Sunlight and Ducks Make Pretty Good Cures January 10, 2015

Friends and Family,

First, I want to share a memorable vacation with you. It was pure joy. Genevieve and I went to Palm Springs with her twin sister Charlotte and my best friend/brother-in-law, Lorin. With a refreshing lack of pre-planning, we spent a day in Joshua Tree National Park (extraordinary), hiked in the Whitewater Preserve (gorgeous), and Lorin and I took a guided tour of the 3,200 wind turbines in the area (fascinating). We also made a spontaneous trip to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. We bought discounted tickets from scalpers at the gate. If I could beat cancer the way the Ducks demolished Florida State, I would never have to worry about cancer again in my life! I can’t ever remember having a vacation that was so much fun! Of course, I have an advantage in the fun department. I have laser focus on making the most of every moment. “Live like there’s no tomorrow” turns out to be a pretty good motto.

On to the real news. On Tuesday I had my latest CT scan, and the news is good. The cancer is stable.

So after all the enthusiasm for the vacation, why the lack of enthusiastic excess about stable cancer? Because after the last CT scan six weeks ago, when the cancer had shrunk 60-70%,

I was getting spoiled. I was hoping for a continuing trend that would lead to being cancer-free. I even dared, for the first time since I was re-diagnosed three and a half years ago, to dream that I was on the verge of becoming cancer-free. The bigger the dream, of course, the bigger the crash if it doesn’t come true. Still, I consider it a sign of growth that I would rather risk the dream than try to be numb and lose out on the joys of experiencing a full life.

There were a couple of asterisks that came with this “stable” report. The first is that there were more leopard spots (“sclerotic lesions”) on my hip bones. The radiologist again called it possible cancer growth, while my oncologist again said he thinks it means that the cancer is further dying off and leaving little pockets behind. “The best indicator is that you don’t have any pain in your hips.”

I don’t know what you think, but I’m going with Dr. Optimist. Also, I want to thank Tori Tomalia for reassuring me that she had the same experience, and that all went well.

Tori has an outstanding lung cancer blog, by the way. See

The second asterisk in this CT report is that, while overall my lungs are stable, one spot grew and another shrunk. (“Spot” sounds better than “tumor,” don’t you think?) My best guess is that the ADZ9291 is attacking the genetic mutation it was designed to attack, but since I have more than one mutation, it may not be impacting the other mutants.

I finally found out how AZD9291 works. The cancer disguises itself to hide from my immune system. It puts on a fake beard and sunglasses and tries to blend in with the crowd. AZD9291 unmasks the cancer, so the hero of this story, my immune system, can attack it. What I take from this is that, with cancer, just like with politics and relationships, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Now that I know this, I’m asking for your help again. In the past I asked you to “think dried prunes” to shrink the tumors. I believe that is one of the things you have done that has kept me alive. This time I’m asking you to help with something that works like AZD9291:

Think of sunlight shining in on each of the little spots in my lungs, hips and spine, and let that sunshine fry each of the little critters.

If you have a photo image of sunlight doing this, I would love it if you shared it with me. I’ll post it on my blog, so that others can benefit as well.

I hope your year is starting out as good as mine.