This is a big day.
I completed my 6th and last chemo cycle on March 15 (following chemo on Feb 22), was PT scanned on Tuesday 22 March, and have just completed the consultation with my oncologist, Richard Sullivan. In short, the PT scan showed that I am in complete remission. I currently have no tumors in my body or measurable cancer activity.
This does not mean I am cured (medical science says there is no cure for my condition, but we shall see). However it gives me many more degrees of freedom around continuing treatment.
The plan now is to leave Tarceva (the drug that deals with the EGFR mutation that has shown up in my DNA and which an estimated 15% of the lung cancer population have) as my ‘next line of defense’ rather than making an immediate transition from chemo, as originally planned. I will get scanned on a three monthly basis such that, as soon as any cancer activity reappears, I will then go on to Tarceva.
The advantage of this strategy is that it plays to the high probability that, within the next little while (say 6-18 months), the next version of Tarceva will emerge on the market and/or that the rapidly increasing knowledge about my disease provides new therapies which enable me to manage my lung cancer as a chronic disease on an ongoing basis – very much like Glevic manages myloid leukemia as a chronic disease.
I am confident that my result reflects the combined outcome of my ‘integrated’ approach to my disease. My reorganised lifestyle, my disciplined approach to diet (I should say Maureen’s disciplined approach), meditation and visualisation (psychoneuroimmunology) are all based on good science and enable me to stay feeling as fit and healthy as I can remember. I have little doubt that this approach is also re-igniting and boosting my immune system to take over the heavy lifting of managing my disease.
The last element in my armoury has been the healing impact of the wonderful support I have received from family and friends. Thank you all.
One other event over the past month has provided a huge ‘healing’ experience for me. My daughter, Emma, was married on 5 March to a wonderful young man, Luke Procter. This provided me with a few intense days of what I can only describe as one of the happiest and most enjoyable experiences of my life. When you laugh and smile that much, something else has got to be going on in your brain and immune system.
I continued to feel very well over the course of my last cycle, but experienced quite a lot more fatigue from the accumulated effects of 6 cycles of chemo and an unavoidably falling red blood count. All that has now gone and my energy (and undoubtedly red blood count) has come surging back. I am now regularly working out at the gym and doing yoga most days.
But this day feels particularly special.
Once again, thank you all for your wonderful support.
I will updating my blog over the next week or so on 2 topics:
- strongly recommended reading for cancer comrades
- health insurance (if you think you are covered for modern medical treatment of cancer you are probably wrong).