Monday, March 9, 2015


Just like many with lung cancer, we are hoping Rudy can try immunotherapy soon.   Most of these are still in trial phases.

So, what is immune therapy?  The treatment directs your immune system to fight cancer cells.  Typically, your immune system doesn't attack tumors because the cancer cells are cells from your own body.  Your immune system isn't supposed to attack your own body.  This article is one of the best I've seen for explaining it. 

This article mentions some specific immune therapies showing good results with more than 20% of patients were alive at two years

Three days ago, a new drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  It's been found to be helpful to those fighting non-small cell lung cancer.  It's called Opdivo.  It's a type of immunotherapy.  I have no idea if this is something that will be in Rudy's future.  It's not something that I remember being mentioned.  I just happened on this news this morning while browsing online.

 This article explains how Opdivo works pretty well.  Opdivo is put out by Bristol Myers.

Here's an article with a slightly more personal bent.  One horrid little factoid from this article - "But another big question about these drugs is how much they cost: more than $120,000 for each round. That has drawn some intense criticism."  Criticism?  How about fainting dead away from shock?  OMG.  How much is this going to cost?  When a patient is in a trial, are they having to pay?  Even if we had to pay half or even a fourth, that would still be insane.  AND how many rounds are given?  I've always been fascinated with tiny house living.  A round or two of this stuff and we'd be lucky to afford a shed.

This article has an even more personal take on immunotherapy, but it centers around a different type of cancer.

Actually, the personal details are the ones I've been trying to find.  Most of the articles seem to center around impersonal studies and statistics.  I want to know what it will be like for Rudy.  I have yet to find that information.  If Rudy does go through this therapy, I will definitely write about it.  The doctors can worry about the statistics and which therapy would be best.  A patient wants to know what is involved - How often are treatments?  What are the side affects?  Is it like chemo in that you truly have no life while you are being treated?  What is the cost?

Interestingly, in another article, I read that "Sanford Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson sees Opdivo sales reaching $4.6 billion in 2020." Also, from the same article, "Bristol-Myers shares were up $4.71 at $58.87 on the New York Stock Exchange."  Cancer certainly seems to be good for the economy.  :-(  If you play the stock market, you may want to buy some Bristol-Myers stock.  Remember me when you are rolling in the dough.

In fact, there are a number of big companies in line to make big bucks from new cancer therapies.  Finding therapies for lung cancer could be extremely lucrative. Lung is the leading cause of cancer deaths globally, with about 1.5 million each year.  Lung cancer killed 1.6 million people globally in 2012—more than liver and stomach cancers, the next two most fatal cancers, combined.  Non-small-cell lung cancer accounts for about 85 percent of lung cancer cases, so finding drugs for that type is probably a top priority.

He's been incredibly tired the last few days.  Too weak and tired to watch TV.  So tired that walking from our bedroom to the living room took all the strength he could muster.  These were the worst of the bad chemo days he's had in terms of fatigue. We know firsthand it could be worse. He's not nauseas and he doesn't have unbearable tumor-on-nerve pain and we are thankful for that.

Yesterday, he began to show signs of improvement.  He was able to have a conversation.  He needed to change positions so he sat at his desk and played a game of solitaire.  If this is a typical chemo cycle, he should feel a tiny bit better each day... and then we start the cycle again.  Today there's not much improvement.  We have a late radiation appointment - 6:50pm.  We'll be leaving in a few minutes and he's really dreading having to move.

He is feeling a bit of back pain caused from sitting and lying down for 4+ months.  It's very very uncomfortable, but not excruciating like the tumor-on-nerve pain.  He asks for back massages frequently and they bring him some relief.  Today I bought several other topical pain products.  He tried the Icy Hot Smart Relief Tens Therapy just a little while ago.  It definitely gave a nice sensation and so far he likes it.  We haven't used it enough to declare it a success.

His appetite has increased just a tad.  Ensure is our best friend.  His current favorite is Ensure Active in Peach.  He also likes the Berry flavor.  I've started drinking them as well - mostly the ones he doesn't care for.  That's probably a good idea because I know I'm not eating like I should.  One night my supper was gluten free crackers.  That's disgusting and not at all nutritious, but it was the best I could do at the time.  

Yesterday, the weather was nice and we sat outside twice.  That was great.  Neither of us have spent much time outside during the last four months.  I hope he can get his energy up quickly.