From the moment Emily’s first treatment began, we knew that it would be a part of our life for some time to come.
In February of 2013, Emily finished her chemotherapy treatments and was prescribed a hormone suppressant to help starve any residual disease. We were asked to come back every 12 weeks for scans to check on the state of the cancer. After one scan it was clear that disease was still present. Emily’s particular cancer is classified as low grade, meaning that it grows slowly, but consequently, it does not respond very well to chemotherapy. So, poisoning the cancer just wasn’t going to be the most effective treatment. We continued on with the hormone suppressant, but with each additional scan it became more apparent that the disease was continuing to grow (albeit slowly).
Because of the slow rate of growth, and the fact that Emily has had very little pain caused by the cancer since having her surgery in 2012, she has been able to live a fairly normal existence since finishing chemo over a year ago. Her temporarily-bald head now sports a short pixie hairstyle. We took a belated honeymoon to the beautiful beaches of Florida. We moved into a house much closer to our jobs and the Medical Center, which has greatly cut down on our commutes and improved our quality of life.
At the turn of the new year, Emily had another scan and we, along with our doctors, decided that slow growth or not, it was once again time to take action. We learned of a clinical trial that fit Emily’s set of circumstances. Our doctors at Memorial Hermann, whom we are very fond of, encouraged us to pursue this trial at M.D. Anderson. The trial involves a drug called a MEK inhibitor, which blocks a particular protein that communicates to the disease and tells it to grow and mutate.
I won’t complicate things with too many details, but I do want to share this small victory. Even though Emily qualified for the trial, there was no guarantee that she would be given the MEK inhibitor trial drug. The trial involved two different “arms,” one of which is assigned to each participating patient at random. People assigned to one arm receive the trial drug; the other arm receives standard chemotherapy again. We had a 50/50 chance, and thankfully, Emily was randomly selected to take the trial drug. It is certainly one of the most promising treatments for her particular cancer, so we are moving into this with a reasonable and realistic amount of hope.
While Emily won’t have to deal with the nasty side effects of chemo, the MEK inhibitor is not without its share. We hope that they won’t be too bad, but she will no doubt appreciate your patience if she isn’t feeling 100 percent while taking treatment. Of course, if you know Emily, you know that her at 50 percent is still better than most of us when we are at our best.
The treatment for Emily will continue as long as it is effective and/or not too harmful to her body and well-being. We will do our best to post updates as appropriate. Many thanks to all of those who continue to show us so much love and support. Family, friends, co-workers, doctors, nurses, strangers, etc. So many people have taken it upon themselves to help us fight this battle and that gives us the courage to go into the breach yet again.
If you are are interested in helping in some way, you can find information near the bottom of our About Us page.