Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The results are in, it appears we have tumor progression.

On my drive home from Pittsburgh, I got a call from Dr Sharfman. As a side note, Dr Kirkwood and Dr Sharfman know each other and had discussed over the phone my case earlier in the day. It was a bit of an awkward moment when he asked if I we're driving as he knew exactly where I had been driving from. ;-)

He called me to let me know that the results were in and that he and the radiologist both agree that they see tumor progression. There certainly are areas where tumors are no longer, but there are other areas where new tumors are now present. There is some shrinkage, and there is some growth. It's a bit of a gray area but they apparently apply more weight on the growth side.

I personally think that it is all in the timing. Follow me for a second. Late April is when I first started feeling cramps in my stomach. Two weeks after is when I had my first CT scan where the lesions were present on the liver. About two weeks later is when I started the IL-2 regimen. The way it was explained to me is that tumor growth can occur periodically. Meaning, there are times when the tumors are stable and there are other times where the tumors go through a period of time in which they grow. Chances are, I was in the middle of a growth period during my first CT scan. It was because of the new pain in my stomach that alerted me to call the doctor. What if the growth and new tumors we see now were in fact already present prior to the start of IL-2. What if the shrinkage and disappearance of tumors that we do see is a result of my treatment. That would mean that my treatment is in fact working.

It's not worth the argument at this point especially since at least one of my leading treatment options include more IL-2 along with some other experimental drugs. It is now time to look into these other options and figure out which treatment plan is right for me. Dr Sharfman is currently working on the paperwork to get me into the NCI trial with Dr Rosenberg. The Adoptive Cell Therapy has recently seen objective results of 72% in tumor regression or total and durable remission. This and a few others are all based on the condition of blood typing that is currently being done at both Johns Hopkins and UPMC. I should have those results by the end of the week.

Depending on the timeline of my next treatment, you might be reading my blog as I post from Mexico. The Gerson Therapy also maintains high success rates especially in melanoma patients. It is an alternative treatment based on the idea that toxicity and nutrient deficiency cause disease. This vegetarian / juice fasting / detox protocol is a grueling regimen that must be followed strictly upon returning home.

There is much to consider. This is a week of research and internal debate. As always, you will know more as soon as I have more to share.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

I don't know what to say, Mike and Amy. You have a lot on your plate, a lot on your mind, and some big decisions to make.

Do your research, consider all the options...and then follow your heart! I will continue to send up prayers--for help in making this difficult decision, for the strength to continue this fight with positive determination, and for RENEWED HEALTH!

You are a formidable pair! This stinkin' smelanoma picked the wrong pair to mess with! And Mike...you are a SURVIVOR!!!

<3 Laurie

P.S. Amy...don't forget to take good care of yourself and that sweet little life in your belly! There are ALWAYS blessings to be counted!