Hope: New Treatment with Cancer
Now we know: the chemo isn’t exactly working. Maybe a little because the tumor marker tests finally leveled off. But the cat scan showed progression, meaning growth.
Another main reason I was removed from chemo was that I began running fevers and felt ongoing, horrible, flu-like body aches, pains and exhaustion so that I ended up in the day hospital for fluids and tests (thankfully this was before COVID 19 became an issue). “Feeling good days” became a distant memory. I pretty much stayed home the month of February near my bed and couch, which called me with such a sweet siren song that I needed a “help me, I’ve fallen in bed and can’t get out” alarm.
These past two years I have taken the two “standard of care” cocktails for pancreatic cancer. As with many metastatic cancers, tumor cells mutate and become resistant to treatment and the chemo stops working. Pancreatic cancer cells are masters at this.
Time to move on in treatment.
I have had genetic testing of my own DNA (called germline testing) and of the tumor itself (called molecular profiling). I have a gene mutation that caused my pancreatic cancer. This good knowledge opens the door for a few more options in treatment.
The press always heralds amazing new treatments for cancers, but these are for other cancers, not pancreatic cancer. Well, well well – December 30, 2019 – the FDA approved the first new treatment for pancreatic cancer in FOUR YEARS!
So, I am going on….a new drug…. a daily pill chemo …..Lynparza….
- -a targeted therapy – which means it targets a specific process in the cancer tumor cells.
- -a PARP inhibitor – which means it blocks the cell’s DNA ability to duplicate, stopping growth.
- -it hits the tumor cell where it hurts.
It still has all those wonderful, unwelcomed, life impacting side effects. Oh joy!
It also isn’t actually FDA approved for my specific genetic mutation, which is the ATM gene. It is approved for the BRCA gene for pancreatic, ovarian and breast cancer.
After an appeal, my insurance company magnanimously agreed to pay for my off-brand treatment. Very impressive! It’s not cheap.
So, we don’t know if this will work. It’s kind of an experiment, but not actually an experiment.
I have faith. The approval came so close to St. Patrick’s day, that somehow I magically believe I might have the luck of the Irish with this treatment. I’m also hoping my Irish Mom is smiling down on this one!