that immuno team :mrgreen:
I'm wearing white all this month, a lot... every person who ask me if it is 'for yoga class' gets a speech... :wink:
I'm cooking dinner and trying not to burn it so in brief: remember that article is from 2011 and updated to 2013. Would love to hear from even more updated data for CRC.

Also: all the Sloanites should read this: MSK, with Wolchok as head, are really rocking ASCO 2014:

http://www.mskcc.org/blog/msk-s-experti ... co-meeting
Father Dennis (today's story, June 4th) is a MSK patient, BTW. :)

I'm not posting because I'm excited reading, right now!! Sharing after I put my little one in bed LOL

You all can do a lot more for Immunotherapy Awareness month if you follow these links:


▓▓▓▓ June is IMMUNOTHERAPY Awareness Month. Wear WHITE this Friday June 6th, to help CURE ALL CANCERS ▓▓▓▓
▓▓ Five Things You Can Do Right Now ▓▓



Immunotherapy will get me banned from here, eventually! :P

dianne052506
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapies Trial Finder for CRC

Postby dianne052506 » Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:01 pm

Don't have enough white to wear it all month (if I could quit losing and gaining weight on a regular basis, it wouldn't be as complicated to find clothes!), but I will be sure to wear it this Friday when I go to see my oncologist. He will be very impressed. He is already impressed with you, Maia.
dianne
May 06 Stage IV CC: liver,ovarian mets
Oct 07 inoperable lung mets
Feb 08 - Apr'12 chemo
allergic to oxaliplatin, irinotecan
Aug '12-Feb'14 Genentech PD-L1/Avastin trial
Mar '14 -radiation to largest lung nodule
still recovering; looking at trials again

WifeOfMike
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapy: Trial Finder & NEWS

Postby WifeOfMike » Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:51 am

Well Dianne052506 and MAIA........
I am impressed by BOTH of you!!!!!

EVERYONE on here knows MAIA is the QUEEN of Immunotherapy. :lol:
Dianne, I admire your courage in tackling MPDL3280A and hanging in there with it, while you gave everyone here the inside scoop.
I want to thank you personally for that one!!!!! It gave me ammo to take to hubby to get him on-board (along with a pound of research) :P

I tried to get hubby on it after Line 2 and pre-Stivarga, but they were not actively recruiting in LA. Hubby had no choice but to do the NEW drug on the block Stivarga.
When that stopped working I was scrambling once more..... and tried once again to get him in the MPDL3280A LA clinical trial (as a single agent- only availability locally)- NOT CURRENTLY RECRUITING!
So we had no choice but to go into a small local clinical trial testing a proteasome inhibitor (like Valcade) and Rifampin (steroid) combo.
They were supposed to contact me (this time frame) BUT MAIA turned me onto the Ipilimumab & Nivolumab clinical trial in San Francisco........ and I wrangled LA to scoop us up instead (closer)

I am mid-stream SCANNING zillions of pages of medical records, copying 15 CT Scan discs, and just picked up 115 tumor slides
Appointment for hubby is MONDAY, June 9th......... PLEASE Cross your fingers for him. I'm wearing WHITE to ALL appointments, for sure!!!
Can you get in trouble for swinging Chickens in the car while driving to the DR? :oops:

HUGS,
Wife of Mike,
Vicki
Bad Ass WIFE
Hubs: CRC IVA,T3, N0, M1A
Resect/LN Mets 10/12
Folfox4/Avastin 11/12-5/13
Folfiri/Erbitux 6/13-10/13
Stivarga 12/13-4/14
Trial 4/14-/14
Trial 8/14-11/14
HOME Hospice 11/17/14
Guardian Angel 1/1/15
Cost of HOPE? PRICELESS

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Maia
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapy: Trial Finder & NEWS

Postby Maia » Thu Jun 05, 2014 6:56 am

michaelbass wrote:Dianne, I admire your courage in tackling MPDL3280A and hanging in there with it, while you gave everyone here the inside scoop.
I want to thank you personally for that one!

I thank you too, Dianne. That thread you started on January2013 (FOR ALL ON CLINICAL TRIALS), with all its pages, certainly has been an inspiration for me to start digging more about immunotherapies. Hope to see you updating it soon ; )
And I've already told you that I think your onc is simply amazing : )

Vicki, I'll have Mike and you in my thoughts so badly, this June 9th! I'll start sending good energy now... may take a while until it reaches you, we're so far away! : )

juliej wrote: Also, the last item (combining immune modulating therapeutic doses of chemo PLUS vaccine) is exactly what Dr. Wolchok was talking about in the TED talk.


Yes. I've been reading and trying to digest what has been talked at ASCO about immunotherapy (the last weekend and until this Tuesday, June 3rd) before posting... the amount of information is *huge*, and I'm trying to find what is pertinent for CRC. But that trend you mentioned is clear: immunotherapies experts (Wolchok and everyone else, probably) seem to think that there is a role for chemotherapy, accompanying immunotherapy, *but* using those agents, often, in other way, differently than how they are used at the present (for example, at maximum tolerated doses). Something similar for radiation.

************************************

June 5th: day 5
Thèrése B: melanoma Treatment: anti PD-1 drug pembrolizumab (MK-3475) as part of a clinical trial.
What happens when the doctor becomes the patient?
"I'm amazed I'm still alive because I know how terrible disease it is."
Image

▓▓▓▓ June is IMMUNOTHERAPY Awareness Month. Wear WHITE this Friday June 6th, to help CURE ALL CANCERS ▓▓▓▓
▓▓ Five Things You Can Do Right Now ▓▓

WifeOfMike
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapy: Trial Finder & NEWS

Postby WifeOfMike » Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:28 pm

MAIA wrote:
"Vicki, I'll have Mike and you in my thoughts so badly, this June 9th! I'll start sending good energy now... may take a while until it reaches you, we're so far away! : )"

Thank you my darling woman...... Light the speed of light I got your ENERGY BEAM...... GREATLY appreciated! :lol:
He is so EXCITED! (AS am I)

We are doing it not just for HIM... we are doing it just in case our 3 sons get whammed, & for all those that got this disease & were brave enough to do clinical trials for FDA standard care that got him this far

In prepping for the meeting in LA, I got more FAMILY HISTORY from his parents:
(HIS MOM's side) Grandfather- died of cancer (unknown) at 38, Uncle died of Colon Cancer at 36, Mom had breast cancer, cancer found at hysterectomy, Liposarcoma of hip (all caught EARLY) NED. (HIS Dad's side): Aunt double mastectomy breast cancer. (MY family) My dad: bladder cancer at 65 (caught early)..... passed away on his 96th birthday. MOM is kicking butt at 79. The rest of my family lived long lives. I will be looking into this in LA as top priority, when I go into even MORE genetic/ molecular profiling :shock:

Until then..... I'm SWINGING CHICKENS from all edges of my 3/4 acres. The neighbors are a little freaked out! :roll:
Hugs to ALL
Wife of Mike,
Vicki
Bad Ass WIFE
Hubs: CRC IVA,T3, N0, M1A
Resect/LN Mets 10/12
Folfox4/Avastin 11/12-5/13
Folfiri/Erbitux 6/13-10/13
Stivarga 12/13-4/14
Trial 4/14-/14
Trial 8/14-11/14
HOME Hospice 11/17/14
Guardian Angel 1/1/15
Cost of HOPE? PRICELESS


Karen007
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapy: Trial Finder & NEWS

Postby Karen007 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:36 pm

So helpful to find all of this information for trails and what is happening at ASCo. This forum is so helpful. I am a new member although I was diagnosed with stage IV CA about a year and half ago. THANK YOU

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Maia
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapy: Trial Finder & NEWS

Postby Maia » Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:23 pm

Welcome to the board, Karen -even if I'm sorry you need to be here. But yes, it's a great forum, with very supportive people and you'll find here a wealth of experience, and people willing to share it, and support you, and information! : )
I have to tell you that so much more happened at ASCO -I usually focus more in immunotherapy, so the links I've provided were only about that, I'm afraid. I'll try to do other post about other developments -in chemotherapy or targeted therapies.

*****************************************
June 6th: day 6
Isadore W: prostate cancer Treatment: sipuleucel-T (Provenge®), a dendritic cell-based therapeutic cancer vaccine for the treatment of prostate cancer
Could having cancer inspire you to help others?
""When a man is going through prostate cancer, what better person to talk to than another prostate cancer survivor?"
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▓▓▓▓ June is IMMUNOTHERAPY Awareness Month. Wear WHITE this Friday June 6th, to help CURE ALL CANCERS ▓▓▓▓
▓▓ Five Things You Can Do Right Now ▓▓

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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapy: Trial Finder & NEWS

Postby WifeOfMike » Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:52 am

MAIA YOU GO GIRL!!!!
I have been watching everyone of these encouraging stories! :lol:

wife of Mike,
Vicki
Bad Ass WIFE
Hubs: CRC IVA,T3, N0, M1A
Resect/LN Mets 10/12
Folfox4/Avastin 11/12-5/13
Folfiri/Erbitux 6/13-10/13
Stivarga 12/13-4/14
Trial 4/14-/14
Trial 8/14-11/14
HOME Hospice 11/17/14
Guardian Angel 1/1/15
Cost of HOPE? PRICELESS

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singingholly
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapy: Trial Finder & NEWS

Postby singingholly » Sat Jun 07, 2014 5:48 am

My onc came back from America happily overwhelmed by the mountain of studies in immubotherapy that has bloomed this year!
H.
Dec2011 sigm IIIst res T3N1(2/18)M0 Xelox
Oct2012 5liv.mets Dec 2012 liv.res
Jan2013 1liv.met Folfiri+avastin
Jul2013 liv.res Folfiri+/av
Feb2014 10+2lu.mets & 1abd node Folfoxiri+SBRT
Sep2014 Res rx l. BUT spot on diaph:SBRT
Dec2014 3+6lu.mets.Immuno

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Maia
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Re: 【➽】 Immunotherapy: Trial Finder & NEWS

Postby Maia » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:47 am

Today's story it's specially relevant for this forum, I feel, because it features a patient who received (for melanoma) the combination of drugs that has just started to be tested in a trial for CRC: nivolumab and ipilimumab (Nivolumab and Nivolumab Plus Ipilimumab in Recurrent and Metastatic Colon Cancer (CheckMate 142) NCT02060188), and that is being discussing here in this forum. So I'm going to copy the full story here.



June 7th: day 7
Mary Elizabeth W: melanoma Treatment: anti-CTLA-4 drug ipilimumab (Yervoy®) combined with anti-PD-1 drug nivolumab two checkpoint inhibitor drugs, as part of a Phase I clinical trial.
What if a phase I clinical trial changed your fate?
"There's no question in my mind that immunotherapy saved my life."

Image

    For Mary Elizabeth Williams, a New York-based writer and mother of two, the hardest part of having stage 4 melanoma was imaging what her family would do without her. Her spouse, and her daughters, then age 7 and 11—how would they cope with the loss?

    In late 2011, that thought loomed in Mary Elizabeth’s mind as she prepared to begin conventional treatment for what all medical sources told her was a terminal illness. Then, at the last minute, she learned she was eligible for clinical trial of a promising new immunotherapy being conducted by Jedd Wolchok, M.D., Ph.D., at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The trial was a study of two checkpoint inhibitor drugs, ipilimumab and nivolumab (made by Bristol Myers-Squibb), for patients with metastatic melanoma. Both drugs are antibodies directed at specific “braking” molecules, called checkpoints, on immune cells. By “taking the brakes off” the immune response, the drugs enable a more powerful anti-cancer response.

    Mary Elizabeth began treatment with the two immunotherapy drugs in November 2011. By January 2012, she knew the treatment was working. The Answer to Cancer (TheA2C) spoke with Mary Elizabeth about her cancer treatment journey.
    --------------------------

    TheA2C: Tell us how you found out you had cancer.
    Mary Elizabeth: In the summer of 2010, I discovered that I had a little scab on the top of my head and I didn’t think much of it for a while. I just assumed it was a scrape or a reaction to my shampoo or something. I went to my dermatologist and she said, “That looks like skin cancer.” Even then I still wasn’t concerned. I thought, well, skin cancer, that’s not so bad. That’s not like real cancer!

    Then a few days later I was sitting at my desk, getting ready to file a story, and the phone rang. And my doctor said, “I’m very sorry. It’s malignant.” The next day, I went to Sloan Kettering and I met my brand new oncologist.

    I had surgery. I told my family. I told my friends. I went through it, I went through the recovery. I was told the margins were clean. Everything seemed great. People started calling me a survivor. And then about a year later on a CAT scan there were some spots on my lungs. I went in for some more testing and I had a surgical biopsy and they told me that it was malignant again. The cancer had broken off, it had metastasized into my lungs. And then, two weeks after the surgery, I went back to the doctor and I said, “I have a spot on my back.” And that was malignant as well. That’s when I was told I was stage 4. If you think it looks bad when you find out that cancer’s moved into your lungs, when you find out that you have two distant metastases, the news is very, very bad. It’s very, very grim.

    TheA2C: Do you remember what you were thinking at that point?
    Mary Elizabeth: When I found out I was stage 4, it was a complete shock. I was scared, I was stunned, and I was mad. I had gone through cancer already. I had done everything right. I had been good. I had behaved. And the cancer had come back and it had come back worse. And now it was really gunning for me and for my life.

    The hardest part was when I thought about my mate and my children and what would happen to them. I would stand in the shower and look out the window of the bathroom and I’d think about them and what was going to happen to them if I wasn’t here. And that became a very real concern and something I really had to start planning for. It was the most traumatic thing that could ever happen, not just to me, but to my family.

    TheA2C: Did you see yourself as a healthy person who wouldn’t get cancer?
    Mary Elizabeth: Cancer changed everything I had ever thought about myself up to that point. I never even really got sick! I’d never been hospitalized. I was a healthy person, I was a healthy weight. I had perfect blood pressure. It was never a problem. I did everything right! I even always wore sunscreen. I was perfect! I was a good girl! What I hadn’t planned on was that the cancer would penetrate through my hair and that it would attack me that way. What I know now is: cancer doesn’t discriminate and it doesn’t go after people who get colds. And it doesn’t go after people who have higher blood pressure. It goes after everybody.

    TheA2C: What did the doctors tell you your options were when they gave you the stage 4 diagnosis?
    Mary Elizabeth: When my doctor told me that it was stage 4, my options dwindled down to a very, very precious few at that point. Melanoma is traditionally very chemo-resistant, so chemo probably wouldn’t have been a great option. Because of the location of the tumor in my lung, surgery would be very risky and we would have to wait until the cancer had progressed to even consider doing an operation.

    So there wasn’t a whole lot available to me. We were going to try a traditional drug therapy and hope for the best, and then, fortunately not too long after my diagnosis, when I was flipping out about what I was going to do with the rest of my life, whatever that might entail, she called me and said, “There is a spot in a clinical trial and I think you should explore this.”

    TheA2C: What did you think about the option of going on a clinical trial?
    Mary Elizabeth: When my doctor first told me about the option of a clinical trial, I was incredibly skeptical. I didn’t know anything about clinical trials, but I knew I didn’t like the sound of them. I thought it sounded very risky and very scary. I thought, well, they’re not going to give me real drugs. And if they do give me the real drugs, these are drugs that haven’t worked anyway, and so it’s probably not going to work.

    But I also knew this was really my one chance. So I went in and met with Dr. Wolchok who explained to me what was really going to happen in this trial and what we were going to do together as a team. And that changed everything. Once I had that conversation and I got more information about my particular trial, and about immunotherapy, I started to get hopeful. For the first time.

    TheA2C: What was that treatment like?
    Mary Elizabeth: I started treatment a couple weeks after my diagnosis at stage 4. First, I had to do a lot of testing to get into the trial, they had to do a lot of blood work. When you’re in a trial, they ask something of you in return, which is mostly blood and tissue. And then I started the treatment and it’s a combination of two drugs. So when I go in, it almost looks like traditional chemo in the sense that I go and I sit in the chemo chair and I get the IV and I’m there for several hours. But what was exciting about it was: it wasn’t painful, it wasn’t scary, it didn’t hurt. I signed off on a long list of possible side effects and held my breath and went home and waited to see what was going to happen, and not a whole lot did.

    But what was really exciting was when I went back one week later. My doctor looked at my tumor and it had started getting smaller.

    TheA2C: That’s incredible.
    Mary Elizabeth: It was incredible. I didn’t want to believe it. Because I had been looking, of course. It’s very scary when you can see your cancer underneath your skin. It’s one of the scariest, most sickening things you can imagine, to see something attacking you underneath your skin. And then I saw it getting smaller. And I thought, maybe it’s just my imagination. Maybe I’m just hopeful. And then Dr. Wolchok said, “You’re the patient who’s seeing improvement after one treatment.”

    A few weeks later, I was out with a friend in a bar and he said, “Can I see your tumor?” and I lifted up the back of my shirt to try to show it to him and he couldn’t find it. It was really exciting.

    TheA2C: Were you feeling optimistic about beating cancer at that point?
    Mary Elizabeth: When I was going through the treatment in the initial weeks, I was still just holding my breath. I didn’t want to get too hopeful because nothing is certain until you get your scans. You don’t really know. And then three months after I started treatment, I had my first scan and that’s the real make-or-break moment. That’s when you look under the hood and you find out what’s really there. I remember it was a winter day and I was going to see my support group that night. And I went in for my scan and I was a nervous wreck. And then right before I sat down for my support group, my phone rang. And it was Dr. Wolchok and he said, “I have your results.” And he told me that the tumor on my lung had gone completely and that the tumor on my back had completely receded. My life changed that night. And it’s been a new life ever since.

    TheA2C: Were you worried about side effects?
    Mary Elizabeth: When I got my diagnosis, the only thing I wanted was to get through it. I didn’t care what we had to do. If I had to lose my hair and if I had to lose twenty pounds and if you had to cut off my finger, fine. I had already lost the top of my head and part of my thigh and a portion of my lung. Whatever you want, you can have!

    But what I discovered once I started treatment was what a gift it is to not be sick while you’re going through treatment. What an amazing thing it is to still be able to go about your life, to still be able to function in the professional world, to still be the person your children know. To be the face that they are used to seeing and recognize, and to be the face you recognize in the mirror. It was huge to me. It was bigger than I thought it would be. And even though I would have done anything and gone through anything to get through the cancer, to not have to be sick, to not have to look sick, to not have people look at me like a sick person and treat me like a sick person, right off the bat, was wonderful.

    TheA2C: How did your experience change your perception of clinical trials?
    Mary Elizabeth: I am amazed at what’s going on in clinical trials right now. My trial was a phase 1 trial. People don’t necessarily think that they’re even going to get results at that level of testing and I had a complete response, so it’s incredible. And what’s really incredible is that that’s one trial. And I’m one person. And it’s a fairly small trial. And there are trials going on throughout the country right now and they are putting treatments that are saving lives into people’s hands now.

    TheA2C: What are your hopes for immunotherapy as a treatment?
    Mary Elizabeth: I honestly believe that this is an incredibly exciting time, not just in cancer, but in medicine, because when you think about it, the way that Dr. Wolchok explained it to me, it seemed so simple. We use the body’s defenses all the time. Every time we go for a vaccination, we figure out how to get the body to respond to sickness, how to fend it off. We’re finally at a point now in research where doctors and researchers are figuring out how to use the body’s mechanisms to do what had seemed impossible: to fight cancer. And the exciting thing is, unlike surgery, or chemo, or other treatments, it’s not just about going in, cutting it out, and then crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. This is about getting your body to keep doing that and keep fighting.

    TheA2C: How do you explain what immunotherapy is?
    Mary Elizabeth: When people ask me about cancer and they know that I’ve had cancer, usually the first thing they say is, “Oh, how was chemo?” or “How was radiation?” And when I tell them I didn’t do that, they get a little worried looking, that I didn’t get real cancer treatment. And I tell them: this is going to change everything. I tell them, the treatment that I had—immunotherapy—is going to change everything. I explain to them that this is just targeted therapy that uses your own body’s defenses. And it makes sense, when you think about it. It’s just taken a long time for doctors to figure it out.

    TheA2C: Do you believe that immunotherapy saved your life?
    Mary Elizabeth: There’s no question in my mind that immunotherapy saved my life. I had stage 4, my cancer was galloping through my body at a rapid clip and the trial that I was on stopped it and reversed the course in three months. When I tell people about that, their minds are blown. My mind is still blown by what happened with me.

    TheA2C: You must get a lot of questions from readers who’ve read about your experience. What kind of advice do you give them?
    Mary Elizabeth: I had a friend in my support group say to me, “My doctor said there’s nothing they can do.” And I said to him, “Please make some phone calls and see if you can get yourself in a trial.” And he made some calls and he got into a trial and now his tumors are shrinking. That’s what you get when you talk to people. That’s what you find out.

    What I tell everyone is: don’t Google “worst case scenarios” because you’re not going to get good news. And be really careful of the information you let yourself get. Be sure that you advocate for yourself and don’t just necessarily take the first bit of information you get from the doctor down at your hospital. Find out what’s out there.

    TheA2C: What is your hope for the future of cancer treatment?
    Mary Elizabeth: What I’m looking forward to is the day that I’m playing with my grandchildren and they ask what it was like back when people got cancer and there wasn’t much you could do about it. And I’m going to tell them that I was part of something that helped change that. That I was there at the beginning of the end of this.

    See more at: hhttp://www.theanswertocancer.org/onlin ... ient-story






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