New Lease on Life September 29, 2011

Friends and Family,

Genevieve and I went in for my chemo today, and got the best news we could possibly get. A month ago, Providence tested me for a genetic mutation that showed that I was not a candidate for genetic therapy. However, as part of OHSU's research protocol, they re-tested using a different lab. The OHSU test results show that I DO have the EGFR genetic mutation, so I AM ELIGIBLE FOR THE GENETIC THERAPY!!!! THE MUTANTS HAVE LANDED!!!!!!!!!!

WHAT THIS MEANS: At some point I will start the genetic therapy, Tarceva. This is the new "wonder drug" that was just approved for use a few weeks ago, and was featured on the news on many TV stations. Tarceva has been clinically proven to extend people's lives. Some shrink their cancer or prevent cancer growth for a few months, some benefit and stay on it for 4-5 years, and a few beat their cancer completely. When the day comes to start Tarceva, this last group is the group I will be fighting to join!I

But first, I will continue with chemo for a total of four to six rounds, three weeks apart. I had Round Two today. I'll be finished just after the New Year if I do six rounds. Then I get scanned regularly, and we wait until the cancer starts to grow again (unless, with your help, it is gone completely!). If/when it shows growth, I start Tarceva. As a double benefit, people with this genetic mutation usually have better success at shrinking their cancer through chemo. It's all good news today!!!!!!

I started worrying that this was too good to be true. I asked my doctor why I should believe that the second test is accurate and not the first. He said that the testing has a built-in bias in favor of spitting out false negative results. Also, sometimes the mutation shows up in one part of a tumor and not another, so it could have been missed the first time. Further, my oncologist thought from the beginning that the tumor visually appeared to be the EGFR mutation. These reasons are good enough for me and Genevieve to accept!

If I had not switched to OHSU and gotten in their research program, this false result never would have been found.There would be no reason to re-test other than for a research protocol. I am extremely fortunate that the mutation was discovered under these circumstances, and grateful to Macadam Forbes for providing health insurance that allowed me to switch my care to an OHSU doctor. I didn't have this insurance a year ago, so I would have stayed with a Providence doctor (through Genevieve's insurance) and never had the cancer re-tested.

I truly believe that all the positive energy, prayers, emails, phone calls, and all of your other acts of love are a significant part of why this was found. I am extremely grateful every day for having your support.

More about acts of love in the next email.

With love and gratitude,