Emily will be starting the new year with a new treatment protocol. As 2014 was wrapping up, we learned that Emily’s “rat spit” treatment was no longer yielding the results we wanted, so we needed to decide what our next tactic would be. After consulting with many of our doctors at MD Anderson, we have decided to move forward with another phase 1 clinical trial.
Between each clinical trial, Emily is required to have a “wash out” period, which is basically several weeks without any type of treatment ensuring that old drugs don’t affect new drugs. While in the washout, Emily has been undergoing some precision radiation treatments for a few areas that are easily accessible. While this does require going to the treatment center almost daily for a couple of weeks, that really has been the only difficulty. There have been minimal side effects from the radiation.
Emily will begin the new clinical trial on Feb. 9. As with her other trials, this will involve some long days featuring multiple tests to ensure that everything is working as intended. The treatment utilizes a drug conspicuously called BAY94-9393. At the phase 1 level of testing, no money has been spent on marketing.
Without getting too technical, the drug basically works like a Trojan horse. Emily’s type of cancer feeds on a particular substance called mesothelia (amongst many other substances). The treatment works by wrapping a toxin in mesothelia and infusing it into the body. The cancer cells consume the mesothelia (like the Trojans pulling the Greek-gifted horse statue into their city). Once the cancer consumes the mesothelia, it is processed by the cells exposing the toxin. The exposed toxin then causes the cells to “explode.”
This trial treatment, like most, will continue until is stops working or becomes more harmful than helpful.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the passing of Stuart Scott yesterday. Scott was a hero of mine. Not as a sportscaster, though I enjoyed his work. He was a hero because of how he faced cancer. Scott fought through multiple relapses over his seven year battle with the disease that ultimately took his life. In his death though, his words from his Espy Awards speech last summer echo on:
“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer,” Scott told the audience. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”
Scott beat cancer. It did not beat him.
As Emily and I continue to battle, we are encouraged by Scott and those like him who beat cancer every day.