This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with the grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here.
I had been on Afatinib for six months. It was the second type of treatment I would try, and it was again time for another CT scan time. The scan would take place on a Monday. We were uneasy because the results of the last scan were less than encouraging, so were hoping to see the results as soon as possible.
On Wednesday, it was Heather’s birthday and we went out to celebrate at a local restaurant. We had been seated and just before we ordered, I saw on my phone that the results had just come in. Should I open it up and read it while we were on our special date? We would never be able to relax and enjoy our night with those tests sitting, unread, in the inbox. We decided to open them once we had ordered our meal.
As the waiter left the table, order pad in hand, I opened up the email and read the opening comments from my oncologist, “Daniel, unfortunately, lymph nodes are growing and we’ll need to discuss IV chemotherapy at our visit on Friday.” We were instantly devastated. We read on to see what the radiologist had to say. He enumerated location after cancerous location that had grown significantly in only three months. He then he proceeded to list several new areas where cancer had spread.
Wow… So much for the dinner. The waiter showed up with our meal and could see that the happy occasion had become very somber. We had lost our appetites. We picked at our food while trying to find something positive in the email which we were now reading over again. Nothing at all could be found to lift our deflated spirits. All of it was bad news. We boxed up the food and went home to spend the night on the internet, trying to figure what how life was about to change, yet again for the worse.
As one might expect, at the beginning of their battle, a cancer patient is first given the drugs that have the best chance of success. After that, the second best, and so on. We knew that IV chemo wasn’t as effective as the newer pill forms of chemo, so there wasn’t a huge amount of comfort in the fact that the older, traditional chemo was next. The side effects would be even worse than those of the last two medications.
As we did our research that night, we came across two drugs that were in trials, drugs which were both created for patients who had grown resistant to Tarceva and Afatinib. The results so far in the trials had been quite encouraging for the lung cancer world. In the back of our minds was the fact that few with stage IV lung cancer survive beyond 5 years, so a 50% chance of a drug working to extend life is quite a big deal. We gathered information on the trials and we would go to my appointment with Dr. E, armed with hope. The next morning I quit taking the pills which had let me down.
Dr. E also came up skunked in the good news category. The cancer was growing aggressively, in more places than ever. Something had to be done soon. Starting IV chemo would be the next step. We discussed the trials I had found online. Dr. E did some further research and thought they did show some promise for me. Unfortunately, the trials were not being done in Minnesota, so for the time being, the IV chemotherapy still seemed like the best option. The trials were on the fast track for approval, which sometimes happens when the first two phases of trials show good results. Hopefully, the new drugs would be available more conveniently and covered by insurance in the near future.
You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.