Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ipilimumab is working, here is the whole story.

Many of you received my Facebook update regarding my latest news, though it was very exciting I wanted to share with you the whole story. I don't know why I scheduled that particular doctor's appointment to fall on my birthday. Maybe after two years, I was simply gambling on receiving some good news so that I could really enjoy this one. Whatever the case, as the doctor closed the door and wished me a happy birthday, he confirmed for me that he had some really good news for me.

After reading the reports from the scan myself, I'll tell you it is not as cut and dry as he stated. He told me that the real trouble with Ipilimumab is that it acts so differently with each case. Results are solely based on the individual and include a number of varying factors. This is when Dr Spira told me that many of my tumors are either already dead or are currently in the process of dying. I have large areas of necrotic tissue where the tumor mass remains, but there is no longer any cancerous activity. I have other areas of small growth, but when all things are considered -- I've received a great benefit from this drug, and I am now classified as a respondent.

We always knew that I would get worse before getting better on this drug. The belief is that inflammation around the tumors as they were dying has been causing the pain that I've been feeling. I continue to have pain on my side, which is a result from the dead tumor which sits on top of my spleen. If my condition continues to improve and all the tumors do wind up dead, I am told there is a process in which the body will eventually absorb this dead tissue, but this will all take some time.

From what I've read, the FDA is supposed to report their findings by March 26. We should find out if Ipilimumab will receive approval for it's commercial use. If this happens, I can guarantee that I will "qualify" for another round. Otherwise, my case will have to be approved by the company's medical review board to determine if they think I can benefit from another treatment.

My next appointment with Dr Spira is on the 12th of April where I'll learn more about future treatment options. Though I got really good news this last time, this battle if far from over. As we all know by now, cancer is ugly and can become resistant and even come back with a vengeance.