Tuesday, May 12, 2009

12 Months to live is a good prognosis

I have options. My medical oncologist William Sharfman at Johns Hopkins Medical Center tells me that there are many treatments available today that we should be excited about. Given that I am only 31 and in otherwise great physical health, I am a candidate for an immunotherapy called Interleukin-2 (IL-2).

Unlike chemotherapy, IL-2 works with your body's immune system and allows it to fight off the disease. They have seen 20% success rate with patients receiving some benefit and 6% of their patients go into complete and permanent remission. Results are known fairly quickly. I will first be admitted to the hospital for 5 days where I will receive treatment.

I will have a sort of hep-lock installed into my chest for the entire process that will allow the doctors to pump my body with not only the IL-2 drug, but all the other medicine that will help me fight off symptoms other symptoms. So in this case, one drug will lead to other types of drugs in order to stabilize my blood pressure and and keep me as comfortable as possible.

After the first 5 days, I should recover very quickly. I will then take two weeks give my body time to fight off the cancerous cells and will then return for another 5 day treatment. More of the same. Once the second treatment concludes, I will go back in for scan of the abdomen so that we can see how the melanoma has responded.

If the tumors are gone, we go back into observation mode. If they have reduced in size that tells us that my body is using the IL-2 to fight the cancer and I'll go back in for another round of two treatments. If the tumors remain the same size, the doctors will likely consider the treatment to be working and we would do it again.

Pros for IL-2
* This is not chemotherapy
* Will not harm the liver
* Results will be known in a short time frame
* No major long term side effects
* Doesn't prevent me from other therapies.
* It is believed that follow up treatments (if needed) are assisted by the fact that my immune system is in an energized state.

There are a number of new and exciting treatments at both NCI and at Johns Hopkins. These are mainly clinical trials but in fact they have seen pretty good results. Most actually require that IL-2 first be administered so I am opening new options by selecting this treatment plan first.

Recent studies have also shown that chemo drugs are no longer considered any more effective by applying multiple drugs at one time. We are currently talking about a drug called Temadar which comes in a pill and can be taken at home. I've done very little research on this drug so far but the statistics seem to be similar to the IL-2.

There are holistic treatments that I am also considering. My wife spoke with a lady by the name of Wilma who after being told she had only 3 months to live after being diagnosed with Stage IV malignant melanoma decided to try the Gerson Therapy. This amazing alternative option does what the drugs are setting out do but in a natural way. The concept being that by eating only the foods that our bodies were meant to consume and by eliminating those that force your body to work harder at processing, your immune system will be much more capable of fighting off disease. For Wilma, that was 14 years ago! She was given no choice and is a survivor without any chemo.

I am happy with my options and my plan. I have a good amount of time to try a few things. I've already changed my many things in my daily life and among other things I am now eating a mostly raw diet. Eating healthy can only help me as I enter into my treatment plan.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Mike!! I had NO IDEA!
I talked with your Mom last week and she didn't mention anything!!

May God Bless and protect you in your fight!

Uncle Jerry and aunt Mary