Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Follow-Up #4 Results

Meet the tumor my doctors call "Target 3". I call it "José".  This a CT image of an inoperable, cancerous lung tumor. It is much too close to my heart. (That blobby-looking thing just beneath the blue oval is a normal blood vessel, and the massive thing in the upper left is my heart.)

The first image shows how Target 3 appeared in June, 2015, prior to the TIL immunotherapy trial. At that time, it measured about 3 cm from end to end. RECIST criteria is concerned with only the measurement of the longest dimension, which hasn't changed much in five months, however, it's plain to see that the tumor is starting to change. The TIL are still doing their job!

disintegrating tumors = most grateful patient!

Officially, I'm now at 30% reduction from baseline. If next visit we see similar results, I'll enter the world of "partial responder" (PR). Can't wait!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Scanning Time Again

Scans during Thanksgiving week?  Yes.  I scheduled that.

Last time, the oral contrast did a number on me, and so now I worry that it will happen again.  I asked my doc if he would let me skip this unpleasantness at the upcoming visit, but he rejected the idea.  I wonder if his opinion could be swayed by 50-pounds of Halloween candy.


Last time I was this close > <  to achieving "partial response" by RECIST criteria.  I don't know what it takes to make lung tumors shrink, but I vowed to walk daily until my return to Bethesda, in an effort to boost my immune system.  It hurts my feet (neuropathy) but I do it anyway.  Maybe walking will kill off some of the damaged nerves for good.  ha.

Other news!  An article about the TIL therapy has been published in Science*.  This one made me realize just how incredibly basic my understanding is.  When I think I know something, I learn another something that makes the first revelation miniscule in comparison.  Still, what I do understand fascinates me.  It must be a very exciting time to be a cancer researcher--it seems like they are on the brink of unlocking cancer's final secrets.

Since my last post here, I got to speak to the lovely Melinda on the phone.  Hers is the case that rocked the world of immunology a couple of years ago.  I read an article about her case before I knew my own was metastatic, and it is because of the publicity surrounding her that I found the trial at NIH.  She is now two years out from the same treatment I received, and doing great as a "partial responder".

Next up:  Results.  Prayers for good news are gratefully accepted!  If swinging chickens is more your style, I'll take that, too.  It's all good.

*the KRAS patient referred to is not me.  This data was collected prior to my treatment.