Saturday, March 19, 2011

Here we go again...

I had my scans last week and felt at peace with things, but there was something inside of me that made me wonder and worry. I kept thinking that the scan results wouldn't show any progress, and just stable disease. Well, I was right. My doctor told me that the tumor left in my lung hadn't shrunk at all since Dec. The good news is that there are no new tumors to be found and that the tumor hadn't grown, but the bad news is that stable disease usually means that eventually the tumors will come back and grow again. It also means that the melanoma has built up a resistance to the treatment I am on (dang melanonma!). So, the next step is to complete one last course of my current treatment (instead of continuing 8 more treatments) and start a new treatment in a month.

The new treatment drug is called Ipilimumab which is an immunotherapy that activates or stimulates the immune system to clear cancer cells (explained in a nut shell). It is on the brink of becoming FDA approved for metastatic melanoma, and will be the first drug to be approved in over 16 years. This drug is very promising and has had great results in about 20% of patients. I only hope that I will be one of those patients!

For now, I am trying to remain positive and hopeful for the future. My emotions are mixed. On one hand I feel disappointed that I wasn't a "complete responder" to the treatment I was on and feel like a failure for not finishing. Melanoma is a tough cancer to beat, and it's discouraging to know that everything I've done to kick this thing in the can hasn't done the job yet. On the other hand, I'm actually relieved to be done with this treatment though because it has been intense and brutal and the new treatment will be much easier to handle (although there are still side effects). The bottom line is I gotta keep on truckin'. I have to believe that something will work and I will still be here!


diarydays said...

I hope you are doing well and keeping strong through all this !! I believe and have faith that the new treatment will be it!!

Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!!


Kari said...

I just stumbled on your blog in a late night melanoma daze. I would love to connect with you via email. I too am a stage IV warrior (8 years), CPMC patient (saw you pic with Dr. M), bio chemo survivor, mom of two kiddos and just had my own round of not so great scans. Should the desire strike, please let me know. Be well!

Heather @ Cancer Mommy said...

Hi- A friend sent me here! I am also a young mama of two little ones (a 5 year old little man and a 3 year old Princess). I was diagnosed with Stage IV Melanoma the day my daughter turned 6 months. Been fighting ever since! I dont know what tx you have been on in the past, but I am currently on a braf inhibitor and it is seriously working wonders on me! I will be interested to know if the Ipi works on you. It has such a low success rate, but on those that do respond, they REALLY respond! I added your blog to my reader so I can read your new posts. Sorry that the tumor isnt shrinking, but yay for no new growth!! As for the bike ride, girl you are CrAzY!!!

Christina said...

Thanks all for your comments!!!

Kari, I would LOVE to connect with you via email and that is awesome that you are also a patient of Dr. Minor's. My email is:

Heather, I was diagnosed 3 years ago when I was pregnant-6 weeks away from delivering my second child actually. As far as treatment goes, I am BRAF negative, so that isn't an option for me and I truly feel that I need to give Ipi a shot next. If that doesn't work then I'm not sure my next step, but I'm not going to worry about that right now. I'm trying to live in the present! I will add your blog to my list as well!!! Thanks!

Andy L. said...

Just finished Ipi, its was a walk in the park compared to what you have already been through, although it has its own problems. Good luck, we're praying for you.
Andy L